I love a good epsom salt bath! As a mama of kiddos with Lyme, epsom salt baths with added essential oils have saved the day on many occasions. I love that they not only detox the body, but that the magnesium also provides a nice calming effect. Magnesium can help calm anxiety, anger and sometimes even overstimulation.
When we were in the middle of battling Bartonella (tick bite disease that creates anger and anxiety), we called epsom salts magic crystals, because they were magic. On so many occasions we would put our screaming child into the bath and within 20 minutes, the same child would be singing and playing in the bathtub. Ahhhh. Th power of magnesium. A few drops of a calming essential oil and the effect was that much better!
A year into using the baths, I was finally able to convince my non-bath taking husband to try them for his Lyme symptoms. On bad days, my husband wore a back and knee braces due to joint paint and inflammation. Soaking in an epsom salt bath with Lavender made the anti-inflammatory properties of the bath that much stronger. Now he too can benefit from the power of magic crystals.
My article today is talking about using epsom salt baths for chronic illness, but that absolutely does not have to be the case! Calm the body and calm the mind...maybe throw in a good book while you're at it. I encourage you to try an epsom oily bath today if you haven't already. Epsom salts are easy to find in the pharmacy section of your grocery store or via the Amazon links below.
How to Create a Peaceful Essential Oil & Epsom Salt Bath
Baking Soda (optional: neutralizes chlorine & other chemicals)
Start with the bath water running. Then add the salts, baking soda and essential oils. Stir rapidly until everything feels dissolved and well distributed. As you stir, you will release the aroma of the oils, which means for that brief (delicious) moment you get the aromatic benefits too. Next, insert child or adult, sprinkle in a few toys (or book) and wait for the transformation!
The following are guidelines to help you determine what ratio will help best.
Please keep in mind any health concerns that you may have before using Epsom salts.
*1/2 cup Epsom salts and ¼ cup baking soda for children under 6o#,
* 1 cup Epsom salts and ½ cup baking soda for children over 60#
* 2 cups Epsom salts and 1 cup baking soda for 100# and over
**When choosing what essential oils to use in the bath, think about what you are trying to accomplish. Some of you have a small regular sized bathtub and others use a large soaking tub. I find that 4 drops of essential oils in a soaking tub work well for my 8 year old son. Adjust your oil amounts to suit your needs, remembering that less is more.
Make sure to drink liquids during or immediately following the bath and to rinse off the salts before toweling off.
Guest Blogger Katie Chandler, MSW Explores What Happens When Trauma Meets Lyme...
A patient presented with neuropsychiatric Lyme disease. She had been misdiagnosed for over 10 years. Now 27 years old, she was unable to take care of herself and is living with her parents. Some of her symptoms included depression, anxiety, OCD, and insomnia. She was seeing a Lyme specialist and undergoing treatment, but she was not gaining the ground her LLMD expected to see. Lyme co-infections, such as Bartonella, Babesia, and Erlichia, can have psychiatric manifestations. These manifestations include self harming, suicidal tendencies, and Lyme psychosis, which this patient presented with as well.
As I began talking with her and hearing her story, other symptoms came to light that were not Lyme related; internal dialogues, losing track of time, intrusive dreams, being known by different names with different groups of people. With enough evidence, I was able to diagnose her with Dissociative Identity Disorder stemming from a background of childhood related abuse and trauma.
I began treatment with getting history and building trust. As the trust was developed, my patient was able to open up more about her background. These sessions could be difficult, and often times in the week following, she would seem to have set backs in Lyme treatment or experience more DID symptoms.
I began to work with her using components of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. During these sessions, we would talk about the weeks stresses and at the end of the sessions, we would place the anxiety, unknowns, worries and fears into a box to be held safe until the next session. This allowed the patient a way to not hold onto and struggle with the stressors throughout the week. Instead she was able to focus more on self care. Then at the next session, we could reopen the box to place in new events, and feelings, and to re-frame other stressors placed in the box previously.
Many times patients are unaware of the toll that trauma or other stressors take on their physical health. This allows the Lyme infection to gain ground when the body's immune system is in a constant state of fight or flight. Stress hormones have been found to inhibit the production of cytokines, the agents of the immune system that respond to danger. This causes these cells to overreact and create an inflammatory response that is over the top, often creating a greater problem than the original danger. Unresolved emotional issues and negative emotional patterns can put a huge stress on the immune system. Clearing these emotional issues can be highly beneficial in releasing the immune system from suppression. The body maintains this fight or flight mode by pumping the body with adrenaline and other stress hormones. While short term exposure allows the body to do tremendous things, long term exposure is detrimental to your health.
Discussing the emotional issues was very helpful to the patient. It allowed her to come out of a constant state of fight or flight.
Another technique that I recommended to my patient was Fascial Counterstrain, which allows the blood to flow back into the brain and calms the parasympathetic nerve. With the parasympathetic nerve inflamed, the body is unable to relax as easily or as quickly as it should. In a sense, the inflamed nerve acts like a stopped up drain slowing the release of the tension and stress. With the Fascial Counterstrain, the parasympathetic nerve was able to be calmed and soothed. Without its overreaction, the patient was able to talk about and work through the childhood traumas more easily and with fewer reactions.
As I worked with my patient to confront the emotional stresses from current events, and from past trauma, she was able to more easily handle life events. As she was able to handle events better, less stress came from having fewer setbacks. As she had less stress, her body was able to devote more energy into fighting the Lyme and other co-infections. This feedback of reducing stressors freed up the person as a whole to gain traction in healing physically and emotionally.
Katie Chandler, MSW
Lyme Literate Counselor
Unless specified, Gabrielle Anderson, lmft is the author of these posts. Gabrielle is a Therapist and the Director at FTC. She is a married mother of 2 and has experienced chronic infection in the practice, herself and in her family.
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