Stem Cell Therapy and the Full-Body Stem Cell Makeover
Millions around the world are turning more to naturopathic and functional medicine physicians whose approaches involve addressing the root cause of illness at the cellular level. Their philosophy is grounded in the knowledge that chronic and degenerative disease is a result of cellular dysfunction.
In fact, many types of degenerative disease are thought to be a part of the ordinary aging process. There’s not necessarily a lot of urgency to develop new techniques or examine the problem more holistically because these issues are seen as part of the inevitable breakdown of the human body. However, stem cells and stem cell therapy encourage us to rethink so many of our assumptions about aging and inevitability.
Stem Cells and Aging
In 2018, researchers published a landmark study on the use of mesenchymal stem cells to treat frailty associated with aging.1 “Frailty associated with aging” sounds like one of those vague terms, like “dying of old age.” But it has a specific medical definition, referring to the declines in strength, endurance, lean muscle mass, and overall weight that people experience as they age.
This type of frailty is linked inextricably with both disease and death. The frailer someone is, the more likely he or she is to have or develop diseases, and the greater the risk of death. At the same time, chronic and acute illnesses can certainly induce frailty in previously healthy, robust people.
This is all just a medicalized way to describe “getting old.”
The 2018 study looked at whether stem cells could reduce the symptoms or even slow the underlying mechanisms of aging. Like many other degenerative diseases, there isn’t a single proven medical treatment that addresses the cause of frailty. This is likely due, in part, to the generalized, nonspecific nature of the causes and symptoms of these problems. Additionally, it is also due to the way we tend to regard this as part of the natural end of life.
What is often left out of the discussion is the role inflammation plays in frailty. Inflammation is a vital part of the body’s healing process, sort of a combination of a warning system and shock troops. Inflammation is the first line of defense when the body is at risk, whether from a wound, foreign body, or illness. Once the disease has been vanquished or the wound closed, the inflammation ceases and the body resumes normal functioning. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
In realty, most people have a level of chronic, low-level inflammation, and not just in one area of the body. Systemic inflammation is present even in people without explicit immune diseases, and we’re increasingly discovering that it’s hurting us in a number of ways. Not only is chronic inflammation commonly seen in frailty and joint diseases, but it also plays in role in many degenerative health conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, and autism.
Fortunately, stem cell therapy has proven applications for treating inflammation. Because MSCs can influence an inflammatory response, they can use the paracrine effect to essentially “down-regulate” the ambient inflammation in an area.
As it turns out, that’s exactly the effect the researchers observed. “In summary, intravenous allogeneic MSCs were found to be safe in individuals with aging frailty and produced significant benefits in measures of physical performance as well as inflammatory biomarkers, which are important therapeutic outcomes in the frailty syndrome.”
Not only did the researchers see an improvement in terms of the patients’ functionality, but on a cellular level, they saw positive changes in the microenvironment of the body. This doesn’t necessarily mean stem cells are a mythical fountain of youth, but it does suggest we have a lot more to discover about how our bodies actually break down with age. If we can understand that process more fully and learn how to “reset” it—the way stem cells help us reset other, more small-scale regenerative processes—we could discover not only a way to live longer, but a way to live better.
Full-Body Stem Cell Makeover
This led me to expand my services beyond the treatment of musculoskeletal pain, and to meet the needs of a growing subset of patients who are looking for something a bit different. Introducing my flagship procedure — the Full Body Stem Cell Makeover (FBSCMO).
If that sounds a bit intense, that’s because it is! The FBSCMO treatment is best suited for people who aren’t looking to treat one specific issue, but have more diffuse needs. Some of my FBSCMO patients come to me because they have pain in many areas. While none of those pains are debilitating, they do make the patients feel their bodies aren’t performing at their best. Others still are interested in the regenerative and anti-aging properties of stem cells and want to utilize them not just in one specific area, but throughout their entire body.
In a nutshell, the Full Body Stem Cell Makeover is designed to be a one-stop shop where I inject into virtually every moving part in the human body in a single treatment. I literally go from head to toe, from the base of the skull to the tailbone, and inject within the spinal canal and into every vertebra on both sides.
I then inject the front of the patient’s body, including shoulders, elbows, wrists, and thumbs, and then move on to their legs in the same fashion, injecting hips, knees, ankles, and big toes. Patients also have the option for my colleague Amy B. Killen, MD, to do stem cell injections into the scalp to thicken hair follicles, the skin of the face and neck to improve elasticity and hydration, and the sexual organs to treat or prevent sexual dysfunction.
We work in tandem to make the process as quick as possible, so the patient doesn’t have to spend a minute longer than necessary under IV sedation, performed by either an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist. We want to avoid any discomfort associated with the injection or bone marrow extraction.
This treatment is absolutely not the norm. I conceived it, invented it, and am the only one to do it. Its creation was the confluence of my experience with the rising popularity of biohacking, sought by proactive, motivated people looking to live a robust, long life.
Most of my FBSCMO patients report feeling a kind of overall wellness — they have more fluidity and range of motion, see improvements in the appearance of their hair and skin, and experience better sleep. It’s a bit like the feeling you get after an intense deep-tissue massage, when you can just feel that something was worked out and your muscles are working together again. But while the benefits of a massage might last a few days or weeks, the FBSCMO effect, according to my patients, lasts for years.
But these patients aren’t just looking to feel good. Many of them are interested in maintaining and improving the condition of their bodies, and in fighting the more deleterious effects of the aging process. Dave Asprey, widely considered to be the Father of Biohacking, was one of the first people to undergo my full-body makeover as part of his goal to extend his lifespan while remaining as healthy and vigorous as possible. I’m happy to report that Dave regularly praises the benefit he received from his FBSCMO and even dedicated an entire chapter to it in his best-selling book Super Human.
Niche procedures like this are a bit more of an investment, and because I’m also looking to make my treatments more accessible, I want to balance the addition of an expensive procedure with some sort of opportunity for people with limited means. That’s why I created my tithing program.
One day per month, I offer free treatment for people living in pain who are in financial need. To be enrolled into the tithing program, patients must first demonstrate they’re living below poverty level. From there, there are two pathways to enrollment. Combat service veterans are treated with no additional requirements. For those who haven’t served our country in combat, I’ll perform a stem cell procedure in exchange for documentation of community service hours. Details of the program are available on my website at https://www.docereclinics.com/tithing-program/.
- Schulman H, et al. Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Aging Frailty. Front Nutr. 2018; 5: 108.