How Lyme Warrior Julie Yakunich Healed and Helps Others

Lyme warrior Julie Yakunich used her project management training to approach her years of chronic symptoms and pain and now is on the other side of remission from Lyme. She went 5 years undiagnosed and has firsthand experienced healing from a complex chronic disease. She uses her experience in her 1-1 coaching services called Get Well with Julie where she helps clients do exactly what she did…heal once and for all!

From Undiagnosed to Remission

Mimi Maclean:
Julie, thank you so much for coming on today. I’m excited to talk to you about your business and your experience with Lyme as well. Thank you very much for coming on. My first question is, can you just start by just telling us about your Lyme journey? Your journey with Lyme?

Julie Yakunich:
Yeah. I don’t know when it started. Because I think like most people, we don’t know when we contracted it. I’d never seen a tick on my body, so I have no idea when I contracted Lyme. As a child … I think as a teenager, I can pinpoint this time when I had a summer flu. I think that might’ve been it, but I don’t know.

Julie Yakunich:
About 11 years ago, though, I started having symptoms. I was living in San Francisco, and I was in grad school. I was working full time, and I had a very stressful life and job. And I just started having very bizarre symptoms. In my case, like many other people, it took many years to get accurately diagnosed. For me, it was five years, I think. 26 doctors.

Mimi Maclean:
Oh, wow. What test did they finally use to diagnose it?

Julie Yakunich:
It was IGeneX.

Mimi Maclean:
Was it IGeneX?

Julie Yakunich:
It was IGeneX. I had gone through the whole list. In that period, I had been working in healthcare. And I first started having symptoms in doctor’s offices. My first time fainting with POTS symptoms happened in a doctor’s office that I was working in.

Mimi Maclean:
Oh, wow.

Julie Yakunich:
And still, no one ever recognized it. Eventually, I got referred to a naturopath. And in my head, I’m doing research. In my head, I’m ticking off the boxes. Is it this? Nope. Is it this? Nope.

Julie Yakunich:
Eventually, I got to a naturopath that said, “Has anyone tested you for Lyme?” And I’m like, “No, but that’s the last thing it could be.” And so, I had the IGeneX test, and sure enough, Lyme and many co-infections.

Mimi Maclean:
Of course, they all go hand in hand. And so, would you consider yourself better? Remission? Healing?

Julie Yakunich:
Yeah. I’m in remission. I’ve been in remission, I’d say, for about three or four years now. By the time I was diagnosed, I had got to a Lyme-literate naturopath who was also a mold specialist. Because I had also had a mold exposure, and that could have immediately tanked me.

Mimi Maclean:
That’s scary.

Julie Yakunich:
Yeah. And I worked with this Lyme-literate naturopath for about two years and was very sick the whole time. I was bedridden for almost a year before that and that first couple of years through treatment. And then, I got to remission a few years ago. Cool. I celebrated getting into remission by climbing Mount St. Helens with my siblings and one of my best friends.

Mimi Maclean:
Oh, wow.

Julie Yakunich:
I just really felt like I needed to …

Mimi Maclean:
Do something.

Julie Yakunich:
Yeah. Climb a literal mountain. I had already climbed this figurative mountain, so I did that. And I’ve mostly been in remission since. I think one flare-up, just a little stressful period.

Julie Yakunich:
I kind of knew it was coming, and my Lyme came back for about a month—just some herbs and everything, and then back on track. I’ve been mostly in remission for almost four years now.

Mimi Maclean:
You mentioned that it took you two years to get through that once you found your naturopath. That’s a long time with sticking with a doctor. For me, I just think when you said that … I don’t know if I would have done that.

Mimi Maclean:
I, in my mind, always gave a doctor or a practitioner six months. And if I didn’t feel any better, I moved on. How did you … Why did you decide to stick to that one doctor if you did not get better the first year?

Julie Yakunich:
I mean, I was getting better, and I was making progress, and it was just like two years to be fully in remission. I think … I had worked in healthcare for years, and I’d been working with doctors for years professionally. And then, I’d gone through 26 doctors to get an accurate diagnosis.

Julie Yakunich:
Every single one of those people that doubted me or questioned me or told me it was in my head … That just sat very badly with me. And then, by the time I got to the doctor that did my treatment, I thoroughly think this man saved my life. Once I got to him, it was just intuitive, and I was like, “This is the person that is going to help me get my life back.”

Mimi Maclean:
All right. What was your treatment?

Julie Yakunich:
It was a combination of things. Like most people, I did do oral antibiotics, and I didn’t do IV antibiotics. I did a lot of IV treatments. IV Ozone was huge for me, especially with … Babesia was my biggest problem, so the Ozone helped a lot with that.

Julie Yakunich:
He’s also a homeopathic doctor, and like I said, a naturopathic doctor. So a lot of herbs and a lot of like homeopathic supportive things. A lot of the detox and reducing inflammation. Diet, lifestyle, all of that stuff. It was a lot of things.

Starting Get Well with Julie and Helping Other Lyme Warriors

Mimi Maclean:
When did you decide to start your practice that concentrates on Lyme?

Julie Yakunich:
It’s just actually been this year. Funny enough. After I got to remission with my first Lyme doctor, he and his wife and I started a business together, and we made herbal supplements for people that have Lyme. And so, I have been doing that for the last few years, and it was a great job.

Julie Yakunich:
I love working with them, and they’re fantastic people. But I just wanted to be working directly with people and helping people recover from Lyme. Although this was sort of an ancillary way of doing it by owning this herbal supplement company, it just wasn’t as impactful as I wanted it to be. So I went back and got certified as a health coach.

Julie Yakunich:
Now, I’ve just been doing this for about a year. And so, I have the private practice that I see Lyme clients. And then, I also work at Case Integrative Health, where I collaborate on care with Dr. Casey Kelley, which is just incredible, and she’s one of the best. And so, it’s relatively new to me, and I’ve been doing it as an amateur for a while.

Julie Yakunich:
You know how it is. You’re doing this too. Right? You’re just … Once you’ve been through all of this, you can’t help but share it. Everyone that knows me knows that if they ever run across anyone that can’t figure out what’s going on with their health or they’ve caught Lyme …

Mimi Maclean:
Come direct to [crosstalk 00:07:23].

Julie Yakunich:
You get my number. I have talked to hundreds of people that I will never meet ever in my life. Interestingly, maybe my favorite one was a guy that helped build my brother’s girlfriend’s uncle’s house. This Amish man. This Amish man had Lyme. He figured out he had Lyme, but he didn’t know what to do about it.

Julie Yakunich:
And so, they helped coordinate for this guy to take a horse and buggy to his neighbor’s farm to get a telephone call from me, so I could go through with him what it might be like to go through treatment and what would be possible for him. So I’ve been just doing this on the side.

Mimi Maclean:
Great. What did he wind up doing? Did he take herbs, or …

Julie Yakunich:
He ended up traveling for treatment to a clinic that’s in Mexico. I don’t know how or why. And I’ve since talked to some of the people that work at that clinic. I’m not sure how or why, but they get a lot of Amish people there. I don’t know if one person went and then just spread the word amongst their community.

Julie Yakunich:
But he told me the whole story about how he and his wife, I think some of his siblings, maybe his parents … They took trains and buses because they couldn’t fly, all the way to the outside of Tijuana, Mexico, to get treatment for Lyme.

Julie Yakunich:
And it was a lot of like IVs and stuff like that. I don’t know if it was antibiotics or not, but a lot of like PC, phosphatidylcholine, Ozone. The vitamins and minerals. Myers’ cocktails and stuff.

Her Approach to Lyme Warrior Clients and Healing 

Mimi Maclean:
When you help your clients and patients, what do you do with them? Do you focus on something in particular? Or it’s food or …

Julie Yakunich:
Food is part of it. When people think health coach, they think food and lifestyle, which is part of it. But for me, I think when people come to me, they’re either just diagnosed with Lyme, or they’ve maybe been in it a while and are just not making progress. For me, it’s more of looking at somebody’s life and figuring out … What are the things that you can and should do to make this successful for you?

Julie Yakunich:
And so, I start with just making sure people get well organized. I’ve got tons of sheets for medication trackers and symptom trackers. I sometimes think of myself as almost more of a Herxheimer coach. It’s like, what is happening in your body? How do we find the sweet spot of going after these infections? Going after the root cause while not making you feel so miserable or harming you in the process? How do people manage that?

Julie Yakunich:
A lot of what I do is detox support—coming up with a perfect detox plan for people. Helping them understand how vital reducing inflammation in their body is as they’re going through this. Whether that is diet, lifestyle, supplements, the whole thing … For me, it’s really about helping people take this very overwhelming situation and making it manageable and doable.

Mimi Maclean:
People forget just taking the supplements when you don’t feel well, it’s … And there’s so many.

Julie Yakunich:
So many.

Mimi Maclean:
Just keeping track of them and …

Julie Yakunich:
It’s such a chore, and it’s awful. Yeah, and it’s terrible. And I think the other thing too is that because chronic Lyme … No one even believes it exists.

Mimi Maclean:
No.

Julie Yakunich:
We have the CDC and AMA saying it doesn’t exist, which I think will change with COVID. With long-haulers, now that we’re seeing that happening. But you have this situation where there’s no standard of care, and there’s no, “This is what you do.” Like you said earlier, people are just like you said earlier; I think it’s natural for people to start looking for any and every solution.

Mimi Maclean:
There’s a lot of rabbit holes.

Julie Yakunich:
Going down so many rabbit holes. Right. And so, I’ve already been down most of the rabbit holes. And if I haven’t personally been down them, I know enough about them to help somebody sort of objectively assess the situation.

Julie Yakunich:
What do you have the resources for? Whether it’s financial resources, emotional resources, support system. Just looking at the full picture and helping them make decisions about what direction they’re going to go and what is actually possible for them.

What To Do If You Have Just Been Diagnosed

Mimi Maclean:
So if anyone’s listening right now, and they just found out they’re diagnosed or they’re still suffering, what would you tell them to do?

Mimi Maclean:
What are the top three, five things that they should be doing at home that they’re not doing? What are the low-hanging fruit things?

Julie Yakunich:
Totally. I’m glad you asked that. Because I think that’s a big part of this, is that so much of this treatment and going through this is so expensive and inaccessible with so many people. I’m a huge fan of, “What are the things you can just do at home for cheap and easy that actually make an impact?”

Mimi Maclean:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Julie Yakunich:
And so, usually what I start people with, even before they’ve started treatment, is just making sure your body is actually draining properly. I never thought this would be my job, but the questions I ask people when I first meet them … I’m like, “Are you pooping at least once a day?” And if not, let’s fix that first. Because if you’re not able to poop, then you’re going to have a problem. You’re not going to feel well while you go through treatment.

Julie Yakunich:
Are you drinking enough water to make sure that you’re hydrated and your kidneys are working well? I really focus a lot on the liver system. So making sure people can do things like castor oil packs. Straightforward, at-home, easy, safe things that you can do to start softening up the congestion in your liver and moving it out and through.

Julie Yakunich:
I’m a massive fan of coffee enemas. Easy, at-home thing that people can do. Not only does it help literally flush out your digestive tract, but it helps your body produce more glutathione, which is going to help you detox. It helps your liver move, which is going to help move all these toxins out. Those are some of my really favorite, easy things to do, is start just focusing on making sure your body’s able to drain.

Julie Yakunich:
How does food play a role in that? Another very accessible thing for people. If you can adjust your diet through really minor ways, so that you’re not as inflamed and you’re getting enough fiber and nutrients, so your body can actually function properly. There’s some really pretty accessible and relatively inexpensive things that people can do to make sure that they can actually get through all of this.

Mimi Maclean:
Well, it’s hard. When you don’t feel well, you tend to want to eat everything that you’re not supposed to be eating.

Julie Yakunich:
Absolutely.

Mimi Maclean:
And so, I think really until I super, super cleaned up my diet to the point where literally it was just vegetables pretty much … Because I was in such inflamed shape.

Julie Yakunich:
Totally.

Mimi Maclean:
But you realize how much alcohol and gluten … Those are the killers. Anybody, who’s still having those … If you don’t feel well, you’re not going to get better until you get rid of those two things.

Julie Yakunich:
Totally. Gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol. Those are sort of the top things that I tell people to get rid of. But I really liked … I know I listened to one of your podcasts from a week or two ago, when you had, I think, Traci that’s from Gracefully Fed?

Mimi Maclean:
Oh, yeah.

Julie Yakunich:
I tell people, soups are great. Soups are so … I mean, are you going to make a full diet on her soups? Maybe not. But if you can, great. Because they’re easily digestible, tons of nutrients. They don’t have all the super inflammatory things in them.

Julie Yakunich:
Them and a couple of other meal services that provide paleo-type things, so that you’re just automatically not going to have any gluten, dairy problem.

Mimi Maclean:
Is there any that you like in particular?

Julie Yakunich:
I really like Pete’s Paleo. They’re pre-made, they’re fully cooked, so you don’t have to do anything. It’s not some of those other ones where it comes with the stuff that’s already prepped, but you still have to cook it. These are ready to go, and they’re air-sealed, and you can even freeze them.

Julie Yakunich:
And so, I always tell people to get 10 of those meals and ten soups from Gracefully Fed. Mainly because I’m also a big fan of supporting anyone else that has Lyme and has started a business. You know how insular our little world is. But they’re great. They are good. They’re good products.

Julie Yakunich:
And so, those are the things that I tell people. Have them in your freezer. On those days where you cannot even think to make a decision about what to make for yourself, let alone actually going and cooking it or ordering it or driving to get it … Those are there. So have those on-hand.

Julie’s Herbal Company Return Healthy

Mimi Maclean:
Does your herbal company still exist?

Julie Yakunich:
It does.

Mimi Maclean:
What’s it called?

Julie Yakunich:
It’s called Return Healthy.

Mimi Maclean:
Oh, wow. Okay.

Julie Yakunich:
And it’s great products. I still use them. I still recommend them. Dr. Werner Vosloo was my business partner. He was my first Lyme doctor. Great guy. He and his wife, Maria, live in St. George, Utah. They have a clinic there where you can go get treatment. But Return Healthy is great. Super good products. I’m a huge fan. I still use them a lot.

Mimi Maclean:
That’s just great. Besides mold, because I definitely … I think Lyme is a perfect storm. It’s not just Lyme that we’re getting sick. People who have Lyme or chronic Lyme, it’s not just Lyme. I’m sure you would agree with that.

Julie Yakunich:
Totally.

Mimi Maclean:
I always say there’s something else going on that’s triggering it. It’s hand-in-hand. Mold is a huge part of that. Is there anything at home that you could be doing?

Mimi Maclean:
If you know you have mold, you can see the mold in your house … Besides eradicating the mold in your house, is there anything that you could be taking or supplementing with to get the mold out of your body?

Julie Yakunich:
Actually, Return Healthy makes a product called Binder Blend. It’s a blend of different binders that absorb toxins. He made it specifically for mold patients. Dr. Vosloo, he formulated that for mold patients, because he’s a Shoemaker certified mold specialist as well. I love that product. That’s one of my favorite products for actually soaking up the mold that’s your body so you can get it out.

Julie Yakunich:
I think air purification really can help. Getting a really good HEPA air filter that actually deals with mold, not just one that does dust and pet dander. There’s a couple of really good ones that I like. Even the Air Doctor, for the price, I think is really good. Air Oasis makes one that I really like. The IQAir. I have that one.

Julie Yakunich:
You can also do … There’s a product called EC3. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it, but it’s a really natural product. It’s a citrus derivative that you can fog your house with, you can spray certain areas with. I used it in my car, because I have an old car that just has some leaky areas in it. And it just sometimes smells musty.

Mimi Maclean:
Can you buy that? I had a company come and spray that. But you can get that on your own to do?

Julie Yakunich:
Yeah, the EC3 one you can get on your own. They have a ton of different products. They even have little candles that you can take with you when you’re traveling.

Mimi Maclean:
Oh, wow. Because I have a hard time … Anytime I go to a hotel, as soon as I walk in, I’m like, “Oh no, I’m going to have a problem.”

Julie Yakunich:
Totally. I travel with some of their candles. Maybe it’s placebo effect. I don’t know. But it seems to work. The other big thing that I’m a huge fan of when it comes to … Specifically, that situation, but I also just think in general when it comes to healing from something like this is mantras.

Julie Yakunich:
I’m a big mindset person. I focus a lot in my coaching on how you can shift your mindset for healing. And I do a lot of recommendations around things like brain retraining programs, limbic system retraining programs, meditation. Not for everyone, but for a lot of people. But I think a big part of that is that our bodies really hear what we’re thinking and saying.

Julie Yakunich:
I don’t come at it from a woo-woo perspective, but the neuroscience of it. We can really prove some of these things to be true. And so, when it comes to a moldy building … Anytime I go into a hotel that might smell a little musty or somebody’s home that I’m like, “Eep!” Initially, that thought comes into my head, which is that fear mindset. Like, “Oh no, I’m going to get sick.”

Julie Yakunich:
What that does is it kicks up our fight-or-flight system in our brain and in our nervous system. Then, what happens? We do respond negatively. Whenever I go into a hotel and I get that musty smell, I just think, “I am fine. I am safe. I am not going to react.” I’ll just repeat those things out loud or internally over and over and over again to just let my brain and my body know, “This is no longer a threat. We’re in a healthy place now. We’re strong. We’re good.”

Mimi Maclean:
Have you ever heard of grapefruit seed extract?

Julie Yakunich:
Yes.

Mimi Maclean:
I had a doctor tell us to take that as a preventative.

Julie Yakunich:
Grapefruit seed extract is used a lot, I think, as a cyst and biofilm buster as well. I’ve never heard of it in context of mold.

Why Lyme Warriors Should Be Aware of Chronic Infections

Mimi Maclean:
Mold. Yeah, that’s what he told me. What else do you think besides mold that goes hand in hand that people might not have dealt with or looked at?

Julie Yakunich:
I think it’s chronic infections in general. What I’m seeing a lot lately is people that got COVID. And then, that completely distracted their immune system. Now, they’ve got Lyme, co-infections …

Mimi Maclean:
It triggered it.

Julie Yakunich:
Things that they didn’t know they had for years.

Mimi Maclean:
Parasites is another big one, right?

Julie Yakunich:
Parasites is another huge one. It’s no one’s favorite topic. It’s one of the very few areas that I just wince when I think about them. But I treat parasites regularly.

Mimi Maclean:
Just don’t Google a picture.

Julie Yakunich:
Don’t Google the pictures.

Mimi Maclean:
Because you will not sleep at night.

Julie Yakunich:
You will not. I always joke that any practitioner that puts you on a parasite treatment should give you some sort of sedative, because it’s just … For me especially, it feels … But after you’ve done it a few times, like I do it regularly.

Julie Yakunich:
I do my … See, the thing is my first Lyme doctor, Dr. Vosloo, was from South Africa. And so, he always had me doing parasite stuff. They just do that. Culturally, they just … Every six months, you take your worm pills.

Mimi Maclean:
Because the water is not as clean.

Julie Yakunich:
Totally. Right. We think because we’re in America and everything’s so safe and clean that we wouldn’t have that.

Mimi Maclean:
We all have parasites.

Julie Yakunich:
Everyone has it. If you eat sushi, if you have a pet, if you swim in a river. If you’ve traveled to a third-world country, you’re going to have some sort of parasites. And so, I think, yes, parasites is a big part of it. Mold is a big part of it.

Julie Yakunich:
Other latent infections, like I’ve seen Epstein-Barr or other viruses. When I see tests of people like me, and maybe you as well, that get super sick … It’s never just Borrelia. It’s never just Lyme disease. It’s all the co-infections, all the viruses, all the parasites. Mold. It’s just this complicated situation of all these things.

Stress, No Sleep, and Parasites

Mimi Maclean:
And then, it adds stress to it. Or not sleeping or partying or whatever.

Julie Yakunich:
Well, that was my case. In my case, I was working full time, living in San Francisco. Commuting to Sacramento for work. Working 50, 60 hours a week, going to grad school at night. My diet wasn’t great, because I was on the go all the time and just really stressed out.

Julie Yakunich:
For me, that was the thing that really just shut down my system. But parasites, I would say, is a big part of it. I’m glad that’s finally starting to get more attention too.

Mimi Maclean:
Well, now with Ivermectin … Oh, I shouldn’t even mention that word. Right? I’ll get us banned.

Julie Yakunich:
I know right?

Mimi Maclean:
But that’s what I was taking for parasites. At least that’s what I had been on. For the past year, I was assuming that for my parasite.

Julie Yakunich:
Absolutely. Now, no one can get it because everyone’s using it for COVID. I mean, that parasite protocol that Dr. Klinghardt came up with; I’ve done it two or three times throughout the years. Just to get my system back on track. Still, every few months, I do parasite stuff.

Mimi Maclean:
This is great. Well, thank you, Julie, so much for coming on. I appreciate it, and this has been amazing. And I appreciate your time.

Julie Yakunich:
No, I thank you so much. It’s so lovely to talk to you.

Mimi Maclean:
Anybody who wants to find you, getwellwithjulie.com?

Julie Yakunich:
Yeah, that’s it.

Mimi Maclean:
Okay. Perfect. Any place else they should go?

Julie Yakunich:
No, that’s it: my website and my Instagram. If you’re already a patient at Case Integrative Health, I see people there. But if not, I can see people all over the country via Zoom and stuff through my website.

Mimi Maclean:
Subscribe now and tune in next week. If you want to learn how I detox and check out my Detox For Lyme Checklist, go to lyme360.com/detoxchecklist. You can also join our community at Lyme 360 Warriors on Facebook, and let’s heal together. Thank you. 

Links to Find Julie

The Get Well with Julie Website

Julie’s Instagram

Julie’s Facebook

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