PodCast: Cellular Treatments in Regenerative Medicine
RC: Hello everyone, this is Liz Harvey coming to you from our studios in New York City where we are dedicated to bringing you top quality advice from many of the leading expert professionals across the U.S.
In today’s episode, we are speaking with Dr. Warren J. Bleiweiss about the exciting field of regenerative medicine. He is a graduate of New York University School of Medicine and is Board Certified in both Anesthesiology and Pain Management. His long list of accomplishments includes leadership experience as a hospital anesthesiology department director, the inventor of a patented medical device, and the founder of one of the first multi-disciplinary pain management centers in New Jersey.
Dr. Bleiweiss also pioneered the treatment of oxygen-ozone disc injection therapy in the United States which is a powerful regenerative treatment. He has been successfully treating patients for over 30 years. Dr. Bleiweiss specializes in minimally invasive alternative treatments that heal patients without surgery or potentially harmful medications. His treatment protocols are specifically designed to activate the body’s innate ability to recover and regenerate. His practice has been producing excellent results by utilizing these alternative methods.
We previously discussed oxygen-ozone treatments with Dr. Bleiweiss. Today we are focusing on other aspects of regenerative medicine and we are discussing cellular treatments in regenerative medicine.
Hello Dr. Bleiweiss, how are you today?
Dr. Warren Bleiweiss: I’m very well, thank you.
RC: Well, thanks for joining me again and I understand that you are very knowledgeable and up to date in the field of regenerative medicine.
Today, I would like to ask you about cellular treatments in regenerative medicine. Could you please give us a brief overview?
Dr. Warren Bleiweiss: Yes. I’d be very happy to. So, cellular treatments of regenerative medicine are typically known as stem cell treatments. So, for the purpose of this discussion, I’m going to use the phrase stem cell treatments. There are multiple safe sources of stem cells. To name a few, there are bone marrow stem cells, there are fat derived stem cells, and there are umbilical cord blood stem cells. Now, these cells have different qualities, but they act in very similar ways. And some of the ways that stem cells are very powerful healing agents in the body is that they have an ability to signal and activate stem cells that are present in our own body.
So, I want to take a step back and briefly discuss that the fact that we have a reservoir of stem cells in our body. When we’re young, these stem cells are very active and as we age, the stem cells become less plentiful and less active and there are also dormant stem cells. When we do stem cell treatments and we introduce new stem cells from whatever source, I’ve named a few, these stem cells will migrate to an injured structure or often we inject it directly into the injured structure or introduce it into the injured structure. The stem cells will sense the injury and send off signaling molecules that will activate dormant stem cells that we already have in our body. And those stem cells will follow the concentration gradients of these signals and actually migrate to the injured area. So, if the stem cells that we use are not only helping the cells that are injured, they’re also signaling for help from the other stem cells. It’s kind of like calling 911 if somebody’s injured and help arrived.
The stem cells have an extremely amazing ability to sense what an injured or damaged or dying cell needs and to provide that cell with what they need to nurse it back to health. All right, so I’ll elaborate. Let’s say an injured cell, we’ll talk about a joint. So, you have an injury in your joint and cartilage cells are injured and they’re dying. And if that continues, it becomes an arthritic condition that’s chronic which we call osteoarthritis. The stem cells will sense what these injured and dying cells need and excrete whatever it is, whether it’s a growth factor or another product that will help the cell heal. And the stem cells can also even donate their own mitochondria to an injured cell.
A mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria creates energy for the cell to live. Without a mitochondria, the cell cannot live. You could actually demonstrate this in a research laboratory that a stem cell will actually attach itself to an injured cell and donate its own mitochondria to that cell. So, these are just some small examples of how these cells will have powerful healing effects.
The bottom line is that all of our tissues have the capacity to regenerate and they just need the proper signals. Stem cells activate our own bodies’ repair system. So, for a patient, this means that we now have the ability to naturally restore structure and function of tissues and organs that are damaged by repeated trauma over time, stress, toxins, aging. All of these issues can damage structures in our body, whether it’s our skin, our hair, our lungs, our joints. This is how we treat it with stem cells.
What conditions can be treated with regenerative medicine using cellular treatments?
Dr. Warren Bleiweiss: There are many, many conditions that can be treated with stem cells. Listing every single treatment is definitely beyond the scope of this discussion because it would take a very long time. So, I’m just going to go over a few treatments. We already discussed osteoarthritis. Almost everybody on the planet as we age, develops osteoarthritis and can be of different joints. Some people have it worse in the knees. Some people have it worse in the hips, some people have it worse in the hands, it’s a common element. Stem cells are very effective in treating osteoarthritis. And again, as I mentioned before, this is a restoration procedure. This is a procedure that restores structure and function. We’re not just managing the condition, for example, with ibuprofen, with steroid injections, with lubricating injections; we’re not replacing the joint with metal, we’re restoring the structure and function of the joint.
Another condition that I mentioned is, as we age, a lot of us, unless we’re very lucky, especially men, start having thin hair and it turns out that stem cell treatments are very effective in inducing hair follicles to produce more hair and thicker hair.
As we age, we all get aging of the skin and stem cells are very, very good at rejuvenating the skin. Now they’re not going to get rid of all your wrinkles if you have wrinkles, but they’re definitely going to make your skin look and feel younger.
In conditions such as Alzheimer’s where there’s declining mental function, stem cells have been shown to be very effective. I believe we discussed this previously, I don’t want to give the impression that if someone has Alzheimer’s, you give them stem cells, they are going to be completely back to their normal self. I’m not making that representation, but they definitely will improve brain function to varying degrees in people with reduced brain function, especially if it’s picked up early and it hasn’t progressed to a very serious state. So, these are some of the conditions that are treated with stem cells.
How do you evaluate a patient to determine if they are a candidate for one of these procedures?
Dr. Warren Bleiweiss: Well, this is the most important step, the initial evaluation because first of all, if someone’s not a candidate, you don’t want to put someone through a treatment that they don’t need or will not likely benefit them. We don’t want to treat someone if there’s only a 50/50 chance of it helping. We want there to be a very significant chance of it helping, for example, 80%.
Also, there were so many different types of regenerative medicine treatments. Today we’re talking about cellular treatments, which as I stated before are commonly referred to as stem cells. There are varying types of stem cells, which we briefly went over. There are also a lot of non-cellular regenerative medicine treatments which I believe we’re going to discuss at a later time.
It’s very important for a physician to know which treatment is best for which patient. So, for example, I could treat a joint with stem cells and I could also treat a joint with non-cellular regenerative medicine treatments such as ozone. It depends on the joint condition. It depends on the individual. It depends on the goal of the treatment. All of these things are up to me to figure out in the initial evaluation and to determine what is best for the patient.
A lot of us refer to this as personalized precision medicine, because it’s personalized for the individual and it’s precise for that condition.
The history, the initial evaluation is the most important part as far as I’m concerned. I do all my initial evaluations. I don’t have anybody else doing it. I’m the person who does it. I do a careful history. I look at images. I look at laboratory tests. I might order some additional laboratory tests and I do a very careful physical examination and thorough for their condition. I mean, for example, if someone comes in with a joint condition, I’m not going to do an EEEG to evaluate their brain obviously. So that’s the most important step.
Could you walk us through what a typical patient would experience when they have a cellular regenerative medicine procedure?
Dr. Warren Bleiweiss: Yes, I’d love to. So again, I’d like to reiterate that these treatments are all about helping the body heal, regenerate and restore structure and function. It’s essential to assure that a patient is in optimal health to have the best chance of healing. I’m going to say that again because this is, I think, one of the most important issues. A patient’s body has to be in optimal health to have the best chance of success with these treatments. The reason why I repeated it twice is because I could go on the Internet and look up stem cell treatments and you’ll see advertisements and it says something like, “Have your consultation and your treatment on the same day and go home.” To me, that’s not an optimal treatment. That’s not the way I treat patients.
The very first thing, the most important thing as we already discussed is to do the initial evaluation because the initial evaluation is number one, going to tell me if a patient’s a good candidate for a procedure, number two, I’m going to determine which of the multiple procedures that are available are most likely to help that person. As I stated before, that’s why we call it personalized precision medicine or precision personalized medicine, however you want to say it. So that’s the most important first step.
The other thing that I want to point out is that a physician has to be well versed in performing all of these procedures because if I can’t perform procedure X and I could only perform procedure Y, if the patient needs procedure X, they’re not going to get procedure X from me. I mean, for me, I would send them out for procedure X, but in some instances, they might get procedure Y which is a good procedure, but it’s not the best procedure for them. So that’s the first step. Sometimes I’ll order additional specific laboratory tests to check out issues that I feel are important.
The next step is to prepare the body for the procedure. Now, preparing the body for the procedure involves nutritional guidance, vitamin supplements which we provide, a light exercise regimen, probiotics to help the gut health, which is very important because if you have a leaky gut and you’re getting toxins in your body, it’s going to negatively affect the stem cells. We encourage proper sleep, we encourage proper hydration. Now, this phase and the treatment is different for everybody. Remember I talked about personalized medicine.
Everybody is different. This phase could last a short time or it could last weeks. So for example, if someone comes in to see me and they injured their knee and they’re a 45-year old yoga instructor, they’re a vegan, they take vitamins every day for the last 30 years and they’re very healthy. That’s going to be a different preparation period than an average person like for example, me who tries to be healthy and tries to exercise, but I don’t always really keep up with it or I might cheat every once-in-a-while on what I eat and maybe have a little chocolate ice cream here and there, in a moment of weakness. So, I’m going to require a little more preparation than the 44-year old yoga instructor that’s been living healthy for their whole entire life. But again, this is personalized. It’s individual. I make that decision on how much preparation is needed.
Now, there’s an extra step for some specific procedures. So, if I’m injecting stem cells into a joint, I like to prepare the joint with oxygen ozone. Now it’s not done on the same day and I don’t want it to interfere with stem cells. But what the oxygen ozone does among many things, it helps with tissue oxygenation. It helps create optimal tissue oxygenation. And that’s not just because of the oxygen that’s in the oxygen ozone. It’s because of the blood flow to the tissues that’s induced by the oxygen-ozone injection. There are other benefits of oxygen ozone, which I don’t want to go into a very long discussion on. I’ve actually discussed it in the past in pretty extensive detail.
Then there’s the cellular treatment procedure, which is an outpatient office procedure. It is usually done under ultrasonic guidance. If it’s a disc injection, it has to be done in an outpatient center because I require a fluoroscopy machine, which is a large machine to do that procedure, but that’s also an outpatient procedure.
And the other thing that’s important is the post procedure care. I don’t just do the procedure and send the patient on their merry way. I want to see the patient for a follow up. I want the patient to continue taking various vitamins. I want the patient to know how to rehabilitate, let’s say it’s a joint. So what exercises do they have to do, how much pressure can they put on the joint? These are all very, very important things. So, it’s a protocol and it’s personalized for each individual.
RC: Okay. Well, thank you so much Dr. Bleiweiss. We know you’re busy, so I want to thank you for all of your time and your help today.
Dr. Warren Bleiweiss: You’re welcome.
RC: And for our listeners across the country, if you are interested in speaking with the doctor, please visit www.alternativedisctherapy.com or call 973-403-3334 to schedule an appointment.
And on behalf of our team, we want to thank you for listening and we look forward to bringing you more top-quality content from our country’s leading experts.