Ticks Part 1: You and Your Family

This is a repeat post with a few updates for the new year.  

Yep.  It’s tick season and people are in a panic.  Fear often makes us make rash decisions.  So take a breath.  Do some research and make the best decisions for yourself, your family, and the world we live in (people and place).  The following are my personal thoughts and practices.  They may not be the same as yours, and that’s just fine, but it’s a good starting point.

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Ayurveda is all about preventative care.  It is loads easier to keep yourself healthy than it is to come back from ill health.  Why is this in a tick blog?  Because the strength of your immunity is a key factor in your ability to fight off tick borne illnesses.  Keep your immunity strong by eating well and living well.

How to live with ticks: “Constant Vigilance” (Mad Eye Mooney: Wisdom from Harry Potter)
–The number one things you can do is twice daily tick checks.  That’s probably enough unless you are spending a lot of time out in tick-land, but also check when you come back from an outing.  If you’re constantly searching for ticks, you might have crossed over into overly fearful.  Fear cultivates illness and weakened immunity.

Take some time while showering to do a full body tick check. At the opposite end of your day, do a light coating of oil on your whole body.  Use this mini-Abhyanga (daily self massage) as a second tick check and to nourish and protect your skin.

–Try Neem Soap.  Soap your feet and ankles well.  It’s a little bit of a daily scent that ticks don’t like.  You can also use neem oil on your skin to discourage ticks (and other bugs).  Neem is also super cooling for those Pitta types and it soothes red, inflamed skin.

–Add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to your shampoo and conditioner.  Again, another little bit of a daily scent that ticks don’t like.  Just a few drops…maybe 13 for a full shampoo bottle.  A little goes a long way.

–Permethrin seems to be the go-to tick pesticide.  I do NOT use Permethrin.  I don’t put anything near my skin, or on my clothes, that can kill a cat.  I also avoid DEET.  I think the repercussions of using these chemicals are not worth the risk.  I also have concerns about overuse of pesticides creating super, un-killable pests (like ticks) and damaging the delicate ecosystem of my land that does need bugs.  Again, personal decision.  Your lifestyle and decisions may differ from mine. (Note: I do have exceptions. I will occasionally use DEET on my clothing, or my pack, for long overnight hiking where effective daily ticks checks are not possible).

–What to use instead?  Stephen Buhner’s Lyme Armor Tick Spray is a potent herbal formula to discourage ticks (Author of Healing Lyme).  It’s on the pricey side, but it works and it’s not a questionable chemical.  This is my tick spray choice for the back yard, the back woods, and a day hike.

–And yes, sticky tape lint rollers don’t hurt.  When you come inside, lint roll your clothing and any little critters you picked up should get stuck.  This is NOT a substitute for daily tick checks.

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What to do if you find an imbedded tick?
It’s always wise to have what you need on hand before you need it!  Plan ahead.

Don’t do any ‘tricks’ to remove the tick (no vaseline or matches or essential oils). Those ‘tricks’ aggravate the tick and it spits more gunk into the wound. We’re not concerned so much about the tick, we’re worried about the spit. Don’t make it spit extra gunk into your system.
–Use a pair of tweezers (or plan ahead: purchase a forked tick remover). Grab the tick at the base nearest the skin, twist and pull firmly out. SAVE the tick to be tested, just in case and make sure you got the head (it’s fairly cheap now to send off the tick yourself to be tested).
Cleanse the area and add a drawing herb.  TA’s tick salve is made with plantain, which is the local go-to tick site drawing herb. Cover with a bandaid. Keep the salve and bandaid on the site for at least 24-48 hours.
Boost your immunity!! Eat well. Rest well. Move well (sweat is good).  There are amazing immunity boosting herbs you can use.
Reduce sugar and processed foods. You might love these things, but invading bacteria does too. This is a great time to consider a three day kitchari cleanse (it’s nourishing, easy to digest, and it lacks the sugar and gunk that invading bacteria love).
–Stay warm. Take hot baths: spirochetes (Lyme and other tick borne bacteria) dislike heat. Here’s an excuse to use the sauna.
Ledum Palustre (a homeoptathic rembedy) won’t hurt.  This can also be used as a preventative for dogs.  Message me for more information.
Teasel Extract is a great after bite support to discourage bacteria from finding your body a nice, cozy home.  Message me for more information.
–Watch for flulike symptoms, bull eyes, other rashes, or signs of infection. See your doctor if you have these symptoms or suspect Lyme (or other co-infections).  Take the tick you saved with you for testing.

If you are diagnosed with Lyme and/or co-infections:
–Go visit a Lyme Literate Doctor. This is important. They understand the infections, co-infections, tests, and specific treatments. Your insurance company may be an issue. My suggestion is to, at least, spring for an initial visit. They can get you on the right track. This is your health. Spend the money on your health and wellbeing.
Use antibiotics appropriately. Misuse of antibiotics and pesticides = superbugs. Your Lyme Literate doctor will guide you. That said, tick borne illnesses are an appropriate place for the use of antibiotics.

I know this was a lot. We have a lot of choices and power in our hands to make the right decisions for ourselves, for our society, and for the earth. Choose wisely and carefully. Wisdom doesn’t make choices based on fear. Wise choices are based on information and discernment. Think and choose now.

Next Up: Ticks and Your Yard…

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