The Story of Lymecore Botanicals
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Dr. Hinchey and Dr. Aieta both have their own stories about Lyme disease that they're going to share with us here today, as well as how the company LymeCore Botanicals was created. So, allow me to introduce our guests.
The Story of How Lymecore Botanicals Began - Full interview transcript
Carly Sage, MS
Dr. Myriah Hinchey
Dr. Frank Aieta
Carly Sage: Hello everyone, I am so excited to be here today with doctors Frank Aieta and Dr. Mariah Hinchey, two founding members of the groundbreaking company LymeCore Botanicals, which offers proven herbal protocols and supplements to address Lyme disease and co-infections based on master herbalist Stephen Buhner’s protocols as outlined in his book “Healing Lyme”.
Lyme disease has been highlighted in mainstream health conversations. It's gained a lot of attention not just here in Connecticut, but nationally and globally. It’s far-reaching, nondiscriminatory and is a very stealth infection. Lyme is known as the great imitator. It can leave patients suffering with myriad symptoms lasting for years, allowing them to go from doctor to doctor without a firm diagnosis.
Dr. Hinchey and Dr. Aieta both have their own stories about Lyme disease that they're going to share with us here today, as well as how the company LymeCore Botanicals was created. So, allow me to introduce our guests.
Dr. Myriah Hinchey is a Connecticut licensed naturopathic physician and Lyme literate doctor. She is the owner and medical director of Tao Vitality in Hebron Connecticut. She is also an adjunct faculty member at the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) and has notable expertise in the specialized treatment of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
And Dr. Frank Aieta is a licensed Connecticut naturopathic physician, nutritionist, and acupuncturist with a private practice in West Hartford, Connecticut. He specializes in the treatment of both acute and chronic Lyme disease and utilizes the most advanced natural
therapeutics. Dr. Aieta has been treating Lyme disease and its co-infections with great success for close to two decades now.
And Dr. Michael Gazsi, the third founder, is also a practicing naturopathic physician in Connecticut. He's not here with us today, but he sources all of the raw materials for LymeCore products and is in charge of product development as well as distribution.
So, for this interview we will be learning about the history of LymeCore Botanicals and really the backstory of how it all started. So welcome Dr. Aieta and Dr. Hinchey.
Dr. Hinchey: Thanks
Dr. Aieta: Thanks, great to be here.
Carly Sage: Great to have you. For those that are watching and are really unfamiliar with the company maybe you can tell us about the mission behind LymeCore Botanicals and what you offer, to start.
Dr. Aieta: I’ll leave that to Myriah. Go ahead, Myriah.
Dr. Hinchey: LymeCore Botanicals was created out of our need to be able to provide a steady, consistent line of high-quality products that really focused on the purity and the potency of the herbs we were getting. As a doctor we needed to make sure that the products that we were providing to our patients were clean -- meaning they don't have toxins, chemicals, microbes, heavy metals -- other contaminants that could actually make the patient sicker, and then additionally we needed to be sure that the herbs that we were providing have a consistent potency so that the patient is always getting the proper therapeutic dose of the products. I know both Dr. Aieta and myself had an issue with, you know when we were using other products, where we would get a patient on a really good plan and the plan was working, and then often we had products that were going on back order or wouldn't be in stock for several
months. And that interruption to the patient's care was very frustrating not only to the patient but to ourselves as doctors as well, and I think that was the final straw for us, you know, when we had this chronic back order issue with herbs we decided to kind of take it into our own hands so that we could control not only the purity and the potency, but also that our patients would have a steady supply of what they were using as their medicine.
Carly Sage: So how did you both get involved with treating Lyme disease in your practice in the first place?
Dr. Aieta: Well I can start with that one. So about seven years ago this kind of, this whole story, we can start with the story about how Myriah and I got together and started LymeCore. About six or seven years ago I think it was, I came down with Lyme disease myself and never saw a tick bite, never saw a bull's eye rash, never pulled a tick off myself. I just got sick, and I remember it was right after the winter, there was still snow on the ground and so it wasn't even on my radar that I had Lyme disease. I just had a lot of joint pain I had a lot of sleeplessness, a lot of nervous system issues. And so, I ran some conventional blood work, and nothing really showed up. I said, “well maybe I'll check for Lyme because you know we do live in Connecticut”, and I treat a lot of Lyme in my practice, and I can observe it for the other patients but when it comes to yourself it's a little bit harder. So, I started, I ran a test and sure enough it came back positive, and I said “okay, I'm gonna have to deal with this” and so I put myself on the protocol that I use with a lot of my patients. And right around that time, Stephen Buhner -- it was interesting -- he was offering a talk, a seminar not too far from where I live, and so I went to the seminar and lo and behold I saw Dr. Hinchey was there, and we hadn't seen each other. We went to school actually together; we actually went to undergrad together. We were a couple years apart and then we went to medical school, we were a couple years apart, so it was great seeing her and so we sat down and we start talking and talking to each other about our stories and her story was like the mirror image of mine. She actually had Lyme disease as well and she was following up and doing some of the Buhner protocol as well with herself and with patients. And so after listening to Stephen talk, you know we kind of commiserated about the difficulty in finding a lot of the herbs, just as Dr. Hinchey pointed out, and when he did his talk he actually went through a slew of other herbs that we had never even heard of yet that he was researching and was going to put in the second update to his book. So, we got first-hand knowledge right then and there and that's when we said, “okay we really need to start looking into some of these other herbs and some of these other treatments” and so that's how LymeCore was pretty much born. We sat down and said “we could do this, we can. Let's source, let's find the raw material, let's put these products together and design some combination products -- standalone products -- so that we can start, we make sure that we always have a steady supply. That was the key thing and so that's where we started. We started with just one product and it kind of blew up from there. Now we have, I don't know how many products we have in our in our arsenal, we have a lot though.
Dr. Hinchey: So pretty much like anyone else in medical school we were taught that you know Lyme disease was basically diagnosed with a bull's eye rash. There would be some fatigue, joint pain, you know, and 21 days of doxycycline pretty much would clear it right up. And when I was in clinic I had a very young woman, she was in her early 20s who came in with chronic Lyme disease, which I had never heard of, and also Babesia which was, you know another infection that I had never learned about in school and she had been on IV Rocephin for I believe about six months. She was walking with a cane, her face was bright red, it looked like someone slapped her cheeks, and she had intermittent fevers and all sorts of other neurological issues and none of the antibiotics were helping her.
So, this was really like my first eye opener to the fact that 21 days of doxycycline did not cure Lyme in all instances. The fact that there are other organisms that are transmitted by ticks that are not treated by the same antibiotics or even the same herbs, and you know also that this could be a persistent infection. And so we had used various herbs that one of my professors would actually go to Chinatown and pick up because the herbs were really hard to source and we didn't carry them in our dispensary, and you know, over about the six to nine months that I was working with her she definitely showed improvement even though she still, you know, wasn't quote-unquote cured. I graduated, she got passed down to, you know, to another resident in school and unfortunately, I never really found out what happened to her -- but it was a really eye-opening experience . And so I really always had my eyes out for the fact that, you know, there can be this chronic Lyme, persistent infections that you have to treat differently. And so, you know I was pretty much diagnosing patients with Lyme disease almost right out of school who are atypical and then I was just referring them off to other Lyme literate MDs or doctors who were members of ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society for treatment using triple antibiotic therapy.
It wasn't until I ended up with Lyme, and Babesia, and Bartonella myself that I actually thought back to the fact that, you know, we were we were treating this girl with pretty decent success back in school and started down the herbal route. When I ran into Frank at Stephen Buhner’s seminar that he was doing, I had already been on triple antibiotic therapy for 18 months at that time. Luckily, I was symptom free but every single time that I tried to stop taking antibiotics my symptoms would come back within, you know, like a week to ten days’ time which had my Lyme doctors pretty stumped. So, I started searching, you know trying to look to find natural remedies herbs etc., things that that worked for chronic Lyme disease and it was at 3 o'clock in the morning when I woke up one night with insomnia and anxiety, because those were two of my big symptoms, that I actually found Stephen Buhner. So, I didn't even know who he was and at 3am I found him online and I found that he was doing a seminar literally two weeks from then in Massachusetts and so, you know, I felt like it was meant to be. I signed up for the conference literally at 3 o'clock in the morning and between then and when I got to that conference had read “Healing Lyme” twice and, you know, went in there with lots of questions and things to try to pull together, and ran into Frank and you know, like Frank said it was. We literally went to lunch that day and we were like “we need to do something about sourcing these herbs that he's talking about that weren't yet available”.
Carly Sage: Wow.
Dr. Aieta: At the time there was only a couple companies out there that were selling a lot of the herbs too, and so they would always go on backorder, and we were scrounging trying to find these specific herbs. I said there's got to be a better way. I couldn't even get the herbs to treat myself.
Dr. Hinchey: Right, and Raintree Botanicals, remember that was like basically the one source for cat's claw, and they went out of business.
Dr. Aieta: Yep they went right out of business, so we had then we had no source of a good quality cat's claw that was the preferred form that Stephen was recommending, which was a wild crafted form of whole herb of the root, and so we had to bring it upon ourselves. And it was some time, it took us some time, but we figured it out, and that's when we came out with our first formula, the Foundation Formula that is cat's claw and Japanese Knotweed which is his basic core protocol and that's why we named it Foundation Formula.
Carly Sage: So, there was a real need’s gap that had to be met, absolutely. And like many things in life if it doesn't exist, you create it yourself to fill that need.
Dr. Aieta: Absolutely
Carly Sage: Yeah. So, do you see LymeCore products as an adjunct to conventional allopathic treatment or more as an alternative to Lyme disease treatment from a traditional standpoint?
Dr. Aieta: I think it can be used both. I can I think it can be used as an adjunct along with conventional antibiotics, or it can be used as a standalone therapy. And then I’ve got a patient that will come in to see me on antibiotics currently and we will transition them over to the... we’ll keep them on the antibiotics, but we will add in the herbs and then gradually get them off the antibiotics and we get great success a lot of times doing that. Whereas in the past like Dr. Hinchey said, you know she was on antibiotics, triple therapy of all different antibiotics and when she got off, she relapsed. So, that's one of the things that I saw in my practice quite often as well was that patients would come in and they were on endless antibiotics from IV to oral all different forms and they seemed to never get over the hump, as long as they were on the antibiotics they were doing okay. They weren't a hundred percent there, but once we introduced the naturopathic protocols and we added in the products -- the herbs and the nutrients -- they got better. They were able to get off of those medications and just transition solely on the herbs and then eventually maybe get off of those as well, or kind of narrow it down to just a few things as opposed to a large amount of products.
Carly Sage: So, I know that chronic Lyme disease, that whole topic, is a very controversial one in and of itself and how does LymeCore view that whole issue and is it appropriate for acute and chronic Lyme disease symptoms that people might be suffering with on an ongoing basis?
Dr. Hinchey: So, I mean as far as the acute Lyme disease goes, if you get bit, you know my general recommendation is that send your tick out. Send it to tickreport.com, get the tick tested, and then you have to make the decision if it comes back positive whether or not you want to start on antibiotics, but doxycycline for most people is the antibiotic of choice and you have to take it for at least 21 days because you have to be on it for as long as the lifecycle of the spirochete, so you know I want to make it very clear I don't treat Lyme disease acute with
herbs. I will do additional herbs to doxycycline that has been prescribed for the patient, and there are various herbs that you can use to help to increase the immune system’s reaction to it, like taking astragalus, taking echinacea, also taking anti spirochetal herbs like andrographis, taking Japanese knotweed to manage the initial cytokine cascade and cytokine storm that can cause a lot of the symptoms, taking skullcap, taking cordyceps, taking probiotics. You know there's a lot of things that you can do initially when you get bit and typically I will instruct my patients just start these herbal protocols, you know, immediately as soon as they find the tick but often I will like I said refer out for testing and then if it comes back positive for Lyme or for a various co-infection then, you know I usually do recommend that they go on the appropriate antibiotic because Lyme is much easier to prevent you know and you have -- depending on who you talk to -- I always say somewhere about a four day window to be able to get on antibiotics to prevent the infection, because it's way easier to treat on initially than to try to deal with chronic Lyme. So, there are a multitude of herbs that we have that are good for I would say integrative treatment of acute Lyme disease and then, you know there's several herbs that we use to treat chronic Lyme.
Dr. Aieta: I agree too, that's exactly my approach as well and I feel that if you introduce the herbs early on enough even while you're waiting to get the tick report back, you have a greater, a much better outcome in the long run. You have a less likelihood of them becoming more chronic or late stage Lyme. So, and that's what I've done, when it's done appropriately with the herbs and the antibiotics at the same time with acute Lyme, I find that there's a very small percentage of those people will transfer a chronic Lyme when done appropriately. So yes, I think it's the best way to approach it. Best of both worlds.
Carly Sage: That's really good news. So, what are your hopes for LymeCore in terms of making a
difference in the health world or bringing more awareness to Lyme disease in general?
Dr. Aieta: So, with LymeCore our goal is to definitely make people aware, both the consumer and also doctors, that you can treat chronic Lyme disease utilizing botanical medicine. You don't always have to go towards using long-term antibiotics, that there is a treatment out there that will work many times better in the long run and yield better outcomes when we're doing it like this. So, the first study that I looked at I remember when I first read Stephen’s book, his first book “Healing Lyme”, his first edition, he cited a study of a group of patients with chronic
persistent Lyme that were on antibiotics, and antibiotics didn't work, and they just used cat’s claw and within that six month period of time, at the end of six months, there was an 85% cure rate where they retested them and they were they were negative okay, and they had an elimination of their symptoms. And that was one that was the first thing I ever read about Lyme, I'm like, okay this is this is pretty substantial, okay and that was one of the reasons, that's what made me gravitate towards Stephen’s work -- was because he cited all the research
out there. It wasn't just anecdotal, and that's one of the problems with a lot of the companies out there that may be touting these protocols for Lyme and a lot of it’s anecdotal and it's not based on science, and they'll use dosages that aren't therapeutic to actually achieve a proper outcome. So that was the first thing that we saw. And so, with LymeCore I think kind of
promoting the fact that we can make a difference using natural medicine, opposed to just
running to the conventional for chronic Lyme disease.
And as far as our vision long term I think one of the things that we want to do is keep adding to our arsenal of products. As new research comes out, as Stephen writes more books, as we do more research, I think you know expanding that. As the knowledge base increases, so will our protocols, so will our products.
Carly Sage: So other than the real scientific backing and clinical evidence of the Buhner protocol, what makes this company LymeCore different from other companies or protocols that you would find out there on the market?
Dr. Hinchey: I would say, you know, part of what makes us different is that you've got three naturopathic doctors who, you know, using lifestyle medicine, using herbs, using various nutrients. It's what we were trained to do, and we understand it. We understand the pathophysiology behind the infections, and we understand the mechanism of action of our herbs, and we're able to match the two together, right. So, we don't have any sort of one-size-fits-all protocol, you know if I have two patients that are on the same herbs it's a coincidence, it's not because “here's the protocol for Lyme.” So, you have to really understand the science behind the infection and the science behind the symptoms, and then you're able to intelligently pick the herbs that are needed for that patient.
Carly Sage: Anything you want to add Dr. Aieta?
Dr. Aieta: No, I definitely agree. It's an individualized approach and just like with all of our patients, exactly what Dr. Hinchey said. You know, you can have three patients with the same diagnosis but three completely different protocols. Everyone’s an individual and you have to treat the person's background because you'll get one person that comes in and you put them on a protocol that you've designed individually for them, they get better very quickly. Whereas you have someone else that may have some other underlying situations going on that they had prior to developing Lyme disease and you have to kind of deal with that as well. So, someone may come into developing Lyme disease with an underlying autoimmune condition, well
you need to treat that as well, you need to address the underlying issues as well, and so that's why when patients come in they always ask me “well how long is this going to take?” and “what do you expect?” and I say it's very hard to answer that because everyone is different, every case is so completely different, and to put everyone into one box -- it's not like we can follow that conventional model. It’s like fitting a square peg in a round hole, and that's the big
difference between what we do as naturopathic physicians and what the conventional doctor does. They're just treating the vector, they're just trying to kill the organism…kill it, kill it, kill it. Yes, we are doing things that are directly anti spirochetal that will go after the organism, but at the same time the herbs and nutrients that we're using will decrease inflammatory cytokines,
enhance the immune system, they have antiviral properties, they're protectants, they will protect certain tissues from getting damaged by the bacteria itself.
So we're hitting it from multiple angles and that's one of the things that I liked about Stephen’s work is that you know, there's the core protocol but then he branches out from there, and we try to, you know pick and choose because I mean there's a lot to choose from. If you look at our
whole line of products, you know, you're not going to start on everything. So, you have to pick and choose specifically for what's kind of on top and that's how I treat based upon okay what's the presenting on top right now, is it this group of symptoms? So, I'll gear my treatment more towards that. Are we dealing with more Babesia symptoms? Bartonella symptoms? Lyme symptoms? So, and as we clear the layers, as we kind of peel away the onion, then we get more
towards the cause. We get down and then we actually get more towards closer to a cure and where the person is asymptomatic.
Carly Sage: And with the individualized approach that you mentioned being so important, I mean for the average consumer going to the website and looking at all the products, the good
news with everything that has changed with COVID in particular is that they can now see doctors like yourselves through telemedicine, so they can get that individualized approach no matter where they live. So, what else might you recommend for people if they're just perusing the website and they feel like they have some sort of underlying condition that needs to be addressed?
Dr. Aieta: The first thing I would recommend is to obviously work with a good naturopathic physician, ok, that's always my recommendation for most people. But you know following a lot of patients will go to you know a lot of patients that come in to see me I've already read through a lot of Stephen’s work, and they're just trying to make heads and tails of it. It's such dense information and then when they come in, they leave it up to me as a trained physician to kind of navigate them through that. People going to our website, you know a lot of them, we can start and take a general approach, maybe start off with a couple things, see how they fare and then introduce some other items into the mix if they're unable to work with a qualified naturopathic physician or someone that is holistically oriented. That's how I would approach it. You know, we’re gonna work on putting up a little guide on the website so people will have a little bit more direction and they should be able to download that pretty soon and then they can take a look at some of our recommendations. It's not carved in stone, once again it's more individualized but at least it may give them a starting point and kind of take away that daunting task of trying to sift through a lot of Stephen’s work, because Stephen’s work is definitely dense and there's a lot of, I mean you could be taking 30 different things you know after he read his book. So, the art of this is to try and narrow it down so that you're taking the specific things at that particular time. And we're going to try and help people out as much as possible through, you know, blog posts and information on our site. We're really going to try and get that going so people can take their health into their own hands okay, especially if they don't have access to a qualified physician.
Carly Sage: Yes, that's a very empowering approach for sure. So, what do you see for
the future of LymeCore Botanicals? Is there anything exciting that's up and coming that you wanted to share? I know Dr. Aieta you mentioned the educational resources and blogs and
things that you'd like to be offering.
Dr. Aieta: So, some of the educational resources is definitely going to be something to look out for. Just new product development as new information gets put out there we're gonna, you know expand our arsenal basically, maybe some more combination products, different tinctures and whatnot, just make it easier for the consumer, the patient, the doctor that's using our product line to kind of put it all together, because that's one of the that's it's all about –education, especially because it's a very broad topic. I mean it's endless in terms of you can be…I would say that my hardest cases are our Lyme patients, they're the most complex across the board and to really treat them appropriately you have to be able, you have to be a master of treating all different types of diseases because when you're treating Lyme and you're just treating symptoms you have to really get to the root cause of it. I mean that's the key thing I mean because you can chase symptoms all day long. All my Lyme patients they have, every day it's different, you know, they'll come up with the craziest symptoms that they're exhibiting and then it'll go away and then a week later something new will pop up. So, if you're just chasing symptoms you're just, you're doing the patient a huge disservice. So, I think our product line is geared towards really addressing that underlying cause and really getting to the root of it, you
know enhancing the immune system, balancing the immune system, reducing the
inflammatory cytokines, you know directly going after the actual vector, the organism that's in the body.
Carly Sage: So much to unpack and I'm sure that we've sparked the interest of the people
watching this who would love to learn more about your specific products and what they can do for them. So, people can go to LymeCore.com to learn more about LymeCore Botanicals and look for those upcoming educational resources that you'll be offering. And I know in the next
conversation we are going to be talking about your signature product, the Foundation Formula and Herx, so I am excited to do that too and share some more information for everybody. Thank you for joining me today.
Dr. Hinchey: Thank You Carly.
Dr. Aieta: Thank you.