For the past eight years, Amanda has struggled with chronic symptoms and pain. Like many of the people you see, she’s tried everything to get better including surgeries and painful procedures. Two years ago she began to lose her memory and had brain fog and nerve and muscle pain. And then she was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis, fibromyalgia, and later Lyme disease and co-infections, leaky gut, MCAS and SIBO, autoinflammatory disease, and CRAS.
All of her pain then made sense. Unfortunately, there was little to no information on treating and managing these things especially through natural and holistic treatment. So through detox methods, healing nutrition practices and alternative medicine she’s slowly found her way back to herself. She then created Grab a Spoon where she was originally sharing her lifestyle and health hacks that worked for her. She also shares her shopping list recipes and of course many ups and downs along the way.
She then began working with clients to help others find this type of healing for their own health issues and pain and through Grab a Spoon she’s been able to offer relief and help people to find their way to healing. Amanda, thank you so much for joining us today, I’m really excited to dive in. Do you mind just starting out with personal experience, what you’ve done to feel better and get ahead of chronic Lyme?
Amanda: Sure. I’ll start by just giving a little bit of background about myself. So I became a holistic health coach in 2013 and since then I’ve just been on this journey of eating natural foods and healing myself with food. I only found out that I had Lyme probably about a year ago although I’ve been sick, for quite a few years I’ve been dealing with chronic pain for about six years. And through that journey, I became a certified kinesiologist with applied kinesiology, which is muscle testing and I’m also in school right now to get a Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition.
I’ve just sort of been able to dive into the community, connect with other people who have Lyme, and be able to use these tools of natural healing to help myself get better. I won’t say that I’m 100% in remission, I think that healing is not linear in a lot of ways so I’m still working on it every single day. By being able to detox and use food as a tool I’ve really been able to get myself to a better place where at least I’m functioning. And my business is just all about helping other people to do the same and I’ve just created my page about a year ago and just dedicated myself to putting as much information out there as possible, being able to share my story, being able to connect with others and just help people not feel so alone because it’s a very isolating experience to go through chronic illness, especially with Lyme disease.
Mimi: It definitely is. I think that’s the hardest part, is being it’s so lonely and people don’t believe you. So what do you attribute to getting better? If you were to name one, two, or three things that you’re like, “Okay, I definitely saw a turnaround and I started to get my house back.” What would you attribute that to?
Amanda: I would say for me, it’s definitely a combination of things which I’m sure it is for a lot of people. So one I think is definitely detoxing. So I dedicated myself the past year to detoxing my body with coffee enemas, with saunas. So that was really important for me and then I would say the second and third things that are the most integral parts of my healing have been diet and nutrition. So eating for my body type, eating very specific to what my genetic makeup wants, just making sure that I’m eating really nutritious food so while I’m detoxing all the bad stuff out, I’m getting really good stuff coming in.
And then the third thing is just being on a really strong supplement protocol, making sure that I am taking my supplements every day, making sure that I am staying on top of ordering them, that I really am good about those herbs and supplements helping me. And then I said three things but I’ll just say one more, I think having the community of the other people struggling with Lyme has really turned it around for me because I’ve been able to learn from other people as well as that connection of helping other people has motivated me to keep going with my own health.
Mimi: Now, that’s totally true. And I would say those are very similar to mine, things that have been working for me. Now, if you have a client and they don’t know that they have Lyme, what do you use to help diagnose them?
Amanda: It’s interesting, right? Because I can use muscle testing, so the applied kinesiology. I can use that to try to figure out what’s stressing someone’s body out. One of the things that we can tell from muscle testing is I can see if somebody has a parasitic infection, I can see if somebody is dealing with bacteria. I have a Lyme kit that can say whether or not somebody’s body has come in contact with Babesia, or Bartonella, or different kinds of Borrelia. But I don’t diagnose, I always try to put someone on the path of finding out the root cause and I help them. We sort of work together as explorers to keep peeling back and find out what the root cause of their illness or their pain is. If they need a full diagnosis I would always recommend that they go to a Lyme-literate doctor because that’s really where you’re going to get the medical diagnosis but can help them figure out whether or not they’ve come in contact with the Lyme bacteria, if that makes sense.
Mimi: Right. And that’s where I wanted to explain because I know what you’re talking about because Lyme isn’t really causing everything, and that’s what you mean. It’s like even though you have Lyme there’s something deeper going on when you say fine, we’ll get the root across. Is that what you’re referring to?
Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. There’s such a connection of so many different things and I feel like a lot of people we’re not taught these things and we don’t know them just in regular day-to-day life. And when you get diagnosed with Lyme I feel like it’s opening Pandora’s box in a way or when you’re dealing with a natural practitioner you start to uncover all of these things like mold. Maybe you’re in a mold environment and mold tends to sit on the Lyme bacteria so sometimes you have to deal with the mold first. Or someone has, maybe they have a parasitic infection, people that have co-infections such as Babesia, they are actually dealing with parasites over dealing with the bacteria of Borrelia.
So it’s just getting deep into what the stressors are, what’s happening within the body and it’s not always just Lyme, it usually brings other things into the party. And then I would also say that what tends to happen is because of the Lyme, whether you know that you’ve been bit or it’s been something that’s sort of been dormant for several years, what will happen is that you start to realize you have other immune issues. Mast cell activation syndrome sometimes comes into play where I find that people come to me and they’re having histamine responses to everything and they don’t understand why. Whether it’s a rash or they’re swelling, there are all kinds of things. So it’s a little bit of trial and error and exploring and I just think that Lyme is not always the main cause but it’s there and it’s a part of everything that’s going on within someone’s body.
Mimi: Right. That totally makes sense, because someone may have gotten bit by a tick and then you’ve gotten bit by a tick but both of you are completely reacting differently. Like the other person doesn’t show any symptoms, doesn’t show anything, and it’s because you may have other issues that you were just talking about that there’s making it so that you can’t fight the Lyme or can’t get over the Lyme or that you’re having these reactions. And I love how you were talking about detox because I do think that’s a huge part of it. How often do you recommend doing coffee enemas?
Amanda: I think, again, it depends on the person. It also depends on what you’re consuming. So I think that if you go through a heavy detox, like when I first started doing coffee enemas I was doing them every day, but I was very, very cautious to make sure that I was also drinking several juices a day and making sure that I was nourishing myself because you don’t want to do too many coffee enemas and then dry out your intestinal system. And then I started to move off of that. I did that for maybe about a month and then I started to do it weekly and then after a few months, you can go to get a point where you just know when you need one. I also think it depends on the severity of how somebody is feeling. I was really severely needing them and I found that it saved my life. I mean, coffee enemas for me was probably a game-changer in really turning things around.
Mimi: Now, I agree. I feel like, especially if there are points when you have a setback and you’re in bed all day and you don’t feel well and then all of a sudden you have this school function you have to go to or something that you have to get out of bed for, I always felt like that was my go-to like, “Okay, if I do one of those I’m going to be able to get myself a couple of hours before I have to get back in bed. And then saunas, do you still do them now regularly?
Amanda: I don’t go to saunas with everything that’s been going on. And it’s funny because a lot of people have been asking me lately because I always still talk about doing saunas and they want to know how they can do it at home and I think that’s really important. For me, I actually have a sauna blanket that I use. I had gotten it on Amazon a few years ago and that’s my go-to in this time of just chaos and COVID. And then the other thing that I do to replace a sauna is I actually do salt baths and I take a hot Himalayan salt bath and I just sweat it out in there, because I know a lot of people right now feel like they don’t have access or they don’t feel comfortable or they’re scared of going to an actual sauna but I try to sweat every single day to get those toxins out.
Mimi: And is it important to take either binders or minerals before or after you do either of those?
Amanda: Yes, 100%, I was definitely going to say that too. It’s really important for people that are detoxing to make sure that they are taking a binder. My favorite binders are, I love activated charcoal whether you’re taking it in capsulated form or you’re taking it in the powder form and mixing it with water, or I like to use bentonite clay to sort of switch them up. Bentonite clay you can purchase as a liquid and you can also add that to about eight ounces of water.
The reason why people need to make sure that they’re doing that is that if you are detoxing and you’re not taking a binder you’re not grabbing onto those toxins and flushing them out, you really need something like charcoal to act as a magnet and grab onto all that bad stuff and flush it out. I think too, especially when it comes to when you’re doing something like a coffee enema, you want to make sure that all of those toxins are binding together so that when you are releasing everything out, that you’re getting all the bad stuff out.
The tricky part is making sure that you do it in a way where you’re not doing it around your good supplements and good foods so that you are not… Because binders do not discriminate from toxins or no toxins so they will take out your medicine or your supplements. So I always say to my clients to make sure that they at least buffer an hour before an hour after eating anything or taking any important supplements or medications around a binder.
Mimi: Do you have any specific herbs or what kind of protocol do you use to combat the line?
Amanda: Every person is different. I would say that when somebody comes to me after they get diagnosed with Lyme I start them on a detox protocol. I have them starting to do coffee enemas, I have them starting to sweat. I try to sort of start slow and then take it up because what can happen also is that somebody can detox too fast and then they get a Herxheimer reaction, which is all the symptoms coming in flux. And then while that is going on, while they’re detoxing, I always put people on glutathione because that’s a really great supplement that you can take to help get all the toxins out of your body and to help you reduce any Herx reactions so that’s one that I always make sure people are taking, it’s something that our bodies actually produce. People who have a chronic illness and people who have Lyme are usually not producing enough of it so it gets produced in the liver and we need to make sure that we have as much as that as possible.
And then I like to put people on antibacterial and anti-microbial herbs. So it could be Andrographis, it could be sarsaparilla, it really depends on the person and how I use muscle testing for that is I often muscle-test my clients to see which supplements work for them. And then I try not to give anyone more than four supplements at a time to start because I don’t like to overwhelm people either. The body is so stressed out and the immune system is just it’s firing so much when people have Lyme that you don’t want to add fuel to the fire, you really want to get those people into rest and digest and out of fight or flight. You just have to kind of be a little bit slow and careful with it.
Mimi: Now you had mentioned earlier about nutrition and that’s a big part of your website. Did you go to IIN?
Amanda: I went to IIN back in 2013. Before it was a cool thing to do because I had a lot of stomach issues myself and so I had gone there and that really helped me. And then right now I’m studying at the School of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona for my Masters in Clinical Nutrition so that I can work primarily with people who are sick.
Mimi: Right. Okay, and can you talk, I mean, food I think is such a big part of this and you had talked about your blood type. Do you believe in eating right for your blood type?
Amanda: I really don’t believe that there’s one-size-fits-all when it comes to diet and nutrition. I feel like food is medicine and I think that it is so important for everyone, not just people suffering from chronic illness but especially important for people that are. For me, I’ve done the blood-type diet before. I think the way that I view diet is that every single person has their own body makeup. And I focus a lot on nutrigenomics which is people eating for their genetic makeup, so their DNA.
And because it’s coded specifically for people to be able to absorb certain nutrients, to be able to digest certain nutrients, so that’s one thing that is really important in the way that I deal with clients and nutrition. And then I would also say that the second thing is removing triggers and stressors from people so I do something called the fit test from a company called KBMO. We do some blood spot testing to figure out what foods are causing an inflammation response, what sensitivities that clients might have. I also do muscle testing for food sensitivity and for different intolerances, then we could remove those triggers and we can get them on the right path of feeling better so it’s completely personalized with the way that I work with people on neutrigen.
Mimi: That’s great. And then, but I do think there is besides being personalized, I find that I can’t have coffee, I can’t have alcohol, I can’t have gluten, but I mean, there is a kind of a universal thing I think when someone’s sick right off the bat with Lyme to get better right away, what would you say those are?
Amanda: I would say that definitely alcohol as you mentioned, definitely coffee. Some people can tolerate it, some people can’t. I try to help people to move away from things that are stimulants because their immune system is already going, going, going. Another one that’s really big is dairy. I would say that dairy causes a lot of inflammation within people’s bodies so that’s one that you can remove without finding out if someone’s intolerant to it. Most people are, especially people with Lyme. And then gluten is obviously something that is a really hot topic. It’s definitely one of the ones that you can safely remove from somebody’s diet.
But I would say it’s important to note that those are the main triggers, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods too, things that are overly packaged, overly processed, those usually have chemicals in them. But I would say that finding out what other things bother the person that has Lyme or what’s causing a different reaction in them because it could be something that they don’t even realize. I’ll give myself as an example. I just recently found out that I am intolerant to vanilla and that I’ve been having a severe reaction to it, it’s not something that you would normally think.
And you want to make sure that those people who are suffering and are already having an immune response and already having a histamine response are not consuming things that are going to further make that more difficult for them. So while you have the standard things people can do, I think it’s important to make sure that you are paying attention to what’s going on with your body or taking notes or doing a food diary and just saying, “Hey, I ate X, Y, and Z, and it gave me a rash.” Or, “I ate X, Y, and Z and it caused a flare,” just so that you understand what’s happening with your body.
Mimi: Do you do any kind of blood work or any other kind of test that gives you specifics?
Amanda: I do, I do. I do this fit test that I had mentioned a little bit before. And it’s really cool because what it does is it takes, I think it’s 132 different foods and chemicals that they test. And I have my clients do… It’s a blood spot test so they have to prick themselves. And then what it tells you is the various levels of inflammation that each one is causing. It does it in like three different levels, the severe, highly reactive, and then mildly reactive so that you can understand that even the healthy foods that are causing you issues, whether it’s vegetables, fruit.
I found out one of my clients who was really, really sick was reacting to birch so they were having an issue with peaches and plums and almonds, things that you might find on a regular diet list and be like, “Oh, these are healthy,” but it wasn’t healthy for them. That’s the kind of stuff that I work with people on and I do test those things with blood work. And then another thing that’s important about it is that those are the foods that are causing things like leaky gut, so if you have SIBO or leaky gut with Lyme, which a lot of people do end up getting because of going on antibiotics and it causes all kinds of issues within the gut, then you can figure out what foods are adding to that issue.
Mimi: Now, is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you would recommend for people that just found out they were diagnosed or they’ve been battling it for a long time and they’ve gotten to 20 different doctors and no one’s being able to help them, is there any kind of other advice that you would give them?
Amanda: I would say to keep fighting, keep advocating for yourself. There’s a lot in the face of people that have Lyme and there’s a lot that we have to go through and make sure that you find the community and find those people because they will support you and they will help you get through it. And I think that the number one thing is finding an actual practitioner or an LLMD who will have your back and do the exploring for you or teach you because there’s really a lot to learn and you are not alone in this. I feel like that’s what’s really important too for people to know.
Mimi: It’s definitely true because I do think it’s very lonely especially when you have a doctor tell you that you’re crazy, or your friends and family are like, “Wait, you’re still not getting better.” Right?
Amanda: No, that’s it. I work with people remotely. I either do 100% remote if people are local to Westchester County, which is where I am, I do still see people in person. And if you visit my website you can see they offer a lot of services, a la carte. So you can order iridology, which is the study of the iris and I do iris analysis. I also do nutrigenomics for people who are wondering about how to eat for their specific genetics or full wellness, acupressure, applied kinesiology, so all kinds of stuff. And yeah, my Instagram is Grab a Spoon Wellness and yeah, I look forward to talking to anyone here for that.
Mimi: This has been amazing, Amanda, thank you so much.