The Personal Story
How Dr. Sica Came to Practice Integrative Medicine: When asked what first led her to the practice of medicine, Dr. Sica replied: “That’s a huge question. I have always wanted to help people solve problems and have a better life. Actually, I was always interested in holistic medicine. I don’t come from a medical family so I was pretty naive to the politics of medicine, how medicine is practiced etc, and in medical school I got pretty disillusioned.”
Dr. Sica started in internal medicine, then switched to a psychiatry residency in Hartford. During this time, she took a year-long program at Interface in Boston where, according to her, “it really opened my eyes. I found this program life changing, learning about many holistic therapies including energy healing, homeopathy, psychotherapy, and acupuncture.”
Dr. Sica continued taking courses in nutrition and integrative medicine, and went into private practice in 1985, working with several doctors with holistic practices. She joined several national organizations and became certified in chelation and heavy metal toxicology in 1996. In 1992, she opened a large integrative practice with several other practitioners in Orange CT, called the Center for the Healing Arts www.CenterHealingArts.org ).
She explains her point of view: “I have been practicing integrative medicine for over 22 years, blending the best of what I found in both conventional and alternative medicine. I do frequently test for and find heavy metal toxicity because, honestly, the world is a pretty toxic place these days. I would say that a large percentage of patients with chronic illness test positive for more than one heavy metal.”
Lead at the Heart of the Matter: What’s ironic about the state’s charges is that, while a few of Dr. Sica’s patients also had cardiovascular disease, a few of them had cerebral vascular disease, and most of them had chronic fatigue, memory loss, neurological problems etc. — all of them had documented high levels of heavy metals. One had high blood pressure and was seeking preventive chelation. When tested, he had very high lead level. After chelation, his blood pressure came down because lead in his body was causing the elevation. Hypertension related to lead toxicity is well documented in the scientific literature. Lead is also a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. AND Chelation therapy is the INDICATED treatment for lead and other heavy metal toxicity.
What’s Lead Got to Do With It? The level of lead considered to be toxic has been lowered repeatedly from what was considered safe only a few years before, making one wonder — is there a line in the sand where on one side of it, lead is safe to have in your body? In Connecticut, the reportable blood lead level is 10 nanograms per deciliter. Fifteen to twenty years ago it was 25. But that’s just the “reportable” level. In its lead regulations, EPA recognizes that there is no “safe” level of lead when it comes to human health. There is evidence that even very low levels cause significant damage. This was documented in a New England Journal of Medicine article in April 2003. For more documentation of the public health concerns regarding lead, mercury, cadmium, etc, visit the CDC’s website for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: www.atsdr.cdc.gov.
To complicate matters, we are all genetically and biochemically unique. There is a lot of data about the difference in reactivity of subgroups of the population to various heavy metals. The most research done on sub-population reactivity is in relation to mercury toxicity and autism. It has been noted that because autistic children have genetic differences resulting in inadequate methylation, metallothionein and glutathione levels, they cannot tolerate the same amount of mercury that a normal child can. Both of these antioxidants bind to heavy metals to protect the brain.
How Do You Recover from Toxicity: Conventional toxicologists fail to recognize chronic, low grade exposures leading to high tissue levels of these very toxic metals. Even when they are able to recognize this condition, they claim that treating the toxicity is too “dangerous” despite the chronic, devastating, disabling and even life threatening effects of such retention of heavy metals in the body. They simply stick a “lead star” on the patient’s forehead and tell them that they have to live with it. Dr. Sica, however, is one of the specifically trained and certified physicians who understand how to safely and effectively detoxify the body, utilizing chelating agents. She is a Board member of the American Board of Clinical Metal Toxicology (www.abcmt.org).
The principle of innovation: Integrative medicine is dedicated that the principle that medicine must change over time. It must innovate. It must respond to new concerns, new information, new understanding about chemistry and biology, about the relationship between our bodies and our minds and our changing environment. Looking back at Dr. Sica’s explanation of how she came to be here, practicing this medicine in this place at this time, it seems only logical that she would choose to arise to the occasion to take a stand for innovation.
A Tough Choice: She explains, “When I got that letter from the state, followed later by the statement of charges, I knew I had a choice. One was to play ball and the other was to fight. If I had played ball and accepted their settlement, it would have severely limited my treatment of metal toxicity; eliminated any use whatsoever of EDTA; I’d be on probation for five years, paying over $2,000 a month for the privilege of supervision, and possibly have my license revoked (as has happened to other physicians) — and I had done nothing wrong! Furthermore, my patients would have been denied a life changing treatment.”
“So, on the one hand, I could have just done what was needed to stay in practice, but on the other hand, I thought, what right do they have to deny patients proper treatment? Or, for that matter, any reasonable healthcare option that the person needs and wants.” There was no question in her mind.
“My practice is rather unique in that likely half of my patients are suffering from chronic fatigue and/or fibromyalgia. I myself suffered from chronic fatigue years ago and was severely disabled. When I found that my illness was caused by lead, cadmium and mercury toxicity, it was EDTA chelation therapy that saved my life. I would have been totally disabled today had it not been for EDTA chelation. I would have most likely been disabled for life. So I feel pretty passionate as a patient, as a patient, that these therapies need to be available. That’s why I chose to fight for our rights.”
“This battle, however long, expensive, stressful and difficult, has ignited my passion for health freedom. No one should ever have to suffer what I and my family went through.” Moved by her experience, Dr. Sica serves as a Board member for the American Association for Health Freedom (www.healthfreedom.net) and is a founding member of the Connecticut Health Freedom Coalition, a state affiliate of AAHF.
Through healthcare access legislation, education, litigation, and formation of coalitions with other like-minded organizations, the mission of these organizations is to defend the right of the practitioner to practice and the consumer to choose among healthcare options.
The Personal Story