AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas agriculture commissioner spent at least $1,120 in taxpayer money to travel to Oklahoma last year. Sid Miller says he made the trip to meet with elected officials, but the Houston Chronicle reported that while there he may have received a "Jesus shot" that supposedly offers long-term relief from pain. Here's a look at the procedure:
Q: WHAT IS A "JESUS SHOT?"
A: An anti-inflammatory injection that is supposed to reduce chronic pain. It is available only through its developer, Dr. John Michael Lonergan in Oklahoma, and reportedly costs $300.
Q: WHO IS LONERGAN?
A: In 2004, Lonergan was convicted in Ohio of eight felonies, including health care and mail fraud and tax evasion. His medical license was revoked by that state, and he was sentenced to two years in prison.
Lonergan is now licensed to practice medicine in Oklahoma. A 1976 graduate of the University of the Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio, his specialties are pediatrics, anesthesiology and emergency medicine.
His medical license lists Lonergan's practice at the Oklahoma Health and Wellness Center in Weatherford, west of Oklahoma City. Calls there were referred to a cellphone belonging to Lonergan's secretary. She did not return messages Tuesday.
Q: WHAT'S IN THE SHOT?
A: Lonergan has not said. But Mary Schrick, owner of Full Circle Health in Edmond, Oklahoma, which once housed Lonergan's practice, has written that it contains Dexamethasone, Kenalog and vitamin B12.
Dexamethasone is a hormone used to treat disorders including arthritis. Kenalog is a brand name for a synthetic anti-inflammatory medication. A B12 deficiency can cause joint pain.
Schrick wrote about the procedure in a 2014 issue of Thrive Magazine, a health and wellness periodical where she serves on the board of directors. She reported that the dosage "differs depending on the patient's general health, age, weight, medical history and so on." The administering doctor, she said, performs a "thorough one-hour review" with each patient to rule out allergies and interactions with other medications.
Q: WHY IS IT CALLED A "JESUS SHOT"?
A: An ordained minister, Schrick wrote that "Jesus shot" is a "term of endearment coined by Dr. Lonergan. He credits Jesus with the idea to combine the ingredients in one injection." She said that her clinic did not use the term and instead referred to the procedure as "inflammation protocol."
Q: WHAT DOES IT DO?
A: Schrick wrote that the shot has been mischaracterized in the media, saying: "There is no claim that the injection cures pain for life."
Q: DOES IT WORK?
A: Miller, 60, says he suffers from chronic pain exacerbated by his side career as a rodeo cowboy. He confirmed to the Chronicle that he received the shot but would not say if it came during last year's trip. Asked if it worked, Miller told the newspaper: "I'm not going to share that with you. But it's worked out good."
Lyle Kelsey, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision, said in 2014 that the board was working with the state health department and attorney general's office to learn more about the shot. But Reji Varghese, deputy director of the medical board, said Tuesday that no disciplinary action had been taken against Lonergan and that he could not comment beyond that.