Suppose you are a patient suffering from cancer, Parkinson’s, crippling arthritis or any other chronic, degenerative malady. One day your doctor suggests that you may want to try a therapy that has been used successfully on thousands of people around the world for over half a century. It is nontoxic, and, when administered correctly, has no side effects. Moreover, unlike conventional drug medicines which use chemicals to block or interrupt living processes, this treatment restores health by stimulating the body’s own healing and revitalizing abilities.
Chances are you’ll say, “Well, let’s try it!”–all the while wondering: “Gee, why haven’t I heard of this before?”
This is cell therapy treatment widely employed in just about every developed country around the world except the United States. It involves the injection of live animal fetal cells into humans. The basic concept, which goes back centuries, was well expressed by Paracelsus, a 16th century physician who believed that the way to treat illness was to use living tissue to rebuild and revitalize ailing or aging tissue: “Heart heals the heart, lung heals lung, spleen heals spleen; like cures like.”
In the early part of this century there was much interest by researchers who, involved in a series of revitalizing experiments using animal tissue, accidentally discovered the procedure that led to today’s cell therapy protocols. Paul Niehans, M.D., who was researching and experimenting in cell therapy, was called by a colleague who had inadvertently damaged a patient’s parathyroid glands during the course of surgery. These glands are so vital to life that without them it was doubtful that the patient could survive even a day.
On his way to the hospital, Dr. Niehans, who was working at the time on a series of revitalizing experiments using animal tissue, obtained fresh parathyroid glands from a black lamb. He was fully intending to perform a parathyroid transplant.
But when he arrived, he found the patient violently convulsing and he knew there was not enough time to perform an operation. With life slipping away, he decided to try injecting the parathyroid cells directly into the patient. He took a surgical knife and sliced the lamb’s parathyroid glands into very fine pieces. Then he mixed the pieces in a saline solution and loaded them into a large hypodermic needle. Surrounded by shocked and bewildered colleagues, he injected the mixture into the fatally ill woman.
To the surprise of all, almost immediately the convulsions stopped! Then, slowly, steadily, her condition began to improve and against all seeming odds she recovered. Years later, Niehans wrote: “I thought the effect would be shortlived…But to my great surprise, the injection of fresh cells …lasted longer than any synthetic hormone, any implant or surgical graft.”
Indeed, the woman lived another 30 years, well into her 90’s and thus was born modern cell therapy. Dr. Niehans, at his Clinique La Prairie in Montreaux, Switzerland, went on to administer live cell injections to thousands and thousands of patients, including many of the crowned heads of Europe, presidents, Pope Pius XII and Hollywood stars.
How does it work?
Niehans took cell therapy a great leap farther by developing fetal cell injections from a whole range of donor organs and glands which go directly to their counterparts in the human body, i.e., liver cells to the liver, adrenal to adrenal, spleen to spleen, etc. This specificity is a normal occurrence.
- The live cells are organ specific, not species specific. Tests using tracers have shown that the cells are not broken down by the body’s metabolism, but do indeed go directly to their corresponding organ. The recipient organism controls and selects the various cells needed.
- These fetal cells have more “life force” than the diseased or aging tissue in a patient.
- There is no rejection, perhaps because the “new”,cells are not contaminated. At any rate, the body’s immune system generally does not recognize these highly potent cells as “foreign.”
- The implantation by injection brings about a rapid dispersion of the cells into the body, energizing and enhancing metabolic processes.
Why does it work?
A general hypothesis suggests that because aging or diseased cells simply don’t work as well as new, healthy ones, the fresh, young cells may “energize and stimulate secretions and other functions that have been out of whack, thereby, enabling things to get back on track.
What does the cell therapy patient experience?
The primary patient consideration is to work with a doctor (or clinic) with extensive knowlege and practice in this mode of treatment. Injected material must be meticulously prepared: living embryonic cells of certain animals, usually lamb, must be extracted under the most stringent precautions to insure sterility, then dissolved in sterile solution for subcutaneous injection into the patient.
Because no two patients are alike, every injection must be individually prepared, taking into account the patient’s unique condition. There is no standard set of cells for each disease because, though many suffer from the same illness, the underlying causes may be different due to hereditary factors, varying organ deficiencies, etc. Likewise, the same underlying causes can lead to different disease conditions.
In Europe cellular suspensions can contain cells from up to 30 organs or tissues, though rarely does an injection have over 6 or 7 cells from several different types of tissue. The frequency of injection varies according to the condition of the individual, usually with a booster after 6 months or so. Normally, the patient feels no specific change in an immediate way, though they may experience minor discomforting reactions temporarily. But gradually, over time, usually 3-6 months, there is often improvement sometimes dramatic along with increased sense of well being.
As always there are caveats: beware the inexperienced or unethical practitioners who tout cell therapy as the “fountain of youth” and will gladly treat any complaint pathological or cosmetic with too many injections, of poor quality, for too much money. Such indiscriminate use, ignoring t.he total picture of the patient, can over stimulate and overwhelm the body causing possible serious side effects. Cells rejuvenate, adding life or “youth” to a body, but the effects are subtle and gradual and are best achieved when used adjunctively with a comprehensive metabolic program, including balanced diet and detoxification. This is not a “magic bullet,” though, when done competently, can be the missing link on the road to recovery.
What conditions respond best to this therapy?
Cell therapy has been helpful in a vast array of situations, from general loss of vitality, convalescence after illness, recovery from wounds or other traumatic disorders, immune weakness, arthritis and other degenerative diseases of the connective tissue, heart and peripheral circulation. Cell injections can be used not only to regenerate diseased or aged organs, but also to stimulate development of underdeveloped or retarded organs, e.g., treatment of dwarfism and Down’s Syndrome.
As word of the effectiveness of cell therapy has spread (in Germany alone more than 5,000 physicians regularly administer cell therapy injections, a great proportion of which are reimbursed by the federal health care system.), the U.S. seems to be slowly getting into the act where research is ongoing in the,following areas:
- Injection of muscle cells into mice with muscular defects was recently hailed as a possible breakthrough for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the most common and severe form of the muscle-destroying disease that affects children.
- At Vanderbilt University Medical Center experiments transplanting adrenal tissue into Parkinson’s patients, increased dopamine production and patients experienced mild to moderate improvement.
- As studies show that cell therapy is well tolerated by the body, even in the brain, work is underway to apply the therapy to other diseases of aging such as Alzheimer’s.
- Stem cells (placenta and umbilical cord blood) were administered successfully to a twelve-year old boy suffering from sickle cell anemia.
You may have heard in the news recently that the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) have approved funds for stem cell research. The concept is similar to other types of cell therapy though the stem cells are derived from umbilical cord blood or the placenta. These cells, like the animal tissue used in cell therapy, are well tolerated by the body, but they are undifferentiated, that is, they are nonorgan/gland specific and can develop into whatever specialized cells may be needed.
At Harvard Medical School Dr. Evan Snyder and his colleagues have successfully implanted neural stem cells from healthy mice into the brains of “shiverer” mice, so named because their bodies lack the ability to produce the myelin sheaths that protect nerve cells and so they shiver throughout life. The stem cells developed into various specialized cells of the brain, and the mice stopped shivering! Apparently, the new cells had rejuvenated the brain cells involved in myelin production debunking the long held belief that brain cells cannot regenerate. These findings present new hope for diseases of the brain and nerves, such as Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, or Parkinson’s.
Dr. Snyder and those who work with stem cells in the brain and other organs view this research with tremendous optimism. They foresee the opening of a new field of medicine based on the body’s own repair system regenerative medicine, something quite different from today’s orthodox buy-time-symptom-oriented system.
They still do not understand how and why exactly it works, but perhaps these scientists are beginning to realize that the establishment tendency to validate only that which can be completely understood down to the minutiae of every part and process may be overrated: Nature is far more advanced than man in the healing arts. No doubt, we will understand more of the intricacies as time goes on. But why wait, when the benefits are available now?
Well, to these researchers we say, “Welcome aboard! We’ve been looking for you…