Optimizing Your Stem Cell Treatment
Dr. E's Highway to Health Show Episode 24
In This Episode:
In this solo episode, I share with you some of the most common questions I’ve received recently regarding stem cell therapy. Specifically, about what else needs to be done to ensure maximum benefit from stem cell treatments.
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- Understand that stem cell therapy is something that must be done in conjunction with the rest of your treatment plan, not instead of it.
- Make sure that you do everything within your reach to improve your current condition before stem cell treatment. So look at improving your nutrition, your physical activity, limiting toxic exposures, etc.
- Ensure that you follow through with the recommended guidelines after the stem cell treatment. These include physical therapy, nutritional recommendations, rehabilitation, or even medications if your doctor prescribes them.
- For more thorough recommendations, make sure to download this episode’s resources here.
Questions About This Episode:
How do stem cells work?
- [00:03:24] How our stem cells work
- [00:04:32] The difference between endogenous and exogenous stem cells
- [00:05:05] The effect exogenous stem cells have in our bodies
What can be done to improve the outcome of stem cell therapy?
- [00:06:16] The number one thing to do before stem cell therapy
- [00:06:47] Ensuring that your body is in the best possible state helps ensure a maximum result from stem cell therapy
- [00:07:38] Why it is important to control inflammation before stem cell treatments. Example of a patient with autism.
- [00:08:16] You just need to do what you can to the best of your abilities.
- [00:09:04] It is not about just signing up for stem cell therapy and showing up for an injection.
- [00:09:54] Different conditions require different pre-treatment approaches
- [00:10:30] If your body’s immune system is not in an ideal place, it will not be able to respond to the repair stimuli put out by the exogenous stem cells it received.
- [00:12:01] To know what you need to do for your specific condition, ask your doctor during consultation, what to do prior to stem cell treatment.
- [00:12:58] You should always pursue stem cell treatment in conjunction with everything else you’re planning to do.
What to do after stem cell therapy to ensure maximum benefit?
- [00:13:20] What else can I do or what should I be expected to do after treatment?
- [00:13:47] The mistake many doctors make that cause their patients to not get proper results.
- [00:14:17] Why doctors are neglecting this crucial step.
- [00:15:16] Why it is so important to be mindful of aftercare recommendations even if we are experiencing an immediate benefit.
- [00:15:52] The difference between an immediate improvement and the regenerative results that stem cells provide long term.
- [00:16:33] Rapid decrease in inflammation allows patients to feel good but this is not the complete result of treatment.
- [00:17:24] Orthopedic patients still require physical therapy after stem cell therapy to achieve the full potential result.
- [00:18:05] Stem cell therapy does not cure anything.
- [00:18:58] The most important source of inflammation
- [00:19:24] Follow up treatments may be required but they should always be disclosed prior to the initial treatment.
Should stem cell treatments be repeated?
- [00:19:51] Do stem cell treatments have to be repeated?
- [00:20:03] In sports injuries the objective is for a single treatment to suffice.
- [00:20:21] In stem cell therapy for autism, the goal is also to achieve a noticeable improvement after a single treatment. And this improvement is expected to stay for as long as the patient avoids new toxic insults.
- [00:20:55] This is different in progressive and degenerative conditions where it is important to emphasize the need for repeat treatments.
How to choose a stem cell provider
- [00:21:32] The most important question to ask yourself when choosing a stem cell provider.
- [00:22:19] Stem cell therapy is not a solution, it is a tool.
- [00:23:13] Chiropractors and midlevels are not qualified to provide stem cell treatments.
- [00:24:17] Ensuring patient safety is even more important than treatment efficacy.
Dr E: [00:01:15] To help you do this we’ve also put together a few resources to go along with this episode in which you can download at DrE.show/stemcells. That’s D R E dot show, forward slash stem cells all together.
Dr E: [00:01:27] Oh, and before we go on with today’s episode, let me remind you that in last week’s episode I was joined by Dr. Nick, also known as the Fittest Doc. In that episode, we spoke about the importance of a strong relationship between doctors and patients, a relationship based on trust and mutual respect, which opens the door to discussions, disagreement and learning experiences. We also spoke about how he feels it is a doctor’s responsibility to be first an educator and a role model in terms of health than just a fixer of problems. For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know that I could not agree more with this. But he brings in a fresh perspective to the equation and certainly achieves that influence through his social media channels. If you haven’t yet listened to that conversation, make sure to at episode 23 to your listening queue. But now let’s get to today’s episode and remember, you’re on the highway to health and I’m your guide to get you there.
Intro: [00:02:20] Are you ready to live ageless? Want to discover alternative health choices? Cutting edge nutrition and fitness for the entire family? Welcome to Highway to Health Show with your host Doctor E ‘The Stem Cell Guy’. Where Dr. E. Helps you live ageless. And now here’s your host, Dr. E.
Dr E: [00:02:55] So welcome back. As I said in the introduction, I’m going to talk today about what you need to do to get the most out of a stem cell treatment. But most importantly, I am also going to talk about the reasons why behind these recommendations. That will help you understand why we make the recommendations that we make and why it is silly to believe that you just need to walk into a clinic, get stem cell treatments, and then continue abusing your body in the way that you were abusing it before the treatment.
Dr E: [00:03:24] So, let’s get started. How do stem cells work? Well, when inside our bodies, stem cells work by recognizing damaged tissues and promoting the repair and regeneration of them. They achieve this by releasing signaling factors. These signaling factors are known as cytokines, and they also achieve the result by replicating and by transforming into the specific tissues. This process is called differentiating and you may have heard of it or who may have read about this. If you’ve researched stem cell treatments and as we have discussed as well in other episodes, it is one of the key characteristics of stem cells that they can differentiate and mature.
Dr E: [00:04:06] Now, this is slightly different to what happens when we’re treated with exogenous stem cells. And exogenous basically means that they are administered externally. It does not refer whether the stem cells are from the same patient or from a donor. So it doesn’t really matter if you used your own stem cells, if they were harvested and returned to you, they still act as exogenous stem cells.
Dr E: [00:04:32] And the most important difference we see with exogenous is stem cells is that they don’t actually differentiate in the body. So if you do, let’s say, a bone marrow aspirate and your doctor takes out some bone marrow and separates it and then gives you back your stem cells, these stem cells that you just received back, they will not become the specific tissue that you’re trying to repair. So what we’re hearing sometimes of doctors saying, well, you know, in order to repair your cartilage, we grab those stem cells, we put them back, and those stem cells become cartilage. That is completely false.
Dr E: [00:05:05] What we’re seeing is that they don’t necessarily become that tissue, but they do recognize the damage and they release the cytokines. Now, these cytokines that they release, they activate a whole host of other cells, a whole cascade that calls in other cells. And it is these other cells, including your own endogenous stem cells that are currently circulating your body to come repair and differentiate and regenerate the tissue. So this means that the stem cells that we receive externally, they don’t repair anything. They can only trigger our own intrinsic repair mechanisms, which also explains why this field of medicine is known as regenerative medicine.
Dr E: [00:05:50] So, that brings me into the second point I wanted to make. What can be done to improve the outcome of stem cell therapy? Well, when we understand and when we know how exogenous stem cells act in our body, we can very easily understand why it is so important to do certain things both before and after stem cell therapy to achieve the maximum results.
Dr E: [00:06:16] But most importantly, before. The best thing you can do is to ensure that whatever caused your current issue is either resolved or at least controlled to the best of your ability before you go in for treatment. So for instance, if you have an autoimmune disorder, it is important for you to be under treatment by your physician. The type of treatment will obviously depend on the specific diagnosis and its severity, but it is imperative to be controlling your immune response as much as possible.
Dr E: [00:06:47] Another example is autism. I’ve shared before how involved my former practice was with the autism community. We developed over several years what we believed to be the most comprehensive stem cell treatment for autism. And one of the things that we always encouraged was to make sure that the patient was under biomedical treatment with an autism doctor before [stem cell] treatment and for a certain amount of time before treatment. So it’s not just like you sign up with a doctor, you see him for the first time and then you come for stem cell treatment. We encouraged patients to be on their, on their treatment for at least a certain period of time, control some of the inflammatory markers and get them into better in the best shape possible to receive the stem cell treatment. In fact, we would refuse treatment until they were seen or at least until their inflammatory markers where under control. This was very imperative.
Dr E: [00:07:38] And we got a lot of the times, a lot of very angry parents. And most of the time these were parents who just got the diagnosis of autism and they just figured, you know what? We can’t be bothered with everything that we need to change or it is too much. I’m going to invest in a stem cell treatment and just solve the whole thing. And unfortunately, that’s not how it works. As, as you are able to understand right now. We have a patient who’s just recently been diagnosed with autism. Internally, his body, his immune system, everything else is probably triggering a lot of different inflammation. And it is very important to control that before going in for stem cell treatment to give that person, –that patient– the best chance of success.
Dr E: [00:08:16] And the same is true for pretty much any other condition. So it is very, very important to first ensure that you’re doing the basics well. Which means that you’re following an adequate diet. And this diet has to be filled with nutrients and devoid of junk. You also need to be active to the best of your ability. So like you said, you need to be giving your body the best kind of nourishment even before treatment. And a lot of the times people think that there’s a reason they’re seeking out stem cell treatment because they cannot do X or they cannot do Y. And I completely understand that. That’s why I keep emphasizing: you do what you can to the best of your abilities. Maybe you’re seeking stem cell treatment free for a sports injury. Then you’re obviously not going to be exercising right before or things of that nature.
Dr E: [00:09:04] But you can definitely clean up your diet. You can definitely try to control some of the causes of your inflammation. You can definitely start treatment for your condition before. So that’s what I want to emphasize. It’s not just a matter of, contrary to what you may hear, –especially at some of these weekend seminars– that it’s just a matter of going in and getting stem cell treatments. That is not setting you up for the best type of result. While you may not have any important setbacks if you do it that way, it’s also not setting you up for the best potential result.
Dr E: [00:09:37] And right now, as we stand in 2019, stem cell therapy, it’s not an inexpensive treatment, no matter where you’re seeking it. So you want to make the most out of it. You want to give it the best chance of succeeding and you want to give yourself the best chance of improvement with a single treatment.
Dr E: [00:09:54] Another very important point is if you have an injury, you should have started addressing it with physical therapy, rehabilitation, light therapy, ozone therapy or a combination of this before you even consider stem cell treatment, even if it’s just for a week or so. But you do need to put yourself in the best scenario to receive it. So as as you can see, it is not just a matter of showing up and being injected. I mean, as I shared previously, you could totally do that. But those stem cells you’d be receiving would have a very limited ability to promote repair and regeneration.
Dr E: [00:10:30] So that’s what you definitely want to do before: you want to put yourself in the best possible position to receive the stem cell treatment. And it doesn’t really matter what kind of condition you’re seeking treatment for. You want to be, you want to do everything that’s in your hands to put you in the best possible situation. Because what’s going to happen is that if you don’t do this and you go in there and your immune system, your defenses, your internal stem cells are completely depleted, it doesn’t matter how many stem cells you receive externally, they will not be able to promote any repair. Because remember that the stem cells that you receive exogenously, they can only stimulate your own, your current cells to repair. So if those current cells are not in the best possible situation, they will not be able to repair what they need to repair.
Dr E: [00:11:22] So always, always, always keep this in mind before you go in for stem cell treatment.
Dr E: [00:11:27] Keep in mind as well that there is a limit to how much you can do. Don’t think that “Well, I need to be completely free of all inflammation”, because that might, might never happen. But you can improve as much as possible. You can definitely want to look into removing the cause of inflammation and in certain conditions such as, for instance, an active Lyme disease or in the case of autism when you have very high, heavy metals, you might want to try to control those first, but you might see that at a point, you’re plateauing and you’re not improving. OK, well, then that’s the point where you can do stem cells.
Dr E: [00:12:01] Remember, it is getting yourself or the patient in the best possible shape that their current capabilities allow. So once you get to that best possible, then it is the time to go for stem cells. And you might not be in an ideal place, but you’re in a much better place than you where a couple of weeks before when you first started thinking about this. So always keep this in mind. Always make sure to bring it up with your doctor. Always make sure to discuss this. When you go in for a consultation, ask your doctor, say, listen, what can I do before the stem cell treatment? What else can I work on in the next couple of days before I come in for treatment so that we can ensure the best possible result?
Dr E: [00:12:39] And you definitely want to hear some recommendations. You definitely want to stick to your current treatment protocol throughout the stem cell treatments. And certain conditions, certain times you will have to adjust afterwards, but you don’t, number one, you don’t do that on your own. And number two is: You always do that on under surveillance by your doctor.
Dr E: [00:12:58] And what I’m trying to say is that you don’t suddenly say, OK, that’s it, I’m done with pharmaceuticals, I’m done with therapy, I’m done with all these other things. I’m just gonna go do stem cell treatments. No, you continue doing all those things.
Dr E: [00:13:09] Remember, stem cell therapy is something that you do in conjunction with not instead of everything else that you’re doing.
Dr E: [00:13:16] So that’s what you definitely want to consider doing before you go in for treatment.
Dr E: [00:13:20] Now, What about after treatment? if I’ve taken the time to put myself into a great position before treatment, What else can I do or what should I be expected to do after treatment? This is also something that I see a lot of a lot of quote unquote, doctors are saying to their patients, and we hear this as well a lot, in some of these lunch and dinner seminars that these people are putting out there….
Dr E: [00:13:47] And patients are coming in, they’re telling them that, oh, you know what? All you need to do is you come in for, for an injection, you just rest for a day or two and then you’re done. You can continue with your regular life. And truth of the matter is, if that was the case, then then you’re going to be back to where you were before the treatment. And that’s that’s why we start hearing, that patients are in getting the results that they want there. They’re not lasting. They say I felt great for a couple of days, but then the results just went away. And sometimes they even regress or they get worse.
Dr E: [00:14:17] And the reason is that these doctors are not taking the time to give the important recommendations after the treatment. Remember how I mentioned earlier in this conversation that the clinic where I used to work at, we developed a comprehensive stem cell protocol for autism and it included aftercare instructions because certain things we identified that patients were benefiting from, that we wanted to make sure that people were following those recommendations. So not only was it required for them to stay under biomedical treatments with their physician, but we also included a couple of additional steps and a little bit more follow up and a little bit more therapy and a little bit more different things depending on each patient’s needs, after the treatment. And our entire protocol, as a matter of fact, was was six months. So people think that they’re just coming in for an injection. But we felt that it was our responsibility to continue following on with these patients and to continue giving them recommendations of what to do after treatment.
Dr E: [00:15:16] Because remember what happens, the stem cells don’t have an immediate response. Unlike pharmaceuticals, that in many cases they act upon specific cells, triggering a response, stem cells take time to really make a difference.
Dr E: [00:15:29] Many patients report immediate benefits. And these benefits, however, they are due to the massive release of anti inflammatory cytokines, which does reduce inflammation quite quickly. So patients with systemic inflammation markers like what happens in autism or in COPD or in most auto immune conditions, they’re likely to experience immediate or almost immediate relief or benefit at least.
Dr E: [00:15:52] However, these benefits, they’re due to what is called a paracrine effect and not to the regenerative effect that the stem cells trigger. Which basically means that the stem cells that you may have just received, they came into your body and released a cascade of cytokines and these cytokines besides recruiting all the different cell populations that are needed to repair, they’re also helping to reduce inflammation. But the repair itself, that is only starting. It takes several days for our own cells to respond. First, by replicating themselves, migrating to the affected tissues and differentiating into the specific kind of cell that is needed.
Dr E: [00:16:33] So the immediate benefit that is experienced by many patients is due to this rapid reduction in inflammation and not because the stem cells have already repaired the damage. So like I was saying earlier, this is especially important in patients with inflammatory disorders of joints and muscles like arthritis, for instance, or even in sports injuries. In these cases, there will be an immediate inflammatory response triggered by the injection into a joint simply due to the rapid increase in volume. But this is followed by a rapid decrease in inflammation, which diminishes pain and increases mobility. Now it is at this point that it’s very, very important to remind the patient that the repair process has not yet begun at this point. So they need to be patient and follow a recovery protocol according to the doctor’s recommendations.
Dr E: [00:17:24] These protocols will normally involve physical therapy, certain exercises to recover strength and joint mobility, maybe ultrasound or light therapy or a combination of several of these. And what is very important to emphasize is that in no case should patients just start moving normally after treatment. This would be a sure recipe for a failed treatment which would not achieve the long lasting results most patients expect from such an intervention.
Dr E: [00:17:54] The last thing you want is to receive stem cell therapy to simply control inflammation for a few days, feel great during those few days, but then be back to where you were before in less than a week.
Dr E: [00:18:05] So, this same process, this same principle, applies for every other kind of condition which can benefit from stem cell therapy. As of today, there is not a single condition that is cured by stem cell therapy. Which means that stem cell therapy is simply a tool that can potentiate your doctor’s treatment plan. Stem cell therapy does not work on its own and no real doctor who is properly trained in it will tell you otherwise.
Dr E: [00:18:34] Especially important, by the way, is the nutritional aspect after stem cell therapy. I have always been very surprised of how few doctors will emphasize this to their patients, and even fewer of them will give solid nutritional recommendations beyond saying something generic like “well, you need to watch what you eat these days” or “make sure to avoid junk” or something along those lines.
Dr E: [00:18:58] These quote unquote recommendations completely forget and ignore the fact that the most important source of inflammation is what we eat.
Dr E: [00:19:08] So make sure to ask your doctor for specific nutritional guidance after stem cell therapy. If you did not receive these or if you’re not satisfied with the recommendations given, continue listening and I will share with you some additional resources and tell you where to get them at the end of this episode.
Dr E: [00:19:24] Another thing to note is that in some cases your doctor will recommend follow up treatments as part of an initial protocol, either with stem cells or what’s becoming a more acceptable alternative, especially for orthopaedic and even cosmetic treatments, with platelet rich plasma injections (PRP). These follow up treatments can be very beneficial, but in my opinion they need to be disclosed upfront with the patient as part of the proposed treatment plan and quote.
Dr E: [00:19:51] Which brings me to another question that I get asked a lot. And it is about repeating stem cell treatment. So do stem cell treatments have to be repeated? The short answer, it all depends.
Dr E: [00:20:03] So for many patients, a single treatment is enough to achieve a better quality of life and then continue with traditional treatments. For others, like sports injuries, stem cell therapy helps speed up the recovery process, and once recovery is achieved, there is no real need to repeat the same treatment.
Dr E: [00:20:21] The same is true for autism. Here, all the gains experienced after treatment should be maintained by the patient unless there is a new toxic insult which would trigger a regression.
Dr E: [00:20:32] So for most parents, the gains achieved in a single treatment are more than enough to get them past that plateau and put their children back in a position where they can continue receiving benefit from other interventions. Some other parents, however, they see the benefits and then decide to repeat the treatment a year or so later in order to experience further gains. But it should not be required for an initial improvement.
Dr E: [00:20:55] This, however, keep in mind, is not the case for other disorders like degenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis, for instance. In conditions like, like MS, the main goal of stem cell therapy is to help slow down progression of the disease. And obviously this is something very difficult to measure since there is no established timeline to measure progression. Having said that, though, while there are some cases where patients have experience reversal of symptoms, it is important for them to know that these symptoms will likely come back as the disease continues to progress and then stem cell treatment should be repeated.
Dr E: [00:21:32] So the last question that I also want to address in this episode is what to look for when choosing a stem cell provider. Well, the most important thing to consider is whether this doctor that you’re considering, would be treating you and your current condition, if they did not have access to stem cell treatments.
Dr E: [00:21:52] What do I mean? Well, especially right now in the United States, we are seeing a huge growth of stem cell, quote unquote, clinics where a doctor suddenly decides that they can treat every condition that has shown benefit with stem cells simply because they have access to stem cell product.
Dr E: [00:22:08] And so we’re seeing ortho surgeons treat knees and hips with stem cells, but they also provide I.V. treatments for anti aging or multiple sclerosis. In my mind, that does not make the slightest sense.
Dr E: [00:22:19] Remember that stem cell therapy is a tool in a physician’s toolbox, but a tool by itself is useless. You need to know how to use it. It’s just like a scalpel. You would not go to a plastic surgeon when what you have is a tearing your meniscus, right? So keep that in mind. The next time you see doctors office advertising a whole laundry list of conditions that they treat with stem cell therapy.
Dr E: [00:22:40] Now, there are exceptions to this. That is where a clinic has more than one doctor, for instance. So if there is an ortho surgeon and a plastic surgeon, maybe a pulmonologist, a rheumatologist and neurologist, it makes sense that that clinic would advertise treating conditions from sports injuries to cosmetic enhancements to COPD, to multiple sclerosis and even Parkinson’s. That was, in fact, the case with the clinic that I was part of in Cancun. There we had a base of attending physicians and a group of specialists who saw each specific condition.
Dr E: [00:23:13] But, and this is a big but, this does not mean that you can have a chiropractor providing stem cell treatments. Or an acupuncturist. Or a nurse. Or a podiatrist. And this does not have to do with whether injections are in their scope of practice –where, by the way, they are not for chiropractors, for instance–, but it has to do with the fact that a stem cell treatment is an invasive treatment that does have risks as well as very clear indications and contraindications. And so it has to be a physician, trained and experienced in the condition that is to be treated, the one to make the call for the use of stem cells and obviously to administer them.
Dr E: [00:23:51] I emphasize this because in places like the United States, we are seeing all these chiropractors offer stem cell treatments in their offices. And the way they get around this is by literally just hiring a physician as a medical director who signs off on these treatments but never really sees the patient. This is an unscrupulous practice from both the chiropractor and the physicians who lend themselves to this practice.
Dr E: [00:24:17] And it is definitely something that I feel very passionate about, because our industry, the regenerative medicine industry, is at a point where we need to be very vigilant of patient safety, even above treatment efficacy. And a chiropractor, or really any other non physician or mid-level, is not the right kind of professional to ensure either.
Dr E: [00:24:38] So, having said that, I think that’s it for today’s episode.
Dr E: [00:24:42] I hope you have found it useful and informative. Be sure to share this with your friends and family, especially if anyone you know is considering a stem cell therapy.
Dr E: [00:24:51] As always, you can find the complete show notes for this episode over at dre.show/024.
Dr E: [00:24:57] And for those of you who don’t know, my mission now is to educate patients and physicians alike as it pertains to stem cell treatments. I want to continue helping our industry to grow but, like I said previously, while I do want more stem cell treatments to be available, our main challenge right now is for these stem cell treatments to be safe. With this in mind, we’ve put together a few resources for you on my website at dre.show/stemcell. There are some guides to what you need to do before and after stem cell therapy to maximize its benefits. There’s also a nutritional guide you can download and even the ability for you to request a referral to a reputable stem cell clinic, among other things. Just head on over to D R E dot show forward slash stem cell for these resources.
Dr E: [00:25:44] That’s it for this episode. Thank you all once again for tuning in. I look forward to seeing you here next week. I’m Dr. E ‘The Stem Cell Guy’; you are on the highway to health and I’m your guide to get you there.
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