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Understanding Heat

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sauna

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been going to the dry sauna less frequently. The reason for the decrease is diarrhea and a desire not to increase the risk of dehydration. But something else has happened in the time that I’ve been going to the sauna less often: my Lyme symptoms and herxes have gotten more intense. Even the nightsweats from Babesia coiling are getting more frequent (2 per night) and more wet.

There are several possible explantations for the increase in herxing:

  1. The bouts of diarrhea have suppressed my immune system, causing the Lyme infection to become more active.
  2. By going to the sauna less and sweating less, toxins are building up faster than I’m detoxifying.
  3. My previous trips to the sauna raised my body temperature enough to suppress the Lyme infection and once I stopped, it became active again.

If the first possibility is true, there isn’t much I can do. I just have to do my best to wait out the flare and keep coiling.

If the second possibility is true, then I can increase my other detox activities while I’m not going to the sauna, or I can hurry back to the sauna.

If the third possibility is true, then I should reduce either the frequency or the length of my sauna visits. This last one is important because I need to let the Lyme bacteria be active in order to kill them. The coil machine doesn’t work on the dormant cyst form of the bacteria.

The most conservative way to deal with the three possibilities is to keep my sauna visits to a lower level than before to prevent the chance that I’m putting the bacteria in cyst form. Meanwhile, I need to do more detoxing to get the symptoms under control.

No Regrets

Despite the fact that I’m now learning I may have prolonged my Lyme flare season by too many visits to the sauna, I have no regrets. I was using all the information I had at my disposal to decide how often I should go. The overriding factor at the time was clearing out the Bartonella herxes. The only way I could reduce the resulting kidney pain to a manageable level was to sit in the sauna for twenty minutes, 2 out of 3 days.

Having gotten to the point where I can live with the kidney pain by reducing the infection load, or at least moderate it solely with hot baths and the biomat (heating pad), I can now go back to finishing the Lyme season with a bang.

Hot Baths

In the absence of regular trips to the gym and sauna, I’ve taken a few hot baths with epsom salts. I used to take them all the time, making the water so hot it was just bearable. I loved them, sweating away the aches and pains. Now I’ve gotten a little more moderate. The water is hot but not unbearable, and I stay in a little less than 20 minutes. I also add a lot more epsom salt than I used to. Now that I’m writing, I realize I need to restock the Dead Sea Salts that made the bath even more bone-warming and joint relaxing.

How much heat?

Like many other questions with Lyme Disease, there is no simple, clear, one-size-fits-all rule of thumb. I do my best to listen to my body. Heat helps with some of the symptoms by assisting blood flow and detoxification. Baths, sauna and biomat also help me relax my muscles, reduce my pain, and even help me feel more refreshed. But too much heat can send all the infections into the dormant forms that can’t be eradicated. So I’m learning to listen to make sure I have symptoms rather than whether I’m use enough heat to get rid of symptoms.

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