What if you are bitten? Do not panic, as there is plenty that both conventional and naturopathic medicine can do acutely to prevent infection from taking hold and causing illness. First things first, however, you must remove the tick safely.
Do not use anything to “suffocate” the tick, as this may cause the tick to regurgitate its contents into you and expose your body to Borrelia burgdorferi and other species of Borrelia that cause Lyme disease, as well as its co-infections. Use flat-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick at the base of the head (not the body) and slowly but firmly pull the tick from the skin in the same direction that it is implanted.
Once the tick is removed, use a clear plastic sealable bag to store it. Apply hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound. Mix bentonite clay and Andrographis tincture (an anti-spirochetal herb) to form a paste and apply it directly to the bite. Cover with a bandage soaked in the Andrographis tincture and let it heal.
The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) recommends that those experiencing Erythema migrans (bullseye-rash) undergo antibiotic therapy for four to six weeks.
For those without access to antibiotics or aversion to pharmaceutical use, herbal antimicrobials taken internally can be used effectively to address the suspected infection, either instead of prescriptions or in addition to them.
A recent study looked at several antimicrobial and antiparasitic herbs as compared to the controls of prescription doxycycline and cefuroxime (Feng, 2020). The botanicals with “good” to “strong” activity against Borrelia included Cryptolepis sanguinolenta, Juglans nigra (Black walnut), Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed), Artemisia annua (Sweet wormwood), Uncaria tomentosa (Cat's claw), Cistus incanus, and Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese skullcap).
In fact, Cryptolepis sanguinolenta extract caused complete eradication of the spirochete, while doxycycline and cefuroxime could not fully eradicate B. burgdorferi. This research makes a powerful case for using herbal antibiotics in addition to or instead of pharmaceuticals. (Feng, 2020)
You may also consider taking homeopathic Ledum and Apis, two remedies excellent at addressing puncture wounds and insect bites and stings. Dr. Alexis Chesney, a Lyme literate Naturopathic physician, put together a very helpful Tick Preparedness Kit that contains herbs, homeopathics, and items for tick removal and storage.
As described in the book Preventing Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases by Alexis Chesney ND. *Book sold separately
- Tick Twister by O’Tom (there are other tools for removing ticks, but this one is my favorite and, in my experience, the most effective)
- Small ziplock bag (for collecting the tick)
- Andrographis tincture with dropper
- Homeopathic Ledum palustre 30C
- Homeopathic Apis mellifica 30C
- 4 ounce Deer Tick Bite Formula
*4 ounce tick bite prophylactic formula specific to the types of ticks in your region (default Deer Tick Bite Formula)
Test Your Ticks – and Yourself
I recommend sending the tick for testing so that your practitioners can help you create a treatment plan tailored to the specific pathogens that are found in the tick.
Although there are inexpensive and even free resources for tick testing, I have found the most comprehensive way to test ticks is using the expanded panel through www.tickreport.com. The results typically come back within 48-72 hours, which allows for timely and proper antibiotic treatment.
Ticks can carry parasites and viruses as well!
A study published in 2020 found that Ixodes scapularis, or blacklegged deer ticks, are the most common ticks in Connecticut. These ticks carry multiple bacteria that can cause Lyme disease, and several others that cause co-infections like Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Babesia microti, Bartonella henselae, and Borrelia miyamotoi (Pokutnaya, 2020).
This means that a tick bite puts you at risk for a multitude of diseases, so it is essential that the tick testing you choose is comprehensive. It is best to know what infections the tick itself carried and choose the appropriate antibiotics or antiparasitics (prescription or herbal) that can treat them.