Unorthodox alternative therapies marketed to treat lyme disease

Paul M. Lantos, Eugene D. Shapiro, Paul G. Auwaerter, Phillip J. Baker, John J. Halperin, Edward Mcsweegan, Gary P. Wormser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background. Some patients with medically unexplained symptoms or alternative medical diagnoses suspect that they chronically suffer from the tick-borne infection Lyme disease. These patients are commonly targeted by providers of alternative therapies. This study was designed to identify and characterize the range of unorthodox alternative therapies advertised to patients with a diagnosis of Lyme disease. Methods. Internet searches using the Google search engine were performed to identify the websites of clinics and services that marketed nonantimicrobial therapies for Lyme disease. We subsequently used the PubMed search engine to identify any scientific studies evaluating such treatments for Lyme disease. Websites were included in our review so long as they advertised a commercial, nonantimicrobial product or service that specifically mentioned utility for Lyme disease. Websites with patient testimonials (such as discussion groups) were excluded unless the testimonial appeared as marketing on a commercial site. Results. More than 30 alternative treatments were identified, which fell into several broad categories: these included 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. Review of the medical literature did not substantiate efficacy or, in most cases, any rationale for the advertised treatments. Conclusions. Providers of alternative therapies commonly target patients who believe they have Lyme disease. The efficacy of these unconventional treatments for Lyme disease is not supported by scientific evidence, and in many cases they are potentially harmful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1776-1782
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Volume60
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 15 2015

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Lyme Disease
Complementary Therapies
Search Engine
Therapeutics
Tick-Borne Diseases
Oxygen
Borrelia
Biological Therapy
Stem Cell Transplantation
Therapeutic Uses
Heavy Metals
Marketing
PubMed
Internet
Radiotherapy
Pharmacology

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

Cite this

Lantos, P. M., Shapiro, E. D., Auwaerter, P. G., Baker, P. J., Halperin, J. J., Mcsweegan, E., & Wormser, G. P. (2015). Unorthodox alternative therapies marketed to treat lyme disease. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 60(12), 1776-1782. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/civ186
Lantos, Paul M. ; Shapiro, Eugene D. ; Auwaerter, Paul G. ; Baker, Phillip J. ; Halperin, John J. ; Mcsweegan, Edward ; Wormser, Gary P. / Unorthodox alternative therapies marketed to treat lyme disease. In: Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2015 ; Vol. 60, No. 12. pp. 1776-1782.
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Lantos, PM, Shapiro, ED, Auwaerter, PG, Baker, PJ, Halperin, JJ, Mcsweegan, E & Wormser, GP 2015, 'Unorthodox alternative therapies marketed to treat lyme disease', Clinical Infectious Diseases, vol. 60, no. 12, pp. 1776-1782. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/civ186

Unorthodox alternative therapies marketed to treat lyme disease. / Lantos, Paul M.; Shapiro, Eugene D.; Auwaerter, Paul G.; Baker, Phillip J.; Halperin, John J.; Mcsweegan, Edward; Wormser, Gary P.

In: Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol. 60, No. 12, 15.06.2015, p. 1776-1782.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Lantos PM, Shapiro ED, Auwaerter PG, Baker PJ, Halperin JJ, Mcsweegan E et al. Unorthodox alternative therapies marketed to treat lyme disease. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2015 Jun 15;60(12):1776-1782. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/civ186