We all know that Lyme disease sufferers have “messed up” immune systems. So, most of us have explored the idea of taking supplements which “boost” or “modulate” the immune system. To “modulate” the immune system really just means, to boost some parts of the immune system while reducing other parts of immune function.
If you are a bit scared about modulation, I don’t blame you, since modulation really does lower some aspects of immunity, even while it boosts other parts of immune function.
For example, let’s take cannabis. While cannabis has been shown to decrease Lyme symptoms and provide brain benefits, some studies also demonstrate that it suppresses the immune system and can be bad for infectious diseases!
Medicinal mushrooms, which I am also a big fan of (check the archives of this blog for several posts on this topic), are also immune modulators. These mushrooms upregulate some parts of the immune system and downregulate other parts. In fact, there are several high-level PhD scientists who believe that the cancer-fighting benefits of medicinal mushrooms may not be related to their immune impact at all, but to some other, yet-undiscovered effect. Pretty interesting.
So, what’s a Lyme sufferer to do? Of course, please consult your doctor before doing anything! But, here is where my thinking is on this topic. The answer depends on which scenario you fall into. Most Lyme sufferers will fall into one of two scenarios.
SCENARIO #1: Your infections are mostly gone or under control, but your body is still very messed up and has a lot of residual inflammation and damage. You may be suffering from various autoimmune diseases, inflammatory symptoms, and other issues, but you are pretty sure the infections aren’t to blame anymore — maybe you don’t even herx on anti-bacterial treatments anymore. If you fall into this category, you may be a better candidate for immune “modulators”, such as cannabis, medicinal mushrooms, low dose naltrexone, etc.
SCENARIO #2: You are actively battling big flareups of infections like Borrelia, Bartonella, and Babesia. You are sure your active symptoms are caused by infections. Sure, you may have other issues like heavy metals and autoimmune disease, but you can clearly tell you are fighting infections.
Just recently, I’ve managed to put together a supplement protocol for people in Scenario #2. I’m very pleased with this protocol, and it has helped me a ton since my big flareup last year which involved the introduction of a new tetanus infection. I’m excited to share these supplements with you for people in Scenario #2. I call them the “Big 4 Immune Boosters.” These supplements do have some immune modulation properties, but mostly they are immune system BOOSTERS, meaning they upregulate the immune system more than they down regulate it. These are some powerful tools, not to be thought of as natural trinkets inferior to conventional antibiotics.
The Big 4 Immune Boosters
- AHCC (active hexose correlated compound) This is a heavy-hitter for immune boosting. Check out all the studies. There is also a research foundation dedicated to AHCC. This is one of my favorite products of all time. Purchase here.
- Beta Glucan. This is one of the few supplements that doesn’t downregulate any part of the immune system, and is even recommended by the Mayo Clinic to boost Natural Killer Cells. I absolutely love this product. According to one source I have who was a patient at the Mayo Clinic, this is the brand recommended by the Mayo Clinic.
- Colostrum: Most of us have heard of Colostrum, and it is a powerful immune system activator. I use the plain and simple Now Brand Colostrum, which I’ve had very good results with.
- Lactoferrin: This is an interesting product and specifically works to try to keep iron away from microorganisms which use iron to survive. I’ve had very good results with this product.
When taken together, these 4 products pack a big punch and can really rev up the immune system against foreign invaders. Of course, everyone is different, so be sure to ask your doctor first. I also recommend starting on them one at a time, so that you can pinpoint if any of them have undesirable effects or side effects. Personally, I take all of them on an empty stomach once or twice a day, and have had incredible results.
There are even studies which show that if someone has a suppressed immune system, and you boost the immune system, that not only do you succeed in fighting infections, but there can also be an elevated mood, better sleep, more energy, and a more positive life outlook! That’s because the immune system and brain function are closely related.
In the end, finding out whether you are in SCENARIO 1 or SCENARIO 2 can be tricky, and you may alternate back and forth for the course of your sickness. It may take some detective work with a doctor to decide which supplements will help the most. Trial and error may be required. And remember, some items that suppress the immune system (like cortisone steroids) may actually make you FEEL better in the short term, but may damage the immune system in the long term! So be careful and make sure you have expert assistance from a doctor.
I would also like to point out that there are some supplements which are very specifically targeted toward helping Lyme disease, one such supplement is Curcumin. While curcumin is an immune modulator, not strictly an immune system booster, it has been studied by many Lyme experts including Dr. Horowitz, and been found to be of benefit in Lyme disease. So, don’t get overly hung up with the distinction between boosting and modulating – remember to also take into account the clinical experience of professionals LLMD’s. My favorite curcumin is a patented version called “C3” curcumin, which uses three separate parts of the plant to give maximum benefit. I highly recommend it.
There are many other immune modulators and boosters which we will be looking at in the coming months. A very important and useful topic!