Lyme Disease Prevention
Note that I treat patients primarily in Michigan so this article is more relevant to areas that have substantial Lyme disease.
Spring is here! While the warmer weather is pleasant, it also brings challenges including
tick bites and the potential for Lyme disease. Ticks also spread other infections such as
Babesia and Rickettsia. I will refer to the larger grouping as Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is well known for causing illness in the short term. However, occasionally
people develop symptoms that slowly get worse and eventually are diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. Chronic Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose so it is often missed when people have vague symptoms that slowly get worse.
The first and most crucial step in preventing Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites.
Effective ways of preventing tick bites include wearing boots, protective clothing such as
long sleeves and pants, using tick repellents that contain DEET or picaridin, and
performing regular tick checks on yourself and your pets. You can also reduce tick
populations in your yard by keeping grass and vegetation trimmed, removing leaf litter
and other debris, and creating a barrier between wooded areas and your lawn with wood chips or gravel.
There are also products such as the SickTick repellant bands that you can put over your boots. I dislike putting DEET and other chemicals directly on my clothes but I think putting it on boots may be reasonable. Using something like that along with high rubber boots theoretically makes the risk of a tick bite quite low.
The second step is to make sure you are finding any potential tick bites early.
If you are in an environment where tick bites can occur, be vigilant in checking yourself
and your family daily for ticks. Common areas that ticks attach are the legs and the head, but they can attach anywhere, including places such as inside the ear. Even with the highest vigilance, bites may still happen. The CDC has well written instructions on how to remove a tick.
There are laboratories where you can send ticks to see if they have Lyme or other infections, but area health departments (at least in southwest Michigan) no longer offer tick testing.
If a tick has bit you, there are additional considerations to explore.
The CDC now recommends a single dose of antibiotics if you meet the criteria listed
1. Bite occurred in Michigan or another higher risk state.
2. The tick was removed in the last 72hrs (treatment is most effective if given
within 72hrs of tick removal).
3. The tick was engorged (not flat).
4. The tick was black-legged.
5. You are not allergic to doxycycline, pregnant or nursing.
I think it is reasonable to do this but would also consider adding herbal treatments. The herbals are known to have low risk and the potential benefit in preventing chronic Lyme disease is substantial.
The ability to take antibiotics right when they are most helpful may mean having a
prescription available before a tick bites you. Most people would not want to interrupt a
camping trip in a remote setting to get an antibiotic for a potential infection from a tick bite.
There are many herbal medications which have been shown to be effective in a variety of stages of Lyme disease which you could consider using to prevent infection as well.
These include Cryptolepis, Black Walnut, Japanese Knotweed, Sweet Wormwood, Cat’s
Claw, Chinese Skullcap, and Barbat Skullcap. I’ve opted to use the following products but
know there are many options.
1. Cryptolepsis is sold by Ortho Molecular and can be purchased from places like
2. IS-BORR from CellCore includes a variety of herbals including black walnut,
cat's claw, and Japanese Knotweed to support immune function. You need a
direct link to purchase from this company.
If you develop signs of Lyme infection such as a rash or fever, then it would be
appropriate to discuss an appropriate treatment strategy with your medical provider. I will generally consider a longer course of antibiotics in addition to herbal supplements if that happens.
If you follow the steps above, you should not have to worry too much about getting Lyme disease. So, here’s to a vibrant healthy summer!
This article is for information purposes only and is not medical advice. Seek out a trusted medical professional to discuss your personal risks and benefits in medical diagnosis and treatments.