- There is always controversy about supervision regarding anything new
- My opinions are presented after 12 years experience using stem cell therapies
- The risk of harm is essentially zero depending on the experience of the practitioner
- Ripoff?-- not in my practice and experience
- Benefits-- joint and soft tissue repair and treatment of some systemic conditions
- Systemic conditions I have treated include MS, other autoimmune conditions, emphysema, heart failure, cirrhosis, stroke, and traumatic brain injury.
- Repair--- regeneration----rejuvenation----- longer telomeres
There is information in the recent news regarding stem cell clinics that promise unapproved treatments. (See this NBC News article)
What does this mean? There has to be supervision over medical products provided. The FDA uses regulation 361 HCT/P to monitor stem cells, and has to do with preparation of the product itself.
Many clinical studies will be foreign-based. These studies are not easily approved by the FDA, even though this represents significant overall clinical experience.
The public assumes that the FDA has to approve specific medical therapies provided by a qualified professional to improve a patient’s health. Stem cell therapies are not illegal. The FDA cannot interfere with a doctor-patient relationship. The real controversy may actually be focusing on this therapy to make money.
I trained in cardiovascular surgery via conventional medicine. I also have a second doctorate in natural medicine to provide a wide background and experience practicing medicine for 45 years.
After 29 years in a solo practice near Kansas City I moved to New York City and have been doing stem cell treatments for the last 12 years. (See my LinkedIn Profile)
It is important for the patient to understand medical facts at lay person levels. This information can then be used to make an appropriate health decision. The concepts presented for the patient about stem cell therapy in this article:
1. Harmful / Risk
3. What is the benefit?
As a physician it is important for me to first DO NO HARM.
With stem cells there is no tissue reaction. Umbilical cord stem cells are immune privileged. There is no cancer danger. So the big risk is a needlestick into a joint or an intravenous infusion.
My stem cell experience began with retired NFL and NBA players. Then came military special forces members (age 55 who continue to go on deployment and serve this country). The stem cell experience started with joint and soft tissue treatments initially, but with the military patients I have the opportunity to treat numerous cases of systemic disease The list includes MS, other autoimmune conditions, traumatic brain injury, stroke, emphysema and lung problems, cirrhosis of the liver, ED, and even cases with cancer. Many of these resolved or improved significantly following stem cell treatment.
If you were my brother with a medical condition that may benefit appropriately from stem cell treatment then I would not hesitate give you a stem cells injection. However, if you were my brother, I would use a big needle!
In my 12 year experience with stem cell therapies I have extracted abdominal fat and bone marrow to obtain stem cells, used placental or amniotic fluid components, and currently umbilical cord stem cells. I have seen various companies come and go. It is important to review the scientific background and biologic information provided about the product and preparation.
Currently I use a company that delivers a cryo-freezed specimen of umbilical cord stem cells and exosomes. The product comes from a group of women that are 18 to 35 years of age, medically screened upside down and inside out, and they go on and have a scheduled C-section. They get the baby and the stem cell company gets the umbilical cord. These specimens are preserved with minimal manipulation and cryo- freezed. When thawed the specimen has been clinically evaluated so that it consistently has more than 90% active nucleated cells. Approximately 3 to 5% of these will be stem cells. The specimen also undergoes evaluation to see if certain growth factors are present to encourage healing. All of this meets FDA guidelines for delivering a product.
From my experience, I will not use “old stem cells” from” old people.” 35-year-old stem cells have been exposed to a lot in our environment.
The stem cells provided are multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells. For the layperson these are called MSC. The cells divide, grow, and differentiate in about 90 days into a certain cell that can form cartilage, muscle, ligament, or perhaps improve the function of an internal organ. Clinical quantification of certain biologic activities is performed to be sure that the cells have the potential to differentiate and can serve for the clinical condition.
1. I am trained as a cardiovascular surgeon through conventional medicine and also have a doctorate in natural medicine. I am certified in age management. I have international stem cell certification and certification for intravenous NAD administration. My background and experience is broad and extensive. At almost 70 years of age I have developed reasonably good judgment with a variety of stem cell cases.
2. My gray hair has gone away for whatever that is worth. Not my hair!!! It got thicker. Just the gray.
3. Stem cell therapies are not a ripoff. As a clinical scientist my observation and experience has demonstrated improvement in the majority of patients with stem cell treatments.
4. There are adjunctive procedures available that improve overall results. With my surgical background I approach this using wound care principles. The use of light, oxygen, NAD, exosomes (which contain growth factors, a lot of micro RNA, and other bio proteins to stimulate various biological functions), and other methods which enhance wound healing and stem cell activity have significantly improved my results.
5. This will be the future of medicine 20 years from now.
6. Unfortunately there is politics and ignorance. Eighty percent of my medical colleagues and 80% of patients just do not get it. Many patients do not want to set up an acceptable discipline in their lifestyle to improve their health. And there is always a cost to the patient if the procedure is not insurance approved.
7. Stem cells can provide repair, regeneration of tissue, and rejuvenation based on the ability to heal and appropriate discipline in lifestyle.
Here is a patient example:
An 83-year-old white female with a 41 year history of MS came to see me about stem cell treatment. The patient was using a walker. She was falling frequently but had not broken anything yet. The patient had severe painful neuropathies in both legs and was controlling this with 8 pain pills a day.
I went through a full initial evaluation and began to use testosterone cream with her and some physical therapy. This increased leg muscle strength enough that she came into my office about six weeks later without the walker. She was now in a better mode for recovery.
To initiate the treatment with stem cells for a patient with a chronic neurodegenerative process, NAD is administered.
To review, in middle school we learned about the Krebs cycle. This is the cell’s method to produce energy to function. NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a co-enzyme which is essential to assist the cell to produce normal energy. Cells producing normal energy function normally. With decreased energy production a chronic or degenerative condition may develop, and maybe even cancer.
NAD levels go down as we get older. After age 50 it has significantly decreased. CEOs in my practice that entertain frequently with alcohol use may have lower levels yet. Patients with chronic neurodegenerative disease have a condition where nerve cells will dump out their NAD. Then the neuropathies and all kinds of neurologic symptoms develop.
In my experience stem cell infusion has assisted many patients with MS as well as other autoimmune conditions. Because all have low NAD levels an infusion of 1000 milligrams of NAD is given intravenously for two days prior to the stem cells. With the NAD infusions I have noted immediate improvement in neurologic symptoms in many patients. The patient described stated that the painful neuropathy improved significantly for a few days. She also had a short time improvement in muscle strength and balance when she walked. This is all with the NAD infusion. Remember, this is just temporary since we are filling up their NAD gas tank. Oral supplementation has to be specific to increase NAD level significantly. The oral route also takes many months so the intravenous infusion is a nice bolus for most patients.
Many patients continue to improve after the stem cell infusion. In this particular patient after one month she had to take ZERO pain pills. She was walking with a cane. She was driving a car. She was more independent.
What is common is to see a slight relapse in symptoms around three months. This is at the tail end of the stem cell growth and differentiation process. Increased symptoms represent nerve cells regenerating. Another stem cell infusion is not necessary. At this point administration of exosomes (which contain many growth factor proteins and micro RNA) encourages further stem cell activity and continued improvement. The symptoms go away because of the anti-inflammatory property of the stem cells and exosomes. I have seen this pattern in many patients.
As a clinical scientist, observation and experience directs what is right for the patient.
I understand the societal concern because the system is not set up for insurance approval and payment. I gave up dealing with any insurance company 15 years ago. There is no third-party interfering with my judgment.
Hopefully the information presented is helpful to review topics for discussion with your doctor regarding stem cell therapy.
As far as benefit:
1. Continued opportunity for qualified professionals to provide medical treatment with stem cell therapy will lead to reliable therapy.
2. The first objective is assurance for minimal risk to the patient
3. The main goal of treatment is to improve quality of life.
4. I have a small practice in Manhattan with patients who trust me. This is rewarding and I have seen many patients get better.
5. This is an old man’s opinion on stem cell therapy--- In 20 years this will be state-of-the-art.
6. Then we go from there----exciting!!