Encinitas Woman Arrested on Charges of Practicing Medicine without a License

The FBI and the Medical Board of California are announcing the arrest of Kathleen Ann Helms, also known as Catherine Bright-Helms, age 57, of Encinitas, California, on Monday, August 13, 2012.

Helms was arrested at approximately 4:45 p.m., Monday, August 13, 2012, near the 5600 block of El Camino Real in Carlsbad, California. Helms was taken into custody without incident by investigators from the California Medical Board and FBI agents.

Helms was arrested on state charges of practicing medicine without a license, which resulted in the infliction of great bodily injury and grand theft. Following her arrest, Helms was booked into the Las Colinas Jail and is expected to be arraigned on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. in Department 12, State Superior Court.

Investigation into this matter was initiated based upon complaints made to the Medical Board of California. The complaints alleged that Helms had been practicing as a doctor without a license in California and representing herself as a doctor of naturopathy with offices located in Encinitas, California, and Oak Park, Illinois. Helms operated a business called BrightHouse Wellness, located at 317 North El Camino Real, Suite 112 in Encinitas, California. Helms allegedly had been diagnosing patients with Lyme disease and advising them to undergo a treatment plan that involved the infusion of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), injections of animal cells, and taking vitamins.

According to the affidavit filed in this matter, in April 2012, Helms diagnosed a patient with Lyme disease after examining a sample of blood under a microscope. Helms prescribed a treatment plan that consisted of injections of bovine stem cells from Germany and DMSO in a solvent through IV. Helms directed the patient to have a peripherally inserted central (PICC) line installed in the patient’s arm so Helms could give the DMSO treatments through IV.

Helms directed the patient to go to a hospital in Tijuana and meet with a man to have the PICC line installed. The patient agreed to pay $300 for the insertion of the PICC line and pay Helms an additional $30,000 for the treatment Helms recommended. The patient suffered multiple complications with the insertion of the PICC line and had to return to Tijuana three times to make the line functional.

The patient subsequently returned to Helms’ office, where the patient was hooked to an IV and infused with four bags of DMSO and two stem cell injections with a syringe in the stomach. This treatment session took approximately seven hours. The patient returned to Helms’ office three more times and underwent a similar regime of care that included infusions and injections. The evening of the last treatment the patient became seriously ill at home and was taken to a local emergency room and immediately placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the medical facility. The patient was told she only had hours to live because her organs were shutting down. The patient was hospitalized a total of six weeks and then placed into a skill nursing facility and later in an assisted living facility.

Investigators believe there are other victims in this case and are asking the public to come forward with any information they may have concerning this case. Anyone who believes they may be a victim in this matter is encouraged to contact the FBI at telephone number (858) 565-1255 or submit a tip online at https://tips.fbi.gov.

You may also contact the Medical Board at www.mbc.ca.gov or call the Consumer Information Line at (916) 263-2382 or file a complaint by calling (800) 633-2322.

This case is being prosecuted by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

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