Lyme Disease 101

I wanted to explore the topic of Lyme Disease with an expert who really gets it. I met with NYC holistic health coach, Rika Keck to unpack the issue. Rika specializes in challenging Lyme cases and has “seen it all”. Check out her website here if you are living with chronic Lyme disease or simply want to learn more. You also might want to pick up a copy of her book, “NOURISH, HEAL, THRIVE: A comprehensive and holistic approach to Living with Lyme disease”. It’s available on Amazon, Ibooks and Barnes & Noble online. I asked Rika if she could help us understand the issue of Lyme better, as doctors often miss the many signs and symptoms. Well, she certainly delivered! To follow, you will find a comprehensive guide to Lyme and how we can protect ourselves. We hope it serves you and your family this summer and helps you to stay safe in the long-term.

What You Need To Know About Ticks & Lyme Disease
The Top 7 Tips: How To Protect Yourself Against Ticks!

Author: Rika Keck

Summer is here! It’s time to enjoy sun-filled days with family and friends. However, grassy or wooded environments do have the ‘perils of summer’ - we must be aware of ticks.

Various ticks in the US and Canada are infected with Lyme disease and other serious infections, which can be transmitted into our body when a tick has attached to the body. These can be smaller in size such as the nymph, or the adult tick that is easier to see with the naked eye. We must be vigilant in guarding ourselves against these unwelcome brown or black creepy crawlers that are abundant in nature, especially in the North East areas.

Ticks are looking for new hosts to feed on during their different life cycles. Various hosts can include rodents (especially the white footed mice), mammals, reptiles and birds, and us humans, too. They sense our presence through our breath, sweat, body odor, and they hear the vibration from our footsteps too. Even though ticks prefer hot and humid days, they are around during all seasons – some even during winter months.

If you enjoy gardening, hiking, camping, horseback riding, picnics, golfing, and other fun activities, do consider the tick prevention tips listed later on. One tick bite can potentially result in serious health problems, however it is important to remember that not every tick is infected.

Common ticks in the NE include:

  • The blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) is widely distributed in the Northeast area. This tick transmits many different pathogens including different strains of Borrelia burgdoferi (AKA Lyme disease), Borrelia miyamotoi, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and the Powassan virus.
  • The American Dog Tick. These are most active during the spring and summer seasons, and they are known to transmit infections called Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) and Tularemia.
  • Then there is what’s known as the Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum). This tick is very small with a white patch on its back. It’s aggressive in seeking a host and is fearless in crawling towards human beings. The Lone Star Tick transmits different strains of ehrlichiosis, the heartland virus, rickettsiosis, tularemia, and STARI (Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness).
  • These days, the Lone Star Tick is gaining more attention because it’s also associated with the ‘meat-eating allergy’ that is connected with sugar molecule galactose-alpha-1, 3-galactose.

Ticks Do Not Jump Or Fly!

But, they crawl and cling to our clothes, shoes, hats and body when we are, e.g. hiking where we brush against grasses, or lie on a blanket in the grass near a wooded area, or are clearing leaf litter in the fall. Some ticks attach quickly, while others crawl around the body seeking moist creases such as behind the ear or knee, the scalp or armpit, or the waist area. And they attach on our pets too, so do check your dogs after they have spent time running through the woods, or playing outdoors in grassy areas.

Why Should You Be Personally Concerned About Lyme Disease?

• Lyme disease is currently the #1 infectious disease in the United States.
• In the US: According to the CDC, over 300 000 individuals were diagnosed with Lyme disease in the United States in 2017 (although the unofficial number is closer to one million.)
• In Canada: 2025 cases of Lyme disease were reported in 2017 (Like in the US, this does not reflect the true numbers. Lyme disease testing is flawed, and individuals are often misdiagnosed.)
• In 2016, most reported cases occurred in the provinces of Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.
• The number or reported Lyme disease incidences in the US and Canada is rising every year.
• Many people are unaware of the fact that fewer than 50 percent of individuals ever see a tick, recall a tick bite or see a rash on the body.
• The classic ‘bull’s eye rash’ occurs in fewer than 40 percent of individuals.
• One can be infected with Lyme disease without having a bull’s eye rash.
• If not treated promptly and appropriately, a tick bite can result in long-term health challenges.

Acute symptoms of Lyme disease can include rashes, joint pain, flu-like symptoms, vision changes, cognitive troubles, heart palpitations, mood changes, sleep disturbances, neurological symptoms including Bell’s palsy in the face, sever fatigue, and other health troubles.

Current testing methods—such as the Western Blot test or the two-tiered ELISA test—are not reliable for detecting Lyme disease in individuals. (Both tests do not check for prevalent co-infections, which if not treated promptly and appropriately, have great potential to create severe health problems.

Myths And Facts About Lyme Disease Transmission

There is no so-called “safe time” when it comes to transmission of Lyme disease, co-infections and viruses. It is a myth that one will only get infected if the tick has been attached to their body for 36-48 hours.

A literature review has determined that in animal models, transmission can occur in <16 hours, and the minimum attachment time for transmission of infection has never been established.
These factors support anecdotal evidence that Borrelia infection can occur in humans within a short time after tick attachment.

Nymphal deer ticks efficiently transmitted POW virus to naive mice after as few as 15 minutes of attachment.

• With an attached tick, a single antibiotic dose of 200mg doxycycline is not recommended. (
• One tick bite can transmit up to 15 different types of infections.
• The Western Blot test does not check for any infections other than the Borrelia burgdorferi strain that is prevalent in the USA (Aka Lyme disease). Someone infected with another strain will test negative on this particular test.
• Anecdotally, Lyme disease has been transmitted from mother to child within the womb, and in breast milk.
• Spider and fleabites can also transmit vectorborne infections.

Now that you’ve become aware of how prevalent Lyme disease occurs, it’s important to consider how to avoid getting a tick bite in the first place.

What Are Some Preventative Measures You Can Take?

1. When outdoors, wear lightly colored clothing, tuck shirts into pants and socks into shoes. Periodically monitor your exposed body parts and clothes for any black or brown spots, and crawling agents too.

2. Individuals engaged in outdoor sports/activities are more vulnerable to tick bites; especially children during summer camp too. For this daily prevention against a tick bite (and spider, flea or mosquito bite), it’s important to consider non-toxic natural sprays or essential oils. These are ‘human and skin-friendly.’ Options include potent essential oils or combination sprays that contain, e.g. lemongrass, neem, cinnamon bark, oil of lemon eucalyptus, wintergreen, and cloves.

Essential oils must be diluted in carrier oil [like olive, coconut or avocado oil] and can require repeated applications during the day for maximum efficacy and protection. (Apply the oil on a small patch of your skin to see if it irritates it 24 hours before applying it all over your body.)

3. If you’re going to go with a chemical solution, do not apply it directly onto your bare skin. One example is Permethrin™. This can be sprayed on your clothes, shoes and socks, just not your skin. It’s a much more effective fast-acting neurotoxin than another popular chemical remedy called DEET™. Sawyer Fisherman’s Formula Picaridin ™ is another chemical option. There is also Permethrin-treated clothing that withstands multiple washings.

4. Perform routine tick checks when you come into the house from outdoor activities. This includes checking yourself (and your pets) for ticks. To protect your bedding and furniture from possible infestation, do not wait until before bedtime to do a tick check.

5. Remove your outdoor shoes and socks and head into the bathroom for a full-body tick check. This allows you to find any creepy crawlers while making it much easier to take prompt action if a tick is burrowing in. Check especially all warm and moist creases in the armpit and groin, behind the ears, and the scalp; ticks like these areas most.

6. Take a hot shower. Make sure it lasts for more than just a couple of minutes.

7. Invest in a non-chemical flea and tick collar for your pets – and check them when they come indoors.

What Should You Do If A Tick Does Embed Itself Into Your Skin?

 When you find an attached tick, it’s important to remove it as quickly and carefully as possible. The longer a tick is attached, the more it increases the risk of infection.
 Removing a tick requires a strong magnifying glass and a pair of pointed tweezers.
 Carefully hold onto the top of the tick (if possible) and pull the tick straight out. One does not want to squeeze the belly area of the tick, as this will increase the injection of more pathogens from the gut of the tick into your body.
 After removing the tick, clean the area with rubbing alcohol and apply a diluted essential oil like oil of oregano.
 The tick can be tested for infections. Check your local area. The Bay Area Lyme Foundation recently announced a return to free tick testing. Contact
 If you cannot remove the tick, go to your doctor or nearest emergency room.
 Check out the website to become fully informed regarding current antibiotic recommendations and treatment.
 As far as herbal treatment alternatives, discuss them with a knowledgeable health practitioner. There are multiple botanical and homeopathic options.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to consider that the strength of our immune system plays an important role in whether or not tick bite-related infections will remain dormant or manifest later on in life.

However, prevention of a tick bite is the best strategy.

There is a Lyme-literate community that is well aware of the dangers of these infections, and the need for co-infection testing, and potentially prolonged treatment beyond a short round of antibiotics. Two terrific resources include ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society), and the Global Lyme Alliance (GLA).

Hopefully, the information above will prove to be helpful so you and your loved ones can enjoy outdoor activities safely—this spring, summer and other seasons to come.

Rika Keck, FDN-P
NY Integrated Health LLC
Holistic Health Practitioner
646 285 8588


Thank you, Rika, for helping us to understand the severity of the issue and to learn strategies to protect ourselves. You are doing amazing work!

I hope this blog post has served its purpose, which is to educate, inform and empower. With greater awareness, we can protect ourselves against tick bites and if we do become infected, we can know that there are people out there who have experienced the effects of Lyme disease and are committed to helping us heal.

Because I want you to love your life one bite (but not a tick bite!) at a time. 😉

P.S. If you’d like to experience greater health and wellness and work on your relationship with food, sugar, weight, and body image, I’ve put together a 12 week ONLINE program that gets to the root of our worthiness issues and we develop a plan together that will help you to treat your body with greater compassion, love and respect. It’s awesome. And I’d love for you to experience it. One Bite At A Time. Visit to learn more. Registration for the next round is officially open and we start on Monday, July 29th.

P.P.S. If you’d like to learn a little more about me and the things we focus on, I did a live training recently called:“The Truth About Sugar and How To Live A Life Of Freedom Around Food.” 

P.P.P.S. If you’d like to prioritize your health for 14 days, I’d love for you to sign up for my 14 Days of Wellness. Simply enter your name and email address up on the right to begin receiving the messages today. It’s FREE, with no diets, products, challenges or catches…just a chance to remember how amazing you are…for 14 days.

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