In episode #136, Dr. Jill Carnahan speaks with Dr. Chadwick Prodromos about the exciting developments in stem cell treatment and how it is revolutionizing our approach to disease and aging. Stem cells have the unique ability to develop into any type of cell in the body, making them a promising tool for repairing and regenerating damaged tissue. In recent years, stem cell therapies have shown great promise in treating a wide range of conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and even heart disease. Dr. Prodromos, an expert in the field of stem cell treatment, shares his insights on the latest research and how stem cell treatment is changing the way we think about treating and preventing chronic diseases.
The Guest – Dr. Chadwick Prodromos
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos is an international leader in the use of stem cell and platelet rich plasma treatment. He has performed more than three thousand stem cell and platelet rich plasma treatments for arthritis, tendon injuries and related disorders as part of a prospective study that is the largest such study by an Orthopaedic Surgeon in existence to our knowledge. Dr Prodromos received his Bachelor’s degree with honors from Princeton University and his MD degree from the Johns Hopkins Medical School. He served his surgical internship at the University of Chicago; his Orthopaedic Surgery residency at Rush University and his fellowship in Orthopaedics and Sportsmedicine at the Harvard medical school and Massachusetts General Hospital. He is board certified in Orthopaedic Surgery and is editor of a major textbook for orthopaedic surgeons on the ACL. He is a founding member of the American College of Regenerative Medicine, and chairman of its institutional Review Board.He served as assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Rush University for 27 years before stepping back to focus on his foundation and stem cell work.
Dr. Jill Carnahan is Your Functional Medicine Expert® dually board certified in Family Medicine for ten years and in Integrative Holistic Medicine since 2015. She is the Medical Director of Flatiron Functional Medicine, a widely sought-after practice with a broad range of clinical services including functional medical protocols, nutritional consultations, chiropractic therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy. As a survivor of breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, and toxic mold illness she brings a unique perspective to treating patients in the midst of complex and chronic illness. Her clinic specializes in searching for the underlying triggers that contribute to illness through cutting-edge lab testing and tailoring the intervention to specific needs.
A popular inspirational speaker and prolific writer, she shares her knowledge of hope, health, and healing live on stage and through newsletters, articles, books, and social media posts! People relate to Dr. Jill’s science-backed opinions delivered with authenticity, love and humor. She is known for inspiring her audience to thrive even in the midst of difficulties.
Featured in Shape Magazine, Parade, Forbes, MindBodyGreen, First for Women, Townsend Newsletter, and The Huffington Post as well as seen on NBC News and Health segments with Joan Lunden, Dr. Jill is a media must-have. Her YouTube channel and podcast features live interviews with the healthcare world’s most respected names.
Dr. Jill 0:12
Okay, beautiful. Hello, everyone. Good afternoon, and welcome to another episode of Dr. Jill Live! If you missed any previous episodes, you can find us on [the] YouTube channel under my name. There are over 100 podcast interviews with experts like our expert today, whom I'm super excited to introduce. We just got to know each other briefly now, and we were introduced by a friend, but I'm super excited to dive deeper today.
Dr. Jill 0:36
Dr. Prodromos is an international leader in the use of stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments. He's performed more than 3,000 stem cell and platelet-rich plasma treatments for arthritis, tendon injuries, and related disorders as part of a prospective study that is the largest study by an orthopedic surgeon in existence, to our knowledge. So, [I'm] super excited that you're doing the research as well. Dr. Prodromos received his bachelor's degree with honors from Princeton University and his medical doctorate degree from Johns Hopkins Medical School. He served his surgical internship at the University of Chicago. We're both from Illinois—at some point there—with medical training. His Orthopedic Surgical residency is at Rush University and his fellowship is in Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at the Harvard medical school and Massachusetts General Hospital. He's board certified in orthopedic surgery and is the editor of a major textbook for orthopedic surgeons on the ACL. He's a founding member of the American College of Regenerative Medicine and chairman of its institutional Review Board. He served as an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Rush University for 27 years before stepping back to focus on foundation and stem cell work. Dr. Prodromos, it's an honor and a delight to get to know you here, and thanks for joining me today.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 1:51
Yes, thanks so much for doing this. It's so great that you work to get useful information out.
Dr. Jill 1:57
You're welcome. We were just talking before [about] how passionate we are about the root cause, functional, [and] integrative [medicine]. I don't want to go deep into this, but our system—many people have felt this—is not great at getting to [the] root cause. I don't want to badmouth [anyone], because we've all been trained in some of the best institutes of the United States in medicine, but the truth is we often are trained with: Get a label, get an ICD-10—and then we stop there. We give medicine for that ill [person] or we prescribe a surgery—all totally appropriate—but the deeper stuff that we're doing, and that I want to interview on, is really getting to the root cause and actually solving the problem versus just putting a bandaid on it. I want to hear, though, first, your journey. Where did you grow up, and how did you get into medicine? Tell us a little bit about how you got this—
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 2:40
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and I liked science when I was a kid. [There's] nothing more to it than that; I just thought it'd be interesting.
Dr. Jill 2:47
Cool. And what a career! And then orthopedics, how did that intrigue your interest as far as the—
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 2:51
It's interesting because when I was at Hopkins and deciding what I wanted to do, I liked the idea of being a physician as well as a surgeon. Orthopedics appealed to me because you're a surgeon, but you don't just have to operate on people. It's ironic because the field, in the 38 years that I've been doing it, has gotten much more surgical than it was. One of the reasons that PRP and stem cell work appeal to me is [that] it's a way to get people better without surgery. It was an opportunity to take a huge area of medicine and try to know everything about it.
Dr. Jill 3:24
Amazing. What many people who listen maybe don't know, but we in medicine do, is that it's a highly competitive field. So that means you were obviously very academically astute. You were a stellar student to get into orthopedics, especially in the institutions that you did. So when did you really shift from surgery, the typical orthopedic practice, into more anti-aging, stem cell, and some of this kind of stuff? How long have you been doing that?
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 3:50
I was a sports medicine guy after my fellowship at Harvard and was heavily into that. I had a narrow practice doing knee and shoulder surgery [and was the] editor of the textbook on the ACL for orthopedic surgeons. I spent most of my career doing that. In 2009, I read about the late Kobe Bryant getting an injection of platelet-rich plasma and seeming to get better. We researched it, and I established a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation in 2003. And I published extensively and hired researchers. I was just always interested in evidence-based medicine. So I charged one of my research people, and I said, “Why don't we learn about this?” and she did, and it sounded interesting. I started doing it—the first one in December of 2010. Most musculoskeletal problems don't need surgery. But we're surgeons, right? So sometimes we operate, maybe even when we shouldn't. I injected a few people with some knee problems, and they got remarkably better, and I thought, “Wow, this is amazing!” I started doing more and more of it. We're up to 5,000 patients now, a prospective, huge study, and people just did well. I was doing that, and I was publishing. Actually, then I was solicited by a guy who was one of the pioneers of stem cell work in orthopedics in the country. People wanted to franchise him, and he said: “You're an academic guy. Why don't you join me?” He kind of introduced me to it, and I became interested in stem cell work and started reading about it. It's the same kind of thing—it's a way to try to heal things without surgery. And then, as time went on, I just started doing more and more of both and just became fascinated by it.
Dr. Jill 5:29
Wow. Again, I've got quite a bit of experience with patients having that. Obviously, I don't do that in the clinic at all, I leave it to you guys, the experts. But tell us more about first PRP and then stem cells. I know they're similar. What actually happens with the immune system when you inject your own platelets?
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 5:43
When you inject your platelets, they have growth factors and anti-inflammatory cytokines. There's no drug that has growth factors that help you heal. The anti-inflammatory cytokines quiet inflammation in joints in a beneficial way, unlike cortisone, for example, which kills cartilage. Stem cells work sort of similarly. I should tell you too [that] my journey was originally PRP for orthopedic problems, stem cells for orthopedic problems like arthritis and osteoarthritis, and then stem cells for inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease and other autoimmune diseases, to the point now where most of the stem cell work that I do really isn't orthopedic. We have great success with back problems and joints. Our involvement is with things that are just amazing—with MS, with spinal cord injury, with autism, [and] other things. But the short answer is that's what they do—they help heal disorders, which no drug does. I mean, surgery—we can put joints back together, but we can't make it heal.
Dr. Jill 6:44
Gosh, and it makes sense because we're using our own immune system, which is doing what it's supposed to do, just [that it's] accentuated at the site. Why would you choose PRP over stem cells or stem cells over PRP in a certain situation? Give us some examples of uses.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 6:58
None of this fits the pharma model of medicine, which kind of dominates everything. None of it's reimbursed. We do a PRP injection and charge about $750 for an injection. That's a lot of money, but we have great success even with single injections. Stem cell treatments are on the order of $20,000. I get people calling me from all over the country—all over the world, actually—and they've read about our stem cell work, and I got featured by Tony Robbins in his book for our work on stem cells. When I can, I like to treat people with PRP because it's a heck of a lot cheaper. I treat a lot of professional athletes—NFL athletes in particular. A lot of times, a bigger factor than the PRP or the stem cells is how you handle the joint. We get people whose joints are beaten up. I've got some high-profile NFL people who were doing knee exercises, that were aggravating the joint [and] shouldn't have been, or Achilles exercises. I just say: “Don't beat the joint up; let it heal,” and they get better. I do PRP when I can for orthopedic problems because it's so much cheaper and easier. For most musculoskeletal problems, it's good enough, but where it isn't, we can use stem cells.
Dr. Jill 8:32
Amazing. My experience might make you laugh. But in microneedling on the face, it's great for skin and collagen production. You can add PRP to the microneedling. The healing was a third or half the time [for me] after a procedure like that for increasing collagen, and I was really impressed. This is different from orthopedics, but I'm curious because now dermatologists and estheticians are often using exosomes. Have you done any work with exosomes at all in this realm?
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 9:02
I'll be careful what I say here, but exosomes are not allowed in the US. You may or may not know this, but they're not. We don't do anything that isn't FDA-approved. We go offshore; we have a stem cell center in Antigua, and we have one in Monterrey, Mexico, and we operate with full licensure there. Have I used exosomes? No. Amniotic fluid is allowed, but it's not really exosomes, it's really stem cells. Sometimes people play fast and loose a little bit with terminology. From my perspective, if I could use exosomes in the US, I would, but I can't. And if I'm going to bring people offshore to do it anyway, I'd rather use stem cells. I'll tell you an interesting thing: We're very evidence-based, [and] we publish extensively in good journals. If you look at PubMed under exosomes, there are only two studies that exist; one was on long COVID, where it didn't do any good. The problem I have with exosomes is that, one, they're not allowed, and, two, there's no evidence they do any good. Now, I'm not saying they don't, and I'm talking legit exosomes. But there's lots of literature on stem cells, so we do those. Sometimes exosomes are stem cell-like. You see, exosomes kind of fit the pharma model, which dominates everything. You make something wholesale; you sell it retail. People inject it like a drug. Real exosomes are probably useful, but exosomes, in my opinion, are just a more expensive PRP. We do PRP for $750. It's kind of a lot of money. But the usual exosome model is [that] a doctor buys a bottle of these things for 1500 bucks from somebody, and then you sell it to a patient for 3000 bucks. Maybe it works, but it's a lot more expensive. And there's no data anywhere that indicates that it works even as well as PRP. Maybe it does, as opposed to stem cells, where there are lots of data. I think the push for exosomes is dominated more by economic reasons and other things. When and if there's data showing that it really works, when it's cost-effective, and when it's legal, I'll use it. But in the meantime, I don't.
Dr. Jill 11:24
That makes so much sense. I actually love that you clarified even for me because I love the evidence-based foundation that you're on. Tell us a little bit about the studies around PRP and stem cells and what kind of outcomes they've seen.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 11:40
I'll tell you something. You mention drugs that are useful or indicated and surgery that's useful, but I'll tell you, most of the prescriptions that are out there, at least in my field, are not only not useful, but they're [also] bad for people. A tremendous amount of orthopedic surgery, in my opinion, is sort of unnecessary now, and I'm not the only one who feels that way. I'll give you a few examples. I made my living fixing ACLs and rotator cuffs. If a rotator cuff is completely torn, it detaches, it retracts, [and] you have to reattach it, so no stem cell is going to help with that. Although there are people using stem cells for that, it doesn't help. But most rotator cuff disorders, 90% plus, are not complete tears; they're partial tears. We published a paper [using] 65 or 70 patients minimum, minimum 2-year follow-up, using PRP. And none of the patients wound up needing surgery. None of them completed the tear. A lot of those people are operated on by colleagues of mine. Why? They mean well, and they want to help people, but if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If what you're doing is surgery, you operate on people. But the fact is that partial tears of the rotator cuff, which most [end up in] surgery, doesn't help. Studies have shown this, and I didn't do it for that reason. Shoulder problems—most rotator cuffs would do well. Arthritis—we just had a study presented at the International Cartilage repair [sic] Society in Berlin last June. [inaudible] the publication, the Good Journal; 568 needs a three- to seven-year follow-up. It's a huge study, the likes of which hardly anybody does. What we found was that taking all comers—and these were all total joint replacement candidates—80% of the people wound up not needing joint replacements [with] a minimum three-year follow-up.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 13:32
We stratified our results by how many millimeters of joint space there were, even [with] the bone-on-bone people. So you think, and a lot of people think: “Man! It's bone on bone; the ballgame is over. I need surgery,” right? Not so. So, 65% of the people bone on bone—minimum three-year follow-up—did not need joint replacements. If they had just two millimeters of joint space, the number went up to 80%. If they had four millimeters or more of joint space, which is a noticeably abnormal X-ray but not really severe, 100% of them did pretty well. We get people from all over coming to us where people have told them that they need joint replacements, and they don't. And they do well, usually without stem cells; usually, it's PRP. There are a number of nutritional supplements that help the knee. We use hyaluronic acid. Even, bone-on-bone, terrible shoulders, terrible knees. Bone-on-bone hips don't do well with traditional PRP. We're actually starting a protocol which is only available now to people of the Department of Defense. It's a very interesting protocol using lymphocytes to break down scar tissue. We're doing our first two patients in Monterrey, Mexico, in about a month. Even bad hips, we expect to respond. The short answer is tendon problems [and] arthritis; most people don't need surgery. Now I'll tell you another interesting fact. I'm independent. When I started 38 years ago, everyone was independent, pretty much. Now, very few people are. If you're an orthopedic surgeon and you're working for a corporation, I won't say most of them, but a lot of the people that I know are not allowed to do PRP, at least around here. They're told that they're there to operate, and if they want PRP or something else non-surgical, they've got to send it off to somebody else. This puts people in a difficult situation. I have the luxury of people who don't need surgery. I'll send them to therapy. I'll do PRP. I'll do other things. But it's increasingly difficult for orthopedic surgeons today to embrace non-surgical treatment just for economic reasons.
Dr. Jill 15:36
Yes. I want to just comment on that. For those listening, we [who are] in medicine, when you say that, I get it because I'm the same way. If you go to an HMO—I won't mention any names—or some of these organizations, those doctors might have very good intentions and even know there are better options than just a prescription or a surgical referral, but they're not allowed within that system to do that. For you and me—I don't work for the insurance company; I don't work for any of those people—I get to decide with the patient in front of me: What's the best thing for you? What can you afford? And how can we make this happen? And then we get to decide together, and there's no other person. In hospitals, these groups, what you're saying and what I'm seeing as well, is that there are a lot of other factors that sadly influence even the well-meaning physician. I like that you say that because that's the truth. A lot of people are like, “Why didn't they offer me Boswellia or curcumin or something natural?” Well, they either didn't know it or they couldn't talk about it in that system.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 16:27
It's Orwellian. One of the main purposes of EMRs that people don't realize is that they allow administrators and higher-ups to monitor every phone call you make and every prescription you do. I have a friend who had a patient with a total cholesterol of 203, which by itself means almost nothing. She's actually a functional doctor now, working for a hospital corporation. She didn't offer a statin, and she got dinged. They said, “Dear Doctor… shouldn't you have offered something?” It's terrible. I'll tell you an interesting anecdote that shows how bad it's gotten. We had success with stem cells with retinas, macular degeneration—amazing stuff. We need a retinal scan for people. We had a patient with Kaiser from California who consulted us, and we needed this retinal scan. It had been refused by the powers that be, so I told the patient. The patient went and made an appointment with the ophthalmologist. You know why? Because they didn't want to have a phone call, and they didn't want to have an email or text because it could be monitored. They, behind closed doors, told the doctor why they wanted it. The doctor made up a rationale and prescribed it. But they were afraid to do it through normal channels because they would have gotten dinged and maybe even gotten in trouble.
Dr. Jill 17:45
Ugh! That's so sad. This is why doctors are frustrated because, as we know better and know more, we're still in an old, antiquated system that doesn't allow for this free thinking. I do functional medicine, so I do a lot of integrative herbs and things that I know are anti-inflammatory. Talk a little bit about NSAIDs, narcotics, and the kinds of things we do for pain and why they're maybe not healthy. And then, what are some things that you use as alternatives?
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 18:08
There are no prescription drugs that are good for orthopedics—none. We get people off NSAIDs, always. NSAIDs do three things that are bad. They mask pain. We see people—and I could show you some interesting videos—come in who have chronic pain on NSAIDs. And the people that are really red hot are the people that are taking those. Because they mask pain, they hurt themselves and don't know it. We stop those drugs, and they get better. So, number one, they mask pain. Number two, they interfere with healing in a significant way. There was a study that showed that if you gave people Celebrex after rotator cuff repair, the re-tear rate went from 3% to 37% in one year. These are potent anti-healing drugs. The third thing is [that] they're incredibly toxic. An estimated 16,000 deaths [occur] every year in the US, according to the New England Journal of Medicine article on the side effects of these drugs. We get everybody off of them; we never use them. Supplements—we did a deep dive, our research people, four years ago or so, into supplements. We looked for PubMed-indexed journals, good journals, articles, clinical trials—not on animals—of supplements against placebo, controlled studies, to see what was helpful. It turns out [that] there are 12 supplements that have shown some efficacy for arthritis. We ranked the 12 in declining order of efficacy. For knee arthritis, we use hyaluronic acid, which is happily paid for, and it's been shown in studies to help the knee but no other joints. We do PRP, and we do supplements. The ones that we use in declining order, so the ones that have shown the most to least data: Glucosamine chondroitin is number one. Boswellic acid, in one form or another, is number two, made from frankincense. Number three is curcumin. Number four is pycnogenol. Number five is type II collagen, not type I, but type II. And then there are some others.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 19:56
We prescribe these for everybody. Doing that algorithm, we have great success. But I'll say something else that is just horrific: Antidepressants. So [there were] 100 million antidepressant prescriptions written in the US last year. This is a horrible, evil, and insidious epidemic. Antidepressants—people are often scared of taking these things because they say, “Well, you're depressed, and maybe you'll hurt yourself” or “your loved one will hurt themselves.” There's a “black box” warning on all these antidepressants. They say it for people 25 and under, but I think it's everybody, that anti-depressants increase the incidence of suicidal ideation. There's a recent study out of Sweden showing it isn't just ideation; there are actually more suicides among them. People have done short-term studies, which seem to indicate that these things have pain-killing properties, and in my opinion, they don't. We get people off of these things. They're addictive; once you're on them, you're hooked. It's like an opiate; it's horrible, in my opinion. Then opiates—we never use opiates. We don't use any prescription drugs. There are none that are good for musculoskeletal problems.
Dr. Jill 21:01
Wow, I love that. I love that you're so clear because, again, I see them in my practice, and often I'm having the same discussions with patients on these medications because they do have downstream effects. There's no one who's born with a serotonin deficiency. The science has come out since the pharmaceutical [companies] have sold us this bill as far as the reality of neurotransmitters; it's not the story we were told 20 years ago.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 21:24
As you allude to, the serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs, as you probably know, about a year ago, they found out it doesn't even do it. It's nuts! What it does is cause changes in your brain. We do stem cell treatments. We've got a couple of NFL quarterbacks, for example, and one of the things it does is help their focus [and] their sleep. We work with Tim Royer who works with a lot of professional athletes—a great sleep person. All drugs, all drugs, all drugs that influence sleep, induce artificial sleep. He doesn't use them at all. I don't think anybody should use them, but it's like an easy way out, particularly these antidepressants.
Dr. Jill 22:13
Yes. The sad thing you alluded to too, as you talked about our medical colleagues and stuff that are stuck in these systems, [is that] one of the things that often happens is that if the doctor has someone who feels sad or anxious or can't sleep or is depressed or [has] symptoms or maybe just pain or inflammation, they don't know what to do. They're not looking for the root cause like you and I are doing. Their default is, “Oh well, maybe you need an antidepressant.” We call it functional disorders—which are actually just that—idiopathic. We don't know what's happening. Now you and I know there's a root cause, but the average doctor, who maybe doesn't have that answer, will just say, “Well, let's try an antidepressant.”
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 22:47
And they're put into a box because, as you probably know, doctors now working for corporations get fired—terminated—for low productivity. It's been shown that the way to see people faster is to give them drugs. So you get them in, and you say: “Hey, this is the best. Here's the drug. See you later.” To actually take time to talk about lifestyle, which is vastly more important, is time-consuming, and it doesn't fit into the modern model of corporate medicine. These doctors, a lot of times, are put into a box of almost having to do this.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 23:20
I couldn't agree more. For the future of medicine, you're obviously on the forefront and have seen some of these things. Where's the research headed? Where are things headed with your field and what you're doing?
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 23:31
Let me talk to you about stem cells a little bit. I'll tell you some of the things we're doing and some of the things we've found. Every patient we treat is part of a prospective study. Every patient is followed up by our research team. We do tests before and after. Autism—we have nine patients so far in the clinical trial for autism. They all got better. One regressed after a matter of weeks, but the others have gotten better and stayed better. We have a testimonial from a doctor who's a leader in autism [research] nationwide, an MD, whose son—and she put this out there for our use—has gotten off of risperidone, an antipsychotic, and stayed off it. We have great success with autism. It's a very simple thing. It's just infused—a simple IV infusion—[and] very well tolerated. The people we have are as old as 27 and as young as four. Autism has been fantastic. Autism is an immune-mediated disorder, which kind of explains why stem cells work. Back pain—we've got a clinical trial of 39 patients so far with at least a couple of months' follow-ups; 80% plus have had great success. These are people who've had failed surgery—people with terrible problems.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 24:38
We do stem cells in the facet joints in the epidural space [and] occasionally into the disc. Back surgery—there are times when you really needed, but it has a tremendous failure rate. And when back surgery fails, it tends to fail spectacularly. [It has caused there to be] a lot of drug-addicted people, right? We've had great success doing that. We do peripheral joints, knees, and shoulders, but most of the time we don't need to because PRP works well. We have great success with autoimmune disorders. I work with a doctor in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Monterrey who's developed a vaccine for MS. Two hundred treated patients with more than 20-year follow-up—80% plus. The vaccine is made from your own T cells. Your T cells are removed by apheresis. He's able to identify the cells that are attacking your oligodendrocytes and then activate them with neural antigens, kill them, and re-infuse them. And [there are] 10 to 12 vaccine shots. It's completely safe [with] no serious adverse events. It goes away and stays gone. It's got a 20-year follow-up. It's just remarkable. It doesn't exactly fit the pharma model, right? Pharma is great; they help a lot of people, but they have no interest in this treatment because they can't monetize it and they can't patent it, right? MS, spinal cord-injured people. We have paraplegics—80 paraplegics—and quadriplegics treated. We get people in wheelchairs who get out of wheelchairs and walk—it's remarkable—using stem cells. Again, if we had more time and the venue was different, I could show you videos of people. We've got people right now in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where we do this. I have one lady now from Seattle, a well-to-do lady who fell and couldn't stand up and is now standing after only a month. It takes six months to get people better. So spinal cord injury, eye disease, macular degeneration, retinal disease, and other autoimmune disorders. Scleroderma—we've got two scleroderma patients now. One had severe lung disease which scleroderma patients can have. In the performance of treatment, the CAT scan is completely clear; [she's] breathing easier. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis—[it's] horrible! A universally fatal disease; you just suffocate to death. We've got a couple of patients on a protocol for that. One [person], it stabilized. Another one was on six liters of oxygen [who is] now on two liters of oxygen [and is] breathing better. You asked me for a title for this and I said “revolutionizing disease treatment.” And you're thinking, “Wow, that sounds kind of stuck up,” right? But it's really real. It's just amazing what this technology is capable of doing.
Dr. Jill 27:16
Amazing! Amazing! And it makes sense because a lot of the things you're describing are these overactive [immune responses]. Our innate immune system has gotten confused with all the signals outside, whether they're chemicals, toxins, or infections. Many of these diseases you're describing are [caused by] an overactive T cell population. I'm assuming that stem cell [treatment] comes in and really just re-regulates the immune signaling.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 27:37
There are three different things that are involved. One is [that] we can just inject the stem cells, and in the case of autism, that's good enough. I mean, they're not cured, but people get a little better. We can inject stem cells for rheumatoid arthritis for MS in a lot of them and they'll suppress it in many cases, but it tends to come back and it doesn't work in all cases. We use T-cell vaccines, and I'm using them more and more, which is more complicated. You get apheresis. It takes about a week. You get apheresis. You take these cells out, as I was just describing for MS. You can do it for inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, [and] type 1 diabetes. And then a vaccine is made and it's put back. But you have to do it monthly for a while. And the last thing is what we call effector cells. We'll take lymphocytes out, say, for the central nervous system. These lymphocytes are challenged with neural antigens. They're injected back. What happens when you damage tissue—that doesn't only heal the central nervous system, heart, retina, or hair cells in the ear—for two weeks it's in a phase of healing called Th1 where it can heal with stem cells. After that, it modulates the Th2 (T helper 2), and scar tissue is laid down over it [so] the stem cells can't get to it.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 28:48
By injecting these lymphocytes, they seek out this area of inflammation where the scar tissue is, and they partially reverse it and get rid of some of the scar tissue. Then we co-culture those lymphocytes with stem cells from you that we've taken before and grown. In 48 hours, these activated lymphocytes will partially differentiate your own adipose-derived stem cells into neural progenitor cells. They're like nerve cells. They're injected. They seek out these lymphocytes which have labeled this tissue, which enables them to cross the blood-brain barrier. Because some of the scar tissue has been riddled away, they're able to help heal it, and people start to heal. So, we do that. A couple of days later, you go home. We repeat this at intervals. We can get the spine to heal. We can get the myocardium—we're just treating our first patients there—to heal. I mean, it sounds like science fiction, I know. But it's real stuff, and we have documentation and publish things about it.
Dr. Jill 29:42
Amazing! Amazing! To me, it doesn't, because I've been following this world, but you're right; to some of our listeners, I'm sure this is just out there. But this is where the future is going, [to treating the] root cause, and really using the techniques and the technology that we have to optimize human performance, resilience, and healing.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 30:00
Let me talk about something else in that regard too. The obvious question is, “Well, gee, number one, if this is so great, why isn't everybody doing it?” And number two: “If it's so great, why isn't it FDA-approved?” Mesenchymal stem cells—these are non-embryonic, not fetal, not aborted—these are what are called ‘adult stem cells.' They're either from you as an adult, or they could be from a newborn whose umbilical cord is donated. These were more or less discovered in 1976. For decades, there was lots of research, good research, great success, very safe. It's not like people were dying from this; they weren't. In 2005, the FDA decided, and the EMA in Europe, [that] they should regulate these. And why? Well, they said it could be unsafe, there are scams, and one thing and another. Fine. When this happened, they imposed the same standard on stem cells that is imposed on pharmaceutical drugs, which are double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled studies. If you talk to people from the FDA, and I love the FDA, and they try to help people. But they would say, “Yes, they're illegal, but you have to do an IND investigation and do drug protocol.” The problem is these studies are $100 million studies. That money exists in no place except pharma. Pharma is great, but pharma can't patent this [or] monetize it, so they don't do these studies. The bottom line is [that] the studies don't get done. You can do it illegally in the United States. I'm not interested in breaking any laws. What's happened is [that] it's been driven offshore.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 31:20
We have a center in Antigua. We have licensure to do it. We have one in Monterrey, Mexico. There are other good ones in other places offshore. But this is completely safe. We have had zero serious adverse events. We know; we follow up. Our patients get annoyed with us sometimes because when we call them, we say, “How are you doing?” A lot of them want to know. Some of them say, “Why are you bothering me?” We say, “Well, this is the only way we'll know is if we find out what's going on.” I spend a lot of money on this foundation that isn't supported by anything else just so we can know what we're actually doing. My point is [that] this treatment is completely safe. Now, we have made it a point to study adverse events because there have been bad things that have happened to people with stem cells. What we have found in every case is that they come from one of two things: Either bad doctors or bad cells. Bad doctors, doctors doing it who don't really understand the field, or cells that are made from a tissue bank that is a substandard place. But this can happen not in stem cells. Something like 30 patients died from fungal infections from cortisone from a compounding pharmacy—you probably know about this, right?—from a dirty lab. You can do anything badly and have problems. But properly done stem cell treatment from a reputable lab is incredibly safe. Stem cells are what have evolved through time to help us heal ourselves. I mean, they can't be unsafe, or we'd be extinct.
Dr. Jill 32:42
Exactly. Dr. Prodromos, this is amazing. And thank you. I just felt such gratitude for you for seeing the potential and then pouring your heart, mind, and life into this because it really is leading the edge for all of us with the research. And I love your commitment to data and to collecting research because that's what's going to move this forward. Our current system is continuing to collect the data. Where can people find you? [Please provide] more information about your clinic or clinics.
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 33:12
You could google me if you can spell my name, but it's a hard Greek name, Prodromos. But we have two things. I can give you a phone number and [inaudible]. But our phone number is 847-699-6810. That gets you into the system. If you call about stem cells or whatever, we've got a terrific team, actually. We have a nonprofit too, but the stem cell institute is thepsci.com. It's the Prodromos Stem Cell Institute. So thepsci.com. If you go there, there's an email: Care@thepsci.com. You get a real person, not a phone bank. Again, we've got a great team. We love answering questions. We evaluate people at no charge.
Dr. Jill 34:02
Amazing. I will link it if you're listening to this on audio or seeing this on video, you'll be able to find the links to these wherever you're listening. Thank you again. I want to say something else because you have a nonprofit. I know there are a lot of doctors and other people that have means. I love the idea of supporting your work. Where could people get information about supporting your foundation?
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 34:20
The foundation is TheForem. It's a foundation for regenerative medicine. It's TheForem.org. It has its own website. You can make tax-deductible donations to that that support our research or can be put into a fund—we deal with children with cerebral palsy and other things who don't have means—that is used to help pay for treatment for people who can't afford it.
Dr. Jill 34:49
I love that. I love, love, love that. Well, hopefully, we'll have more conversations. Maybe next time we can have you share some of the videos. Dr. Prodromos, this has been a delight and a joy. I know our listeners have enjoyed it as well. Thank you so much for your time!
Dr. Chadwick Prodromos 35:02
Jill, thank you for the opportunity. I commend you on doing what you're doing to spread good information!
Dr. Jill 35:09
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