By Dr. Donald Liebell
for Chronic Lyme Disease?
Are Long-Term Antibiotics a Safe or Effective Approach?
The Medical Authorities Say, "NO"...
So What Else Does Conventional Medicine Have to Offer You?
As if getting a proper chronic Lyme diagnosis wasn't enough of a nightmare; it rises to a bloodcurdling level of horror when it comes to the subject of treatment. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), early detected Lyme disease is “easily” cured by antibiotic treatment. Yet they also state that follow-up blood tests can’t accurately confirm successful treatment.
Let’s look at this logically:
- Johns Hopkins University researchers says the standard Lyme blood tests can reveal up to 75% false negatives.
- The Virginia Lyme Task Force revealed the NO blood test can accurately rule out Lyme disease.
- The Centers for Disease Control claim, “Most cases of Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics, especially if treatment is begun early in the course of illness.”
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) say the blood tests are questionable for measuring response to antibiotic treatment… the treatment they say “easily cures” the condition. They say tests can’t distinguish between active and past infection!
Does this all smell fishy to you? For starters, it is a grand assumption that the majority of people who are infected by a Lyme-carrying tick actually receive early detection! But what about people for whom Lyme goes undetected for years? What treatment does mainstream medicine offer them? What happens to those who are NOT “cured” by early treatment with antibiotics? Do the Borrelia, Babesia, Bartonella, and Ehrlichia co-infections go away on their own? If they did, would this discussion be necessary? What about the people who’ve been on antibiotics a long time… when they stop, do they feel “cured” too?
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) say some people suffer many neurological and musculoskeletal symptoms for months or years AFTER supposedly successful antibiotic therapy. They use the term, post-treatment chronic Lyme disease (PTCLD).
And what about the critically important fact that most antibiotics don't cross the blood brain barrier? If the infections are in the brain... then how could such treatment get you well? It is menacing that the Lyme public and the medical establishment spend their collective energy debating Lyme. In my opinion, the root of the problem comes down to the basic philosophies of traditional Western medicine and its bedfellows, the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. The focus is on drugs, insurance coverage, and Borrelia, which is merely one of several agents of disease, and in my experience, only a part of the problem.
“Lyme Literate Medical Doctors” and Long Term Antibiotics
Few doctors have the guts to acknowledge chronic Lyme disease; it's way easier to ignore it, and keep diagnosing and treating all the symptoms it causes as other conditions. A small number of physicians few have dubbed themselves “Lyme Literate Medical Doctors” (LLMDs). They should be applauded for their efforts to help people. If you’ve been to one, you know that their approach involves antibiotics (and other drugs) for extremely long periods of time. They may be administered orally and intravenously… at dosages, frequency, duration far beyond the approval of the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Medical Association. I respect that many patients swear by this approach. And I have no doubt that some people have succeeded with it. But does scientific evidence and/or common sense support aggressive, long-term antibiotic therapy for the masses? It is not a wild hypothesis to suggest that the side effects can be far worse than the benefit. The CDC states, “Longer courses of antibiotics have been linked to serious complications, including death."
Again I pose the question, would I be writing this article if this weren’t true?
Would the Lyme-based aspect of my practice exist if antibiotic therapy were working on any remotely grand scale? Why would people drive six hours to come see me, if antibiotics cured chronic Lyme disease? Haven’t we been hearing about antibiotic-resistant bacteria and overuse for decades? Are all bets off when it comes to Lyme because victims are so desperate for help? "Lyme Literate Medical Doctors" are being disciplined by medical boards for providing long-term antibiotic therapy. Some have been forced to go out of business. Others simply move to another state willing to license them to practice medicine. Could this also be why most traditionally trained MDs stick to popular and accepted mainstream diagnosis (and FDA-approved drugs) for people with Lyme-related symptoms, right or wrong?
The local news media has been hot on the trail of the tragedy of chronic Lyme disease:
When local governments, medical boards, and the National Institutes of Health
shut down doctors who prescribe long-term antibiotics...
- In early 2010, our local newspaper, the Virginian Pilot ran a big article about Lyme disease. They addressed the controversy of long-term antibiotics use, and the sad stories of several local Lyme victims.
- On September 27, 2010, they addressed the matter again, covering the story of the well-liked Eastern Shore physician who was shut down for treating Lyme patients outside of accepted medical guidelines, using long-term antibiotics and narcotics.
- Various news media covered the recent fundraiser, the first Annual Walk
to Defeat Lyme Disease, promoted by the organization, the National
Capital Lyme Disease Association. The event raised over $10,000 for Lyme awareness.
But what has the media reported about triumph over chronic Lyme disease?
I was a featured sponsor at the Walk for Lyme. Yet the news media showed no interest in interviewing me, my wife, or any of my patients, who have beaten Lyme, or are in the process of such. It is a wonderful success story that is expanding every day in Virginia Beach… it does NOT involve antibiotics or any drugs at all!
I respect the knowledge and efforts of "Lyme Literate Medical Doctors." However, I can only report that the effects of antibiotic treatment have been temporary at best; they feel better while on the antibiotics, but once they stop, the problems return (frequently with added fungal problems). This seems to be the case as documented in the award-winning film, "Under Our Skin." It seems that despite high doses of powerful antibiotics, taken for many months, or even a year… Borrelia bacteria can adapt and survive!
I am aghast to discover that people are interpreting the message of this film to be a call to action to allow massive long-term antibiotic usage, with insurance coverage for such. Perhaps I’m blind, but what I saw was the FAILURE of this treatment approach. The scientists and health governing bodies are clear in their stance that long-term antibiotics are both ineffective and dangerous.
I am sensitive to this for many reasons. First of all, antibiotics were an abysmal failure for my wife, Sheila. More significantly was what happened to a lady, who had seen me for chiropractic treatment of neck problems a few years ago. She came back to me in 2010, but this time she presented diagnosed (by others) with life-threatening, degenerative neurological condition. None of her highly-credentialed physicians considered Lyme. I detected it through case history—it was easy. I asked her if she had a tick bite and/or rash. She described a bull’s eye from 2 years prior, after which her deterioration began.
NOBODY asked her about a tick bite... NOBODY asked her about a rash... until it was advanced and life threatening.
I used my protocol of Bio-energetic testing to design an immune system-boosting homeopathic supplement protocol (the same approach by which my family, and subsequently other patients got well). Sadly, she would not put her trust in “alternative” medicine, despite the fact that I, the "alternative medicine" doctor was the ONLY one who properly diagnosed the cause of her neurological disease...
She sought out a “Lyme Literate Medical Doctor," who put her on high doses of oral and IV antibiotics for several months. She developed one complication after another... took more medications, was hospitalized, and shortly died. She didn’t trust the doctor who, in a matter of seconds, figured out what was wrong with her. I wanted to help save her life, but never got the chance.
What a pity.
I will never forget her, and will always wonder what could have been.
Nevertheless, I never tell any patient (or prospective patient) to discontinue antibiotics. I did not discourage the patient who died from taking antibiotics. When she emailed me regularly, and at great length and detail about her experiences with "Lyme Literate Medical Doctor" treatment, I must admit that I was puzzled. I couldn't understand why she didn't try my natural protocol in addition to the drugs. She purchased the homeopathic supplements, but never took them (Perhaps one of the other doctors told her not to take them?). Yet, she maintained such a close email-based relationship (she lost her ability to speak) with me through it all.
I tell all patients that antibiotics are a treatment option, and encourage all medical opinions. It is not within my scope of practice to prescribe medication, nor is appropriate for me to UN-prescribe them. I never do.
Our governing health care bodies say "NO" to long-term antibiotics for chronic Lyme, and I concur. A large faction of the medical community says, "NO" to chronic Lyme as a diagnosis anyway.
Traditional Western medicine had nothing of curative value for my family. I see patients every day, who share the same story. They seek whole-body, natural, wellness-based treatment... after sickness-based, pharmaceutical treatment has failed them miserably.
It is always up to the public to judge effectiveness of any treatment protocol.
Many people I treat began while under the prescription of antibiotics from another doctor. My treatment is compatible and without side effects. Most of these folks choose to discontinue the drugs on their own accord, once they begin to experience improvement from my natural protocol. My patients present to me with their GOAL of eliminating the antibiotics, however I at NO time tell them they should. I recommend all patients to make informed decisions and to discuss it with their prescribing physician as well.
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- Dr. Donald Liebell
Are You Ready for a Realistic Chance to Recover from Chronic Lyme Disease?