Recently we visited a number of clinics in Mexico. These included:
IMAQ - Dr. Castillo's clinic
San Diego Clinic
IMAQ - Dr. Castillo's clinic:
We met with Dr. Castillo on a Saturday afternoon while his clinic was open (about seven patients were in the IV room). We had the opportunity to ask him a number of questions about his practice and his approach to treating people with cancer. He seemed very friendly, relaxed and open and was comfortable fielding any question we had for him.
Experience – Dr. Castillo has over twenty years of experience in using alternative methods to treat individuals with cancer. He worked for four years at the Oasis of Hope hospital in the early 1980’s, under the direction of Dr. Contreras, Sr. This is where Dr. Castillo gained experience in working with the metabolic approach to cancer. (This includes a range of nutritional and immune support products administered through IV. Typically, this includes high doses of vitamin C, anti-oxidants, DMSO, and laetrile.)
After Dr. Contreras Sr. left Oasis, Dr. Castillo moved to the Gerson clinic for one and a half years, and then later worked at the BioMedical Center (Hoxsey clinic) for one year. He has now managed his own clinic for about nine years.
Overall, Dr. Castillo seemed to have a wealth of experience in treating all types of cancers, as well as a lot of experience in working with a range of therapies.
Treatment Philosophy – Dr. Castillo uses a range of tools to strengthen an individual’s immune system to bring them back into balance, reduce the tumor load, and prevent further occurrences. This includes metabolic therapy (IV’s of vitamin C, antioxidants, DMSO, laetrile, etc), nutritional and herbal products, and a Hoxsey-like herbal formula (when appropriate).
Doctor-Patient Relationship – We didn’t get the opportunity to talk with any of Dr. Castillo’s patients while we were visiting, but we have heard good feedback about Dr. Castillo from people we have talked with over the phone who have seen him. We got the impression that he is an attentive listener, that he sincerely cares about his patients, and that he’s easy to talk with.
Diet – Dr. Castillo’s clinic is an out-patient facility and doesn’t serve food. However, he’s very familiar with the Gerson diet (having worked there for a year and a half), and recommends a diet regimen for his patients. (did he comment on the diet he recommends for his patients?)
Costs –Dr. Castillo tries to keep his overhead low in order to offer affordable services to people – he feels this is a very high priority since most people with cancer seeking alternative treatment cannot afford to pay a lot of money for care. From what we saw and heard, it seems he has achieved this goal. He shares office space with two other doctors (a biological dentist and another alternative MD), and for most patients, he’s able to charge only $5000-$7000 for three weeks of care.
Herbal Medicine – Dr. Castillo works with herbal medicine, in addition to nutrition and nutriceuticals.
Homeopathy – Dr. Castillo said the other MD that works in his clinic is certified in homeopathy.
Mind/Body - Dr. Castillo said he recognized the importance of dealing with mental/emotional issues in the healing process, but that he did not have any professionals in-house that worked with mental/emotional healing. He said that when necessary, he refers patients to a local psychologist.
Facility – Overall, Dr. Castillo’s clinic seemed clean, well organized, professional, friendly, and comfortable. His on-sight testing equipment seemed very modern. The clinic includes an IV room which includes comfortable chairs facing an atrium, allowing patients who are receiving IV’s to watch the birds and focus on a relaxing setting.
Staff – Dr. Castillo’s staff seemed friendly, accommodating and flexible. We felt welcomed and supported during our visit.
Gerson – I asked Dr. Castillo about his experience with the Gerson therapy in particular. Specifically I wanted to know if he felt the Gerson diet included a sufficient amount of protein. He said that in his one and half years at the Gerson clinic, he had never seen a patient show any signs of protein deficiency. He added that the vegetables in the diet contain a sufficient amount of protein – if the person on the diet follows the program as designed. He also said that although he valued the Gerson approach, he often felt while working at the Gerson clinic that the diet and supplement regimens should have been more customized for each patient. (It’s been a long time since he’s worked at the Gerson clinic, however, so this is not a comment on their current program.)
Laetrile – I asked Dr. Castillo how significant laetrile was in his overall tool kit for treating people with cancer. He said that laetrile was a significant tool – when used appropriately – and that he would definitely feel handicapped without it. He also said that he has seen excellent results with certain types of cases when using a hoxsey-like formula in combination with laetrile.
Hyperthermia – I asked Dr. Castillo about his opinion on hyperthermia. He said he chooses not to use it with his patients, since he believes it only provides superficial and temporary relief of the cancer. (Hyperthermia is the practice of raising the temperature of the patient to a level at which their cancer cells die. Local and whole body hyperthermia is used by some doctors to reduce tumor load.) He prefers instead to address the underlying cause of the cancer, by strengthening the immune system, detoxifying and nourishing the individual.
San Diego Clinic:
Filiberto Munoz, MD met with us with his colleague Vincent Gammill, ScD, a research biochemist. Both seemed very friendly, articulate, focused and open to answering all of our questions. Experience – Dr. Munoz has worked with many integrative/alternative cancer clinics, including those of Manner, Hoxsey, Freeman, and Scheidl. About five years ago he became medical director of the San Diego Clinic where he instituted the use of German immune-boosting strategies.
Vincent Gammill has been a research biochemist for approximately 20 years during which time he has synthesized, extracted, and formulated hundreds of medicines. He was the first commercial manufacturer of cetyl myristoleate and has been working with cancer vaccines since the early 1990’s. Although not a direct employee of the clinic, Vincent (who prefers first-name informality) has been a clinical research consultant for the clinic for the past ten years. He also has a San Diego area consultation service (for clinicians and patients), and an R&D laboratory for the design of new pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals.
Treatment Philosophy – Dr. Munoz spoke about the work he’s doing with cancer vaccines, tumor-site injectables, and immune support therapies. It was clear from our discussion that he likes keeping up on the latest and greatest research for cancer treatment (conventional and alternative), and that he’s very thoughtful in discerning how he can best incorporate various approaches in his practice. Dr. Munoz does have a background in standard metabolic therapy (that is using IV vitamin C, antioxidants, laetrile, immune boosters, etc), but in practice he relies heavily on correcting immune dysfunctions and stimulating the immune system in ways that directly target the cancer. If the immune dysfunction can't be remedied, the strategy becomes one of finding a safe and effective multi-modal strategy for bypassing immune inadequacies.
Dr. Munoz seemed very creative as a practitioner, both in terms of seeking out new ways to help a particular patient, but also in terms of how to treat patients that have little or no money to spend on health care. Overall we got the impression that he is really conscientious in his work and that he really cares about his patients.
Dr. Munoz said he was hoping that there would be more communication and sharing of ideas amongst the various doctors in the Tijuana area that are treating cancer patients with alternative methods. He mentioned a few other doctors that were open to this type of exchange of ideas (Dr. Alvarez at Stella Maris for example), but most were not interested.
Vincent Gammill spoke at length about the research related to cancer vaccines, comparisons of nutritional and alternative approaches, and the unique strategies that they use at this clinic. His major emphasis was the importance of understanding the mechanism of action of all medications/nutrients and their biochemical pathways. Only then can one develop a coherent protocol.
Laetrile – I asked Dr. Munoz how significant laetrile was in his treatment protocol. He often uses a sub-component of laetrile (a benzaldehyde clathrate), which he said was an important natural medication in his tool kit.
Facility – The clinic is used mainly for consultation, examination and testing. Treatments such as the IV infusions take place at the BioMedics Institute. Dr. Munoz is making changes in the San Diego Clinic so that it conforms to Mexican regulations such as tile floors instead of carpet. That way more of the treatments can take place at the clinic. We toured BioMedics Institute later in the day. It seemed clean, professional, and nicely decorated. It included exam/consultation rooms and rooms for IV therapy, hyperthermia, and radiation.
Diet – Vincent and Dr. Munoz were both concerned that the patients who come to the area do not have many options for good healthy food. (The hotel that most of their patients stay at is surrounded by fast food restaurants and doesn’t provide kitchen services.) So – Dr. Munoz is in the process of putting together a housing facility for patients – one which would keep the cost of their stay to a minimum and provide good food. This is still in the planning and design stage. Vincent emphasizes that whatever diet the patient was on the preceding five years did not serve them well. This must be the starting place of designing changes. As an example he points to vegetarians who get cancer and the delicacy that is often required in finding a solution that does not violate their dietary values.
Mind/Body – Dr. Munoz also said he recognized the importance of dealing with mental/emotional issues in the healing process, but that he did not work directly with any professionals that worked with emotional healing. Like other doctors in the area, he said that when necessary, he refers patients to a local psychologist.
Hyperthermia – Dr. Munoz sometimes recommends microwave hyperthermia for his patients. He contracts out the hyperthermia treatment with specialists at BioMedical Institute, which he believes are the most skilled in this type of therapy. They say that high rates of remission are routine with proper patient screening and the use of hyperthermia sensitizers.
Doctor/Patient Relationship – We’ve talked with people that have worked with Dr. Munoz and Vincent Gammill and have heard excellent reports – the patients felt Dr. Munoz and Vincent were genuinely concerned about their situation and were putting forth their best effort possible in both keeping the patient costs down and providing optimal care.
Costs – Because they vary the treatment so much, it was impossible for Dr. Munoz and Vincent to give us a price range. In general, they try to work within the means of the patient.