Catherine Bright Helms, also known as Kathleen Ann Helms, is accused of playing doctor and nearly killed a patient she treated, according to the FBI. Now, she's behind bars.
"When I treat people, I always have God with me," Helms says. "I try to have God with me. I pray, I read everyday."
Helms spoke with Fox 32 News from her detention center in Encinitas, California. The 57-year-old says she's also treated dozens of patients in her medical clinics in Illinois. The problem is, she's not a doctor.
"There's a lot of misinformation about me," Helms asserts.
Helms claims to be a doctor of naturopathy which is a licensed profession in California, not Illinois. Records show she graduated from an online school called the Trinity School of Naturopathy. It is not a nationally accredited naturopathic school.
Last month, Helms pleaded guilty to practicing medicine without a license in California, after two former patients reported her to the medical board.
The patients say in separate incidents, Helms diagnosed them with Lyme disease, hooked them to an IV and infused them with Dimethyl Sulfoxide, or DMSO--a highly controversial solvent that is not used in mainstream medicine. One patient turned out to have prostate cancer. The other, who nearly died, actually had multiple sclerosis.
"As far as I know, I did everything to best of my ability," Helms says of these incidents. "My intentions are for the help and service of others."
Helms admits she broke the law in these cases. However, at her former Oak Park clinic on Lake Street, she insists that she usually sent her patients to a medical doctor for treatment and that she only advised her patients on alternative care--which includes herbs and lifestyle changes. She says she mainly saw Lyme disease patients in Chicago before moving to San Diego last year.
"Please understand most of my treatments that I give are not IV. I am mostly a naturopath that is not invasive," Helms explains. " Anything IV was turned over to MD that I worked with there."
Although no legal action has been taken against Helms in Chicago, the FBI believes there are more victims.
"This person is doing something very dangerous," says Kristina Conner, a licensed naturopathic physician in Lombard. "The types of treatments that she was doing were way outside of naturopathic standard of care."
Conner says there were several red flags in Helms case. For instance, Helms allegedly diagnosed patients with a prick of a finger and a look under the microscope.
"That is not our standard of care. The way we use testing is very similar to the way allopathic or western doctors use it and that we use standard blood tests," says Conner.
Through it all, Helms says she doesn't have any regrets and believes the government has a conspiracy against Lyme disease experts like her.
"The government, I guess, has gone to great lengths to try and shut down successful doctors that have treated Lyme outside what they consider standard protocol," Helms says.
To find out if your doctor is licensed in Illinois, you can do a license look up on the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation's site.
While Illinois does not license naturopathic doctors, some naturopathic doctors in Illinois are licensed in other states. If your doctor practices naturopathy, make sure that they are licensed, graduated from a certified naturopathic university, and received proper training by searching the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website.
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