WHAT IS THERE TO FEAR?, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

My acupuncture teacher, Dr. Chieko Maekawa, is 84 years old now and a fountain of wisdom.  She always says that our acupuncture needles are only 1% of the healing.  All the other lifestyle advice, combined with our daily choices make all the difference in our ability to heal.  So the cornerstones of immunity from last week's blog is all about the other 99% of our health.

Before COVID-19, wellness may have seemed a luxury.  These days, being of strong and balanced health is a necessity.  We do not yet know the risks ahead as public health experts argue strenuously to maintain our isolation until we have good epidemiological data while economic and political pressure mounts to re-open society. 

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine
Traditional Chinese Medicine Organ Correspondences

But do not fear.  Fear, as with any strong and sustained emotional response, has a tendency to throw us off balance.  Emotional balance is a cornerstone of immunity, as our emotions have direct relationships with our organs. Strengthening our will in the face of fear would be considered the keystone to wellness in Eastern Medicine.  This is because the Kidney is the source of bodies internal energy - like a battery - and its emotion is fear with its opposite attribute being willpower.

When I spoke to Dr. Maekawa the other night, she emphasized the importance of staying calm during this pandemic and not letting fear grip us.  The story of her childhood experiences living near Tokyo during and after World War II punctuated this message, and it is worth repeating. 

Good Hearth in Rockland, MaineDr. Chieko Maekawa, LA.c., DOM, PH.d. on the occasion of her 80th birthday, with my son.

When the war started in Japan, all the men in her community, including her father, were drafted.  They simply disappeared one day, never expected to return.  As long as the war continued, their honor and their emperor required that they fight to the death. 

Families, neighborhoods, and cities adjusted themselves to this new reality and moved on. 

As the war continued on there were shortages of many items considered important and necessary to everyday life.  Again the people adjusted.  

Towards the end of the war, Tokyo and surrounding areas were firebombed.  My teacher and everyone she knew lost their houses.  They lived amidst complete devastation as the government that had brought them to war disintegrated and could no longer provide direction or services of any kind.

WHAT IS THERE TO FEAR?, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine

Tokoyo residents and destroyed blocks after 1945 firebombing.

Somehow without shelter, consistent supplies of food and clean water and without their beloved fathers, uncles, and brothers, the people of Japan put their lives back together. 

They did this by focusing on what they did have — steeling the power of their wills against the fear they felt and doing what needed to be done every day to survive and eventually to thrive. 

At first this meant walking for miles through burned out neighborhoods to get fresh water. Caring for the sick and wounded.  Later it meant developing small garden plots and gathering seeds to grow fresh food.   Supporting others and making them smile was paramount. 

My teacher’s father eventually made it home from China after the war ended.  He was exhausted.  After years of fighting he had to run for his life from behind victorious enemy lines with no supplies.  He finally secured passage on a ship back to Japan.  The family attempted to nurse him back to health, but he died 6 months later. 

Again life went on, despite the tragedy and difficulty of their new existence.  Her family and its business at the heart of their community eventually thrived again.  Today she is a beacon of light and her clinic is a sanctuary for all who need healing.

So, when my teacher says not to fear our current situation, it carries some weight. 

Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine
Dr. Chieko Maekawa with apprentices/graduates in her Kona, Hawaii Seitai Shinpo Acupuncture Clinic.

Many of us have already lost loved ones and each of us has watched helplessly as others suffer.  Life has changed and will continue to do so.  But we have no choice but to stand up tall and do what we can to make life as good as we can make it for our families and others. 

What I have noticed is that so many people have expanded their circles of concern to include a much vaster number of people.  What is also important now is recognizing the limits of our circles of influence, beyond which our efforts and worries would be wasted energy. 

If you have an abundance of time right now, let me help you use it to your best wellness advantage.  Even more so, if you are so busy caring for others that time is short, let me help you focus some energy inward to build up your reserves.  Staying healthy and motivated helps us all be better servants.  It is in this spirit, that I am offering distance medicine and wellness coaching to strengthen our individual immunity and determine new collective purpose during this unprecedented time.

Please contact me if I can be helpful to you or your loved ones on your self-care journey to the 99% of health that is within our control during chaotic times.

WHAT IS THERE TO FEAR?, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Supporting my Community in Times of Pandemic - Cornerstones of Natural Immune Boosting

These weeks have been real.  Bracing for this growing wave that may not crest anytime soon.
Supporting my Community in Times of Pandemic - Cornerstones of Natural Immune Boosting, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Some folks are working harder than ever.  Those on the front lines of public health; the doers in government and social welfare at every level who are planning and executing relief programs; the teachers who have had to rework their lesson plans; and the rest of all those helpers out there that form a line too long to list… 

Others are finding themselves with seemingly endless time at home.  Trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy for the youngest, protect the oldest and give our family members the space they need to get along in newly cramped quarters. 

Or perhaps being all by yourself for the longest stretches of time you can recall. 

No matter what, this is uncharted territory.

My clinic has been closed since March 13.  Having 100% confidence that my treatment supports immune function (more here, here, and here), especially the moxibustion, it was a VERY hard decision to cancel appointments.  Ultimately, public health wins out over individual health, and all of our efforts should be aimed at flattening the curve.  As soon as I know I can practice safely in this community, my doors will open again. 

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine"I firmly believe that  once the people of North  America learn the simple secrets of Japanese direct moxibustion therapy, they will recognize its tremendous benefits...In this day and age, when the weakening of the immune system has given
rise to a whole host of problems, strengthening our immunity is one of the most urgent needs."                                                                  -- Mizutani Junji, LAc.

In the meantime, we’ve been enjoying a lot of family time with our young kids, eating well, getting lots of exercise and fresh air, playing games, laughing a lot, and breathing deeply all while holding the highest and best outcome in mind.

This will be a time to remember.  Incredible transformation will greet us all on the other side.

I am making best use of the time to get organized and prepared to support all of you — my patients, friends and family — and anyone in your network who asks for my help.  Specifically here is what I am prepared to offer:

Good Hearth in Rockland, MaineSupporting my Community in Times of Pandemic - Cornerstones of Natural Immune Boosting, Good Hearth in Rockland, MaineTobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine


  Surviving & Thriving COVID-19 Wellness Package

Guidance and Support with the Following Cornerstones of Natural Immunity:
* Nutrition
* Breathing and Exercise
* Spirit & Mental Health
* Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements
  to support constitution and natural immunity
* Acupressure, Self Massage & Moxibustion

Methods of Delivery:
* Online Resources
* Educational Links & Connections with other Wellness Professionals
* Sourcing/Sales of Wellness Supplies
* Clearinghouse of Ideas to Support One Another
* Private and Family Consults by Phone, Email and Video Conferencing

Please contact Tobey for more details.
Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine
Together we will get through this.


Chinese Medicine and COVID-19

Chinese Medicine and COVID-19, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Chinese medicine is rooted in a long history of successfully combatting infectious disease. So, despite being the source of this new cornonavirus, perhaps due to questionable cultural practices, the medicine is sophisticated when it comes to colds/flus/infectious disease.  Just not in the way we think about Western Medicine being sophisticated. 

Instead of focusing in on the minutest of details at the molecular level and creating technological fixes that can be lifesaving in the most dire of circumstances, Chinese medicine excels at pattern differentiation leading to highly focused acupuncture and herbal treatment plans from the earliest to the latest stages of disease progression.  Here is an example of Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnoses and treatments prescriptions for COVID-19 that came from an integrated (TCM/Western) hospital in China.  A quick look will give you an idea of the detailed nature of symptomatic classifications through time and their associated treatment plans.

Little known, but true, the Chinese were the first to record experimenting with what would later become vaccines — using desiccated small pox blisters to inoculate people and give their immune system a chance to recognize the coming invasion.  They also developed two different understandings of pestilent diseases - the Warm Disease theory and the Cold Damage theory.

Rockland.Maine.Herbal Medicine.TCM.Chinese
These books are incredible in their depth of description on the differentiation, progression and treatment of colds and flus - which are often coronaviruses.

If you’ve ever noticed that some years you get a cold/flu that starts with chills, a stiff neck and a clear runny nose, and that other years you get a sore throat, a fever, and thick yellow mucous, you have discerned the essential differences between these two patterns of disease. From there the Chinese have mapped out the general progression of these diseases and have thousands of years of treatment notes and understandings of which types of treatments help to resolve the different stages.

COVID-19 is a warm invasion - with fever, chest congestion, sore throat, leading to thick, toxic mucous that is difficult to expectorate and, if allowed to progress, eventually becomes interstitial pneumonia.  It has elements of what TCM calls Toxic Heat and Dampness.

The reports out of China are that 75-80% of people infected with COVID-19 were treated with a mixture of Chinese and Western Medicine.  The power of this combination is credited with the resolution of illness in many many people.  More news articles here and here and here.  So, this means that the numbers may be skewed somewhat towards making us believe the illness is weaker than it actually it will be in other places without such sophisticated treatment of symptoms at each stage.

Especially prevention and management at the earliest stages, since it is easier to snuff out a match than it is to fight a forest fire.  Reports out of Italy of completely overwhelmed hospitals and medical staff may be what we ought to be expecting, rather than a somewhat swift recovery and slow down of transmission…

COVID-19.TCM.Herbal.Therapy.Granules.Rockland.MaineChinese Herbal Pharmacy in an integrated TCM/Western hospital. Note small text below the photo.

There is, however, excellent information coming out of China and passed among practitioners of this medicine around the world on the exact treatments that have been effective with people infected by COVID-19.  So, I have ordered the herbs that will help to prevent infection and also the herbs that help to control the disease in its earliest stages.  I will have them prepared into pill form in limited quantities within a week or so and am happy to make them available to people who meet the following criteria:

1. At risk due to advanced age and/or lung weakness; and
2. Likely to actually use them rather than leave them on the shelf.

To be clear, I DO NOT intend to open my clinic to people to come to me for treatment if they believe they have COVID-19.  Those people should self-quarantine and/or seek qualified western care in facilities that are equipped to contain the spread of the virus.  Assuming my family is well, I will make arrangements to have a family member or friend of a recently sick person pick up the herbs useful for the initial mild stages after a phone consultation to confirm symptoms and rule out contra-indications.  I will develop and communicate methods to ensure that the transfer of the herbs does not transmit the virus.

My current focus is on the prevention of the disease and containing its spread.  Lots of advice has been shared in that regard, but here it is again:

1. It is time to begin limiting our contacts with other people, especially large groups of people coming from different areas - the virus is in Maine and likely circulating in our communities with out us knowing it yet.  It takes up to a week for people to show symptoms, and some people, especially children never develop symptoms at all or show only mild ones.  These are the people who are unwittingly spreading it. This article explains in great detail the importance of acting now.

2. If you have to go out, practice social distancing.  This virus has been confirmed to travel through the airborne route.  Meaning a sneeze or even shared air for prolonged periods in indoor spaces can transmit it between people.

3. Even still, wash your hands a lot, try not to touch your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.  We've begun using our Neti pot each night before bed to flush out our sinuses and nasal passages, as a preventative measure, though we feel fine.

4. Stay calm - stress weakens our immune systems and leads us to do all kinds of weird things, like horde toilet paper.

5. Eat less sugar, carbohydrates, dairy and fried foods.  This disease uses excess dampness in your body to create phlegm. Excessive amounts of these foods are hard to digest, leading to dampness and phlegm in the body.  Instead, focus on vegetables, nuts, legumes and lean meats.  Eat the rainbow of fruits and vegetables to ensure your body has the nutrients it needs.

6. Keep your blood moving with exercise, massage, acupuncture and moxibustion.

7. Protect your energy by getting enough sleep and maintaining your body temperature.  Drink warm liquids instead of ice water, cover up your head and neck out in the wind and rain, etc.

If you do think you are coming down with something do one or both of these things AS SOON AS YOU CAN:

1. Take a hot bath or soak your feet in hot water while drinking a hot beverage.  Get your body temperature high enough to induce a sweat, especially around the neck and head.  Make sure you dry off completely and stay covered up to keep the heat in.  Then go to bed.  If you get in bed while still really warm and bundled up, you may sweat more.  Make sure to drink enough water to replace fluids lost through sweating.  Another great description here.

2. Use pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid ONLY, with no sugar or minerals added) at high dosage (to bowel tolerance) to help your body fight off the virus before it begins to replicate at a high rate. More on this method here.
*I have relied heavily here on Duane Law's excellent Self-Care Advisor series on treating colds and flus.  Take a look at the rest of his writing and methods for helping people on selfcareadvisor.net

My clinic is currently closed for the weekend and I will be paying close attention to the news and recommendations of the MaineCDC and will make a decision about whether to open next week to continue treating patients without symptoms.  The risk of transmission vs. the good of supporting people to remain healthy will be my calculus, with emphasis on doing my part to protect public health.

Please contact me with questions and/or if you would like to be put on the list to purchase the preventative herbs (like the product Airborne, which is actually derived from a Chinese formula) or to be considered for herbs in the case of early mild stage infections.

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine

Pain Relief in 2-3 treatments

Pain Relief in 2-3 treatments, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

I'm active, So, I know that pain can be a real drag.  This winter, I have been playing ultimate frisbee at The Pitch in Warren with a great group of midcoast Maine athletes.  As fun as it is to run around and jump like its summer even when its snowy and cold outside... playing on artificial turf has its drawbacks.  Mainly its the fact that the thin layer of rubberized "grass" is sitting on top of concrete.  Which means that jumping up to catch long passes in traffic and landing repeatedly on cleats can be a bit rough on the legs...especially ones that are getting older like mine.

My ankles and heels and calves have been pretty creaky for a few weeks.  A new pair of turf shoes for Christmas helped some and so did taking some time off to rest.  But there was one spot on my left heel that was the definition of stubborn pain.  Notice I said, "WAS."

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine

Like many of my patients, I'm averse to needles in my feet.  Sort of like stepping on a Lego, intentionally putting a sharp object into the sole of my foot is generally something I avoid.  But like Androcles (the guy pictured above who took the thorn out of the lion's paw and not only lived to tell the tale, but thrived because of it) in reverse, there are benefits to having the courage to put a small needle into a painful location.

So, after much consideration and many false starts since the pain began, I finally gathered up all my gumption yesterday. Palpating with my fingers until I found the exact spot where the pain was the worst, I then carefully inserted a needle through the callous and into the tender flesh of my heel. 

Much like my own very first experience with acupuncture, I didn't feel the initial insertion.  As it went in deeper though, there was a bit of a shock for all of 1 second, then it was over. 

To make sure the blood flow was good and that the original trauma would heal quickly, I burned some moxa on it.  The heat felt good. The pain of the needle in one of the most sensitive parts of the body didn't even last the length of the deep breath I took to help manage it.

Today?  No pain.

If only I had had the guts to do this earlier.

Sound familiar?

If you have been dealing with stubborn pain, you owe it to yourself to get over your fear of needles...or your disbelief that acupuncture could possibly help...or your story that you're too busy...or whatever it is that keeps you from making an appointment. 

Most people get some relief from their acute pain after just 2 or 3 of my treatments. Chronic pain may take longer, but still responds well.

Shouldn't you give acupuncture a try?

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 5:30PM Fantastic Fungi Film and Community Discussion

by Tobey Williamson, L.Ac.

It is fun to announce my new connections with The Strand Theater in Rockland and some really interesting local leaders in human ecology.  Greg Marley, Mycologist/Author; Deb Soule, Herbalist, Avena Botanicals; and Jesse Watson, Designer, Midcoast Permaculture

The film, Fantastic Fungi: The Magic Beneath Us, will be playing at The Strand from Saturday 11/9 through Monday 11/11.

As an early Kickstarter contributor, nearly 5 years ago, I am VERY excited to finally see it. So excited that I have organized a community discussion after the 5:30 PM showing on Sunday November 10. This will be a great opportunity to be inspired by a beautiful film and then by people nearby working with nature to make the world a better place.

I hope you'll make an effort to see this film while it's here at The Strand. Details below in the flyer about the discussion.

Ultimately this film is about the networks of information flow that knit our world together and make it function better than it would otherwise. So, please help spread the word by forwarding this link, posting the flyer, or the photo below on social media!SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 5:30PM Fantastic Fungi Film and Community Discussion, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Potholes and Health Maintenance

by Tobey Williamson, L.Ac.

Potholes and Health Maintenance, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Tis the season of disappearing hubcaps and bottomless potholes.  Seeking out the best route to my office so I can help my patients avoid the car repair bills that come with the jarring thuds, I contemplate the rubble and mud puddles that used to be our roads.  I don’t have much luck finding a smooth road, but it occurs to me that road maintenance is akin to health maintenance, and some of the same principles apply.  Allow me to explain…

I heard that we should expect an “ambitious set of paving projects” for the coming construction season.  Which of course means that traffic will be, shall we say, “different,” this summer. 

Let’s hope for the best. 

Personally, I think I would have preferred several less-ambitious paving projects done during the previous several seasons.  A stitch in time saves nine, so to speak.  Maybe then our daily driving would not be as disrupted first by the potholes, then the traffic associated with repairing nearly every road in the city at the same time.

Many of us see the maintenance of our bodies and our health the same way, unfortunately.  We choose not to exercise or to focus on the rich taste of our food rather than its nutritional value.  We don’t ask for help with our aches and pains.  It feels easier to discount the future today with decisions that may eventually lead to the “ambitious health repair project” in the future. 

If we have to we’ll get through the surgery and the rehab just like we’ll get around potholes and summer road construction traffic.  It will be inconvenient and we will wish it were different. 

Health maintenance really can be simple.  Eat the rainbow.  Not too much.  Make moving your body a regular part of each day.  Nourish your family and friends.  Grow your spirit and your mind.  Work at fulfilling projects with supportive colleagues.  Relax.  Get regular acupuncture and massage treatments for a few weeks when you hurt, and then monthly so you don’t.

Overall the goal is to keep your blood healthy and moving and your body flexible and pain free.  More information here about how Seitai Shinpo acupuncture is particularly helpful at nourishing blood and improving posture so your body can function best.  

So send a message to your future self.  Say, “I got you!  I’ll make the choices today that will serve me better in my present and your future.” 

Come on in for treatment and let’s talk about your health goals.

A First Hand Account of Treating Acute Lyme Disease

A First Hand Account of Treating Acute Lyme Disease, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

The first indication of my acute Lyme Disease infection was a lucid dream of lying facedown on a dock, admiring and then catching a beautiful fish using only a t-shirt as my unlikely lure.  It wasn’t until other symptoms showed up that I made the connection– but I draw a line between the two because: 1) I rarely remember my dreams at all; 2) this was easily the most vivid dream I have ever had; and 3) Chinese medicine has a rich history of dreams revealing imbalances in human health. 

  Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine

After she had confirmed the bullseye rash and was filling out the prescription for doxycycline and my treatment plan, I mentioned the dream to Jennie McNeil FNP, a nurse practitioner in Waldoboro who has diagnosed and treated many cases of Lyme Disease here in Midcoast Maine.  She said, and I paraphrase, “Yes, that’s Lymey.  It interferes with your sleep and can have many cognitive effects.” 

As amazing as the dream was, I take the avoidance of another infection like that more seriously than ever. It lasted only a few weeks (so far*), but for others Lyme Disease becomes a nightmare that does not want to end.  What follows is my direct experience with the acute effects and treatment of Borrelia burgdorferi, which (along with various co-infections) is considered to be the cause of Lyme Disease. 

* Who knows what I may encounter in the long run, now that this spirochete is part of my system.

Overall, my biggest takeaway is first-hand knowledge of how serious these Lyme infections can be and a new empathy for those who suffer from them.  Previously and right up through the initial stages of my own infection, my understanding was limited and I believed I had THE tools that would help people heal from tick-borne disease.  After speaking with my friend Joel Oyer, LMT, who succeeded in scaring me into quick action with a tale of complications due to late-diagnosis and treatment, my mind frame shifted to being open to any and all forms of treatment that would help and a commitment to find what works.  From that point I decided to use the entire experience as a foundation for compassionate care – first my own, and then others.  As my acupuncture teacher is fond of saying, “Our bodies and our ailments are our best opportunities for learning.”

What follows is a detailed sequence of events according to my notes:

Day 0             Walked in a newly opened trail through the woods behind my house.  Found several ticks when I checked afterwards at home.

Day 1             Dreamed of catching rainbow fish using a white t-shirt as a lure.

Day  2             Noticed red and white splotchy, slightly itchy spot on the back of my left knee.  Never saw a tick in this location.

Day 3           Spot was getting bigger, darker, itchier and the skin felt tighter.

Days 4-6         Rash more purplish in the center spreading above and below knee.  Getting slightly painful, but still able to walk without trouble.

Finally made time and effort to apply moxibustion therapy.  I should have started earlier, but I was traveling a lot at the time and the initial location was a difficult one for me to reach on my own body.  Excuses. Excuses.**

Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine**The above explains why my immune system would have been better able to fight this bacteria if I had done more moxa sooner!

Spleen and Liver channels (inside aspect of calf and thigh) affected, showing little blisters/papillae further up inner thigh. 

After needles and moxibustion, the immediate locations felt better and were noticeably less swollen and red.  Papillae healed up within a few days.

Day 7             The swelling at the back of the knee ,where I had done much less to no treatment because it was hard to reach, was continuing to get worse.  It was much harder to get around on my feet that day.  Pain of 3 on a scale to 10 (3/10) and stiffness was focused in the back and outer aspect of the knee and calf.

Day 8             Knee continued to worsen to (4/10) pain.  TMJ type jaw pain (2/10) and stiffness on the left side began and gradually spread across my temple into my forehead as a persistent dull ache.

Pattern of the rash was still a mottled red/white, but it was swollen, painful and spreading in what began to look like concentric rings to the purplish spot on the back of my knee.  The distinctive bulls eye pattern was appearing.  Reached out to Joel Oyer and Paula Jackson Jones to discuss acute Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment.

Asked my wife to apply moxibustion therapy to the back of the knee that I could not reach.

Moxibustion Lyme Disease Acupuncture Rockland Maine

Day 9             Woke up with the range of motion in my knee more limited, and pain (5/10) upon any weight bearing. Remembered a transient achy, crampy, pain in my core upon lying down to sleep the night before.

TMJ & dull headache were up to 4/10 and the lymph nodes on my neck and groin on the left side were enlarged.  Felt a little lethargic and run down.

Got in quickly to see Jennie Mcneil who confirmed the diagnosis and prescribed doxycycline.

Noticed an almost immediate (3 hours) small reduction in pressure and pain.

Days 10 & 11          Lots of moxibustion therapy on all affected areas of the knee later and 48 hours after first doxycycline pill, all of the initial pain and tightness in the back of the knee was gone.

Pain moved to front of knee below the knee cap and registered 7/10. Nearly an identical feeling as when I tore a bit of meniscus there playing in a pick-up football game 25+ years ago.

TMJ went away (no moxa or needles used locally)

Days 12 & 13           Knee back to itchy and tight, but was good enough to mow lawn with a push mower.

Noted a visceral avoidance of all tall grass/woods where I might encounter another tick that I never see. 

Occasional, very slight, achy/crampy sensations moving through various parts of my body.

In addition to the doxycycline I began taking grapefruit seed extract and a course of specially formulated Chinese herbal antibiotics and constitutional support to be sure I was carrying on a strong and varied attack on the spirochete bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) responsible for Lyme Disease.  I had been reading a lot about this particular pathogen and its remarkable ability to adapt to and alter the environment it finds in each new host.  So, I was waging a major offensive.  Continued to take clinically proven strains of pro-biotic supplements before bed to counteract the impacts of the antibiotics on my gut flora.

Days 14-17          Complete recovery of all apparent acute symptoms. Continued the course of doxycycline for a total of 30 days. 

Day 18-present     Continuing probiotics, herbal constitutional support and maintenance care acupuncture and moxibustion.

Future           Who knows?  So far so good.  But, like so many others here in Midcoast Maine, I will continue to be vigilant about tick checks and finding ways to avoid them.  I will also be taking good care of myself by eating well and getting enough rest and regular preventative treatments to keep my immune system strong.  Basically doing the very best I can to avoid and manage any chronic affects from a Lyme Borrelia infection using a balanced lifestyle, Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture and moxibustion.

A First Hand Account of Treating Acute Lyme Disease, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

What I’ve Learned

Other than the first hand knowledge chronicled above, my most powerful learnings about the seriousness of this disease come from reading Stephen Harrod Buhner’s book, Healing Lyme. So here are three important broad understandings he shared for healing this disease:

1.     The bacteria responsible for Lyme Disease attacks and feeds on our collagen.  This is what forms our connective tissue, which create the fascial networks that literally hold our bodies together.  It wraps all of our organs, connects all the muscles to bone at each joint, and differentiates each muscle from every other and also makes up the cartilage that cushions the junction of bones.  Collagen is also what surrounds our nerves with the “insulation” (called myelin sheaths) that allow electrical impulses to travel efficiently throughout the body, affecting sensations, movement, and overall function.  This explains the joint pain that affects so many with Lyme Disease.  Remember my tick bite originally affected the muscles and ligaments in the back of my knee. Then when the bacteria was under attack, it moved to invade my previously-injured meniscus cartilage.  Because it attacks the collagen fibers that insulate our nerves, Borrelia burgdorferi can also create the varied neurological  symptoms associated with Lyme Disease.  Interesting topics for future study come from connecting this understanding with the latest theories on how acupuncture works through stimulation of the fascia – a truly amazing substance 

See Dan Keown’s theory that fascial planes match up with acupuncture meridians and his fascinating discussion of the embryological development of these networks in his book Spark in the Machine, How the Science of Acupuncture Helps to Explain the Mysteries of Western Medicine.

2.     Lyme Disease is not a new disease.   Borrelia burgdorferi and other spirochete bacteria make up some of the oldest, most adaptable species on the planet.  According to Buhner, it is present in almost every environment and can be carried by a wide spectrum of animal and insect species— not just mammals and ticks.  This bacteria as been found in the joints of Ötzi the Iceman, whose mummified remains emerged in 1991 from the retreating glaciers of the Italian Alps.  As I wrote about here, this 5300 year old “wealthy caveman” very likely suffered from joint pain and received regular acupuncture and moxibustion treatment.  That’s right, turns out that people have been using Eastern medicine to manage Lyme Disease for thousands of years!

3.     Perhaps because of its ancient origins, Lyme Borrelia infections can be incredibly devious in their manner of adapting to the particular environment they find in each new host.  The broad strategies of this bacteria include the following: a) working symbiotically with co-infections; and b) protecting itself from attack by the host’s immune system as well as antibiotics.  Both help the bacteria to persist in the body for long periods of time – leading to chronic infections.

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine

      a.     The fact that Lyme spirochetes work with other pathogenic bacteria, funguses, etc. explains the effectiveness of a Classical Chinese herbal approach developed by Heiner Freuhauf.  It is his contention that the ancients described Lyme disease and co-infections perfectly when they discussed “Gu Syndrome” in their medical texts.  Briefly, “Gu” was a traditional form of casting hexes on enemies and rivals that took the form of primitive germ warfare.  The worst sources of pathogenic evils (think rotting meat, sewage, other refuse) were combined in pots that were buried for months at a time.  Whatever festering goo (or in this case “Gu”) was retrieved from these pots after excavation was then used to infect those against whom grudges were held. Dr. Freuhauf believes that in effect, increasingly mobile and virulent pathogens combined with modern stressful lifestyles and diets that affect the delicate balance of our immune systems are creating analogous cocktails of disease-causing microbes inside our bodies.  As one example, think about how leaky gut syndrome, a sleep deficit, and overwork could lead to an overwhelmed immune system.  Now add in a particularly devious and adaptable pathogen like Lyme Borrelia and it is easy to see how things can go haywire in a variety of ways.  Dr. Freuhauf’s herbal Classical Pearl formulations are based on the effective responses of ancient healers to similar circumstances and use expertly grown and processed herbs

      b.     The various ways in which spirochetes hide in the body help to explain the difference between acute Lyme Disease and the vast variation in complications from chronic Lyme Disease infections.  So far, my acute infection has been relatively easy to contain and reverse.  This is because I knew about it early and attacked it vigorously from many different angles.  Had I not known about or had I not taken the tick bite seriously, I risked allowing the bacteria to gain a foothold in my body.  So, take tick bites seriously.  Avoid them if you can, treat them quickly if you get them. 

According to Stephen Buhner, Lyme spirochetes persist in our bodies, sometimes undetected, by developing biofilms, creating “roundbody” type cysts and by disrupting the signaling mechanisms our immune systems use to determine friend from foe.  These defenses all serve to protect the bacteria from attack by our immune response, can limit the effectiveness of antibiotics, and can lead to auto-immune diseases if our bodies lose their ability to differentiate between our own cells and invading microbes.  This explains how Lyme Disease transitions from an acute case to the variety of ways that chronic cases present.  

Eastern medicine works by identifying the patterns of symptoms present in each individual patient.  This medicine is flexible and dynamic and can meet people with Lyme Disease exactly where they are to help them heal.  Techniques like acupuncture, moxibustion and Chinese herbal formulas when integrated properly with Western medicine and other modalities can be extremely effective. This integrative approach can both keep an acute Lyme infection from becoming a chronic one, as well as manage the variety of symptoms and promote the healing of the underlying causes of illness in those who struggle with chronic Lyme disease.