Beating Lyme Disease with Essential Oils
In this article, you will learn about beating Lyme disease with essential oils through these topics:
- What is Lyme Disease?
- Best Essential Oils for Lyme Prevention
- A DIY Lyme Prevention Strategy
- Treating Lyme with Essential Oils
Lyme disease is increasing in prevalence in the U.S with 300,000 + people getting infected every year. More common than breast cancer, we know that proper prevention is the best medicine. Although, there is some recent research suggesting that it is also sexually transmitted, most authorities agree that tick bites are responsible for a vast majority of the cases seen in doctors' offices. Research also suggests that essential oils are ideal tools to have on hand. In addition to bug-beating benefits, some oils may help with the control of Lyme if it is contracted, as well.
What is Lyme Disease?
Caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, Lyme disease is traditionally viewed as primarily being a tick-borne illness. After a bite occurs and the tick is safely removed, typically only some swelling and minor itching remain. If the tick was carrying Lyme, however, other symptoms will begin.
The most iconic indication of Lyme is the “bullseye” rash that spreads around the bite like a target. Some individuals never see a rash, though, so don't let that be your only indication! Other initial symptoms of Lyme include flu like aches and pains.
If it's not treated right away, Lyme disease can progress into more chronic conditions like arthritis, sore muscles and joints, memory problems, headaches, numbness or weakness, and severe fatigue. (1)
Lyme disease is a rather serious concern, and tick bites should be avoided first and then monitored closely if prevention fails.
Best Essential Oils for Lyme Prevention
Prevention is the key with Lyme disease. Even when chronic symptoms can be avoided, the symptoms and treatment of Lyme are challenging. No one wants to deal with that kind of discomfort and hassle, and no one should have to live with the long term consequences.
Areas especially prone to Lyme-carrying ticks include northern US coastlines, the Mid-Atlantic, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, though all states are vulnerable. (2) In order to prepare your family for the potential of tick bites and prevention of Lyme, use these oils to counterbalance your typical lemon, eucalyptus and citronella oils, for a varied approach that will keep ticks guessing.
Usually, when we think of bug repellants, citronella is the first that comes to mind. Citronella candles and sprays are the first to come out in summer months when bugs get bad. For ticks, though, citronella may not be the first go-to.
In a 2014 study of the effect two oils – citronella and clove – have on ticks, clove came out on top. While citronella was reasonably effective, clove outperformed it substantially with over 90% efficacy! (3)
Applications: Use clove in outdoor diffusions where ticks may be prominent, direct sprays and ground/surface treatments, and diluted in topical prevention applications.
Again hearkening to that oh so familiar citronella, vetiver is a similar plant with a similar aroma that is used in similar ways. And, again, like clove, vetiver essential oil seems to be more effective against ticks than citronella.
In tests of efficacy against ticks and their larvae, vetiver essential oil was tested for its efficacy. Whether it is because of resistance built up against the more commonly used treatments or whether vetiver has always been this good, vetiver was able to keep ticks at bay even better than standard treatments. (4)
Application: Ground and surface treatments in tick-infested areas; topical application for bug repelling effects.
The popular kitchen herb oregano has a strong essential oil profile. Known as an antibacterial/antibiotic oil with strong effects on the skin that require dilution, oregano essential oil finds its way into bug control and Lyme prevention, as well.
Sharing major compounds carvacrol and eugenol with clove oil, oregano has also tested well against ticks in at least one recent study. (5)
As a bonus in topical applications, oregano has antibacterial effects to bring to the table – important when Lyme is a bacteria! Topical applications could give you a head start in warding off Lyme before it has a chance to settle in.
Application: Topical bug repellent treatments. Oregano can be harsh on skin, so be sure to dilute it very well and use it as part of a larger blend.
If you've intentionally eaten garlic to keep the vampires and mosquitoes away, you already know about its potent aromatic effects. Researchers looked into this more closely by extracting the essential oil from garlic bulbs to test against ticks.
Tick mortality rates upon exposure to garlic essential oil were nearly 100%. (6)
Application: If garlic essential oil is not available, consider including a DIY garlic oil infusion in your ground and surface treatments. And when all else fails, some extra homemade fresh garlic bread is always warranted!
DIY Lyme Prevention Strategy
If you're going to be in areas of high risk and exposure to ticks, you can't go unprotected. With so many oils appearing more effective than commercial options, it seems essential oil formulations are the smarter choice.
Tick and Lyme Prevention Oil
Keep this simple “lotion” of diluted oils on hand to apply on exposed skin whenever tick exposure will be high. Hikers, campers, and others enjoying outdoor activity that will take you into the woods should be considered at risk. Remember that these oils are powerful, so you should keep them away from your eyes and mouth.
- 4 oz carrier oil of choice
- 40 drops total of a blend of tick-repelling essential oils (vetiver, clove, oregano, ylang ylang, and some citrus for scent balance all come to mind!)
Blend, pour into a glass spritzer bottle, and spray periodically to ankles, arms, etc.
Treating Lyme with Essential Oils
Sometimes, even when we do all we can, the worst happens. Lyme disease can strike at any time, and you should be prepared to find a physician who can work with you in that worse case scenario. These doctors are referred to as Lyme Literate, and as Dr. Cindee Gardner pointed out in an interview, they still may not be aware of the range of alternative treatments that are available for Lyme.
Lyme should only be treated under the care of a professional, though you may find these oils beneficial in your plan of attack:
- Chamomile for relaxation and mood
- Vetiver for focus
- Citrus for antimicrobial as well as energizing effects
- Various blends of your favorite oils into massages for pain
The list could extend on for days, with the vast Lyme symptoms and broad actions of essential oils. Simply remember to begin with prevention, seek help promptly if infection is suspected, and use your skillfully curated essential oil medicine cabinet all along the way that you are beating lyme disease with essential oils.