056: Hidden Lyme Disease And Your Skin w/ Dr. Darin Ingels

Lyme disease is the fastest growing infectious disease in the world, yet so many people have symptoms and go undiagnosed. My guest is here to shed some light on this disturbingly common condition.

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My guest today is Dr. Ingels, ND, FAAEM, a respected leader in natural medicine with more than 28 years experience in the healthcare field. He is Board certified in Integrated Pediatrics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.

Dr. Ingels has been published extensively and is the author of The Lyme Solution: A 5-Part Plan to Fight the Inflammatory Autoimmune Response and Beat Lyme Disease, a comprehensive natural approach to treating Lyme disease.

He specializes in Lyme disease, autism and chronic immune dysfunction. He uses diet, nutrients, herbs, homeopathy and immunotherapy to help his patients achieve better health.

Join us as we talk extensively about Lyme disease, and how to work on getting better if you have it.

Do you live in an area that is high-risk for Lyme disease? Tell me about it in the comments!


In this episode:

  • What is Lyme disease and how do you get it?
  • What does a Lyme rash look like?
  • Could you have symptoms of Lyme and not know it?
  • What should practitioners be testing for to see if Lyme is present?
  • Can you get rid of Lyme?



“In the United States alone, we have about 300,000 new cases of Lyme every year. So it really is epidemic. It is the fastest growing infectious disease in the world.” [2:30]

“They call Lyme ‘the great imitator' or ‘the great mimic'. It looks like a lot of other things and there's upwards of a hundred different symptoms associated with Lyme, including a lot of skin manifestations..” [6:22]

“The immune system's amazing. The body has a great capacity to heal. We just got to give it the right tools to do that.” [13:35]



Find Dr. Ingels online

CDC Lyme Disease map

CDC Reported Cases of Lyme Disease – United States 2017 Map

Dr. Ingels's book: The Lyme Solution: A 5-Part Plan to Fight the Inflammatory Autoimmune Response and Beat Lyme Disease

Think you might have Lyme Disease? Take this quiz!

Follow Dr. Ingels on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube


056: Hidden Lyme Disease And Your Skin w/ Dr. Darin Ingels FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: Hi everyone and welcome back. Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to my friend Dr. Darin Ingels. He is a respected leader in natural medicine with more than 28 years experience in the healthcare field. He's board certified in integrative pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. He has been published extensively and is the author of a fantastic book called The Lyme solution: a five part plan to fight the inflammatory autoimmune response and beat Lyme disease. And this includes his comprehensive natural approach to treating Lyme disease. He specializes in Lyme disease, autism and chronic immune dysfunction using diet, nutrients, herbs, homeopathy and immunotherapy to help his patients achieve better health. Thank you so much for joining us Dr. Ingels.

Dr. Ingels: Oh well thanks for having me Jennifer.

Jennifer: Oh of course. Since you have this amazing book, I thought you were the perfect person to talk about Lyme disease, which is considered a huge epidemic and people might be thinking, oh okay so we're talking about like a bullet type rash today cause it's the Healthy Skin Show. But the reason I actually wanted to talk to you is that Lyme can also be an underlying hidden reason that can also drive chronic health problems. So I think in many respects from just the skin perspective, but also if we look more globally at what could be causing symptoms throughout the body, I think Lyme is a really great conversation to have. So could you tell us a little bit for those people who might not be super familiar with how you end up with Lyme disease, they're thinking ticks, but can we be a little more clear on what is Lyme disease and how do you get it?

Dr. Ingels: Sure. Well, Lyme disease itself is actually a bacterial infection. So you know, people get sinus infections and ear infections, well, this is just a different type of bacteria, although it's a little bit unique in that it's not something that you necessarily get from coughing on someone. This is something we've typically associated with a tick bite. However, we've now learned that there are other ways to get Lyme. You can get them through mosquitoes, potentially fleas. We've now shown that his past potentially from mom to baby if mom has Lyme disease when she's pregnant. And some recent research came out finding it in the semen of men and the vaginal secretions of women. So now we have a big question mark about whether it might even be sexually transmitted. So, you know, there's still a lot of question marks about different ways to get Lyme, but consider that in the United States alone we have about 300,000 new cases of Lyme every year. So it really is epidemic. It is the fastest growing infectious disease in the world. And no matter where you live in the United States, we've reported it in all 50 states. You're not necessarily immune from being exposed. So, you know, the one thing, kind of coming back to your initial remarks that I think people need to keep in mind, when you start hearing about chronic neurological issues and joint issues, that combination always makes me very suspicious for Lyme because there's just very few things out there that overlap with both systems. So when people complain that they're tired all the time and they got brain fog and their joints hurt, you know, something like that always raises a red flag for me that Lyme could be an underlying cause.

Jennifer: You had also mentioned to me beforehand cause I think it'd be worthwhile to discuss what the rash itself looks like because this may be helpful for people who are listening. You actually told me something I didn't know. Tell us a little bit about what a Lyme rash looks like and the fact that it can also change over time.

Dr. Ingels: Right. Well, the classic rash for Lyme is what's called erythema migrans is the technical name, or we call it a bullseye rash. And when you look at the rash, it literally looks like a bullseye or a target. Where you sort of have alternating red clearing, red clearing? It can start as a very small rash and then it tends to spread over the course of time. The one thing about this rash that's kind of unique, is that it tends to be a flat rash. So as you rub your fingers over your skin, it doesn't feel raised. It doesn't tend to be itchy and most people, at least not initially, usually the itch comes later, but it will spread over time. And I had Lyme disease myself. I had this rash, it started out about three inches initially. And by the time it got done spreading over the course of about six to eight weeks, it was about 12 or 13 inches and then covered the entire back of my leg. So that flat spreading rash can be very indicative of Lyme. And you know, we talk about that bullseye characteristic. However, there are a lot of variations of the Lyme rash, so they don't always necessarily look like a bullseye. I have seen patients that have just a flat red rash. But the thing is: it spreads. When you look at other dermatological conditions, the lesions tend to be kind of consistent and not necessarily spreading. So when you see a flat spreading rash, it's not always Lyme of course, but that would be again, a red flag to investigate that a little bit further.

Jennifer: That's a really great point to make too. You know, I'm so paranoid by the way about Lyme because I live in Pennsylvania. I knew that there are a lot of cases of Lyme disease. I didn't know quite as many as you had shared with me before we started talking. And then my parents also have a home in the Chesapeake Bay and see lots of ticks around there. So I'm very paranoid about being careful and checking to make sure I don't have ticks on myself or they crawled under my clothes or anything. But you know, this is something that was constantly reiterated to me as I was going through my master's program and working on my clinical hours. You know, a) we know that the skin issues can be a manifestation of other issues underneath. And that's why I think it's important to have this conversation. And there's a lot of people that have gone for a long time with undiagnosed Lyme disease. And then, you know, you might come to see somebody like myself or maybe see you and all of a sudden you're being asked, hey, have you ever been checked for Lyme? And it might take the person aback, like why, why would that matter? So is it possible that somebody could have Lyme disease underlying a lot of the symptoms, but it's like you didn't even think to look there in the first place.

Dr. Ingels: Absolutely. They call Lyme the great imitator or the great mimic. It looks like a lot of other things and there's upwards of a hundred different symptoms associated with Lyme, including a lot of skin manifestations. So, yeah, when you've got any kind of chronic illness, when you've gone to the doctor and you've done a litany of tests and everything keeps coming back negative, negative, negative, again, you know, it raises a red flag for me and not just Lyme, but you know, even other infectious agents. Certainly from a tick bite, we know that you can get Lyme, but you can also get a lot of other types of infections, particularly bacterial infections, things like, you know, Bartonella, Babesia, Anaplasma, you know, every time I go to a Lyme conference, it seems like we've learned about more things that you can get through these tick bites. As a clinician, you know, we have to really do our diligence to investigate all of these different things because any of them have the potential to start triggering, you know, different types of inflammatory responses, which can affect really any organ system. I think as a patient, if you've been having these ongoing chronic issues, you really have to work with your provider to do that investigative work. And rule out all these underlying infections, including Lyme as a possibility. And particularly for people who live in New England or the central Midwest where Lyme is really epidemic, that should be on every doctor's radar.

Jennifer: And actually I want to share the map from the CDC, , that we talked about before this interview. I'm going to put that in our show notes because it was quite staggering for me to look at that. Where the confirmed cases are concentrated. It was a little shocking. Many of you know, I live in the Philadelphia area, which is in Pennsylvania and it's one of the top states for Lyme disease. New England have a high rate of cases. So it may be good to just kind of educate yourself. And if you know somebody as well who was having these type of issues, maybe this would be a great podcast to share with them. Now for someone who suspects that Lyme disease could be an issue and they want to dig in that direction. I've had a lot of clients, I'll go to the doctors and they'll say, hey, can I get tested for Lyme? And they'll test like one thing. That's it. So what should you ask for? Or if we do have practitioners listening, what should we be looking for in testing for if we're really going to get an accurate yes or no answer if Lyme is present.

Dr. Ingels: Yeah. Unfortunately it's really complicated. Even if you go to the CDC website, they tell you Lyme is a clinical diagnosis. What that means is that's really based on your symptoms. So the lab test is really confirming our suspicion. Unfortunately, lab testing for Lyme is not great. It's not a very sensitive test. If you go to the regular reference labs out there, we know that their test is less than 50% sensitive, which means that literally doesn't even pick up half the people that have the illness. I was a microbiologist before I was a doctor. I used to do this test for a living. That's a terrible test. If it's not even picking up half the people that have the illness, that's a bit of a problem. So I think you know as a shortcut to getting well, if you're really concerned that this might be an issue, get in the hands of a provider who's knowledgeable on Lyme. Unfortunately most conventional doctors out there are not either knowledgeable of Lyme or they're very dismissive of it and don't think it's a big deal. There are groups of doctors out there that we call Lyme literate doctors, whether they're MD, ND or nurse practitioner, whatever. So get in the hands of someone who really understands the testing because there are labs out there that do offer better testing that have a higher sensitivity and at least have a greater chance of picking up if you do actually have Lyme.

Jennifer: I appreciate you saying that because I've had people come to me and say, Hey, can you help me? I think I have Lyme disease and the first thing I will say to them is, no, I don't have experience with that. You really need to work with a practitioner. And so I want to be very clear everybody, there are some things that we can do ourselves. We can be investigators of our health and we can take the steering wheel in both hands and drive the cart forward. But Lyme disease is something that is very complicated and you have to make sure whomever you work with really understands this because it is complicated and it is beyond the scope of figuring it out at home from reading articles online. I just want to specify that.

Dr. Ingels: It's a very common scenario that people have these chronic symptoms that go see their doctor, the doctor maybe does run the standard Lyme test. It comes back negative and they said, well you don't have Lyme end of story. And we just know again that that's not a great test. That's not necessarily true. And I just see so many people, that get shuttled off, and they're left with this mystery illness and nobody ever digs a little bit deeper. So I think, again, unfortunate, a lot of healthcare providers are really not aware of how poor the testing is. They're also not aware that Lyme is a clinical diagnosis. If you've gone through and you've ruled out other autoimmune problems, other infectious agents and you know, you coming up empty handed, it'd be worth getting in the hands of someone who's going to dig a little bit deeper with you and trying to figure out what's going on.

Jennifer: To add to that, I know a number of people who were diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia and they actually have Lyme.

Dr. Ingels: Yeah. A lot of these diseases that we call sort of vague diagnoses, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, even MS, you know, you can say, okay, it's a collection of symptoms, but why. If you asked your doctor why they're going to shrug their shoulders, they have no idea why. I think again, Lyme can be a cause. Definitely not the only cause, but worth at least investigating. I've seen a lot of people again with MS that you know, there are neurologists as well. You've got MS. Okay. Why, I don't know. And yet we have tons of research on not just Lyme, but other infectious agents that can be a cause of MS, including Epstein Barr virus. If if you take just a little bit of time to do that investigative work that might redirect your treatment and, you know, start getting people better. So again, it just takes a little bit of time and diligence to do that work. But you know, these are all tests that are commercially available. There's nothing magical about them. It's just, I think working with the right lab that's going to give you the best information.

Jennifer: And so if somebody does have, if they've seen that bullseye rash or they aren't sure, they're like, I may have gotten bit years ago, I'm a hunter or my family lives in the woods or whatever. And they suspect this. But you've had it for a long time. Is this something you can actually get rid of? Like what, what can you do to help yourself as far as Lyme is concerned? What would, what should someone expect is going to happen?

Dr. Ingels: Well, we know the earlier you start treatment, the better chance you have of getting it over faster. I mean, there's nothing secret about that. So if you've been exposed 10, 20 years ago, I don't think it's something you can't necessarily overcome. I've had patients who, as far as we can tell, were exposed many years ago. The immune system's amazing. The body has a great capacity to heal. We just got to give it the right tools to do that. So again, I think it's really about getting in the hands of a practitioner who's knowledgeable on this. There are differing opinions on the best way to treat what we call chronic Lyme disease. Some doctors are very much in favor of using antibiotics. Someone like me who's a naturopathic physician is going to start leaning more towards botanical medicine. It's just different ways of trying to accomplish the same goal. So I think you have to find, you know, what works for you, what your body tolerates. With chronic Lyme, I'm not as big of a fan of using antibiotics and that we have quite a bit of research showing that it's not very effective when you've had it for a long time. Plus I think with antibiotics we know that's going to start wiping out your normal microbiome in your gut, which we know is horribly important for our immune function. Not to mention it can damage your mitochondria, which you need to like make energy and thrive. So now we find with herbs, you know, it's actually working in conjunction with the body without suppressing any innate capacity in your immune system or your gut. It's just a different way to approach it, but fortunately there's a lot of things that people can do in terms of managing their diet, using herbs, using other natural means, to try and help facilitate, you know, cellular repair and healing. It can take awhile. I think realistically six months to a year or sometimes longer is common. So it's not an overnight fix, but you know, even if you had it for 20 years, there's no reason to believe that you can't get healthy again.

Jennifer: That's good to know. I like the idea of helping to manage people's expectations because a lot of times you want to think, oh well he did this in four weeks, I should feel better. And I have noticed with friends who have been diagnosed with or that the Lyme component was uncovered, that journey takes quite a while and I think that that's an important thing for people to just have in the back of their head like that. You have to be patient with this, you need to be consistent, you need to work with a practitioner. And if someone does have, let's just say they have skin issues, a whole cluster of symptoms going on and they discover that Lyme is a problem. Generally speaking, do you think that Lyme is the best place to start digging into the issues? If you find that Lyme is like a hidden root cause. I'm just kinda curious about your thoughts on like where do you start?

Dr. Ingels: Yeah, well I think in my practice because I see a lot of people that have had chronic issues and so when we see any kind of chronic, whether it's chronic migraines, chronic joint pain, chronic muscle aches. Again, most people have already been to their doctor, they've had a lot of tests run and everything's come up negative. So they'd been left with really no explanation of why they feel the way they feel. So any kind of chronic lingering thing that hasn't been well explained, it at least should be part of the evaluation. Certainly wouldn't be the only thing. But you know, in my practice I routinely just screen people because I found people that we find that they do have exposure. And maybe the strangest case I ever saw, I had a woman who came in and her and her only complaint is that she had an area on her cheek about the size of a quarter that was numb and a little bit red. And you looked at it and it looked a little bit maybe like Eczema, some sort of, you know, weird skin thing. And I tested her for Lyme. She was positive. We went ahead and treated her and the numbness went away and her skin coloration completely returned to normal and that was her only symptoms. So you know, we get sometimes very odd manifestations of Lyme. You know, we always think of the classic cases of, you know, headache and fatigue and joint pain and swollen glands and more of the stereotypical acute Lyme disease presentation. Most of the people I see don't have that. They've got these odd variants. So again, when you start hearing about these chronic issues that haven't been well explained, it should at least be something you look into.

Jennifer: Okay, well thank you very much for sharing all of that with us. I love the fact that you're very realistic and practical and you're trying your best to educate people on what this really means because Lyme disease is a really hard thing to go through. And again, it's not something you can do yourself. You really do need support to walk down this path. And I agree with you 100% it to be a practitioner that has a lot of experience and training and all the different options and they have a lot of experience dealing with Lyme disease. You're located out in California. And so you also have a great website, which has articles on it as well for everybody to check out. In addition to your book, the Lyme solution, which we'll link in the show notes for everybody to easily find online and grab a copy of. You've got a great free download if you head on over dariningelsnd.com you can actually sign up and Dr. Ingels will send you his top 10 immune boosting recipes. And that way you can get a sense of what he recommends to his patients who are struggling in this area. And at least you can start to maybe try these out and see if you can help your immune system start feeling a little bit better. And just in general feel better. But I want to thank you so much, Dr. Ingels for joining us and I look forward to having you back on the show some other time. I know we've got other skin issues that you'd love to talk about and I'm excited to share them with everybody.

Dr. Ingels: Great. Thanks so much, Jennifer.

"They call Lyme 'the great imitator' or 'the great mimic'. It looks like a lot of other things and there's upwards of a hundred different symptoms associated with Lyme, including a lot of skin manifestations.."

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.

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