by Dr. Bill Rawls
Posted 11/8/16

Over the past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the ILADS national convention in Philadelphia. For those who don’t already know, ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) is a medical society with a mission of promoting understanding and education about Lyme disease and similar chronic illnesses. It was formed by a group of physicians in reaction to apathy toward Lyme disease by the conventional medical community.

I’ve been aware of ILADS for some time, but oddly, I was too busy recovering from Lyme disease to go to meetings or become involved in the organization. I also had reservations because historically, the group favored prolonged and intense antibiotic therapy. I did not tolerate antibiotic therapy and successfully used herbal therapy for my recovery.

As of late, however, I have sensed that the group has become more open to alternative options. This year I decided to attend. And I’ll have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The conference was well organized and the lectures provided valuable information. One characteristic of a good conference is having presenters from outside the group. More than half of the key speakers were from outside the Lyme community.

My gift as a writer is helping people understand the big picture, but I depend heavily on the people who intensely study the little pieces — like the presenter at the conference who has spent the past 30 years studying nothing but mast cells. In this respect, the conference was a wealth of information. Fortunately, everything I learned supported concepts that I wrote about in my new book, Unlocking Lyme, coming out in the new year. Whew…no major rewrites!

I was pleased that there was a lot of emphasis in the lectures on the science of how microbes disrupt functions in the body. There seemed to be consensus that multiple microbes were always involved with Lyme disease. There were several lectures on advancements in microbial testing, but microbial testing is still very limited in scope — one day we might get there, but we’re not anywhere near there yet.

Though there were no lectures exclusively on herbal therapy, various herbs were mentioned by different lecturers. Most of the conference attendees who I spoke with were interested in herbs and many had incorporated herbs into their practices. They were also relying less on antibiotic therapy than in the past.

In fact, there was less emphasis on antibiotics in general than I expected. Only one lecture–by Dr. Richard Horowitz–was devoted exclusively to use of intense prolonged antibiotic therapy for Lyme sufferers who responded to nothing else. Personally, I think there are better options…one being ozone therapy.

One of the more interesting lectures was about hyperbaric ozone therapy. For desperately ill individuals, I think there is some promise here. It shouldn’t be considered as a stand-alone therapy; cases discussed in the lecture gradually relapsed. But if used in conjunction with restorative herbal therapy, benefits and longevity of therapy might be enhanced. Unfortunately, ozone therapy is prohibited in many states and is very expensive.

The exhibit hall was filled with companies offering microbial testing and non-drug therapies. Here I found a lot of hype and pseudoscience, but a few vendors had products or services worth notice. Interestingly, a lot what was being peddled was not supported by the lectures.

Overall, the conference was very worthwhile. I ended up applying for membership to ILADS and plan to be an active member.

I have to say, though, I’ve learned more practical information from attending herbal conferences. My favorite herbal conference (Medicines from the Earth Herb Symposium) is in Black Mountain, NC, the first weekend of every June. It’s open to everyone, not just doctors or herbalists — hope to see you there!