Here we go again. My second chance at a tick bite.

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Sunburst in forest

So, it happened. Summer has barely even started. We just had a fabulous weekend hiking around the woods, embracing all of the joy of nature. One last summer baseball game. The next morning, embedded tick on my arm. Thankfully, the rest of the story plays out much differently than it did when I found an erythema migrans rash, a tell-tale sign of Lyme disease, on my back just four years prior (although it is now clear I had been infected with Lyme many years prior to that day). With experience and an open mind comes great knowledge, empowerment and wisdom.

Four years ago, I was led by fear. I was motivated by panic. Each action that I took, pulled me deeper and deeper into the vortex. And I was completely unaware of it. The well of fear runs very deep, my friends. The decisions that you make out of a place of fear aren’t always rational, but they certainly seem it at the time. Back then, I followed recommendations for high dose antibiotics, long term. These recommendations coming from individuals well-seated in a place of crippling and devastating fear. I suffered the consequences of the aggressive approach of fighting, beating, battling, the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria and friends – I had planned to take them down with guns blazing and get back to life as I knew it. Little did I know, that approach just further elongated the battle until I found my way out in a much less conventional way (which just happened to be more empowering, rewarding, transformative and life-affirming).

Since then, I have consulted with many individuals. When they find a tick on themselves or their child they find the are are frozen with fear and unable to function outside of that realm. Popular opinion on Lyme is often spoken with such intensity that it seems insane not to attempt a request for prophylactic doxycycline. By now, we all know someone who has been touched by Lyme disease and have likely heard some very scary stories of some individualized experiences with Lyme and co-infections. Relatives, friends, neighbors all have well meaning advice to provide based on their understanding or experience. It is hard to not listen, especially when your way of life or the future of your child seems so desperately at stake. My experience taught me to encourage people to find a way around the fear and move forward with a confident purpose. What matters most is not whether you choose to pursue antibiotic treatment or select an alternative approach, what matters is that you make that decision from a place outside the vortex of fear. Not many people hear the story of recovery, although there are more and more every day, I’m here to be one of the gentle voices of encouragement when all other voices seem to be shouting.

Although I was formerly knocked down by the dark depths of Lyme disease to the point of seizure activity, I was happy to confirm that my experiences and all I learned on my healing journey helped me to respond in an altogether more competent and capable way. A second chance. I always wondered what I would do, and here is what I did in the immediate:

Address The Bite

Tick Removal – There are many suggestions for appropriate tick removal. Many cautions are put into place that advise you not to traumatize the tick as trauma will facilitate it to regurgitate the contents of its stomach into you and potentially pass along additional pathogens. I’m not sure of an entirely humane way to remove a tick so I opted for an approach that mitigates the risk of regurgitation and protects the bacteria proliferation from the start. I had two drops of Echinacea angustifolia root tincture dropped onto the skin where the tick is and used tweezers (there are also tick twisters, tick ease, tick keys, ticked off removers, you name it. I never seem to have them when I need them so tweezers work) to remove the tick pulling at the head and mouth, not the body. Full removal. There are many cautions as to not use essential oils or drops on the tick as it will upset the tick and regurgitate its stomach contents into the host, but I tend to think that this will happen when you pull hard on it with a metal object anyway so I opt to put the Echinacea on the skin around the tick to try to mitigate the exchange. Read more on why I chose Echinacea below.

Topical interventions aren’t generally given much consideration in our culture which more fully trains us to rely on pills as tiny little vessels for healing. However, it is helpful to know that transdermal applications are highly effective in supporting your immune system efforts to contain pathogenic proliferation.

(1) Echinacea - Apply Echinacea angustifolia root tincture to a cotton ball and tape onto bite location. When dried, swap out with a newly moist cotton ball. Keep moist. When used topically, Echinacea has constituents within it that inhibit the mechanism in bacteria to delve deeper into your body. It has been historically used topically for snake and spider bites. Andrographis tincture is also something I’d use, but it is much less commonly available.

(2) Plantain Poultice – Plantain leaf spit poultices are commonly used for bee stings and the like. Chewed up plantain leaf is applied directly to site of bite. If chewing up a plantain leaf doesn’t quite appeal to you (although I imagine that probiotic bacteria from your mouth would also be a beneficial addition to your topical application), you can chop it up and mash it with a mortar and pestle until it is juicy. Apply to the skin under a gauze bandage. Keep on until fully dried up. Plantain is an astringent and known to draw out infection. In addition, plantain contains a constituent(s) called baicalin/baicalein which are found to inhibit quorum sensing which is a mechanism bacteria use to regulate a diverse array of physiological activities including communication with one another as they adapt to the individual ecosystem of your body and the development of protective biofilms.

(3) Therapeutic Herbal Soak - Soaking in an herbal bath (or footbath) increases your transdermal absorption rate of plant constituents and also provides much needed quiet resting time for healing. Formulations can be custom crafted for individualized needs. Including 1 cup of epsom salt will increase the therapeutic benefits of the bath as well. A simple recipe is as follows:

Herbal Soak
1 Part Calendula Flower
1 Part Chamomile Flower
1 Part Plantain Leaf
1 Part Hawthorn Leaf and Flower
1 Part Comfrey Leaf
1/2 Part Peppermint Leaf
Put all dried herbs in container (I like to use a French Press), pour hot (almost boiling) water over them, cover and steep for 25 minutes. Strain and pour directly into bath.

While pulling together the items needed for a more complete herbal protocol (which will be outlined in the second part of this post) I immediately began taking 1,000 mg of astragalus root three times per day. Astragalus is an adaptogen, which helps protect the body from all different kinds of stresses it also supports the immune system and has antibacterial and antiviral properties.

(1) Eliminate Sugar – Anyone with any type of finger on the pulse of healthy living today knows to limit sugar intake. What I’m most focused on and why I’m super serious about eliminating all sugar after a tick bite is because there is evidence that sugar may contribute to the suppression of your immune system by way of many avenues. Of course so does stress, lack of sleep, and other contributing factors — the immune system is a delicate thing (more on this in part two). At any rate, no matter how exactly sugar manages to take part in immune system suppression, this is no time to take your immune system off-line.

(2) Eliminate Alcohol -Alcohol consumption has been also noted to suppress your immune system. I’m just not willing to take the risk in anything depressing my immune function during this critical time. You shouldn’t either.

(3) Add Bone Broth – Bone broth has an incredible amount of healing properties. In addition to making a normal broth, add a handful of astragalus root, reishi mushroom and nettle leaf to the broth while it boils is also recommended.

(4) Add Fermented Food – Over 70% of your immune system is housed in your gut. Keep the good guys in full force by eating fermented foods. They are easy to make and full of amazing benefits. Be sure to make yours with onion and garlic for some wonderful prebiotic benefits as well.

So, that’s what I did in the first couple of days. More on the longer term approaches I took coming son.

As always, this should not be considered medical advice. If you find yourself in a similar scenario be sure to consult with a trusted health professional regarding which approach is best for you. In the end, remember the journey is for you.


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Heather Bruntil is an herbalist living in the greater Boston area. Heather is committed to empowering others to take their health into their own hands. In her own healing from chronic Lyme Disease, she learned how simple and accessible tools such as herbs, food, and lifestyle changes cultivate wellness and vitality from within. Heather is committed to helping others find their way along their own path to live their most vital and empowered life. Heather is also the founder of PlantSoak, a line of handcrafted herbal wellness bath and shower soaks. ____________ The information published on is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Some links listed within this site may be affiliate links, which support me to continue blogging. All products linked are those I would personally use.

Comments (2)
  1. Kerri Bredberg     | Reply

    Hi! My son is currently being treated for lyme and bartonella by an llmd and I am interested in adding some herbs. I have read some of Buhner’s book on healing bartonella and also Richard Horowicz’s book and we are supplementing with probiotics, cat’s claw, vitamins, etc. but was looking for more guidance and wondering if you see clients in New Paltz. We live here. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.
    Kerri Bredberg

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