Maryland Society of Integrative Medicine

Experiences with Responsible Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine has positively impacted the lives of patients, doctors, and many others. Here are some of their stories, taken from 2018 legislative testimony.

To read any account in its entirety, simply click on the excerpt.

Although I never expected integrative medicine to work, it did!

In the mid-1990s, I developed a very painful medical condition that was severely crippling me. For several years, I went to numerous doctors including the top doctors at both Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland Medical Center, and no one could figure it out. Since they could not figure it out, they said it must be in my head. Others simply guessed at incorrect diagnoses.

I then went to the Mayo Clinic. They found it! I had brucellosis that I had picked up in Israel years before. I also had a hospital infection that I picked up during surgery two years earlier that disappeared when I went on antibiotics but came back as soon as I stopped the antibiotics. Since the traditional remedy for brucellosis and the hospital infection did not work, [I went] to an integrative physician in Hazelton, Pennsylvania, 150 miles away. I did not believe it would help, and I did not want to go; but my wife convinced me to go anyway. The physician had been a pharmacist, but he saw the harm that drugs were doing to so many people, so he went back to school and became an osteopath and used integrative modalities when appropriate. From his tests, he found the problem and started me on integrative treatments.

Finally, I was 100% well. The infections, pain and crippling were totally gone, and instead of only being able to eat four foods as I had been doing for several years, I could now eat all foods—except four!

A number of years later, after my family doctor put me on antibiotics for an infection, I developed C. diff—which, as you know, is very common now. My gastroenterologist put me on antibiotics for the C. diff—Flagyl and vancomycin. But every time I got off of the antibiotics, the C. diff came back. This went on for three years! As you may know, many people who have C. diff ultimately wind up having their intestines removed.

Finally, I was 100% well.

Finally, I went to a physician who was considered by top physicians to be the foremost expert in the world on C. diff. He told me that C. diff is an opportunistic infection from the loss of the good bacteria in my gut from being on antibiotics. He told me to stay off the antibiotics, take Imodium for the symptoms until the symptoms went away, and eat a lot of yogurt or take Culturelle (lactobacillus GG, 2 each day), a probiotic, for two weeks. He said that, if I do that, in two weeks or so, the C. diff would be gone. I did what he told me, and the C. diff was gone in two or three weeks as he said it would.

Approximately five years later, I was getting symptoms of fatigue, muscle pain in my arms and legs, and neuropathies. The traditional doctors told me it was probably “chronic fatigue”, possible “sleep apnea,” nerve damage causing neuropathies and treated it symptomatically. I was put on various medicines—one for each symptom. I finally went to an integrative physician forty miles away. He tested me and found I had Lyme. He and his associate treated me with the normal Lyme antibiotic protocol. The symptoms went away in a few weeks, but each time I went off of the antibiotics for a few months, the Lyme would come back.

Then, I heard about an integrative treatment with a near 100% total cure rate and no relapse in New York that has been used successfully for ten years. It was very similar to what I had done 20 years earlier with the integrative doctor that cured my brucellosis and hospital infection when everything else failed. I went to this outstanding integrative physician, did this treatment they do in New York, it cost me only a few hundred dollars a month for four to six months, and I was totally cured. It was so cheap, I did not even need insurance. And there were absolutely no harmful effects.

I would be sick, crippled, in severe pain, and probably dead if it was not for integrative medicine.

I should add that, the doctor 150 miles away in Hazelton, Pennsylvania, that I mentioned who had cured me from that painful condition years before at a cost so low I wondered how he could afford to stay in business, died from a heart attack in his early 70s shortly after I had completed treatment. His staff and patients fully believe the heart attack was from the constant harassment he received from the traditional medical community for simply being an integrative physician.

The physician who discovered I had Lyme and started me on my way to health, had previously spent sixteen years fighting harassment by the medical board in his own state even though no patient ever complained, patients were cured, and no harm ever came to any patient. That sixteen-year investigation of him was instigated and continued by a traditional physician who had absolutely no knowledge of integrative medicine but wanted to stop it anyway. The integrative doctor finally won, and New York’s law was changed because of it, but the ordeal took a significant toll on him.

I would be sick, crippled, in severe pain, and probably dead if it was not for integrative medicine. It is because of these excellent and proven treatments by integrative physicians that I am now cured and living a normal healthy life. Others have a right to do the same and not be asked to continue to suffer and die because traditional medicine does not have an effective treatment and refuses to consider other modalities that are more effective and safer.

I was totally cured. It was so cheap, I did not even need insurance. And there were absolutely no harmful effects.

If you are sick, and especially if traditional medicine cannot help you, it is your God-given right to decide for yourself if you are going to try another method of healing by highly trained professionals, and no one should have a right to tell you that you cannot do so and that you need to stay sick because they don’t believe in that method—and that “someone else” doesn’t even know enough about integrative modalities to make an informed decision. If someone doesn’t want to use integrative medicine, they don’t have to; but they have no right to tell the rest of us that we cannot. It is our health; it is our right to choose the treatment we want! No one has a right to tell us differently.

I have been a licensed physician in Maryland for over 20 years and am practicing as a family physician.
Many patients have exhausted all conventional treatment options.

That is why I believe that it is very important to give them the right to choose potentially life-saving alternatives.

I would like to tell you about my experience with integrative medicine and that of my parents.

My own experience with integrative medicine was with chronic fatigue. I was exhausted all the time, had multiple symptoms, and the whites of my eyes were almost black. Standard medicine was of no help.

I went to an integrative physician 100 miles away. He found that I had high levels of mercury in my system. He removed the mercury and provided some other integrative therapies over a period of few months. I was totally cured.

The chronic fatigue and other symptoms never returned. And now, over twenty years later, except perhaps for a cold once a year like anyone else, I am still in perfect health.

My mother was very ill with multiple symptoms including constant nausea for most of her life. Traditional medicine could do little.

And now, over twenty years later… I am in still perfect health.

She went to the same integrative physician that got me well from my chronic fatigue, and he found that she had extremely high levels of arsenic in her system. He removed the arsenic from her system using a safe and non-invasive treatment protocol, and she was well and has enjoyed excellent health now for decades.

My father had a triple bypass, but still felt so ill month after month that he could not see the point of living. He went to an integrative physician who removed the fats from his arteries and veins safely and non-invasively with integrative treatments.

He became well, felt like a new man, and lived a happy and active life for many, many years. Since then, three physicians have told him to keep doing whatever he is doing since he has outlived his life expectancy by twenty-five years considering his earlier heart attack and triple bypass.

Integrative treatments work.

I am writing this from the unique perspective of both a primary-care physician as well as someone with a family member who suffered greatly with Chronic Neurologic Lyme and Babesia illnesses, so I am uniquely qualified to speak on this matter.

I can list several examples as a primary care provider of patients not being accurately diagnosed or treated in the state of Maryland.

My most recent example: I had a delightful three-year-old boy who came to me because his primary physicians initially diagnosed Lyme with a VERY positive western blot and treated him with 3 weeks of antibiotics. At the end he was still symptomatic. This highly intelligent three-year-old boy would complain of fatigue and complain of “my bones hurt”.

These are not normal complaints of a three-year-old. The provider dismissed these complaints and said the Lyme was treated and there was nothing further to do—that the Lyme must be gone. Sadly, this boy continued to suffer, and I referred him to an integrative Lyme provider out of the area who began an extended antibiotic course as well as other integrative treatments.

Patients should have the right to choose an integrative provider

The three-year-old boy is now back to his normal, excellent health with no complaints of bone pain or fatigue. This child would have continued with chronic symptoms had he followed the conventional standard of care for Lyme as most providers know it.

I also had three teenagers with severe, daily, debilitating migraines that have seen well-trained pediatric neurologists, have been to the ER several times for acute pain management, and have all been diagnosed with chronic migraines.

Two of the three were on home teaching because their symptoms were so severe. After diagnosing them with Lyme (and in one case, Babesia), these three teens were all treated by integrative providers out of our area and are now back to completely normal, excellent health.

Patients should have the right to choose an integrative provider if they feel their children/themselves still have symptoms that may be concerning.

From personal family experience, my husband was an avid adventure racer and was always outdoors. He was diagnosed with Lyme by his primary care provider and had the standard antibiotic course of treatment, yet he continued to get worse. He saw multiple Infectious Disease specialists who said it was normal “post-Lyme” for these symptoms to persist but offered no treatment.

These integrative treatments are safe, well-studied, and life-saving.

My husband, who had been a very healthy, active, athletic physician, became physically debilitated after several months of symptoms, which had progressed to chronic neurologic Lyme. We ended up traveling to Integrative providers in New York and New Jersey. At one point, my husband was on disability for three to four months due to his severe neurologic symptoms.

Had we not sought out integrative providers to accurately diagnose and then treat his illness, he would have deteriorated. Luckily, after months of integrative treatments, he did recover fully and has been fine ever since.

These integrative treatments are safe, well-studied, and life-saving. The providers that are offering these particular treatments are well-trained and well-informed, and they are constantly looking to learn new treatments to help these very sick patients.

The patients in our state are very sick with tick-borne illness, more and more, and many of the ones that are not getting better are leaving to go out of our state—some are even leaving our country to find adequate treatment.

This is an unnecessary burden on these patients and their families. Please consider passing this bill to allow our patients to have better choices, and please pass this bill to safely allow all…integrative providers who do have the training and knowledge, to be able to offer more comprehensive, integrative treatments to help patients and their families safely in the state of Maryland.

In the fall of 2012, my beautiful, outgoing 19-year-old daughter was dying in front of my eyes.

Within 10 months, my 5’9” daughter, who when healthy weighted 134 lbs. and wore a size 2/4, had lost to 110 lbs. and was literally skeletal, in great pain, with barely enough energy to walk. Her normally vibrant eyes were dull and lifeless.

I was desperate for help.

Thank GOD we ultimately got in to see a brilliant integrative physician who literally saved my daughter’s life. Sadly, the physician retired a few years ago because of fear of losing her medical license, due to the problems we are trying to solve for many caring and courageous physicians in Maryland with this bill. She saved many more than just my daughter, and it is a crime to have lost her brilliant mind, and her willingness to treat outside of the norm because of no protection from the medical board when there are so many suffering here in Maryland.

The integrative treatments … proved to be 100% effective, had minimal risk, and were far less expensive compared to conventional medical treatment.

In addition to that daughter (now 26), my other daughter (now 28), also had Lyme—diagnosed for years as “JRA” (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) from the time she was 16—and my husband, Jerry, had a bull’s-eye on his arm from a tick bite on a golf course in Ocean City in 2014.

All have thankfully been treated by a miracle worker integrative physician who has CURED them, and we need these providers in Maryland, with no fear from the medical board, who must not understand how miraculous and incredible his integrative treatments have been for so many.

Additionally, this amazing man is seeking to teach other physicians, to help cure as many has he can, but others are afraid to learn and take the risk. This is devastating. Maryland NEEDS providers just like this and to open the doors for others to learn this protocol and others, without fear.

The integrative treatments we received proved to be 100% effective, had minimal risk, and were far less expensive compared to conventional medical treatment.

I suffered with Lyme Disease since 2007 and I’m here today to bring you part of my story as well as that of hundreds of other patients and dozens of doctors who I have personally met through my Lyme Disease support groups.

My story starts with a tick bite, only a few months after moving to Maryland in 2007. I had a bull's-eye rash, the hallmark sign of Lyme Disease, and my doctor prescribed 10 days of antibiotics with no further instructions or request for follow-up.

Within a few months, I was having trouble maintaining focus at work and at home; and it felt like my thoughts were clouded and I just couldn’t clear my head, which I later learned was brain fog. I returned to the doctor, but no one could figure out what was going on and no one related it to Lyme.

Especially at a time when bacteria are developing resistance to antibiotics, we desperately need to give our doctors a chance to open up their toolbox of nonconventional or integrative treatments.

That was just the start to a cascade of multi-system and debilitating symptoms that grew worse over the next 4 ½ years. At that point, Lyme had riddled my body and I had severe joint pains, tingling in my legs (like having pins and needles constantly), terrible headaches and neck pain, severe fatigue, back problems, almost constant unexplainable heart palpitations, and the worst of it had affected my cognitive abilities.

I had trouble forming thoughts, speaking coherently even with friends, lost parts of my memory (couldn’t recall large parts of my sons’ birth through early schooling)—as if it had never happened; had trouble planning even the easiest of tasks or even putting together a simple dinner.

I “lost” words—meaning I couldn’t even remember regular words like “toothbrush,” and would have to pantomime the brushing of teeth to get my point across. I ended up having to leave my job for three years because things got too bad and I couldn’t rely on my memory or the ability to communicate enough to hold down a job.

Over time, I had seen multiple doctors for the variety of symptoms, but no one had an explanation why so many things were going wrong when I had been an intelligent, vibrant, and physically fit woman.

Finally, during an MRI exam of my back and neck, doctor’s discovered white lesions which led into my brain and I was initially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but as the neuroradiologist looked further, they realized it was late-stage Lyme disease and that the multitude of seemingly unrelated symptoms were all one disease which had taken over my body. I was turning 40 years old and I felt like I had the brain and body of an 85-year-old woman.

Around the same time of my diagnosis, my husband and sons went on one fateful Cub Scout camping trip and came back with multiple tick bites. Because the current Lyme tests are so poor, they were all told they did not have Lyme and were misdiagnosed with junior rheumatoid arthritis, attention deficit disorder (despite never having attention/focus problems and were already in higher elementary grades), plantar fasciitis, migraine headaches, and unexplainable gastrointestinal disorders.

…we need and deserve the right to know that there are other treatment approaches which might fit our needs better and make an informed decision  about how to treat this complex and insidious disease.

Eventually, it was discovered they had also acquired Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses which affected each of them differently with some overlapping symptoms. Doctors told us they could only provide one course of antibiotics in spite of the fact that I had a late stage form of the disease and my family only had it a few months.

When I felt some positive change while on my one course of antibiotics, the neurologist I saw told me that he could be brought up on malpractice charges or lose his license if he treated me further and therefore refused to provide anything more for me. Luckily, I found a doctor who would treat me further and used a variety of tools.

Because my entire family suffered from Lyme and we became aware of so many other people at church, school, and in surrounding neighborhoods, who also had Lyme or other unexplained illnesses and were looking for answers, I created a county support group in 2011. This group quickly became a support group open to patients and family members who were trying to understand what was happening to them and how to heal.

Over the years, I have met hundreds of Lyme patients and dozens of doctors who recognize that the current short-term and simple course of antibiotic treatment for Lyme can barely touch this complex disease. A few doctors would actually tell their patients they were fearful of reprisals if they continued to treat after their initial course, while a few found creative ways to prescribe the antibiotics used to treat Lyme for other ailments like severe acne breakout, so their patients could continue to heal.

Out of the four of us in my own family, suffering from some debilitating symptoms of the disease, only one of us healed from antibiotics plus vitamin B-12 alone. The rest of us needed a more integrative approach using antibiotics plus herbals, vitamins, and supplements which sought to kill the bacteria, build up the immune system so our bodies could heal itself, and replenish the critical vitamins needed for proper functioning that the bacteria had depleted.

We need to stop this cycle of disease and suffering!

My husband and sons have all recuperated through an integrative approach; and despite having a more chronic form of the disease, the use of herbals (plant-based remedies) have brought me to a level of healing far above what antibiotics alone have done and where I can now enjoy life again at 90% healing, feeling more my age than that debilitated 85-year-old I once felt like!

As a patient, we need and deserve the right to know that there are other treatment approaches which might fit our needs better and make an informed decision about how to treat this complex and insidious disease. Especially at a time when bacteria are developing resistance to antibiotics, we desperately need to give our doctors a chance to open up their toolbox of nonconventional or integrative treatments. We need to stop this cycle of disease and suffering!

I am a nurse practitioner, psychotherapist and co-author of a book on Lyme disease. I taught at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, currently teach at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland Medical School, and have a private practice.

Lyme disease is exploding! There are at least 25,000 new cases per month, and 25 percent of those new patients are children, ages 5-14.

It is urgent that integrative and nonconventional remedies shown to be safe and highly effective alternatives to traditional remedies be available to Maryland residents. This will allow patients with Lyme disease, after full disclosure and appropriate protections are described by the health care practitioner, to decide which test and/or treatment is best for her or him.

These diseases are devastating and affect every aspect of one’s life.

Medical politics and pharmaceutical interests have obstructed the use of these vital, safe and integrative life-saving interventions. It is imperative that patients in Maryland are provided the most effective treatments available. Fifteen other states have already passed bills allowing physicians to use integrative tests and treatments.

I was diagnosed in 2013 with Lyme and related tick-borne diseases. I was very sick for 1½ years, which impaired my ability to perform my normal daily activities, including my ability to work. I had difficulty sleeping, was in excruciating pain, could not think clearly, was exhausted all the time and very fearful of my ability to recover.

I am grateful for my recovery which I attribute to integrative/nonconventional techniques that I used. These supported the conventional treatment I received. As a result of using these integrative/complementary techniques my pain and impairment were reduced and made my recovery possible.

It is imperative that patients in Maryland are provided the most effective treatments available.

I work with others who suffer with the diagnosis of Lyme and related tick-borne diseases, using non-drug integrative/nonconventional techniques. Patients report a reduction in their stress-related symptoms, which increases their tolerance of difficulties imposed by Lyme disease and supports recovery.

Lyme and related tick-borne diseases are very complex and require an individualized treatment plan using a variety of integrative/nonconventional modalities as well as conventional modalities. These diseases are devastating and affect every aspect of one’s life.

People lose their jobs, savings, home, family support, friends, and, trust in the conventional medical system that they will ever get well. We have a social and moral obligation to take action, in spite of the opposition posed by established, non-compassionate interests.

There is no question that my experience with Lyme disease as well as that of my daughter leaves me with little doubt that the alternative medical protocols that we received were of great benefit when it came to the treatment of chronic Lyme infection.

As a neurosurgeon of some thirty years, I was surprised and shocked to learn that several medical practitioners had lost their licenses because of their association and/or their involvement with such alternative treatments. It is these alternative treatments that both my daughter and I received that changed our lives.

I had to take my daughter out of the country to Leon, Spain just a year ago to receive ten pass appropriate integrative treatments. This was because once again an alternative treatment was deemed on the fringes of standard medical care here in America; and, as a result, few are trained in this technique.

This treatment in fact dates back to World War I where it was used successfully with Austrians to treat infections of the extremities without having to resort to amputations. It is also standard of care currently in Germany as a preoperative antimicrobial.

We are both living proof that the use of these alternative treatments with various herbs and naturally occurring substances not only turned out to be so benign but could be so effective in the treatment of Lyme disease. I ask a simple question: how many people go untreated because they are unable to get vital treatments given that physicians do not feel they can provide these treatments without regulatory risk?

I had to take my daughter out of the country to receive appropriate integrative treatments.

What we are witnessing is something all too common in the human condition: the repetition of history. Medicine is a scientific discipline and has often been slow to except that which is new and different and scientifically sound.

I specifically referred to the findings of Louis Pasteur regarding the identification of bacteria as the causal agent of infectious disease, which took over 20 years to be accepted. Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, took over 20 years to be accepted. The concept of surgical sterile technique, in the washing of hands as presented by Lister, also took a great deal of time [to be accepted]. Amazingly, the treatment of scurvy by the British with a simple lime daily given to the sailors took another 50 years for other navies to adopt this practice.

… these alternative treatments … changed our lives.

Most recently, Dr. Marshall—who nearly lost his life. [It] took 20 years before the medical community accepted the fact that it’s a bacteria that, more often than not, is the cause of peptic ulcer disease. He subsequently received the Nobel in medicine.

Ensuring that doctors can provide access to these therapies is a vital step that [Maryland] can take.

I am a medical doctor that owns a private practice in Maryland. We see a lot of patients with a variety of chronic medical conditions.

Unfortunately, many of our patients have Lyme disease, which is endemic in the mid-Atlantic area.

We take the approach of strengthening the body first, using nutrition, lifestyle, and stress management therapies.

In our office, we have medical doctors, nutritionists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and a psychologist.

There are excellent integrative therapies that we would like to use for our patients. The passing of this bill will allow us to safely explore more options to help our patients with Lyme disease, and build an evidence base from which to evaluate safety and efficacy of these treatments for the greater good of all.

I am an MD who practices integrative and functional medicine care.

Patients come to us often having seen multiple physicians, looking for someone who will work with them using health-promoting/restoring modalities.

We listen carefully to patients and use conventional and complementary diagnostics and therapeutics to identify and address underlying systems issues that result in disease and symptoms.

I consider myself a scientifically based clinician. I am board-certified in Family Medicine, and have re-certified multiple times, most recently in 2016. I have been on faculty at multiple medical institutions over my career and have held senior level positions in health policy and administration.

I am writing in support of legislation allowing physicians to use responsible integrative tests and treatments. This legislation will improve the environment for patients seeking to choose clinicians who bring expertise to their care and will improve the environment for clinicians to be able to use their expertise in treatment of such patients.

I am an advocate for clinician education and improvement in the processes, systems, and relationships of medical care.

As a health care attorney with a focus on the legal aspects of integrative medical practice, I have represented a number of physicians whose practice has been reviewed by the Maryland Board of Physician Quality Assurance (“BPQA”), including for nonstandard diagnosis and treatments.

Perhaps more importantly, physicians consult with me about whether therapies they consider extremely valuable and have learned at conference seminars for Category I CME credit, which is awarded upon peer review, can be practiced with legal safety in Maryland. For many of these therapies I have to counsel against their use as the risk that professional differences of opinion could lead to the burden of investigation and disciplinary charges is too great. While a patient may be able to travel to a nearby state and receive the therapy, history in Maryland may suggest it would not be allowed here. This leaves patients without reasonable access to therapies that are badly needed.

Facing difficulty as a result of integrative methods of testing and treatment is nothing new. Historically, integrative physicians face the possibility of unfounded investigations and sanctions solely because they are in a minority school of thought not understood or accepted by those with regulatory authority. This often occurs in spite of the fact that the physician is getting excellent results where conventional medicine has failed, no harmful effects reported, no patient complained, no incompetence found and the practitioner has the enthusiastic support of patients.

Facing difficulty as a result of integrative methods of testing and treatment is nothing new.

Board charges are, in practice, determined primarily by contracted peer reviewers, who bring the standards of care from their training into play. The law already requires that the peer reviewer be boarded in the relevant area, and that they also have subject matter expertise in the matter at hand. Part of our bill would make it clear that the reviewer must be a true peer and understand the very methods under investigation.

While protecting the use of emerging, legitimate therapies, it is important to ensure that the BPQA is not deterred in its mission to protect the public. As a principal drafter of the language of these bills, we worked to ensure that the line is properly drawn.

Were this passed into law, it would only restrict board action where the patient gave informed consent and there is evidence that a minority community of physicians holds the same viewpoints, such as advocacy by an established professional organization or coursework with Category I CME credits.

This leaves patients without reasonable access to therapies that are badly needed.

Further, a peer reviewer familiar with the approach would have to find there were no defects in care. If the board found that the potential risks exceeded the potential benefits, the board could take action. The physician would have to be able to submit qualified expert testimony at a hearing if charged. We feel that these are reasonable and carefully considered places to draw the line.

Another critical aspect of this legislation is to disallow discipline based upon “proxy” issues for which to sanction a physician—such as record-keeping—when it is simply a matter of differences of opinion rather than incompetence. I have seen, for example, the Board charge a physician who followed ILADS protocol to “pulse” antibiotics according to an ILADS approved schedule for failing to document at each visit the reason for the change in antibiotic when the physician was merely following an approach with which the reviewers were unfamiliar. Because this would be a “record-keeping” and not a standard of care error, it would leave physicians exposed to liability if this provision were not included.

I am here today because I am one of the fortunate few Lyme patients who has been able to access successful, integrative, alternative therapies for the treatment of my chronic Lyme disease.

I am here because I would like all Lyme patients to be able to access alternative medical treatments, particularly those patients for whom conventional therapy has failed.

For many Lyme patients, conventional antibiotic medicine will be ineffective.

It is unconscionably cruel to deny these patients the right to medical care that works.

These wonderful doctors, who take great professional risks to treat Lyme patients in Maryland with alternative therapies, are, understandably, few in number, because of the fear of disciplinary action against them. This results in long waiting lists for desperate patients or expensive trips to out-of-state doctors.

The onset of my illness in 1997 was not obvious or dramatic. I had a circular rash that was diagnosed as ringworm, swollen lymph nodes, and later a stiff neck and headaches.

As the disease took hold and progressed, there was debilitating head and neck pain, overwhelming fatigue, breathlessness, insomnia, brain fog and angina. Poor balance resulted in frequent falls with a broken wrist and torn rotator cuff.

The rounds of doctors included three neurologists, an orthopedist, a pain management specialist, and a sleep doctor. None suspected Lyme disease. Many doctors suggested that my pain must be due to stress.

Most Lyme patients will tell you that they have frequently been told that their pain must be caused by stress or depression. I did due diligence with biofeedback, self-hypnosis, meditation, and yoga, but the pain was still there.

This results in long waiting lists for desperate patients or expensive trips to out-of-state doctors.

The most helpful treatments during the fifteen years before I received a diagnosis were physical therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic therapy, but the relief was always temporary. I was finally diagnosed by my naturopathic doctor, who referred me to an infectious disease doctor for antibiotic treatment. I saw a lot of improvement in my health from two and a half years of pulsed antibiotic treatment, but I was far from well.

My naturopath then referred me to a doctor who was using new alternative therapies for Lyme, with great success. After months on his waiting list, I became another one of this doctor’s success stories.

We need to free all these dedicated doctors, who want nothing more than to help their desperately ill patients, to use integrative treatments, without fear of losing their medical licenses.  We need to give patients the opportunity to choose these life-saving alternative treatments. When that option is not available to them, the result can be a lifetime of misery and sometimes an early death. It is unconscionably cruel to deny these patients the right to medical care that works.

I am an integrative medical physician who treats a variety of disease states and medical conditions with a mixture of complementary and conventional methods.

I have always been hoping that I would be able to more fully help my patients recover from many different illnesses due to legislation more favorable to integrative medicine.

I do the best that I can with what I feel comfortable doing due to the culture of misunderstanding between traditional and integrative medicine. There are many therapies that can aid ailing patients that are not given in my office nor other integrative medical doctors’ offices in the state of Maryland because they are not yet allowed—although they work and have no harmful effects.

If this bill becomes law, there is no doubt that it will help patients get healthier, and this law could save lives. It could also allow a more productive conversation between the Medical Board, traditional physicians, and integrative doctors, and open lines of communication to everyone’s benefit.

There are many therapies that can aid ailing patients that are not yet allowed—although they work and have no harmful effects.

There are disease states that functional (integrative) medicine doctors have tests and answers to that conventional doctors do not know how to effectively treat. In fact, a lot of these patients who are suffering are simply prescribed narcotics by traditional medicine and other addicting medications to deal with the pain instead of trying to find the root cause of the disease process—as an integrative medical doctor would.

Therefore, there is no doubt that a Bill of this nature could totally change the culture in the State of Maryland and help so many patients get some integrative medical care that is desperately needed but not done because of the current culture.

I am a physician who treats Lyme disease patients.

In a study done at Johns Hopkins in 2013, thirty five percent of patients remained profoundly ill six months after standard treatment.

The problem is even more significant because patients can also relapse years after initial treatment. Doctors in Maryland, with adequate informed consent, need to be able to employ innovative therapies for Lyme disease without fear of reprisal.

I’m a LCSW-C [Licensed Certified Social Worker – Clinical]. I’m co-author of The Lyme Disease Workbook and also have a private practice.

I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2013. Before I was diagnosed I had many symptoms and spent years going to many doctors trying to find a diagnosis and treatment.

Unfortunately, no one diagnosed Lyme disease and instead performed many procedures which were harmful. Multiple surgeries which chased my symptoms with a scalpel included a knee replacement, cervical neck stabilization, shoulder surgery on both shoulders—all with no relief of my symptoms. Instead they treated me as a curious specimen who most likely was a head case.

Fortunately, a colleague suggested a Lyme-literate physician who ordered appropriate tests and conventional treatment which finally began alleviating some of my symptoms. Unfortunately, I had a flare up a year later, which often happens with Lyme disease.

This important bill … will give the patient the right to choose life-saving alternatives.

The conventional treatment was not permanent and I began searching for alternative/unconventional treatment that I was learning about. I had to travel out of state to receive this treatment, and since then I’ve been symptom-free for 4 years.

In my practice as a social worker people come to me with what appears to be untreated symptoms of Lyme disease and they have no idea where to turn. Some of them have exhausted all the conventional resources and remain very sick. In fact, I fear that several have died as a result of not being able to get diagnosed or treated.

This important bill will allow physicians and other licensed health care practitioners and their patients to use integrative and/or nonconventional tests and treatments when they believe it is in the patient’s best interest and under certain conditions. It will give the patient the right to choose life-saving alternatives. It is especially urgent to incorporate integrative/nonconventional tests and treatment with conventional approaches, since they have been shown to be safe and highly effective alternatives to conventional treatment. It will allow the patient, after full disclosure by the licensed health care practitioner and appropriate protections, to decide which test and/or treatment is best for her or him.

For many years conflict within the medical establishment and pharmaceutical industry have prevented patients from benefiting from these safe and effective alternatives to conventional tests and treatments.

I come before you today on behalf of my husband, who passed away this past summer. My husband was a licensed physician in New York State, Virginia, the District of Columbia and he represented other colleagues who practiced Integrative/Alternative/Functional Medicine in New York City and beyond beginning in 1974.

His case represents the longest hearing ever heard before the New York medical board, the OPMC.

The case went from 1976-1994 when he received a resounding victory in which the New York State Board of Regents criticized the OPMC for not following legal procedure, abrogating my husband’s rights, and most importantly their decision centers on the opinion of panel members deprived [him] of his legal rights.

In the past two decades, legislators in many states have taken notice of the deprivation of the rights of patients to choose their health care and rights of physicians to choose innovative therapies that effectively treat their patients. New York was one of the first states to enact legislation intended to protect both the rights of patients to choose, and the rights of physicians to offer CAM/Integrative/Functional Medicine Options.

Scientific truth is not decided by majority vote.

The result of this case was the passage of a law which recognized the role of legitimate nonconventional medical therapies and required the placement of two nonconventional physician on the state professional medical board to promote greater participation and understanding of these practices. Just as this law exists, so have 14 other states amended their laws providing physicians with the right to responsibly deliver nonconventional therapies.

Let me provide an example of a complex patient that was presented to my husband in 2002. A mother came to seek help due to her severe level of stress dealing with a husband who was diagnosed bipolar as well as her child. The child was [also] diagnosed autistic.

While waiting for test results to come in, the mother agreed to make changes in her child’s diet. This consisted of eliminating, sugar, wheat, corn, and dairy, and was thus left with a diet that is often called a Paleo Diet. Within a matter of weeks, the mother called the office to advise my husband that there was a change in her son’s behavior at school! He was beginning to focus and pay attention to his aides and to have a sense of other children being present in the classroom. Something was shifting!

When the child and mother returned to our office some weeks later, he brought with him a rubber frog which he held tightly in his fist. When he entered the office, he looked at my husband and said, “Here. This is my rubber frog.” Everyone in the office was moved to tears and joy and a sense of home. This was the first time that we heard this little boy speak!

Physicians have a duty and obligation not only to do no harm, but to do good

The results of our testing definitively confirmed the diagnoses of multiple system infections including Lyme, Babesia, Bartonella, resistant strep, multiple allergies, and gut issues which all needed to be addressed.

Over several months, my husband worked to restore gut health, improve elimination, and began to treat this child for Lyme using a combination of medications. Ultimately, this child moved out of IEP and became fully functional and went on to be mainstreamed and attend college as an honors student. As to the father, he came to see my husband and to be evaluated and treated based on the results of his tests, including Multiple Systemic Infections.

Scientific truth is not decided by majority vote. Physicians have a duty and obligation not only to do no harm, but to do good, acting in the best interest of the patient. This duty should take precedence over any self-interest.