MANILA, Philippines – Celebrity hairstylist Ricky Reyes, talent manager and host Lolit Solis, actress Lorna Tolentino and even former President Joseph Estrada are only among the prominent Filipinos who swear by the healing effects of fresh cell therapy, which involves the injection of live animal cells into the body.
Reyes, who used to suffer from a rare disease which he called “reading eye epilepsy,” said he went to Germany last June for fresh cell therapy.
After a number of sessions, the celebrity hairstylist can now read newspapers without suffering a seizure.
“It was gone immediately,” he said. “Pati arthritis ko. Naalis ‘yung sakit, tapos gaganda at babata ka pa.”
Solis, 65, had fresh cell therapy after experiencing knee pain, and 75-year-old Estrada opted to undergo the procedure in Germany to “keep healthy.”
Before them, several other well-known figures worldwide are said to have tried fresh cell treatments, among them the late English actor Charlie Chaplin.
So how is this procedure done? Dr. Robert Janson-Muller, who runs a fresh cell therapy clinic in Germany, is in town to give Filipinos the lowdown on this decades-long treatment.
Not stem cell treatment
Before starting his lecture for members of the local media on Tuesday, Janson-Muller made it clear that fresh cell therapy is different from the now controversial stem cell treatment, which aims to replace damaged organs in the body or create one from scratch.
He stressed that his methods, which do not promise “miracles,” have been proven effective by his predecessors for the past 60 years.
“It is true that we inject cells that if you look correctly are some kind of stem cells. But the word ‘stem cell treatment’ is different from the word ‘fresh or live cell treatment.’ It’s a different kind of treatment. And I would think this is the biggest mistake,” he explained.
“The tissue of what I’m injecting is having stem cells inside, yes. But they’re not working like the stem cells we all seek. We all have the picture in our mind that there is a mouse and there is a human ear growing on the back, that they make this ear grow. This is different from what I’ve been doing,” he added.
On Tuesday, Quezon 2nd district Rep. Winston Castelo sought the “cursory check” on the status of stem cell therapy in the Philippines, and expressed doubt on its effectiveness.
In a resolution, Castelo urged the Department of Health and the Department of Science and Technology to conduct an “evaluative” study to see if stem cell therapy has passed the required scientific tests.
He also questioned the capacity of local hospitals and clinics to collect, handle and process stem cells to be injected to patients.
With the lines between stem cell treatment and fresh cell therapy blurred, Janson-Muller said it may take quite some time before the procedure is accepted in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.
Repair, not replace
Janson-Muller, a third-generation doctor of fresh cell therapy, has been using his father and grandfather’s methods in his own clinic in Germany since 2003.
The process involves the use of newly harvested cells from organs of black mountain sheep, which he said has “minimal allergizing characteristics,” making them more compatible to recipients.
Janson-Muller said cows were earlier used, but these are more difficult to handle and have a higher chance of transferring diseases.
“Everything is handmade, from chopping the cells to putting them into the syringe. The cells injected are still alive and are injected into the buttocks,” he said. “Everyone gets something different.”
He added that the black mountain sheep are under veterinary control and are kept in quarantine six weeks before being used.
After being injected into the buttocks, the animal cells are “opened” by the human immune system and scanned for a signal similar to a zip code to repair existing cells, according to Janson-Muller.
“It will repair existing cells that are not working anymore,” he said. “Human cells will not be replaced by animal cells.”
The process, said Janson-Muller, is specific for organs, not species. “Those with heart ailments get heart cells, etc.,” he said of the black mountain sheep cells, which are “very similar” to human cells.
Because of the very specialized procedure, fresh cell therapy is quite expensive, something that Janson-Muller himself admits. The initial treatment, which will involve a four-day stay in his state-of-the-art clinic in Germany, costs 12,000 euros or over P622,000.
The amount can easily go up with the succeeding injections, which may be done twice a year.
Better health, sex?
Like Reyes and Solis, Janson-Muller proudly said the positive effects of fresh cell therapy on humans. He said the procedure can help patients recover from neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis or paralysis after a stroke, as well as chronic liver and kidney diseases.
It can also help improve depressive moods, alleviate menopause-related conditions, make skin firmer and even boost a person’s sex life within weeks, he added.
“It is ideal to start treatment at ages 40 to 60,” he said. “Of course, it should also be accompanied by a healthy balanced diet, exercise, good stress management and supplements.”
To those who have their reservations on being injected with animal cells, he said: “[Don’t worry] I’ve been testing this on myself as well. I’ve been treating myself regularly for the past 24 years.”
Janson-Muller stressed, however, that fresh cell therapy is neither a “fountain of youth” nor a treatment that can cure cancer or prolong lives that are already in danger, as claimed by others.
It is not for everyone, the doctor said, as the procedure is not allowed to be done on pregnant women as well as patients with tuberculosis, malignant tumors in the acute stage, severe psychoses and those displaying strong allergic reactions.
Citing a quote from Swiss doctor Paul Niehans, who pioneered the procedure, he added: “It’s not about giving more years, but making the remaining years worth living.”
Echoing his statements, Joey Santos of Primemed Co. Inc. said they brought Janson-Muller to the country to give Filipinos more options when it comes to medical treatments.
“We want to give Filipinos a chance to see this type of therapy,” he said, adding that those who are interested would have to go through laboratory tests, which will be sent to Janson-Muller’s clinic for review before getting treated.