Autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases are some of the most frustrating and frightening chronic illnesses for patients and their families and they’re both on the rise. The rate of autoimmune disease has skyrocketed in the past two decades and the number of dementia cases more than doubled between 1990 and 2016.1
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with one of these conditions, you’ve probably been told there’s little you can do to reverse it. You probably left your doctor’s office with a couple of prescriptions that “might” decrease some symptoms but may also add in some side effects.
You’ve probably been left with the feeling that your illness will continue to run its course, despite your best efforts.
But simply managing symptoms while damaging processes continue to rage within your body is like fighting a wildfire with a garden hose.
What about doing something that has the potential to address the contributory causes?
What if we told you that a new study (AMBAR trial) shows that treatment exists that can offer new hope for Alzheimer’s, dementia, as it has provided for decades with autoimmune disease? And that this study showed that plasma exchange reduced the progression of moderate Alzheimer’s in such study participants by 61%.2
It’s called Therapeutic Plasma Exchange. In this article, we’ll explore this revolutionary therapy. We’ll learn how it works, what conditions it can treat, and how it’s offering hope for the most disabling conditions.
What Is Therapeutic Plasma Exchange?
As you get older, your blood becomes polluted with “rusty” proteins and “sticky” molecules that may adversely affect your brain and body. By “rusty” we mean damaged by oxygen, and by “sticky” we mean damaged in a way to stimulate the immune system and cause inflammation. Since your blood is the river of nourishment for your cells, your cells’ health is influenced by the health of your blood.
Therapeutic Plasma Exchange helps to clean your blood and removes certain harmful substances circulating in your plasma.
This innovative therapy has the potential to slow down the rate of brain and body degeneration.
What Happens During Therapeutic Plasma Exchange?
Therapeutic Plasma Exchange (RPE) is a type of apheresis. In an apheresis procedure, blood is removed from the patient and then separated into its components – blood cells and plasma – for some beneficial purpose. Plasma is the fluid in your blood that carries blood cells and platelets through your body.
The purpose of Therapeutic Plasma Exchange is to remove offending agents – destructive antibodies, toxins, cell-signaling molecules and abnormal proteins – that are perpetuating accelerated aging and disease. At this time, the only way to accomplish this goal is to remove the plasma that contains these offenders.
Then we replace the plasma with clean albumin – a natural protein made in the liver that is abundant in plasma. The albumin is mixed with the blood cells that were removed, and the fresh new mixture is transfused into the patient.
By exchanging the “polluted” plasma with clean albumin, we create an environment where your cells are less encumbered from their prior signals of aging and potentially better able to do their job of repairing, regenerating, and healing.
When we clean the blood, we nourish our body and brain.
Hope for Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Memory Loss
Alzheimer’s can be devastating. Not only is it financially catastrophic, but it may result in many years of suffering for both the patient and their family.3 And prescription drugs for these diseases only attempt to manage symptoms – they do nothing to stop the progression of the disease. So clearly, another treatment option is desperately needed.
Most people think of Alzheimer’s and dementia as conditions, but they’re actually a process of un-braining. The brain becomes less of itself. And this process of un-braining starts at age 28 when we begin losing connections in our brains.
By the time Alzheimer’s or dementia is actually diagnosed, more than 40% of brain cell connections have already been lost. Alzheimer’s and dementia may begin 20 years before you experience any symptoms at all.
But the story doesn’t have to end there. If we can slow down this process of degeneration, we give our stem cells a chance to repair it.
Therapeutic Plasma Exchange has the potential to slow down degeneration and floods your body with healing factors.
In the landmark AMBAR (Alzheimer’s Management By Albumin Replacement) trial, plasma exchanges were done for 14 months in patients with moderate and mild Alzheimer’s disease.4 The patients received 6 weekly high-volume plasma exchanges, followed by monthly low-volume plasma exchanges.
The results showed there was a 61% reduction in disease progression in patients with moderate Alzheimer’s.
Treatment for Autoimmune Disease
We understand how powerless it can feel when your own body is attacking itself, but it is possible to take your power back.
Plasma exchange is an established therapeutic procedure already used in various neurological autoimmune disorders. It has been used for autoimmune diseases of the:5
- Brain and nervous system
- Joints and bones
It’s often recommended for relapsed or worsening chronic conditions that are unresponsive to conventional treatments.6
There are several ways that plasma exchange works in autoimmune disease:
- Removal of the autoimmune antibodies that are attacking and damaging tissue
- Removal of immune complexes associated with disease
- Removal of inflammatory cytokines that are actively involved in autoimmune disease
- Making antibody-producing cells more sensitized to immune suppressing drugs
- Replacement of plasma components that are missing in certain autoimmune diseases7
So when you replace the damaged plasma with fresh plasma, you remove a lot of harmful components that are keeping you sick…and give your cells a healthier environment where they can thrive.
What Other Conditions Can Be Improved With Therapeutic Plasma Exchange?
Therapeutic Plasma Exchange has the potential to improve a wide variety of conditions including:
- Myasthenia gravis8
- Hyperviscosity syndrome (abnormally thick blood from myeloma)9
- Hyperviscosity syndrome (from Long-COVID-19)10
- Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)11
- Rheumatologic disease12
The American Society of Apheresis (ASFA) has published recommendations for treating health conditions with apheresis.13 Apheresis is any procedure that separates blood components and returns all or part of it to the patient’s body.
The ASFA’s recommendations are important because they guide doctors in their treatment decisions. They also guide insurance companies in determining what they’ll pay for.
According to the ASFA, plasma exchange is highly effective – and usually reimbursed by insurance companies – for the following conditions:14
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
- Myasthenia gravis
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- Hyperviscosity (thick blood) in hypergammaglobulinemia
- Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)
- Wilson’s disease
Plasma exchange is accepted as a secondary treatment – or in conjunction with other treatments – for these conditions:15
- Multiple sclerosis – especially if the condition hasn’t been responsive to other treatments, like steroids
- Mushroom poisoning
- Systemic lupus
- Neuromyelitis optica
These are conditions in which apheresis is not optimal, but should be considered when other treatments have failed:16
- Severe pancreatitis
- Stiff-person’s syndrome
- Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)
- Immune thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
But any condition with an autoimmune, degenerative, or neurologic component has the potential to improve with Therapeutic Plasma Exchange.
What Is a Therapeutic Plasma Exchange Treatment Like?
The plasma exchange process at MaxWell Clinic is specifically designed to be as safe and comfortable as possible.
Here’s how it works:
- REMOVE – The IV is placed into one arm and blood is drawn. The blood is then mixed with an anticoagulant.
- CLEAN – A special machine called a centrifuge separates your plasma from your blood cells. The aged, polluted plasma is discarded. Your blood cells are then mixed with clean, individualized, plasma-like replacement fluids, albumin, electrolytes, and other regeneration-promoting factors.
- REPLACE – The new solution of freshly-cleaned blood is infused back into your body via an IV placed in your opposite arm.
The process is continued until the predetermined amount (between 2.5 and 4 liters) of plasma has been removed. The amount is usually equal to all the plasma your body started with.
While it may sound like a complex process, the whole procedure is usually complete in just two hours.
Potential Benefits of Therapeutic Plasma Exchange
Our patients have reported a combination of the following improvements after completing Therapeutic Plasma Exchange:
- Improved memory
- Improved energy
- Improved mental clarity
- Improved concentration
- Improved sleep
- Improved immune system
- Improved problem-solving skills
- Improved quality of life
- Decreased pain
- Decreased fatigue
*Therapeutic Plasma Exchange may be one element of a treatment plan. Repeated plasma exchanges may be necessary. Results vary from patient to patient.
Review a few of our patient testimonials here.
The benefits of TPE come from the fresh plasma infused into your body, the antioxidant power of albumin, and the removal of the harmful toxins, antibodies, and damaged proteins from your body.
And since plasma exchange physically removes toxins from your body, it isn’t dependent on your detoxification pathways, which are usually compromised in chronically ill patients. It’s truly the ultimate detox therapy.
Therapeutic Plasma Exchange Risks and Side Effects
Plasma exchange is a well-studied and frequently used procedure for many autoimmune and neurological conditions. But with any medical procedure, side effects are possible.
At MaxWell Clinic, we use FDA-approved medical devices and medical supplies during our procedures. Potential side effects of Therapeutic Plasma Exchange include low calcium, low blood pressure, and allergic reactions – but these are generally very mild.
Historically, most side effects associated with plasma exchange and plasmapheresis result from using large catheters rather than peripheral IVs in the arm. When patients have to have this procedure repeatedly, the smaller veins in the arm can become difficult to access.
Fortunately, MaxWell Clinic has completed hundreds of plasma exchange procedures and has a very high rate of successfully accessing patients’ veins, even for patients needing regular procedures. This is important because peripheral IV access is much safer and has less risk for infection, blood clots, and problems with the catheter itself.
Why Choose MaxWell Clinic For Therapeutic Plasma Exchange?
MaxWell Clinic is the first and only outpatient facility in the United States dedicated to providing Therapeutic Plasma Exchange. We also:
- Are the original developer and world leader in Therapeutic Plasma Exchange
- Have some of the highest levels of customization and safety protocols
- Provide opportunities for systems medicine integration – offering comprehensive assessment and treatment to support your health
Our medical director, Dr. David Haase, is a Vanderbilt and Mayo-trained doctor and is double board-certified. In the last 20 years, Dr. Haase has taught more than 10,000 physicians his protocols that aid patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other chronic illnesses.
We’ve helped many patients in the Nashville area and beyond reach a higher quality of life. Check out a few of their testimonials here.
How To Get Started with Therapeutic Plasma Exchange
Your life should be lived without the fear of losing your brain and body function. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with a neurological or autoimmune condition, or if you’re worried about developing one of these conditions, there is hope! We believe your body is designed to heal.
To learn more about Therapeutic Plasma Exchange, click here to schedule your free 20-minute information phone call.
*This procedure is usually one element of a treatment plan. Repeated plasma exchanges may be necessary. Results may vary from patient to patient.
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