Monday, June 22, 2015

Unorthodox Treatments for Lyme Disease- What is the Evidence?

Finally, an article that summarizes many of the unorthodox treatments that I have heard about from patients seeking second or third opinions for the diagnosis and management of Lyme disease.

This recently published article in Clinical Infectious Diseases is eye opening. This study was designed to identify and characterize the range of unorthodox alternative therapies advertised to patients with a diagnosis of Lyme disease.

The authors performed internet searches using the Google search engine to identify the websites of clinics and services that marketed non-antimicrobial therapies for Lyme disease. The authors then used the PubMed search engine to identify any scientific studies evaluating such treatments.

More than 30 alternative treatments were identified, which fell into several broad categories including oxygen and reactive oxygen therapy; energy and radiation-based therapies; nutritional therapy; chelation and heavy metal therapy; and biological and pharmacological therapies ranging from certain medications without recognized therapeutic effects on Borrelia burgdorgeri to stem cell transplantation. 

As predicted, the medical literature did not support any of these treatments. 
Anecdotes and patient testimonials, neither which carry any scientific weight, are used to support many alternative Lyme disease treatments.

In my experience as an infectious diseases specialist, I have seen Lyme disease both frequently misdiagnosed and mismanaged. Many practitioners offer alternative therapies on a fee-for-service (cash, not covered by insurance) basis, frequently selling products out of their offices. 

When patients are suffering and in despair, these therapies are dangerously appealing.

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