Patients with Lyme disease have several options for stem cell medical tourism include India, Mexico, Panama, and China, although the latter have recently cracked down on such operations by tightening regulation and legislation governing stem cell therapy. Dozens, if not hundreds, of patients with Lyme disease have travelled abroad for such experimental treatments, many of whom report success and others who quietly go on with their lives having experienced no benefit. Oftentimes, as with any experimental medical treatment, a patient reports an initial boost from stem cell treatment for Lyme disease only to find that this is temporary.
Stem Cell Therapy in India for Lyme Disease
The current most popular overseas stem cell clinic for Lyme disease is seemingly Nu Tech Mediworld in India. Many positive testimonials can be found for the staff, and overall experience, at this clinic. Rigorous testing of new patients does appear to occur, along with considerable efforts at rehabilitation using physical therapy, counselling, and other practices, which, whilst often helpful, could be confounding the results of any stem cell procedures at the clinic. There is also a powerful placebo effect to consider as patients and their families invest a vast amount of time, effort, and emotional energy in their ‘one shot’ at getting better. Short-term gains following a stem cell treatment or two may be lost upon return home and those for whom this happens are less likely to document their subsequent relapse. This Indian clinic uses embryonic stem cells, purportedly from a single line, and uses injections of cultured stem cells into the epidural space for neurological manifestations of Lyme disease. The Indian clinic’s work is governed by the Indian Council of Medical Research which allows for doctors to treat incurable or terminal conditions with experimental therapies. This law means that stem cell treatments considered illegal in other countries can be carried out here, thus attracting many international patients.
Problems with Overseas Clinics
Unfortunately, it appears that many clinics ask for little medical information prior to accepting patients for stem cell treatment for Lyme disease. Such clinics may then go on to ask for many, potentially unnecessary tests upon arrival, and then carry out initial stem cell therapy without even having a clear diagnosis. Patients arriving with a request to treat suspected Lyme disease with stem cells may be told that they can have the therapy but that their condition may be due to some other condition, as yet undiagnosed. No medical practitioner in the US would be allowed to provide medical treatment without a diagnosis or at least clear guidelines on the use of such medicine in anticipation of a specific diagnosis. The risk is that the undiagnosed condition may react to such treatment in an adverse fashion. Without knowing the cause of a patient’s symptoms it is usually unwise to apply treatments, particularly experimental ones. Another concern is the apparent persistence of the belief that embryonic stem cells are immunologically inert when this has been found not to be the case in other research. Treating all patients, regardless of their human leukocyte antigen profile and match to the embryonic stem cell line used could be putting already vulnerable patients at risk. The clinic has reported no such adverse reactions during nearly a decade of operation but it remains a concern nonetheless for all overseas clinics offering stem cell treatments for Lyme disease.