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Chronic: The Hidden Cause of the Autoimmune Pandemic and How to Get Healthy Again

A Review by Joseph E. Scherger, MD, MPH

Hidden chronic infections are common. They are likely a cause of many inflammatory autoimmune diseases and some Alzheimer’s disease. That is the opinion of Steven Phillips, MD, a Yale-trained general internist in Connecticut who became severely ill and recovered from Lyme disease. Dr. Phillips has dedicated his clinical practice to treating a wide variety of under-recognized and hidden infections. Working with one of his patients, singer-songwriter Dana Parish, he has compiled all his knowledge and experience into a new book entitled Chronic: The Hidden Cause of the Autoimmune Pandemic and How to Get Healthy Again.

This book is very scientific, and Phillips’ arguments are compelling. After reading this book twice, I began to look at many of my patients differently.

I learned from the AIDS epidemic that some viral infections do not go away. Prior to antibiotics, many bacterial infections such as tuberculosis became chronic. Syphilis, if not treated, becomes a serious chronic infection. It is caused by spirochete bacteria similar to that which causes Lyme; if not fully treated, the Lyme bacteria may infect many organ systems. Unfortunately, mainstream medicine, including most infectious disease specialists, do not believe in chronic Lyme disease and other similar infections.

Chronic is loaded with information about what the authors call Lyme Plus infections. These include Bartonella and Babesiosis. There are about 50 types of Lyme bacteria, which makes testing for the disease very difficult. All are spread by insects, especially ticks, which carry many organisms that can lead to chronic infections. 

Diseases shown to be caused by these infections include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and many others. Terry Wahls, MD (The Wahls Protocol, 2014), who suffered from multiple sclerosis, has endorsed this book. 

Unfortunately, when most physicians (including rheumatologists) treat these diseases, they use drugs that suppress the immune system, treating only the symptoms while the underlying infection may get much worse. I recently saw a previously healthy woman develop such an illness and die in just two years. Phillips is convinced that our medical model for treating autoimmune diseases is all wrong. They are not actually autoimmune but rather an immune response to a hidden infection.

Phillips uses the story of Kris Kristofferson to illustrate how these infections can lead to dementia. The famous singer endured cognitive decline, and medicine had nothing much to offer. He was diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease and returned to normal intelligence. How many others out there in memory care centers are experiencing the same?

The recommended treatment of these infections is to strengthen the immune system and use antibiotics on a long-term schedule. In his book Unlocking Lyme, William Rawls, MD shares the success he has had in ridding patients of Lyme disease using herbal therapy about 50 percent of the time. In Phillips’ experience, most patients require long-term antibiotics used on a pulsed schedule (such as two weeks on and two weeks off) for six to 18 months. The most common antibiotic used is doxycycline, which is relatively safe for the GI tract and does not disrupt the microbiome or cause C. diff infection. This type of antibiotic is often used in teenagers to treat acne.

Reading this book shook me up. I felt like much of the foundation of my medical knowledge may be wrong. We think we are practicing modern medicine and realize we may still be in the dark ages. 

Chronic: The Hidden Cause of the Autoimmune Pandemic and How to Get Healthy Again has been endorsed by Sanjay Gupta, MD and notable medical scientists at Harvard, Cornell and Johns Hopkins University. Give this book to anyone who is chronically unwell, and it may open a corridor for healing as long as that person can find a physician open to thinking differently.

Dr. Scherger is founder of Restore Health in Indian Wells, a clinic dedicated to weight loss and reversing disease. For more information, visit www.restorehealth.me or call (760) 898.9663.

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