Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Best Way to Defeat Lyme Disease?
What do you recommend for Lyme disease? My doctor suggested bismacine, but I've heard that the FDA is against it. Why?
Answer (Published 10/3/2006)

Lyme disease is an infectious disease transmitted by bacteria carried by deer ticks. If you recognize the symptoms early on, the infection can be eliminated by a few weeks' treatment with antibiotics (doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil). However, if not promptly diagnosed and correctly treated, Lyme disease can lead to severe, chronic symptoms including arthritis and nerve damage.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor - If you are interested in supplementing your diet but don't know where to start, take Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor. It is free, and provides a personalized vitamin & supplement recommendation based on your health history. Visit today!

The FDA has, indeed, warned against bismacine (also called chromocine), which is an injectable product used to treat Lyme disease. It is typically prepared by compounding pharmacists and administered by alternative practitioners. Bismacine is not approved for the treatment of anything, including Lyme disease.

One person who received the compound died in April of 2006, and another was hospitalized a month earlier. Severe side effects have been reported, including kidney failure and cardiovascular collapse. If you've taken bismacine and notice any unusual symptoms, see a physician (not the one who gave you the shot) and explain that you were injected with this unapproved compound. It contains large amounts of bismuth, a heavy metal that can harm the heart and kidneys.

While we're on the subject of FDA warnings, in 2005 both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control cautioned against tests for Lyme disease used by some commercial laboratories. The tests include urine antigen tests, immunofluorescent staining methods to identify the causative bacteria, and polymerase chain reaction tests to spot bacterial DNA in blood and urine. Neither the accuracy nor medical usefulness of these tests has been adequately established. Legitimate diagnostic testing for Lyme disease should begin with an enzyme immunoassay. If you test positive or the results aren't certain, the next step is a standardized Western immunoblot assay.

The deer ticks that carry Lyme disease are so tiny that they're hard to see even when fully engorged with blood, and not everyone infected develops the tell-tale "bull's-eye" rash that signals infection. Because of this, be sure to see a doctor experienced in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease if you live in an area where the disease is common and experience any strange skin rashes, fever, or joint pain, all of which can be Lyme symptoms.

As for prevention, a vaccine developed to protect against Lyme disease is no longer available because of lack of consumer demand. The disease used to be confined to Long Island, New York, and Connecticut where it first was seen (it is named after the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, where the original cases were diagnosed). Although incidence is still highest in the northeastern United States, the disease has been reported throughout the country. You're at highest risk of encountering deer ticks in wooded areas, so be vigilant. When you're in infested areas, wear light colored clothing with long sleeves; be sure to tuck your pants into your socks to keep ticks from crawling up your legs. As soon as you get home, wash yourself and check your body for anything unusual. Have a partner check your back.

The best information I have found on the treatment of Lyme disease is in a new book by my colleague, Qingcai Zhang, M.D., a leading practitioner of modern Chinese medicine in New York. It is available here:

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here