By Heidi S. Puc, MD, FACP, ABIHM
Founder and Physician-Owner, IM of CNY
Hello all! We are now in a new decade, and I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about one of the most important healthcare crises of not only this decade, but of this century: Lyme disease and the co-infectors (otherwise known as tick-borne diseases, TBDs). As a conventionally trained adult hematologist-oncologist, and then later as a physician who sought out specialty training in integrative medicine, I had absolutely no idea as to the epidemic nature of TBDs. In addition, I did not realize how inaccurate the standard Lyme test was, and I was taught that the only guidelines out there for Lyme disease were those known as the CDC guidelines (Centers for Disease Control) developed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). It was only once I joined an integrative medicine practice in the Albany area, and joined the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), that I learned about this different set of guidelines by ILADS, that mainstream medicine often ignores or discourages. I learned that the standard 2-tier Lyme test is woefully inadequate in diagnosis, and that other tests such as Igenex more closely correlate with patient’s clinical symptoms. A well-known ILADS trained physician named Dr. Kenneth Liegner summarizes the highly charged and political nature of treatment of TBDs in the following quote:
“In the fullness of time, the mainstream handling of Chronic Lyme disease will be viewed as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of medicine because elements of academic medicine, elements of government and virtually the entire insurance industry have colluded to deny a disease.”
Wow. For me, this quote encapsulated what I was learning and what I was seeing: patients being told that either they did not have Lyme disease due to a negative test result (a test with an accuracy in the range of 30-50%), or that they could not have ongoing symptoms or chronic Lyme since the organisms do not persist, or patients with signs and symptoms typically or often seen with chronic Lyme disease were given alternative diagnoses. Yet when I saw such patients and applied both ILADS guidelines and integrative therapies (herbals, with or without antbiotic therapy), many, many of these patients felt better and improved both physically, functionally, and emotionally. I was stunned by the stories these patients told me, with many having seen numerous providers over many years in numerous specialties, not getting answers, and not getting better. Often such patients were told they were just “getting older”, “too stressed”, or were referred to psychiatrists with the assumption that mental illness was the root cause of all their symptoms. Many of my patients shed tears of both frustration and relief at their initial consultations, as they recount their painful stories yet are in awe that they are now being heard, able to tell their stories, and they feel validated, and have hope for meaningful improvement and healing.
This is why I love what I do in my integrative medicine practice, Integrative Medicine of Central New York, PC (IM of CNY). We provide a safe, healing environment for patients, and provide longer appointment times (2 hours for initial visit, and one hour for follow up visits) so that I or my physician assistants, Angelica Martin, PA-C and Dina Schnellinger, PA-C, can review their stories in a holistic fashion, to look for root causes of disease. After taking careful histories and doing physical exams, we often order a combination of testing that goes beyond what mainstream medicine providers evaluate, and our treatments often go beyond the pharmaceuticals and can include herbals and intravenous nutraceuticals. Many of our patients have tick borne disease, cancer and blood disorders, autoimmune conditions, toxin exposures such as mold or heavy metals, multiple chemical sensitivities, endocrine dysfunction, neurologic or muscular dysfunction, immunologic disorders, or have a vast array of symptoms with no clear diagnosis, or are seeking prevention and wellness consultations or means of reducing dependency on pharmaceutical drugs. We also have patients with NYS qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, and they are seeking certification. All of the staff at IM of CNY prioritize excellent, compassionate patient care and we strive to create a warm, healing environment for our patients and family members.
I am also so excited that we will soon be providing brain mapping and neurofeedback sessions with the use of Clear Mind Center technology. This will be an important tool to assist our patients in cognitive improvement and wellness with cognitive challenges due to numerous causes. Stay tuned!
IM of CNY strives to provide the Central New York (and beyond) community a unique integrative medicine approach to, and to be the catalyst for, the healing that our patients need, and to be a leading example for the paradigm change so greatly needed in medicine.
Yours in Health,