This is the same doctor who's advice led me to healing my years-long horrible health condition within days.
Beware Of The Lyme Disease Specialist
A misdiagnosis of this condition can lead to years of frustration and ill-health.
by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
I live in a country that has a very high incidence of lyme disease. Not a week goes by where I do not see a patient who has been diagnosed with Lyme disease and treated with an incredible array of toxic drugs, and sometimes kept on them for months and even years. By the time the patients come to see me, they are quite frustrated and disillusioned. Typically, after conducting a thorough evaluation, I find that these patients have chronic pain conditions that could have been remedied through nutritional intervention. The sad part about such cases is that most often these patients never had Lyme disease in the first place. They were misdiagnosised and unnecessarily treated with Antibiotics . Occasionally, I see a patient who really had Lyme disease. In these cases, the patient often got adequate treatment initially, but when the symptoms did not go away she sought other opinions and wound up in the office of a "Lyme disease specialist." This physician offered her a diagnosis and a solution- long-term Antibiotics , often prescribed for years.
A "Miraculous" Diagnosis
The typical story goes something like this. "I was suffering with chronic muscle or joint pain, headaches, and fatigue for years. I went to multiple physicians, none of whom could tell me exactly what was wrong. First, I received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, then an unspecified connective tissue disease. All tests, including tests for Lyme disease, came back negative or boarderline. "I even went to an infectious disease specialist who did not think I had Lyme disease. Thank God that I found Dr. 'X.' He knew I had Lyme disease the minute he saw me and heard my story of chronic suffering. "He sent my blood to a special lab in California and the Lyme test came back clearly positive. He then treated me with intravenous Antibiotics for three months. He followed this with oral medication for an additional six months because my symptoms slowly returned every time we tried to discontinue the antibiotic. Plus, the Lyme titer had not normalized." The patient often begins crying in gratitude for finding this wonderful physician who was the only one who was able to diagnose her terrible problem that had almost destroyed her life.
Reexamining The Evidence
Let's analyze this situation. First of all, antibiotics have anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce pain from numerous causes. For example, antibiotics effectively lessen pain in many cases of Rheumatoid Arthritis . Antibiotics also can lower bacterial counts in the gut, which can reduce bacterial toxins, thus lessening symptoms due to bacterial over growth. The anti-infammatory effects of antibiotics also can be exploited in treatment of diseases such as nonbacterial prostatitis. The point is, just because antibiotics reduced the patient's symptoms does not mean that she had Lyme disease. Likewise, the fact that the symptoms returned when she discontinued the antibiotics does not justify resuming their use. You can kill a spirochete so dead. Once they are dead, the patient still will have to undergo the process of both eliminating and recovering from the noxious effects of the dead spirochetes and the inflammatory damage they caused, plus any side effects from the medication itself. The patient might very well percieve this process to be a return of the original symptoms. Taking antibiotics for long periods of time to kill the supposed "hidden"bugs that are still lingering has never been shown to have better long-term results than conventional regimens. In fact, studies attempting to document an improvement in long-term outcome by giving patients with persistent symptoms and a history of Lyme disease long-term intravenous antibiotics followed by oral antibiotics have shown no benefit compared with placebo. In fact, after a planned interium analysis, the data showed no benefit compared with placebo, and the intervention carried significant risk.
Lab Test Problems
The special lab that "Lyme disease specialists" use to diagnose nearly every patient they see is almost always Igenex is one of the only private providers of Lyme disease tests. This lab is notorious for its false positives. In fact, in the two years since the New York State Health Department charged that Igenex's Lyme-disease tests had failed a series of experimental challenges, the company has been in hot water. New York State officials sent normal blood samples to this lab, and received many incorrect positive results. One type of test had a false-positive rate of eighty percent. California regulators have also cited the company for inadequate quality control and inadequate practices. The December 10, 2001 issue of The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the federal agency that monitors the quality of medical testing also found the lab's practices below standards. There are a large number of patients who still believe they have chronic Lyme disease because either of false-positive results from this laboratory. When I see these patients and repeat their tests with a reputable lab, the results invariably show one of two things: either they never had Lyme disease in the first place, or they had it and it was treated adequately long ago. The difficulty I face with these patients is their unwavering belief that they have a chronic form of Lyme disease, a belief that makes them resistant to changes in treatment. Most of them have taken very toxic, dangerous drugs for many months, and many are still taking them.
While antibiotics may be important in a life- threatening infection, they are not harmless, and they are not designed to be used in the manner prescribed by the typical "Lyme specialists." Their misuse can have life-threatening consequences because they weaken your immune defenses and expose you to a higher risk for subsequent infection. Here are some of the reasons why you should only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary. The use of antibiotics can:
* kill the normal beneficial bacteria living in the intestines. These bacteria produce various short chain fatty acids essential for immune strength and protection against future disease such as cancer;
* interfere with vitamin absorption and can lead to deficiencies, such as vitamin K;
* result in yeast infections and yeast overgrowth;
* result in severe allergic reaction;
* result in future infections with serious (or resistant) bacterial organisms;
* cause unwanted side effects and iatrogenic (doct-caused) diseases such as Clostridium Difficele infections, diarrhea, serum sicknes, bone marrow suppression and skin disease;
* increase the potential for earlier death from an antibiotic-resistant microbe later in life.
Hope For Lyme Sufferers
Most of the genuine Lyme disease patients who follow my recommendations make a complete recovery. But it takes time. Once I finally convince them to stop taking the antibiotics, it can take six to eighteen months of a superior diet and personalized nutritional therapy to get well. Nutritional deficiencies and imbalances are corrected with both food and appropriate supplements. Likewise, quite a few of the patients who had received false diagnoses have recovered from the underlying illnesses that were incorrectly diagnosed as Lyme disease. The human body is extraordinarily resilient. Just as fibromyalgia and chronic pain patients recover via a program of nutritional excellence, Lyme disease sufferers can recover from years of nutritional and other abuse when their cells are bathed in the full spectrum of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and other nutritional factors that maximize the body's self-healing potential. Lyme disease is a serious illness, which requires a three to four week course of an appropriate antibiotic. Unfortunately, even after appropriate treatment for Lyme disease , some people still experience unpleasent and distressing symptoms. These persistent symptoms need to be addressed, but they do not signal a need for additional Antibiotic treatment.
Symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, emotional distrubance, and neurologic symptoms, such as problems with memory and concentration, can have hidden biochemical and nutritional causes. These conditions must be considered and corrected. But when patients are being treated by "Lyme disease specialists," the many potential causes of these complaints almost always are ignored. Identifiying and understanding the underlying mechanisms that lead to these symptoms are the first critical steps in offering therapeutic interventions to restore health. The presence of retained toxins and cellular dysfunction is frequently communicated to us by pain, inflammation, elevated lipids, high blood pressure and even weight gain. A physician who has the ability to uncover and correct these imbalances and deficiencies frequently can help restore health without the use of drugs.