by Donna Gregory Burch
Posted 12/29/17

My quest for relief from my fibromyalgia and Lyme has turned me into a human guinea pig.

A few months after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I realized I wasn’t going to get well by only following conventional medical treatments. Instead, if I wanted to better manage my symptoms and eventually reach remission, I needed to be open to trying therapies that didn’t come in a prescription bottle.

Many of the unconventional treatments I’ve tried over the years didn’t work, but some of them have, giving me improved quality of life and hopefully advancing my overall healing. Three of my current favorites are infrared sauna, earthing, and coffee enemas.

Infrared Sauna

During my first Lyme-related medical appointment, my specialist recommended using an infrared sauna for detoxification and pain relief. In my former (a.k.a. healthy) life, I had participated in a couple of Native American sweat lodges, so the idea of cocooning inside of a hot sauna to purge my impurities resonated with me.

While researching, I learned that some of the rescue personnel who responded to the Twin Towers in New York City on 9/11 were successfully using infrared sauna to cleanse themselves of the chemicals they encountered while working at Ground Zero. If an infrared sauna could help them flush out asbestos and other harmful substances, then surely it would benefit me during my battle with Lyme.

There is some research supporting the use of infrared sauna for certain medical conditions. As Brent Bauer, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Internal Medicine Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, writes on the Mayo Clinic website: “Several studies have looked at using infrared saunas in the treatment of chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, headache, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and found some evidence of benefit. However, larger and more-rigorous studies are needed to confirm these results…. On the other hand, no adverse effects have been reported with infrared saunas.”

For Lyme, it’s believed infrared sauna assists with detoxification (especially of mold and heavy metals) and helps to suppress microbes by raising the body’s core temperature.

I’ve owned my infrared Vital Health Sauna for a little more than a year, and I still use it almost every single day. I love that it helps with detoxification, but a more immediate benefit is pain relief. No matter how sore I feel when I get into the sauna, I always feel less pain when I get out. I find it especially helpful during the winter when even my bones feel cold.


Like most Americans, I don’t spend much time outdoors. But after I watched Grounded, a documentary on the benefits of earthing (also known as grounding), I decided to change that.

Several studies have found that earthing – which is essentially the practice of putting bare feet or other bare skin on the ground—helps to improve sleep and reduce stress, pain, and inflammation.

When the weather permits, I grab a lawn chair and sit outside in my backyard for a few minutes with my bare feet on the earth. The combination of fresh air, sunlight, and feeling the grass between my toes is healing for my soul.

On days when I earth, I notice my mood is brighter, and I have more energy. I’m sure the extra vitamin D from the sun helps give me a lift, too.

During the 1800s, tuberculosis (TB) patients convalesced in sanatoriums where their treatment consisted primarily of rest, fresh air, and sunshine. This was before the advent of antibiotics. I figure if time outdoors helped cure TB, it should be beneficial for Lyme disease, too.

Coffee Enemas

If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be writing about the benefits of coffee enemas, I would have told them they must be high on caffeine. Sticking organic coffee up my rectum was not something I ever envisioned doing, but it has been a game changer for my Lyme treatment.

I began coffee enemas last September at the direction of my new Lyme doctor. Coffee enemas are believed to help the body detoxify by forcing the liver to dump toxin-laden bile into the intestinal tract for excretion. They were first used in World War I to aid soldiers with pain relief, and are a pillar of the Gerson Protocol for cancer.

I’ve personally noticed several benefits from coffee enemas, including increased energy, less brain fog, and a decrease in body-wide pain. I also have much less bloating and constipation, and fewer other digestive issues.

For more information on coffee enemas, I believe this podcast from nutritional consultant Nikki Moses is excellent. Warning: Not all health practitioners support the use of coffee enemas.* You can read about some of their concerns here.

Now it’s your turn: What alternative treatments have you found helpful for Lyme disease? Please share with us on Facebook!

*Dr. Bill Rawls notes: “We are neutral on the topic. There are some risks associated with coffee enemas, the primary ones being perforation of the colon, infection, inflammation, and disruption of the microbiome, although I have never seen the actual incidence of these published side effects.”

Donna Gregory Burch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 after several years of unexplained pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. She was later diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. Donna covers news, treatments, research, and practical tips for living better with fibromyalgia and Lyme on her blog, You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Donna is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared online and in newspapers and magazines throughout Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. She lives in Delaware with her husband and their many fur babies.