COMMENTARY | About a month ago, I was feeling bad enough to wonder what was going on: Muscle and joint aches; aching lungs; sensitive sinuses; extreme tiredness; dark diarrhea despite treatment with slippery elm and pain despite 200 mg of ibuprofen per hour. It made me think of Lyme disease, and I wanted a blood test, so I went to Valley Immediate Care.
I was seen by a Physician’s Assistant, though I didn’t realize it at the time. He thought it sounded like a flu that was going around, though I had a hard time believing it, since there was lung and sinus irritation, but no phlegm or congestion. But he said that this flu was more in the body and gut. He wanted to take a swab for a flu test, because I didn’t have Lyme disease’s normal target-shaped lesion.
The flu test came out negative, but he still wanted me to take Tamiflu, an antiviral medicine; he said that he didn’t really trust the swab test. I mentioned that I was thinking about Oregano Oil; I know it is antibiotic and antifungal, and is probably antiviral as well, but it has a reputation of being a bit hard on the stomach. How hard was Tamiflu on the stomach, and how much would it cost? Not hard on the stomach or expensive, he thought, maybe $40.
I left with a scrip for Tamiflu, still considering whether I wanted to take it. I decided against it when I found it to be $192 at Bi-Mart, and headed for my parents’ house to pick some fresh oregano, being out of the oil at the moment. Mom insisted on the Tamiflu and said to check the price at Service Drug, which turned out to be $116. She said she’d pay for it if I would take it. To make her feel better, I bought it and took the first pill of the five-day course right away.
The next day, I was in worse shape. The diarrhea was worse, still dark, and my urine was taking on a blackish color. The pain had concentrated in my hands, knees, and feet; my hands, knuckles, and wrists and ankles were swollen, and I noticed an insect bite above the most swollen knuckle, which was a bit black and red inside. Maybe it was an atypical lesion, inside the knuckle?
I called Immediate Care, tearfully asking if the flu causes arthritis (Lyme disease does) and mentioning the blackish urine. The receptionist said that they’d be happy to see me again. I should have gone right back in; I didn’t even realize that they had a 5 day free-visit guarantee, and she didn’t mention it. It was in my paperwork, but my brain was not working that well. (This is a danger in any case of treating oneself; illness, especially loss of blood, affects the brain; Lyme disease specifically does.)
I did, however, go pick some oregano and make some oil by the same method as garlic oil and Oil of St. John’s Wort, taking a dropper every four hours between doses of Tamiflu and ibuprofen. That’s a lot of oregano, but the new growth is not as strong as when it is mature and blooming, and I was not taking chances. Within 24 hours, the dark diarrhea and urine cleared up, as did the lung irritation.
But the swelling and pain in the knuckles and wrists continued. On day 5, right after I took the last pill, I realized that I should check the side effects of Tamiflu. Sure enough, it mentioned swelling in the allergy symptoms, and to go to the doctor if it was in the head or neck or there were breathing problems. That’s when I realized that I had occasionally been having trouble breathing as well.
A hard white bump was showing below the knuckle with the bug bite, like an infection was rising to pop through the skin. I wanted that thing opened up and the test for Lyme disease, and went back in to Immediate Care.
This time, they asked which doctor I wanted to see. I chose the woman, who might listen better.
But she was still a doctor, and had no respect for the opinion of her patient. She thought that I was suffering from plain arthritis, which had never appeared in my hands before, and the white bump was merely knuckle fluid squeezing out. She agreed that the swelling was an allergic reaction; it could take two weeks to clear up. But she agreed to take blood for a Lyme disease test.
And then they tried to charge me $174 for a new visit, this being a new problem and one day outside the 5 day free visit guarantee. I pointed out that the problem was caused by their P.A.’s prescription after a negative swab test (rather noisily; I was upset). The doctor said to make it free.
A week later, I still had pain and weakness in my wrists and knuckles when I let the ibuprofen wear off, despite daily treatment with Crazy Juice (cayenne in orange and cranberry juice). The blood test came out negative, but if I had Lyme disease, the oregano oil probably killed most of it and cleared most antibodies before the blood was taken.
After all, the darkness in the urine showed up 24 hours after starting the Tamiflu, and cleared up, along with the dark stools and diarrhea, within 24 hours of starting the oregano; the test was 5 days after starting the oregano. The bug bite left a small, square scar; the bump below the knuckle left slight scarring in the skin as well. I’ve never seen such scarring before. Lyme disease doesn’t always make a target lesion; in this case, it may have infected the knuckle instead, which is still a bit red and swollen.
Indeed, 7 out of 10 knuckles are still swollen hard, a couple of weeks after the Tamiflu allergy should have disappeared. I can no longer cup water in my hands; the fingers won’t seal with swollen knuckles. Crazy juice is keeping pain down, but is not yet reducing the swelling.
It seems that Oregano didn’t kill all the Lyme disease spirochetes; the dark stools returned after a week or so. I took some oregano oil, and it cleared up. I will take a dropper daily for two weeks (since one was not enough) to be sure they are all dead. The only downside seems to be killing all the germs (good and bad) in my gut, and that oregano can block iron absorption.
Various articles on oil of oregano make a big deal about saying that “culinary oregano,” Oreganum marjoram is not the medicinal variety; only the “wild oregano,” Oreganum vulgare, from the Mediterranean will do. I doubt it. They say the same about wild St. John’s Wort versus the large, evergreen domestic groundcover. I started out making the Oil of St. John’s Wort with the domestic groundcover; it works beautifully for all external uses, and the 2-inch flowers are much easier to gather than the ½-inch wild flowers.
There appears to be a “wild” bias in herbal medicine, partly preciousness, partly the better to sell commercially made oils. I suspect that any oregano with decent scent will do; its aroma varies widely. The stuff in my parents’ garden is not even that strongly scented, but it appears to work on Lyme disease.
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