Before we can appreciate and understand the various benefits of Chaga medicinal mushrooms for helping treatment and symptoms of Lyme, it is important to understand the basic functions and impact of Lyme disease itself. As anyone who has encountered Lyme, or lives with it knows- it is a very sneaky and insidious and invasive condition that affects a wide range of body functions.
First- a brief summary of what Lyme IS. It is not a single organism; rather, it is actually a “family” of organisms: or lyme and related diseases. There is also ehrlicea, babesia, bartonella, etc… Overall, though, it is a very basic organism. It is single-minded in its function: it breaks down collagen to survive. As such, in its simplicity, it is also extremely effective, or intelligent. Generally, the less someone or something has to do- the better it can be at that function. In Industry we think of this as specialization. Oh great, the spirochetes have become experts. Isn’t that just what we all wanted to hear…?
Lyme disease spirochete has been around for quite a while. It lives in deer- but somehow the deer have a symbiotic relationship with the spirochete. From what I understand, the deer are able to replenish their collagen effectively so that the lyme does have damaging impact.
In some regards I find this extremely interesting, because that would-should indicate that healthy hosts in natural environments- should-could evolve and adapt. And yet our pets are also extremely susceptible to lyme disease now, as well. So perhaps there is something unique about the deer, and it isn’t just based on the idea that “ healthy hosts don’t get sick.”
Regardless, the debates about where lyme originated, its authenticity and exact what-ness, will probably be debated and argued over for some time to come. That’s all well and good, for the theorists. It does little to nothing for those who wrestle with it in daily life.
One thing understood about lyme, from those who work with it, or live with it: its tenacity and its sneakiness. Okay, that’s two things. Lyme is referred to as the great mimic. It tends NOT to have any one set of symptoms of its own. Rather, it tends to mimic other diseases and conditions. It is equally hard to accurately test for. Often, even expert doctors need to rely on a combination of test results and anecdotal-symptomatic information in making a diagnosis. This is interesting, given that a friend explained something to me about lyme, from a TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine) perspective. He said that Lyme was the only thing that was neither Yin, nor Yang ( the two basic forces/ types of energy in the universe). It hid “inbetween.” It lurks in the shadows, in a sort of quantum indeterminate phase/ stage/ place. This corresponds to what scientists know and understand about Lyme, and the many ways it has of withstanding treatment, hiding, and phase-changing or literal shape-shifting.. to remain impervious to medication and the immune system. As noted: sneaky, even diabolical.
These two things are actually the same thing, a sort of yin and yang aspect of the same function. As well as being clever, it can dig in deep, literally, and hang on for dear life.. yours!
Anyway- a little bit about the impacts of Lyme on the body and why- how Chaga medicinal mushrooms can be beneficial for working with lyme. In future articles, I will go into each topic with greater specifics, but here is an overview of aspects of lyme disease and chaga’s support.
- Immuno-modulating. This seems perfect for the lyme! I used to wonder, from my own experiences: if lyme is immune deficiency, or more auto-immune. In some regards I always feel a little less “vital,” and able to withstand stress, fatigue, whatever is going around. I live a few steps closer to be run-down than I ever did prior to being sick. On the other hand, I also experience things like allergies, a faux-asthma/ breathing difficulty and stiff-sore joints that are indicative of an over-active immune system. Again, with the in-between and the mimicry. I Do find that drinking chaga daily- in place of coffee/ caffeine etc has been a HUGE support. At one point I was not sure of this, thinking perhaps it was aggravating my immune system. So I stopped drinking the chaga completely. Within about 3 or four days I felt a huge drain. I was dong barn chores ( I have a small farm in VTJ, and I suddenly felt lightheaded, wobbly and wonky. This is what I have been feeling more and more consistently over the last several years. What I then noted, I had NOT felt this in the preceding year while drinking the chaga tea! Wow! Huge confirmation there. At that point, I didn’t care if it would be detrimental- it was DEFINITELY keeping me more functional!
The chaga is definitely helping the immune system and/ or inflammation. I am not sure what mechanism is at work there- but it is helping. I would be very interested to get someone to do some lab tests to find out WHAT the chaga is doing in regards to the lyme. I would also be interested to know if there is a connection to the body’s PH and lyme, and if the chaga helps to change the PH- thereby making a less inviting environment for the little buggers to thrive! This might be a followup article on the specifics.
- Inflammation: Lyme causes inflammation. It might affect the joints, muscles, create asthmatic related conditions. The inflammation may be a result of the lyme itself, a result of the toxins it is creating, or it might be the body’s immune system being on over-drive trying to search-and-destroy something it can’t actually FIND, and wreaking havoc in the process… Chaga helps with inflammation. It is used to treat arthritis.
- Stamina and energy: Lyme is depleting- on just about every level. The day to day stress and drain is like carrying around an extra person or added weight. It depletes the resources and reserves. It also seems to deplete the metabolism: the body’s ability and desire to burn calories and create energy that will feel-good. This is one reason that getting exercise and fresh air is sooo crucial for lyme patients. Often it feels very counter-intuitive. When you feel like crap, getting out and exercising sounds like the worst advice. Reserves feel low. And you’re supposed to use up the little that is there? Are you CRAZY? Yep. Probably. BUT, exercise creates energy. I learned this directly, many years ago when I would be wide awake at midnight; therefore deciding to go for a run. The logic being that I would then be tired and be able to go to sleep. Not so much. Wide awake at 3 and 4 AM. Years later, I learned/ understood that exercise “wakes the body up.”.. and in relation to lyme, this is what we WANT! I think that the lyme wants to trick the body into going dormant, so it can do whatever the hell it wants, without anyone saying NO. And more often than not- it wins! Find that fine line between exercising and depleting.. and keep pushing that line back a little further. Think of it as trench-warfare, and you are slowly reclaiming ground from the enemy. Chaga- helps the body create energy. It helps to oxygenate cells, and it also bolsters the actual metabolism.
- The liver: Lyme seems to like the liver. I recall the doctor giving me a better technical explanation and description. My succinct translation was: lyme likes the liver. So lyme definitely impacts the liver. I know this from having had inflammation of the liver at one point. I thought I had coughed a rib out of alignment, until the chiropractor said… oooh.. I shouldn’t be able to palpate your liver from here. Well, THAT didn’t sound good. Needless to say, yes, that has been brought under better control- but I am fairly certain this is the byproduct of several years of the lyme chomping away at it, and then the liver being additionally stressed by a severe bronchial infection. In addition to lyme liking the liver for its own sake.. the problem is two-fold. The liver is a HUGE player in the body. In TCM it is referred to as “ the General on the Battlefield.” Interesting coincidence that lyme lays down siege there? I think not! Anyway- the liver is vital for supporting the rest of the functions of the body. It is also crucial for removing toxins from the body. This may be even more important in regards to combating the lyme. The byproducts and toxins of billions of micro-organisms breaking down the body’s healthy stuff, and essentially poo-ing into the body… is added stress on the whole-system. It’s like having a sudden onslaught of frat boys having a party in your home.
Chaga helps to detox and repair the liver.
- Stress and the nervous system. Yeah- try living with a frat party long term. Plenty O the stress builds up. Note: essentially, the body does not differentiate between sources when coping with stress. Physical emotional and energetic stress… it doesn’t really matter to the body, where it came from. It’s still there. A hard day’s work may have a certain number of stress points. An argument with a family member, same deal. Getting over-tired, ditto. Lyme… yep… more stress. Stress is stress is stress… at least to the body. So it is imperative to have a good stress-reduction program. Find SOMETHING that works. Tai-chi, yoga, meditation of some sort, exercise, quiet time, rest and good healthy whole food (processed crap and sugars stress the body, they do not feed-nourish it). Vitamins, supplements etc. Work with or study up on nutritional needs.
Chaga is an adaptogen. It soothes and tones the central Nervous system. That helps the body at the cellular level to release stress and toxins (toxins are a form of stress.).
As previously noted- I intend to go into greater depth on individual topics and specific actions. But this is a good overview of the ways Chaga supports the body and helps it cope with Lyme Disease and its many varied symptoms. There are many resources for locating chaga, and if you live in the northern woods, you can try wildcrafting it yourself. Chaga is also available for sale through the online store here. ( storefront under construction. email or make requests through the comments below. and please add your experiences with chaga, or specific questions!