Does the seasonal shift heading towards cold weather stir Lyme symptoms for you? Let’s talk about this. The anecdotal evidence says yes for many. Read on to gain insight how to the answer the question of “Why do Lyme symptoms get worse in the cold weather?” and how to help.
The Northern Hemisphere is in change over from Summer to Fall. The minutes of daylight in each 24 hour period decreases as the temperatures fall. Eating and sleeping habits change from summer to fall. Plants bring nutrients down into their roots to sustain them. The smallest bees to the largest bear all get ready in fall and hunker down for winter. All plants and animals shift behavior in response to the seasons. Lyme does too.
The Cycles and Forms of Lyme Bacteria
Borellia lives it’s life in cycles. In the world of bacteria it has a relatively long life and reproductive cycle. Lyme is a bacteria that can change form. The bacteria live in different forms depending on how long they have lived in you, your immune system and the treatment you have received. You are their condo complex, so you get to feel their cycles and house their different life forms. Borellia lives as a spirochete, a cell wall deficient form, and a cyst form.
The different forms impact symptoms in different ways. There are a bunch of online conversations that say my Lyme symptoms get worse in winter. Direct experience reports are all over the internet. There are not a lot of clinical studies that I have found on this. But here are some thoughts.
Some Lyme patients feel better during the warmer months, and worse during the colder months. I have talked about how the heat effects people before. For others the cold is far worse, why might this be?
- There are a lot of factors that contribute to how you feel. In terms of the bacteria, the Lyme spirochetes the blood stream form do not thrive in the heat! About 104 is the magic temperature that fries them. They like it colder.
- Stress weakens our immune system and acidifies our tissues. Summer vacation is over, so we go back to work and school in the fall. Our schedules get crowded and our stress level rises. We also may have a lower immune response in the winter because of the extra stress from the cold. Lyme benefits from this.
- Lack of sun and fresh air to breathe tinkers with our immune response. When the immune system is in low gear, Lyme has a greater chance to breed and entrench.
- Lyme blogs imply that Lyme comes out to play during fall. It unencysts and is active in the body. So the medicines you are on can get to it. Why can this make you feel worse? When Lyme is active you can feel worse and when it dies the release of endotoxins makes you feel worse too.
Shine light on this through the lens of Ayurveda
Ayurveda examines all life using three main forces called dosha. The Dosha are Vata Pitta and Kapha. (Click the link to learn more about the dosha.) It is Vata season in Ayurveda. What this means is that the forces that shape your experience have an extra seasonal vata component. Out of Balance Vata is often involved in imbalance and illness. The qualities gunas of Vata are dry light, cold and mobile. Lyme likes the cold and wants to be mobile.
Balance with Opposites
In Ayurveda opposite qualities called gunas are used to balance the life forces the dosha. For example hot and cold are opposite qualities. If Lyme symptoms get more out of control when it is cold, bring the heat to balance this out. Warm clothes, hot water, hot baths and sauna time can help balance the effects of cold weather.
When stress is in control in your body, it causes system wide hormonal shifts that favor Lyme over your best immune response. Balance the stress with planned relaxation. Keep white space in your schedule. Add meditation or progressive relaxation to the white space for more benefits.
If you are getting acidic from stress, you are making your body more comfortable for lyme. Take steps get alkaline. Lemon or Lime in water or apple cider vinegar can help. Dial in the specifics of what you need with your health care team.
Lyme dies off and toxins build up? This can really make your Lyme symptoms get worse ( Jarisch Herxheimer Reaction). You want help your body detoxify. There many ways you can.
- Sip warm water,
- Massage with oil, dry brush your skin ,
- add gentle movement and
- Eat easy to digest food
Help kick start your bodies natural detox abilities.
Deeper Detoxification, like a cleanse or pancha karma or IV treatment may be necessary. This is best done with the help and support of your health care team. Pace your detox activities so they don’t overwhelm you.
Realize that you need to ride the cycles of Lyme while you are living, while you are healing. Share ideas to help yourself and your community on Facebook. Track how symptoms cycle with colder temperatures and less light. Take action if Lyme symptoms get worse. Feel your best this fall and winter.
The information provided on this blog is not a substitute for professional medical care, treatment or advice. All the material here is for information purposes only. Always share strategy and work with your health care team