Villa Medica: A fresh squeeze on the science of beauty

Jose Paolo S. dela Cruz (The Philippine Star) - March 25, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - When veteran celebrities and politicians  say, former President Joseph Estrada or Asia’s Queen of Songs Pilita Corrales  grace the limelight with a certain rejuvenated glow on their faces, the watchful public often point their fingers to one culprit: stem cell therapy. But what exactly do we know of this fabled procedure? More importantly, how much of what we know is infallible truth, or, as is the case in many an uneducated opinion — just plain wrong?

I was recently invited to Villa Medica in Edenkoben, Germany — the same aesthetic and health institute that the “stem cell” personalities in the Philippines went to. After an hour and a half’s drive from Frankfurt, our contingent arrived at the facility. As we stepped into the toasty interiors, we discovered a nicely decorated space, complete with warm yellow lights, chandeliers and décor that livened up the place.

Chic as its reputation, it is easy to dismiss this hidden sanctuary as just another place to get “beautiful.” But a few minutes into our arrival, Villa Medica CEO Bobby Kittichaiwong sets the record straight. “Villa Medica is a hospital,” he says. “Everything that happens within our walls is a product of years of studies and science, and all of our facilities adhere to the strict guidelines of health authorities here in Germany. It is one of the few, if not the only hospital, that offers legitimate fresh cell therapy.”


“Fresh, not stem”

While “stem cell” is a more popular term in the Philippines, the team at Villa Medica is quick to correct that what Estrada, Corrales and other personalities actually had was “fresh cell therapy,” better known as FCT.

Developed by Swiss surgeon Dr. Paul Niehans, FCT’s premise is somewhat simple. As organisms age, their bodies’ ability to regenerate fresh cells lessen. As more cells are lost and not replenished, organs start to deteriorate. Once fresh cells are injected though, the replenishment process is boosted and four main benefits can be expected: revitalization of the human body, regeneration of damaged organs, reenergizing the immune system and slowing down the aging process.

To date, fresh cell therapy has been indicated for a wide range of conditions: from age-related challenges to nerve damage (Parkinson’s disease), chronic and degenerative illnesses to heart and respiratory problems, all the way down to supportive treatments for cancer, hormonal disorder, joint mobility and even allergies. And where does Villa Medica source something as potent as a fresh cell?


A sheep for the old bloke

Villa Medica sources fresh cells from unborn fetus of carefully raised, quality controlled sheep. Being one of the cleanest and healthiest animal species, sheep is ideal for harvesting fresh cells.

As for the biggest of skeptics, who fear that using fresh cells from sheep might meddle with their DNA (human fleece, anyone?), Bobby quells the theory with a dash of humor. “We eat sheep but we don’t turn into sheep, do we? And a lot of medical procedures today actually use animal organ substitutes, and they actually work!”

German doctor Ingebord Ewen supports the notion, stating that while the fresh cells from the sheep can, indeed, aid in cell regeneration, it has no ability to alter genetic characteristics of human beings.


East and West, Dos and Don’ts

The process is rather simple, requiring no more than four days and three nights stay at Villa Medica. It begins with consultations on the first day. Ewen reminds that patients must come with all their required tests in hand, because these will be the basis for the specially designed fresh cell therapies. “We are very careful to know existing conditions, what medicines they take and what not. We do not conduct tests here,” she says firmly.

If all else goes well, patients are then infused with intravenous vitamins, glutathione and other necessary elements to ensure that the body is at its healthiest state possible at the time of the procedure. It is a relaxing experience, in a nice, glass-encased room where sunlight streams in from the surrounding forest. After that, they are sent to their rooms, where they will await the actual injections.

Unfortunately for me, my journey ended with the infusion therapies since my blood pressure shot up (uncharacteristically) on the day of the actual injection. While I wasn’t really feeling nervous or anything, I, together with the doctors of Villa Medica, concurred that my body’s response was a red light. I will have to save FCT for another time. But for my colleagues who pressed on, they were injected fresh cells through their buttocks muscles, and had to spend the next two days in the confines of their hospital suites.

At this point, Bobby notes interesting dichotomies on the attitudes of Western and Asian patients. While patients from Germany and the US find it reasonable to stay in after their therapy, Asians (Filipinos, included) are more on the go. This state of rest, according to Bobby, is an important aspect of the treatment that most Asians tend to belittle. “Since they think it was just an injection, they want to go out and shop by the next day. That is not good. The body should be rested completely for the next 48 hours so that it absorbs the full effect of the treatment,” he says. So, for Asians who may want to embark on some European shopping spree, it’s best to arrive in Germany a few days before their scheduled treatment and get leisure out of the way before checking into the facility.

The “no strenuous activity” clause for the next two weeks also draws another reaction from the “passionate” Asian patient, who is usually the first to ask if  “sex is defined as a strenuous activity.” Dr. Andy Morato, a Filipino FCT specialist, sadly, confirms that it is.

It is also worth noting that while patients from the Western world usually visit Villa Medica for inner health purposes, Asians seem more interested in its aesthetic effects: glowing skin, shiny hair, the list goes on. “You see, the body ages outside because it’s no longer as healthy as it was from within. But when you fix what’s inside, the skin glows, the hair grows...beauty is a reflection of the inner health it brings,” Bobby shares.

From the trivial differences between Asian and Western patients, to the more complex science behind FCT, one thing is clear: there is nothing mystical or simplistic about fresh cell therapy. And while it is exciting to imagine this treatment as a blissful glide along the fountain of youth, what every patient is walking into is actually a product of decades-old science — the kind that can change his or her life for the better.


(For best results, consult your primary doctor.)


(For inquiries, interested parties may call Villa Medica offices in the Philippines at 502-0189, Suzette Hahn Lopez at 0915-5485195 or Rosemarie Fernandez at 0917-8420292.)


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