What it’s really like to suffer from Lyme disease, and advice on how to treat it from those who have battled it (hint: heat therapy is one potential approach). 

By Jessica Collins for Heat Healer

2021 was a BIG year for 26-year old model and yoga instructor Joanna (@joannabisxo) who, after battling chronic Lyme disease for more than 5 years, regained control of her life and banished her debilitating symptoms. She worked closely with a team of health practitioners to discover the right treatments for her, including heat therapy in the form of Infrared saunas. 

A number of celebrities have raised awareness of Lyme disease - including Yolanda and Bella Hadid, Justin Bieber and Alec Baldwin - after publicly sharing their own battles with the illness.

Lyme disease is not well defined by the medical profession, and can present as a broad range of symptoms, including headache, fever, and fatigue, which can last weeks, months - or even years for some sufferers.

What we know for sure is that the disease is generally spread following the bite of a tick infected with a particular Borrelia bacteria. These ticks are commonly found in parts of Asia, Europe and North America.

Diagnosis can be difficult, and many sufferers report fighting to be taken seriously by doctors.

For Joanna, it took more than 12 months to receive a conclusive diagnosis, after her increasingly severe symptoms baffled multiple medical practitioners. While early stage Lyme disease can be treated using antibiotics, some people continue to experience chronic, debilitating illness over a long period of time.

Joanna explained how her symptoms left her terrified and feeling like she was in survival mode: “I had it all - painful muscle fibres, swollen and numb legs to the point where I could hardly walk, stiff neck, blurry vision, dizziness and brain fog. But the scariest symptom had to be insomnia - I was exhausted all the time and yet I couldn’t sleep. I suffered from severe anxiety, panic attacks and felt completely out of control”.

Multi-pronged approach
Treatment of such disparate symptoms often requires multiple therapies and approaches, understood by integrative health practitioner Mackenzie Bennett (@thegoodbalance_), who has helped clients suffering from Lyme disease and common co-infections. 

Mackenzie said “what most people don't realize is that the Borrelia infection never comes by itself, it is almost always accompanied by a co-infection. These pathogens are opportunistic, can burrow deep into the body, and wait for the immune system to be weakened (by stress, mold, toxins or other pathogens), which allows them to proliferate”.

Order of Operations

Mackenzie told us it is essential to treat the symptoms of the co-infections as well as common symptoms of Lyme disease: “I work according to the order of operations, which involves:

1. Drainage: How toxins move around the body, from cell to colon. If the drainage funnel is blocked this can cause toxins to recirculate instead of leaving the body. Sweating is one of the most powerful ways to drain toxins. Personally, my Infrared sauna blanket has been the best investment in my own health and is a key part of my healing toolkit.

2. Parasites: We almost all have parasites, it’s simply a matter of which ones. Clients with Lyme disease can spend years battling relapse symptoms due to the impact of parasites on their immune system. Getting rid of these can often help the body start to fight back against Lyme disease on its own.

3. The clean up: Once parasites are out of the way, we deal with any remaining issues, which could include clearing further toxins such as heavy metals, using bacteria specific supports for Lyme and co-infections, or clearing mold and other pathogens.”

Joanna’s personal journey to a symptom-free life included a raft of treatments, supplements and lifestyle changes: “I had success using a combination of things including a Rife Machine (which produces low electromagnetic energy waves), multiple supplements, B-12 injections, High Dose Vitamin C IV therapy, Chinese medicine, UVB Light Therapy and Red Light therapy, probiotics and more. I overhauled my diet, removing inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, soy, certain nuts and night shade veggies while undergoing treatment. I used Infrared saunas to sweat and detox at least 2-3 times a week - the more the better!”

Today she has happily regained control of her health and her life, and continues her passions of being on stage, behind a camera, dancing, moving, and generally being creative.

Joanna’s advice for anyone going through a similar experience: “keep fighting for your happiness, your wellness, your joy, your health. Everyone treats Lyme differently and you will find what works for you. Most importantly, do not give up on yourself!”

For more information on Lyme disease:
National Institue of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (US)
World Health Organization Fact Sheet (Europe)
NSW Health Fact Sheet (Australia)