Bite Back Against Lyme: Unveiling Functional Medicine’s Weapons Against Tick-Borne Illness

Tweezers pull a tick off of a human leg
Medically Reviewed
July 2, 2024

It’s officially SUMMER! For most of us that means more time outdoors, staying active and soaking up those rays.  

But with that outdoor enjoyment comes the potential risk of tick bites. With more tick bites come bigger risks of the transmission of a range of tick-borne illnesses (TBI) – the most common being Lyme disease.  

While the standard medical approach focuses on antibiotics, functional and integrative medicine offers a more layered approach to supporting your body’s recovery if bitten. 

Protecting Yourself: A Multi-Layered Defense Against Ticks 

The first line of defense is, don’t get bitten in the first place. Here are some key tips to minimize your risk of tick bites: 

  • Dress for Defense: Ticks often lurk in wooded and grassy areas. When venturing outdoors, wear long pants tucked into socks and long-sleeved shirts. Also, opt for light-colored clothing that makes ticks easier to spot. 
  • Tick Check, Twice a Day: After spending time outdoors, perform a thorough full-body tick check on yourself, children, and pets. Pay close attention to areas like the groin, armpits, behind the ears, and the scalp. 
  • Repellent Power: Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE). Follow the instructions carefully and reapply as needed. 
  • Yard Maintenance: Keep your yard free of leaf litter and overgrown brush where ticks thrive. Create a tick-free zone around your home by maintaining a three-foot barrier of gravel or wood chips. 
  • Stay on Trails: When hiking or walking in wooded areas, stay on cleared trails and avoid tall grass and brushy areas. 

If you do suspect you may have been bitten, you need to get a lyme disease test. The sooner the better to get in front of the potential disease side effects.  

Beyond Antibiotics: Functional Medicine’s Multi-Faceted Approach 

While antibiotics play a crucial role in treating some tick-borne illnesses, functional and integrative medicine looks beyond just symptom suppression. It focuses on addressing the underlying causes that may contribute to the illness’s severity and duration.  

Functional medicine offers a wide range of tools to support your body’s natural healing response when dealing with Lyme disease. Here are some key modalities that can be incorporated into your recovery plan: 

  • Clinical Nutrition: A personalized nutrition plan from a clinical nutritionist like myself focuses on optimizing your gut health, reducing inflammation, and supporting your immune system with essential nutrients. 
  • IV Micronutrient Therapy: This approach delivers essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants directly into your bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system and ensuring optimal absorption. This can be particularly beneficial for addressing deficiencies that may be hindering your recovery. 
  • Ozone Therapy: Nour Amri, a clinical nutritionist and expert in ozone therapy, explains its potential benefits: “Ozone therapy is effective in managing inflammation and supporting immune function, both of which are crucial aspects of recovery from tick-borne illness.” Ozone therapy involves the introduction of medical-grade ozone gas into the body through IV.  
  • Acupuncture: This traditional Chinese medicine technique can help manage pain, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with Lyme and related tick-borne illnesses. 
  • Massage Therapy: Regular massage therapy can improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, and promote relaxation, all of which can contribute to a sense of well-being during recovery. 

Working with Your Healthcare Team 

It’s important to remember that functional medicine approaches are intended to complement, not replace, standard medical treatments. Always work with your primary care physician and any specialists to create a comprehensive and coordinated treatment plan. 


By adopting a proactive approach that combines preventative measures with the layered support offered by functional medicine, you can minimize your risk of contracting a tick-borne illness. And if bitten, this integrative approach can empower your body’s natural healing processes, facilitating a more complete and lasting recovery. 

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet, treatment plan, or lifestyle. 

StephanieM Headshot Doctor - Nava Health

Stephanie is an autoimmune advocate and Functional Nutritionist who blends science, humor, and herbalism to create personalized nutrition and integrative health strategies. With over five years of clinical experience, Stephanie has helped numerous clients overcome various health issues, from weight management to autoimmunity and hormonal balance.