How to Start Healing Your Lyme Now with Dr. Bill Rawls

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Dr. Bill Rawls, Founder of Vitalplan

Dr. Rawls was on the Heal Podcast earlier in the year, so I’m so excited to have him back again now. He is a Lyme doctor who truly feels your pain because he also has had Lyme and has recovered from it. He had pretty much had every Lyme symptom that most of us have felt, and through this journey, he has created a great platform, he has written a book, he’s created supplements to help you recover and build up your immune system. So I’m excited to have him on today to talk about the tricks and quick wins as you’re waiting for your immune system to get better.

Find Dr. Bill Rawls and Vitalplan:

Thank you, Dr. Rawls, so much for coming on today, I really appreciate your time, so excited, today, obviously, it’s your second time coming on. And the first time we talked more about your protocol and your recovery, and how you use the herbs to recover. And today I would love to focus on what we could do in the short term to help ourselves get to the point of feeling like you can get out of bed and decreasing symptoms.

Dr. Rawls: Yeah, absolutely. There are of course, lots of different things, and sometimes it’s small things added up and small wins along the way that get you where you want to be. But those big ones, fatigue, and sleep, and pain are the big symptoms that I think are affecting a lot of people. And on top of that, brain fog and everything else. And I have come to appreciate that treating the symptoms, so much of our conventional medical system is focused on how do we get rid of those symptoms because that’s what everybody’s trying, that’s what makes us miserable.

So we focus on blocking the processes that define the symptoms. And that only goes so far. There are no drugs out there that will help with brain fog, there are no drugs out there that will help with fatigue, truly. You can artificially boost your system with caffeine, but you’re going to pay in the piper sooner or later, it’s going to catch up with you. And so we look for ways to work around that the best that we can. And I think it’s important to recognize that when we have symptoms, it’s a reflection of what’s going on inside our body as far as how our cells are working.

And if you have symptoms, your cells are struggling, they’re stressed. All the cells in the body have to work together. So if you’ve got brain fog, it means you’ve got bagged up garbage and junk and inflammation in your brain that’s keeping those cells from working all right. And if you have fatigue, it means that all the cells in your body, just their functions aren’t coordinated and they’re not getting the nutrients, and all the things that they need to get that energy going. So we all want to get from that point A, of feeling absolutely miserable to point B, as fast as we can.

So, looking for those shortcuts can be difficult sometimes. But things that I found in my recovery, just giving your body time to catch up and keeping your adrenaline levels down, I think was really important for me. When I was really in the thick of this thing, I was still having to run a primary care office, and there were days that I could barely crawl in the back door, and you put on a smiling face and you go see patients because nobody wants to go see a sick doctor. So you have to put on this facade that the community doesn’t really know what’s going on. And so you hide it.

And that’s so true of so many Lyme patients, to function, we are trying to put on this view that we’re not sick sometimes, or we don’t look sick and people don’t understand how we feel. So the more things that you can control in your life, reduces anxiety. So I think that was a big thing. I ultimately stopped practicing obstetrics and gynecology to get rid of the night call, and started my own practice so that I could control my work hours and what I had to do in life as far as those day-to-day responsibilities. Of course, that required a pretty significant income reduction at a time in life where that wasn’t ideal, but you work around it.

Stress doesn’t go away, but you still try to figure it out as much as you can. But I could control my hours, so I allowed myself time of lunch that I would do a meditation, or if I felt good enough, I’d go for a walk, just that time to neutralize those stress hormones and get ready for the afternoon. So I would try to buffer things in my life, making my world small. I really cut out any kind of media or anything that didn’t really affect me, my wellness, my recovery, which sometimes means you have to let go of social interactions and that sort of thing.

Now, in this COVID time, one side of it is we don’t have those connections, but the other side of it is if you’re recovering from a chronic illness, you’re in for a change, you get to push all of that away and push a lot of those obligations away and just focus on you, which is really good.

Mimi: It’s true. There’s not much difference from COVID for the people who’ve been battling chronic Lyme. My life has been pretty similar during COVID as it was pre COVID, as far as just not going out, or just canceling plans, or not having a social life, it’s been the same pretty much for me.

Dr. Rawls: Yeah. But it almost feels because everybody else has that same new normal that-

Mimi: Yeah. You don’t have the formal of feeling like you’re missing out and you’re bummed out, that you’re missing that big party because there isn’t a big party that you’re missing.

Dr. Rawls: Yeah. There is some advantages to this particular point in time, but making your world small and just taking the stress off, because stress drives a lot of the symptoms, the more stressed you are, the worst you’re going to sleep, and the less energy that you’re going to have. Stress drains your energy. So I would take every opportunity to learn how to just boost my energy levels whenever I could, however I could. Anytime that I could get away and just do a meditation, or a nap, or what I call the full body relaxation, then I just let all the stress roll out, that would energize me for a little while. I feel a little bit better, wouldn’t last that long, but yeah, it helped. It helped.

Mimi: Is there a particular practice, like is there a breath worker or other different modalities. Is there anyone that you subscribe to?

Dr. Rawls: Oh, I tried it all. I did a little bit of everything. I think different things work for different people, your classic meditation, sitting in a Lotus position, because my body is pretty tight, that was uncomfortable. So just lying down or sitting in a comfortable chair were better for me. And I think it’s anything just to let things go. I’ve tried various things, there are new monitors, brainwave devices where you can monitor your EEG output and it will give you feedback in the form of music or sounds to tell you when you’re relaxed.

And I remember one that I did, when you were relaxed, it would have calm chirping birds, relaxed sounds, and when your brainwaves were excited, it would start thundering and lightning and all this kind of stuff. So you kept wanting to find that calm. So that was interesting, but they were all tools. And I got to the point that I could do it much more spontaneously, even in a busy place like an airport or something like that. Conserving energy, giving your body time to repair itself. Symptoms occur because cells are stressed, and when cells are stressed, they don’t have the ability, they don’t have the resources to repair internal damage.

Think about your cell as a little machine, and your body is made of several trillion machines of about 200 different types, doing all the jobs in your body. And that machine generates wear and tear. And what healing is, is the ability of cells to self-repair, more than any other thing. Now, the immune system plays a role and everything else plays a role in helping cells get everything they need, but healing is self-repair. So the more you’re pushing your cells, the less they’re going to be able to repair. So the more opportunities you can give yourselves to repair with downtime and good sleep and all of those things, the more headstart they can get.

Cells do more repair at night than any other time. It’s an alternative way to think about these things, but yeah, we want to nourish ourselves well, really important to do that. We want to reduce the toxin load of our cells. We want to do all of these things that help our cells get healthy and create an environment for healthy cells. And as we do, when they are able to repair, when healing takes place, symptoms are going to go down. And they may go down transiently because we get hit with stress factors continually, including these microbes that are trying to invade our body.

But the other side of it is, weak cells are most vulnerable to microbe invasion. So if your cells are healthy, if you’re taking good care of yourselves, they’re much less apt to be invaded by microbes, which helps your immune system do a better job. So it’s just those basic things that I think are really important for helping us reduce symptoms. And coming up on the holidays, just being a little more mindful of what we eat and taking that extra time during the holidays to take that time out to rest and that sort of thing.

And at the same time, that balance between rest and moving is very, very important because if you’re not moving, you’re not flushing yourself. So part of this whole thing is we get debris and junk from dead cells, dead microbes collected in the spaces around ourselves, which keeps ourselves from getting good flow of nutrients and oxygen and the things that they need to do that repair. So moving works really well, but the problem with moving is friction and generating more inflammation. So infrared sauna moves blood and flushes cells without friction.

Infrared Sauna to Promote Detoxification

And to me, the infrared sauna is one of the most important ways that we can promote detoxification because it’s moving the blood and moving the fluid that bathes ourselves and helps flush that debris and that junk so cells can get what they need to do, that repair. So upfront, that’s one of the first things I recommend is investing in an infrared sauna or trying to get access to an infrared sauna. Now, that’s one thing that can help you right up front.

Mimi: How often would you say, every day or?

Dr. Rawls: Everything has a price, and the price of infrared sauna is sitting in a box, is sweating for 30 minutes when you can’t really do anything else. It’s not necessarily the most pleasant thing I’ve done in my life. And I tried to be productive by taking books in there and that sort of thing, and you just get all sweaty. It’s not pleasant. I tried to do it three or four times a week with a goal of 30 minutes at 130 degrees, and you have to work up with that. And I did it for several years, and then after I got my full exercise capacity back, I sold it. And that’s what most people do, they find that they just don’t need it, and they don’t use it quite as much.

Mimi: Should you be taking a binder or something like that before you get into a sauna?

Dr. Rawls: Yeah, vegetables.

Mimi: Any vegetable? You don’t need to do like a charcoal binder or anything like that?

Dr. Rawls: I’m not a fan of binders. Now, that’s just an opinion, there are lot of great physicians who would disagree, but the deal is, binders are really, really important for acute overload. For example, I had a friend one time that inherited the house from his grandmother, and so he started redoing the house himself. We pulled up all the floorboards, and it turned out that the house had black mold all underneath, and he just about died. In that case, without acute overload of mycotoxins or anything else, the binders are really important because your system is saturated with it. And you want to pull as much of it out of your body as you possibly can.

But when you look at most people that are just shuffling chronically, and they may have mold somewhere in their house, so they may have some chronic exposure. It’s pretty low levels, and it’s more just that their immune system is already down and now we’re taking it down further. So the problem with binders is they pull a lot of good stuff out too. I’ve talked to an awful lot of people that get constipated with binders like charcoal, cholestyramine, and bentonite clay. If you get constipated, you’re not getting that stuff out of your body.

So I think there’s a place for them, but personally, I like a slower approach of just doing these things consistently, eating a good vegetable diet, chlorella possibly, and just gradually pull these things out in a more natural fashion than trying to do it aggressively and abruptly.

Mimi: Right. It’s interesting, the last, even though I’ve been in this process now for five and a half years, I think you only hear so much at some point, and then you’re able to hear more or take it all in and process it. And my revelation in the past four months, which is, I don’t know why it took me so long to realize this, but my aha moment was, it comes down to water, water, water, water, water, drinking water. And I was never drinking enough, even though I was drinking my eight glasses, it still wasn’t enough. That’s so important. And like you said, the food, I just cut out, finally, I just cut out dairy, which people have been telling me to do forever and I didn’t.

And really now super strict about the gluten, before I would cheat here and there, but now I just don’t cheat. But I think for people who are struggling, really, really getting control of your eating and not letting yourself even slip once a week until you reach a point where you’re better. When you don’t feel well, the first thing you want to do is eat your comfort food, or you want to have that cup of coffee, what makes you feel comforted, but you can’t do it.

Dr. Rawls: Yeah. But you do get used to comfort foods. It is a bit of psychology, there’s no doubt about it. Now, my comfort food, an example of a comfort food that I would go to, I wanted something that, and it varies in the different seasons, but I want something that just feels good, that I know I’m nourishing myself, steam vegetables with a little bit of curry and maybe some coconut milk, just to add some flavor on top of rice, and spices and seasonings, and often not even meat. And that’s very comforting to me.

Mimi: So, most people should be at this point, gluten-free, dairy-free?

Importance of Water for your Immune System

Dr. Rawls: I think you get used to it, but you mentioned water. There’s four things that cells need. They need water, pure water, they need oxygen, they need specific nutrients that’s not loaded with carbohydrates and fat, and they need to have the flow to carry any metabolic waste away. That’s what keeps the cell healthy. So when we talk about water, if you’re just drinking a lot of water and your body is already, your vascular system is full of water, you just pee it out. But if you eat a lot of vegetables, especially if they’re steamed and not over cooked, the perfect nutrition for cells is other cells.

So when you look at food, the more your food is removed from that natural source, and all food comes from living things. We don’t think about this very often. You hear about the synthesized plant burgers that they synthesize in a lab, they’re still using soybeans or pea protein or something to make that. All food comes from living things. So the closer that food is to the natural source, the living cells, living cells have all the nutrients that other living cells need. So broccoli or a piece of salmon, those things have living cells. They’re also full of water.

That stick of broccoli is 70% water, but instead of it just draining through your system, unless you cook it to death when you eat that, that water is slowly released in your system as you digest it. So you get a lot of water from a high vegetable diet. The other thing about water is using alkalized water. I found that that was a shortcut that I did that made a huge difference in how I felt that really, really, oh, noticeable difference within a week. When we talk about inflammation, inflammation is an overzealous response of the immune system to try and clear up debris and microbes, and free radicals.

And the immune system cells use acid and potent free radicals to kill microbes and break down debris. Acid is electron deficient, water, free radicals are electron-deficient molecules, and they break down things by pulling electrons off of other things. So looking at it from that point of view, inflammation from an electrochemical point of view is an electron-deficient state. So when we drink alkalized water of pH of nine or 10, basically what we’re doing is contributing electrons to an electron deficient state in our body that we’re inflamed.

And I could really tell a difference right up front. So now I get in big jugs and you go to Whole Foods or other health food stores and get, they have a tap and you just get water that’s a pH of nine or 10. That’s one thing that I noticed a difference in immediately. That’s a little shortcut you can take to reduce symptoms.

Mimi: Do you also take super foods, the powder at all?

Dr. Rawls: I’ve tried various kinds of things and I can’t say that I truly enjoy them, so I never just developed the habit of doing it. I try to eat with real vegetables because the other thing about those powders, we do the powder and supplements and everything else to get as much phytochemistry as we can, but I think the water factor, I call it biological water. If you’re getting water from inside cells and your natural food, then that’s hydrating the digestive process. Think about it, you go in for a burger and fries, that stuff doesn’t have any water in it.

The bread is dry, the meat has fat, but it doesn’t have much water, you might get a little water from the lettuce and tomato, the little bit that they put on there. And the French fries, it had all the water boiled out of them when they cook them. So you’re eating that, and basically, so you’ve got this lump of dehydrated food that’s sitting in your stomach, and your stomach needs liquid. So we get really thirsty when we eat that. So what do we do? Well, we pour in a 20 ounce cup of ice, cold sugar, filled Coke or whatever, and that ice stops the digestive process cold. So it’s no wonder that so many people have so many digestive problems from eating fast food.

Mimi: Do you ever put minerals in your water?

Dr. Rawls: Yes. A lot of the alkalized waters do have minerals, but there are mineral drops. There’s a company called Trace Minerals, it comes in a little blue bottle and I add some minerals in there too, whether it’s even previously alkalized or that helps alkalize regular water, but it makes things taste good. I do have a habit of using my little mineral drops. I think they’re really good.

Mimi: A couple of different people have told me that over the past couple of months and I’m like, “Okay, that’s something I need to just start doing every day.” And I had not done that before. So that’s another thing. And then the other thing that keeps coming up is food enzymes, or digestive enzymes. Do you recommend that in general for people or is that just more specific to different people?

Dr. Rawls: All of our natural foods if you’re eating food close to its natural origins, the food has enzymes in it, we get a lot of enzymes from food. If you leave a pair on the counter, it will break down over time. And it’s because of the enzymes in the food that are naturally being released in breaking it down. A lot of meats have enzymes. So you do get a lot of enzymes in the food itself, but adding enzymes, there is nothing wrong with that. And when I’m healthy and I feel good, I tend to forget as long as things like, “Okay, I’m got to stop and go get my enzymes.” But I try to do it as consistently as I can.

And when I was having digestive dysfunction, I just made myself do it. I think it really is valuable, and I just kept them in the kitchen and I would just take them.

Mimi: Right. And is there any other supplements that you have? I know that you have other supplements on your website in addition to the herbs, that address like the different symptoms or address other things. Do you mind just highlighting some of those?

Healing Power of CBD

Dr. Rawls: Yeah. The big one as far as symptomatic things is CBD. CBD oil I think has a lot of value both for pain and sleep. And what we’re doing with CBD is we’re affecting a system called the endocannabinoid system, which is basically a regulatory or a fine tuning system. So it’s indirectly affecting the balance of endorphins, mood hormones, sleep hormones, immune functions. It’s basically touching everything in the body, but it’s indirect. And I think that’s important. So it’s not going to be as potent for pain as taking a narcotic, or taking a sleeping pill, or something like that.

Nature, when we look at the things that stop symptoms like pain, like just not being able to get to sleep, nature doesn’t really make anything potent enough to take care of those problems because all those things are potentially poisons. If you take too much of them, you die. And so you’re just not going to find anything in nature that’s as potent as the drugs are. The problem with the drugs is they’re all habituating and they have some pretty strong side effects. That can sometimes end up being worse than the problem that you’re trying to solve.

Dr. Rawls: So CBD isn’t ever going to be a replacement for narcotics or sleeping pills or anything else, but it can ease things. Like I said, unfortunately, it’s a lot of little things that we do that make a difference, but CBD is one of those things. And CBD is safe enough that people can take pretty significant quantities. I’ve had people that are managing a chronic back pain from an injury that are taking hundreds of milligrams a day of CBD. So the thing that gets in the way is the cost, it’s expensive to buy really good oil. That may come down with time, but right now, that is the biggest limiting factor.

Mimi: And then would you stick with just CBD or how about THC for people who are in states that it’s legal?

Dr. Rawls: Yeah, I think THC has risen reasonable consideration. And here you’re talking to someone that it was, oh I grew up being afraid of marijuana and wasn’t quite legal, and couldn’t as a medical professional, but as I became more of an herbalist than anything else, I became fascinated with the plant, and really explored it very thoroughly, and studied it very deeply. And the difference between hemp with CBD and marijuana with THC is how these chemicals bind to the receptors in the endocannabinoid system. So CBD binds to the receptors in the endocannabinoid system very weakly.

So it has the effect of upregulating the system. You make more receptors, you make more than natural chemicals, and that’s why it’s not habituating. In other words, you’re making the system more sensitive and making it work better. THC binds to those same receptors, but it binds to the receptors very, very tightly. So what you get is an exaggerated response, you get lots of pain relief and mood relief to the point that you get high. The downside of that is it down-regulates the system, you make fewer receptors and fewer than natural internal chemicals so you become dependent on the THC.

But you can do a dance where you can keep it safe. And what I encourage people to do is use the CBD on a regular basis as they need it, even every day if they need it, but then use the THC in more to solve a problem, like a bad night that you just know you’re not going to sleep or a bad episode of pain or that sort of thing.

Mimi: Yeah. Have you heard that the THC causes your immune system to suppress? I was talking to a friend who has a cancer company and he was coming up with a new cancer drug, and he was doing research and he’s had this amazing results. And then he found that 20% of the patients weren’t getting the results, and they couldn’t figure out why. And they figured it out, the 20% of the people that were taking his cancer drug were actually on THC. And he said is because when you’re on THC, your immune system get so suppressed and so low, it wasn’t even able to react to his cancer medication.

After I heard that, I was like, “Well, I’m not taking that anymore.” Because I don’t need my immune system more suppressed than it is right now, especially with COVID.

Dr. Rawls: Well, I think the key is using CBD predominantly. Like I said, it’s affecting everything in the body, and if you’re upregulating the system with CBD, then you’re going to enhance immune system. And that’s what CBD does. And there’s very good evidence of that. If you downregulate the system, then you’re going to do the opposite. And that’s what THC does, and it’s going to affect everything, including the immune system. But I think if you’re using THC more intermittently, then you can get away with it.

And I even use CBD intermittently now, if I’ve done a big workout or I know I’m going to do a big workout or travel or something like that, where I know I’m going to be stressed, I use the CBD pretty consistently, but I don’t use it on an everyday basis, because I think even with CBD, if you use it long enough, your body seems to give them develop tolerance to almost anything. But of the two, CBD is really safe.

Mimi: That’s the best. Any other supplements that you suggest?

Stress Relieving Supplements

Dr. Rawls: Oh, they’re just so many. Again, supplements are not going to be as strong as any drug, but can help ease stress. I use a combination of ashwagandha, which is wonderful for balancing central hormones pathways, with L-theanine, which has the effect of modulating or balancing exciting neurotransmitters in the brain. So one thing you can do is have things that act like GABA calming neuro transmitter, but the other side is L-theanine blocks glutamic acid, so you’re bringing the exciting side down.

And then I typically compliment that with a couple of other herbs that are calming, Magnolia species, philodendron species, and it’s pretty neutral. So ashwagandha is slightly stimulating, the others are slightly sedating. So what I get from that is neutral, that people can take it all day, they don’t get sleepy, they don’t get sedated. And quite frankly, that combination in my opinion, works about as well as CBD for a lot of things. But you can use the two together. And certainly, there are various different herbs for just promoting calm, like passionflower, lemon balm, whole list of others.

But none of them are going to be as strong as the drugs, but hey, you use a little bit here and there, and I think that’s a really good thing that can make a huge difference in your life, things to reduce inflammation.

Mimi: What other suggestions for inflammation?

Dr. Rawls: All herbs have antioxidant properties. So that’s one way you can reduce inflammation. Inflammation is an electron deficient state, so antioxidants contribute electrons, alkalized water contributes electrons, so they help neutralize, but you can also affect the messaging pathways that promote or reduce inflammation. And here we’re talking about prostaglandins. prostaglandins are chemical messengers in the body, so there are prostaglandins that promote inflammation because we have to have that inflammatory response to survive, and there are prostaglandins that reduce inflammation.

So your classic ibuprofen blocks one of the pathways to form an inflammatory prostaglandins called COX-2. It’s an enzyme. So we’re artificially blocking COX-2. Turmeric blocks formation of COX-2, so it doesn’t block the COX-2 directly, but it blocks the formation of it. So it doesn’t work as rapidly as ibuprofen, but if you’re taking turmeric every day, you’re reducing formation of that enzyme. The advantage of that is ibuprofen also blocks something called COX-1 which we need to protect our heart and protect our stomach from acid.

So that’s why the ibuprofen is associated with stomach ulcers and cardiac problems and other issues. Turmeric doesn’t block COX-1, and turmeric actually helps healing of stomach ulcers and is good for the heart. So taking turmeric, and you can take a lot of it. In India, they take at least a gram, 1,000 milligrams of turmeric every single day of their lives in the food that they eat. So turmeric is really nice. Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, are my favorite. Krill oil is an exceptionally good way to decrease those inflammatory prostaglandins because a Omega fatty acids, there’s Omega-6s and others varieties, so Omega-3s are the precursors for anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, where Omega-6s, which we get in corn, and wheat, and corn, and wheat-fed meat, are precursors for inflammatory prostaglandins.

Fish Oil Omega-3s

So first, reducing your grain and grain-fed meat, and grain and soybean-fed meat is a good idea, but more Omega-3s, that you can get from fish, fish oil, but getting enough is hard, especially in today’s time. So taking a supplement makes sense.

Mimi: Do you just take a spoonful of it?

Dr. Rawls: I typically do the krill oil myself. I’ve taken pretty much all the options, I’ve taken spoonfuls of fish, I’ve taken various fish sources, but I’m also concerned about sustainability and the pressure on the fish supplies all around the whole earth is really great right now. If you’re getting your oils from salmon, ah, you’re really putting a lot of pressure on the salmon. So smaller fish like sardines and anchovy is better, but krill is even better yet. And here’s why.

First of all, fish is in a triglyceride form, which is, we don’t really typically use it, we have to break it down. Krill is in a phospholipid form. So the phospholipids are a couple of fat molecules on a phosphorus molecule. And that’s what we use in our cell membrane, so it’s automatically incorporated into all the cell membranes in the body and very easily absorbed, which is a really good thing. But krill also is a source of astaxanthin, one of the most potent antioxidants on earth, and that’s the pink color in krill.

But beyond that, krill is really important because it’s sustainable. There’s one major company called Acker Marine that does all the fishing of the krill, and it mostly comes from the Antarctic. And they have environmental spotters on their boats and they’ve done calculations that at maximum production, they’re going to impact about 1% of the krill population in the Antarctic, and they’re not going to have an effect on the ecosystem, which is really important.

Mimi: That’s good. So you literally take a tablespoon of that?

Dr. Rawls: No, I take three to six capsules a day, but because it’s in the phospholipid form, it’s better absorbed than fish. So about two-thirds as much krill oil is equal to the full amount of a fish oil, you just don’t need as much.

What to eat with Lyme?

Mimi: Oh, that’s interesting. I have trouble finding what to do for breakfast. What do you do for breakfast? I feel like lunch and dinner, vegetables, I’m good with that, green juices. What do you do for breakfast?

Dr. Rawls: Various kinds of things. First of all, I really enjoy food and I look at what I eat now and what I ate 20 years ago and what I thought I liked, every day I sit down and I look at my wife and go, “Man, do we eat well? Food is so enjoyable. We are so fortunate.” But every meal, I look for an opportunity to get as much nourishment for myself in. Warmer months typically, I have a smoothie most days, and I do frozen blueberries, sometimes a little piece of frozen banana, add a little bit of sweet, but I’ll put spinach and butternut squash in there just to add, you get some of that vegetable component.

And you can get butternut squash that’s frozen with a little cubes. And typically, flax milk or some other milk, like almond milk, but there’s a nice opportunity to add some really good stuff. So I’ll typically put a scoop of collagen in there, and I’ll put a heaping scoop of a mushroom powder. The mushrooms are especially good because they’re not bitter, they have a nice flavor. So reishi mushroom, cordyceps mushroom, chaga mushroom, lion’s mane are the primary ones, and you get bags of organic mushroom powder. I dump a big bag of that in, I put some flaxseed in there.

Some flaxseed meal because that’s a great source of Omega-3s, and it keeps me regular. It’s really nice for that. And sometimes just maybe a little agave nectar, but here’s some things you can do to make it even better. The chaga mushroom especially has a little bit of a chocolate taste, put a teaspoon of just cocoa powder in there. That’s really good. And then if you want to make it even better, a little bit of almond butter, or in my case, I’m more sensitive to almonds, you can put some tahini, which is just ground sesame seeds in there, which are really good for Omega-3s also.

Mix all that together. That’s a pretty good way to start your day. Other things, just for variety, I’m always looking for those ways to get vegetables in my meals, so sometimes eggs I’ll do an egg, but instead of bacon and toast, I will saute with that salad greens with some pesto, and sometimes some chunks of sweet potatoes, especially if I’ve got leftover sweet potato, maybe some slices of tomato, fresh tomatoes in there and throw a little bit of Parmesan cheese on there. That’s a nice breakfast. It is really good.

Mimi: Do you have dairy? Do you let yourself have dairy?

Dr. Rawls: It’s a matter of what you can eat and can’t eat. And I think that everybody has to go through that, that we are all different. And I had pretty severe leaky gut, 75% of the foods that I was eating, I was sensitive to. And dairy started causing me gas so I became lactose intolerant, and so I switched to soy milk. And within six months, I was badly sensitive to soy. So then it was almond milk, and then coconut milk. And I would become sensitive to each one of them. Now, I can go back and I can have some of those things occasionally, but if I do them every day, I’m in trouble.

I have found that the thing though, that I can do consistently is lactose-free milk. And I try to stay away from processed food products, but there’s a new way to get milk that they’re filtering out the lactose and all the carbohydrates, so it’s got about 50% less carbohydrate in it. And I use that along with flax milk. So flax milk doesn’t taste quite as good, so I’ll put like half flax and some of that filtered milk in there that doesn’t have the lactose. And I tolerate that very well. But sometimes to mix it up, yeah, sometimes I will do almond milk or some other milks too.

Mimi: Well, this has been amazing. I really appreciate it. I definitely got some tips and I know others will enjoy this as well. Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you think we should be covering or we forgot?

Mental Health and Lyme

Dr. Rawls: Well, I think we’ve covered a lot of little things. Those symptoms really do get you, there’s no doubt about it. And one thing that I would say that I think is very important, at one point, I remember being at a point where I felt totally helpless and I was afraid. And I was reaching out to others for help, and none of those people; physicians, healthcare providers, I mean, they cared, but it wasn’t really their problem. And I was going to take a lot of their time and there’s not the empathy there that you’d really love to have. And being just afraid and anxious, made the symptoms much worse.

And I reached the point that I said, “Okay, this is my life, and maybe I’m not going to be around that long, and maybe I am going to have these symptoms, but I’m going to go out there and I’m going to try to figure it out. And I’m going to do what I can to contribute to the world, the best that I can with what I’ve got. And I’m going to help other people understand the situation, and I’m going to do the best that I can.” Because I always relate it to somebody like Stephen Hawking, if you remember, he was astrophysicists that had ALS, that was totally paralyzed.

He had one muscle in his cheek that would work that allowed him to affect a computer. And this guy lived to be into his mid-70s with this problem for 40 years. And I just think about the amount of misery this guy experienced and the inconvenience of his life, but he found purpose in his life, and the purpose became more significant than the symptoms. And that was a point of inspiration to say, “All right, I’ve got this. This is my life. How can I move beyond this to help others, to make the world a better place, to be significant, to have purpose.”

And when I started doing that, the symptoms became less significant, they became a nuisance, not this giant mountain that was dragging me down. And not necessarily that it made the symptoms any more pleasant or that I didn’t want to do everything I could to get rid of them, but in the same respect, moving beyond the symptoms toward finding purpose in life and just accepting that they’re there, but doing everything at the same time you can to move beyond them, that was huge. That was huge. That took away the fear, that took away the anxiety. And once you move past the fear and anxiety, you will find ways to move past the symptoms too. And I think that’s significant.

Mimi: Now, I’m glad you brought that up. This mental component of it is very hard. And just going through this and having be one day, you’re totally fine, and then within two hours you could be in bed crying because you’re in so much pain, the fluctuation of this disease is just so hard to comprehend. And it really makes you give up hope sometimes, to be honest with you. To think you’re going to get there and then you’re like, “Wait, I thought I was better and now I’m back to square one.” And you’re just like, “How do we get out of this?” And you think it’s going to end, but then it doesn’t. And it’s like just the mystery, the whole thing is just a mystery.

Dr. Rawls: Boy, it is a journey of persistence and patience, there’s no doubt about it. And everybody’s pathway is a little bit different, but I do think laying that foundation of just fixing it in your mind, how can I restore the health of myself and my body, which is more than just killing the microbes. Weak cells are vulnerable to invasion with microbes, if your cells are stressed, it’s hard to fight them off. So you have to move beyond just that idea of, I’ve got to kill the microbes. You have to help your body resist the microbes. And that is the way out of this thing.

Mimi: It’s so true. Thank you so much. I really appreciate. Every time I talk to you, I learn something new, and I really appreciate everything that you’re doing for the Lyme community. So thank you.

Dr. Rawls: Absolutely, Mimi. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk to people.

If you are interested in any of the supplements or CBD products Dr. Rawls mentioned in this podcast episode, you can head over to his Vital Plan website and shop high-quality, science-backed supplement formulas that can help you alleviate chronic symptoms and boost your overall wellness. If you do choose to shop from Vital Plans, you can use my code HEAL15 to save 15% off your purchase and support me. *affiliate link*



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