Promoting Health Through War?
A lot has changed since I first became interested in Pine Pollen and combating (undoing) the long term effects of Lyme Disease and the effects of a conventional, Western approach to Lyme Disease treatment. At that time, I was a firm believer in treating Lyme Disease and it’s co-infections with antimicrobials, whether those be pharmaceutical or herbal. This made sense to my science based mind. I’m not so convinced anymore.
A few patterns and questions have lead me to reconsider the—what I will term—antimicrobial approach to Lyme Disease treatment (this includes using pharmaceutical drugs or using herbal equivalents, either exclusively or a combination thereof).
Here are those patterns and questions:
- Why do some people develop Lyme Disease symptoms and others do not?
- Why are symptoms immediate in some and delayed (even by decades) in others?
- Why do symptoms ebb and flow within the same person?
- Why does response to treatment vary so widely?
- Why does it appear that Lyme Disease targets certain people?
If Lyme Disease (a systemic Borrelia burgdorferi infection) is similar to other bacterial infections, such as syphilis (a similar bacteria type) or staph infection, which are both treated effectively with antibiotics, these questions would be moot. No answers required because the questions themselves would not exist. But the truth is—and this is fact no matter which side of the fence you stand on—Lyme Disease treatment is, at best, difficult to manage.
Questions but No Answers
I do not have any answers here, but I have developed a different vantage point and a different opinion of the infection than I held almost a decade ago when I was in the middle of Lyme Disease treatment. At that point, I saw by body as a war zone, a battle field, that I was under siege and that I had to act with military precision against it—against myself.
This is a terrible view to have of one's own body. Lyme Disease or otherwise, bodies deserve respect and reverence, not military precision. Lyme Disease or not, when we view ourselves as ill, we will never feel well.
Herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 are common and widespread infections. It is said that herpes infection is both ubiquitous and contagious. That is, herpes infection is very, very common. The herpes simplex infection exists as a latent infection, where for the most part, the infection is asymptomatic (without symptoms), but that there are periodic outbreaks.
Herpes outbreaks tend to occur when the person’s immune system is weakened. It is common for someone to have a cold sore outbreak at times of high stress or prolonged overwork.
Viruses are different than bacteria, and viral infections are different than bacterial infections. While herpes simplex infections are well known infections that exists in a latent state, some well known bacterial infections, too, are latent.
A classic example of a latent bacterial infection is latent tuberculosis (LTB). Latent tuberculosis is a tuberculosis infection where the person does have the infection, and is contagious, but does not display any of the symptoms.
Provided time, however, approximately 10% of those with a latent tuberculosis infection will go on to develop an active infection. Those with diabetes have a 18% rate of developing an active infection and HIV infection is the greatest known risk for progression from a latent tuberculosis infection to an active infection.
Here, it is clear that overall health of the body carries a great influence of whether or not a latent infection will progress to an active infection.
These two examples—one viral, one bacterial—of infections that move from a latent state to an active state are provided here to suggest (not to state as fact or given as proof) that there might be more to a Borrelia burgdorferi infection than is commonly discussed.
That is, that Lyme Disease moves from latent states to active states and that lifestyle and overall health may mediate the expression of the infection.
While I previously subscribed to the antimicrobial approach to Lyme Disease treatment, I now believe Lyme Disease to be an opportunistic infection that can lie dormant and that can wake and express itself, depending on our overall state of health—physical, mental, and spiritual health . As is commonly known, chronic Lyme Disease does not respond to antibiotic treatment as other bacterial infections do.
What I am suggesting here is that might we achieve health in the face of Lyme Disease by supporting the body rather than fighting it? Can we feel as healthy—even healthier—with Lyme Disease (or post Lyme Disease) than we did before the infection?
Again, I do not claim to have definitive answers to these questions, and it is important to stress this point. However, and similarly, the antimicrobial approach (pharmaceutical or herbal) to Lyme Disease treatment also does not hold answers to these questions.
Radically Supporting Health
The dominate culture we live within is antithetical to health. Remember the adage about the fish not knowing what water is? The water we live within is toxic ideology. This is an ideology of more is better, of constant growth, of expansion at all costs. This is growth for the singular sake of growth. This is the ideology of cancer.
To radically support health, these fundamental assumptions that are so persistent in our society must first be reconsidered and redefined. That is because (environment and sociology aside) living this way makes us sick. It robs health from the body, the mind, the spirit. Is it any wonder that as we—as individuals and as a culture—run ourselves ragged we end up sick?
When I first became interested in Pine Pollen as support for recovery from Lyme Disease, it was an attempt to embrace and to keep up with the more-is-better standard of self-worth. But, as herbal medicine and as plants often do, Pine Pollen came with a lesson and an agenda different than the one I was seeking.
Pine Pollen and Other Flower Pollens
First and foremost, there is no antimicrobial activity found in Pine Pollen or in other pollens. I point this out because I want to highlight a different approach to bacterial infection. Instead, pollens are nourishing and restoring.
According to Peter Holmes, in The Energetics of Western Herbs , flower pollens (which I include Pine Pollen as), have the following functions and indications (413-414):
Provides nourishment, restores the endocrine, nervous and immune systems, and enhances immunity: Tonifies blood, qi and essence, regulates metabolism, generates growth and promotes longevity.
Restores the nerves and heart, balances the circulation and promotes rest; promotes clear thinking and lifts the spirit.
Tonifies urogenital qi, harmonizes urination and relieves irritation, fortifies the yang and relieves impotence and infertility; increases estrogen and androgen.
Promotes urination, resolves toxicosis and relieves overweight; dissolves deposits and regulates bowel movement.
Tonifies digestive qi, promotes absorption and relieves underweight; clears dysbiosis and regulates bowel movement.
Opens the chest, relieves wheezing and benefits the throat.
Stimulates immunity and reduces infection and inflammation; promotes tissue repair; relieves allergies.
In short, pollens are here as an antidote to the deleterious consequences of overwork—they radically support health. They are not here to prop up a weakened state, but to fundamentally restore and renew and to bring about a new vantage point. They offer a tropism to another way of being.
I have long expressed my disagreement with the hyper-focus on the phyto-androgens and pro-androgens present in Pine Pollen. Instead arguing that there is much more at play in Pine Pollen, and that Pine Pollen is working beyond and on a much higher level than simple supplementation with phyto-androgens.
Instead, with pollens—including Pine Pollen—the focus should be on the nourishing and restorative effects that the herbs hold. We see great and profound effects from the use of pollens not because they can do one or two things, but because they are supplying substance and worth where our lives and our bodies (our health) are lacking substance and worth.
When we restore at that level, the results can be exponential. Using pollens to support health is focusing on quality over quantity. It is offering a new way of being.
In Conclusion and In Moving Forward
The lesson I have begun to learn about Lyme Disease, Pine Pollen, Wellness, and Chronic Infections, is that to feel better—even better than before an infection—is that we need to seek the roots and seek to address the fundamentals affecting the roots.
If we run ourselves ragged, and end up sick because of it, unless we cease that lifestyle, we will never, truly never, find wellness. This is a truth.
I say that I have begun to learn this lesson. Not because the lesson is hard or difficult to understand, but because wellness is so contrary and runs so perpendicular to the society I—we—live within, implementing this lesson is difficult. Not difficult to understand, but difficult to do.
On my own healing journey, my Lyme Disease has become a semaphore for how I'm living my life. When I am not meeting my physical, mental, and spiritual needs, I feel sick. But when I treat myself with compassion, when I rest when rest is needed, practice self care, invest in friendships and relationships, I feel much better than I felt before Lyme Disease. And that is a huge success.