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Living Well Interview Series with Dr. Ralf Kleef on Hyperthermia - Blog Puriya

July 01, 2019

Recorded Live, listen to Dr. Ralf Keef, Founder of World-Renowned Hyperthermia Institute in Vienna Austria, Fever Therapy Expert, and Distinguished Immunologist & Integrative Oncologist.

Hear about Dr. Kleef’s unique background and training around the World, Learn more about fevers and how it’s the body’s most natural response, Hear about the different approaches Dr. Kleef uses to harness the power of the body’s natural healing abilities, Listen to how he treats many different aliments using this approach, and discover the truth behind common myths about fevers.


Read the transcribed version below…

Dr. Michele Burklund: Hi Everyone, I’m Dr. Michele Burklund, I’m the Chief Science Officer here at Puriya and this is our Living Well Series. We are Live in Vienna Austria right now with Dr. Kleef at his clinic and today we will be talking about fevers and how it can be a healing and natural response for the body. Before we get started on that I’m going to read a little bit about your background so feel free add anything you would like during that time too. Dr. Kleef is a medical doctor here in Vienna where he attended medical school, you attended medical school in Austria Correct?. He obtained additional studies in naturopathy and general medicine and then went on to do his postdoctoral research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York where he also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in immunology.

He was head of a commission of experts on fever therapy for cancer at the office of alternative medicine & the National Institute of Health (NIH) from 1996-1998 in the United States.

He was also the Scientific Director of the First Austrian Hyperthermia Congress at Vienna’s Medical University. I know that you talked to me a little bit about your training in Germany with your additional training yin hyperthermia and fevers. Tell us a little bit about that as well, it sounds very interesting.

Doctor Kleef: Hello everybody, When I was a very young doctor I happened to join the first clinic in Germany that had started to use hyperthermia for cancer. I was very young and inexperienced and it immediately hit me that this is what I would like to do. I was trained in classic oncology and offered an attending position in Germany but I refused it and decided to go into immunology and went to Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and this was the time before the Internet was big and I managed to locate Dr. Ralph Moss who wrote of William Coley, William Coley was or is the father of cancer immunotherapy. William Coley was a surgeon at Sloan Kettering in the 1800s until the 1930s and he operated on the girlfriend of the young Rockefeller, her name was Bessie Dashiell and she had a sarcoma and he amputated the leg or the arm, I don’t know-the limb. Six months later this young girl was dead. It was utterly frustrating and that’s where it got into studying a case where the patient had a very big squamous cell carcinoma on the neck the size of a grapefruit who went into complete remission when he had a high fever and infection. He tracked this gentleman down 8 years later the guy was still alive, happy, and healthy. That’s when he decided to create something called Coley’s toxins. His daughter became my very best friend, in the ’70s. We became like the couple like Harold & Maude from the ’70’s. Singing “if you want to be free, be free… there’s a million ways to be. It’s the only place to be..” This was a great film.

Ever since I’ve been doing this, when the time of the paradox of alternative medicine, which now is called OCCAM Office of Cancer Complementary Cancer Alternative Medicine, he invited me to head the task force which was a big honor and a great joy to work on the history of Coley toxins and this was done 20 years ago I wrote it, it’s called “Endotoxin tumor regression” the problem is that no one is interested in this because you cannot patent fevers and that’s very sad because I think fevers are something we should talk about.

DB: You definitely have an extensive background in fevers and immunology too which is the core, the root of fevers too. I think that a lot of people have questions on fevers and a lot of people have associations with them as well. So, I will start with the first question: Could you tell us more about how the body initiates the fever response and why it’s an important process in the body. (phone ringing). This is what happens when we’re live. (Dr. Kleef answering a phone call at 6:48).

DF: Sorry this was live! So, Michele asked me about the importance of fevers and how fevers are being initiated. The reason why warm-blooded animals get fevers-we are warm-blooded animals, is three reasons: bacterial infection, viral infection, and cancer. In cold-blooded animals like fish or frogs they seek warmer waters to increase their body temperatures in time of sickness. This is very very interesting. And, it had been shown that lowering the fevers with drugs like Paracetamol or Ibuprofen, and Aspirin actually increase morbidity and mortality. In other words, you will be more sick and die of the infection if you prematurely interrupt the fever. That’s way very few infectious disease specialists actually agree with using fever-lowering drugs. If it’s of course, too heavy, you have to interrupt but in the beginning it would be very very good to have the fever come in and to support the immune system.

DB: Yes, I think that’s great but most people or a lot of people still today when they get a fever they think its a bad response and they don’t realize that is such an important healing response.

DK: It’s the opposite! The inability to get a fever is very bad. I have been asking pretty much like 20,000 cancer patients about their history if they have had a fever. And the overwhelming majority, over 98% said they haven’t had a fever in ten or twenty years. I wish that for the healthy population that all of us had a fever, which means a minimum of 39 (Celsius) for one to two times per year. Three times a year is a little too much already to control infection but one which only should last for a day-that’s enough. Just one time, a really good fever then we have something I call in lay terms “body building of the immune system”. It’s like with our body, if we don’t use our muscles they will be wasting, this is what happens when people are bedridden. In just four weeks they can lose all their muscle and that’s why we have to move our body and the same reason for our immune system. So, if somebody hasn’t had a fever and is coming to me for preventative medicine and hasn’t had one in ten or twenty years my alarm system goes off.

DB: Yes, that’s interesting because how if… people go through the year without having a fever would you recommend them to inducing it themselves?

DK: It’s hard to induce fever themselves, um,..

DB: I’m mean not necessarily themselves or going to place like sauna. How would you recommend that as a daily lifestyle to keep up and support their immune system?

DK: Many people always ask about sauna, and of course the sauna can never induce an internal hyperthermia. What happens in a sauna is that hot air is hitting the skin, and the thermoreceptors in the skin are actually making alarms telling the body its dangerous for the brain and body, and so temporarily, for 10 or 20 minutes the veins in the skin shut down and traps the heat in 1.6 or 1.8 meters of skin. Then after ten or fifteen minutes in the classical sauna, those shunts open again and at 110, 120 beats per minute this hot blood is pumped in the body and the sauna client says “this is when I have to get out!”. You can achieve this in an a different mechanism. The classical way is a heated bath, and you increase, increase, increase, but I wouldn’t want people do that because it can be very tough for their circulatory system. You cannot sweat properly when being immersed in the water, only on the head, and its been shown that infrared hyperthermia physiologically imitates fever much better than the classical over warming baths. So many things happen, with infrared there’s many many data and clinical studies on that that good even for major depression in the Journal of Psychiatry, JAMA, a very respected journal published that a hyperthermia, just a simple 30 minutes of hyperthermia alleviated symptoms of major depression dramatically for six weeks. So, yes, I think that fever induction of hyperthermia is one thing of how we can train, the other thing of course, and I don’t want to go into it too much now but there’s a big debate about vaccinations and the pros and cons. And, it’s tempting to speculate that we over vaccinate, specifically very young children. I’m not a pro in the vaccination discussion and its a very heated debate there are many stories of children who died and had vaccinations and there are many stories of children who died that didn’t have vaccinations. Though it’s a very interesting topic, I would be quite cautious with vaccinations and only do those vaccinations, which are necessary. For example, few vaccines are necessary unless you are severely immunocompromised.

DB: So, at your clinic here, you do a lot of different types of hyperthermia, this is a very innovative approach. In the States, we do it a little bit but you have a very extensive setup here in Vienna. Can you tell us more about the types of patients you see, the conditions you treat, and how it can help on specific body parts, and treatments in general.

DK: yes, basically, I’m trained as a classical immuno-oncologist so the majority of patient’s cancer, including end stages from all of the World, and stage four. All over the World from Alaska, New Zealand, Canada, from everywhere. But we also do treat patients with allergic diseases, rhinitis, or Lyme disease, patients with chronic infections, which is a minority. And those types of patients have a very complex treatment setting, which is basically everything from local hyperthermia, regional hyperthermia, or whole hyperthermia, to infuse classical fever induction, metronomic or lower dose chemotherapies, after chemotherapy immune testing with the exception of um,… Right now we are treating a young man with a sarcoma and a young men with cancer of the testes where the protocols know that 80-90% of them can be cured with classic chemo and then combined with hyperthermia and a very special treatment we have is our fever therapy treatment which is IL-2, where we are using and in America Donald Trump signed two months ago the right to try, that means that cancer patients can also try new and innovative um, approaches, and there’s no guarantee, in which they have the right to try. In America it would mean we would have to have a phase one study…..So, fever induction seems to be an extremely promising way of T cell…

DB: Yes, that is very exciting, so you’re using a drug to induce the body’s natural response, to stimulate a fever, and stimulate the immune system.

RK: Right, it’s a drug called interlukin-2… it can be quite a dangerous drug, it can have something called cytokine release syndrome and vascular leak syndrome, so we, what we developed its quite fascinating, we use the drug very carefully in a way that induces the fever response, and of course, very attentive care and measurement to keep it in the safe range and that is why we have such good results.

DB: that’s great! That’s very exciting. So I some questions I’m going to ask and we’re going to separate the facts from fiction on these statements: So, a lot of people believe that high fevers can be dangerous and always cause brain damage: That’s a myth that’s been circulating on the internet for a long time.

DK: That’s bullshit! No, the point is more clever than we think. The main issue is convulsions in young children, my brother has a 2 or 3 year daughter she had convulsions

DB: yes, febrile seizures…

DK: My brother called me and asked to go to the hospital… but even a fever cramp is extremely rarely lethal. It’s very very rare but if you know your child is prone to them you keep a little suppository of Valium, keep it in the fridge so… and within two minutes the child will get out of it… So, that um, people die of high fever, of course it can happen, but if it’s running to high you can do something to drop it. A good way to lower fever is homeopathic Belladonna that can work in about 85% of patients, and cooling, just cooling off with wet towels, give them enough fluid.

Phone ringing….

DB: part of the process of being live is answering the phone.

DK: yeah, sorry about that.

DB: yes, well another myth is that high fevers are dangerous in children and I think you were getting into this a little bit with that there is a small risk of febrile seizures, but even those don’t show damage from those seizures so it…

DK: No,

DB: I feel like a lot of parents have that deep fear with their child when they get a fever, so it’s good to hear your point of view and for them to better understand the natural process of fevers because that’s very important.

DK: so if you know your child has a fever, or especially a seizure prone child, just watch it,… and have suppositories in the fridge, so you think that might happen. When you give this than in two minutes the fever gradually and you won’t probably need to rush the child to the ER…

DB: And again, that’s a very very small percentage too.

DK: Oh, very, very very

DB: So, I will ask you one more question, because I know you are very busy today but you actually do quite a bit of amazing treatments here and here at Puriya we believe in treating the whole person, so tell us about other things you do to treat the whole person. Like the mind-body-medicine and everything you do here at your clinic.

DK: I mean diagnosis comes first so before we are putting together a treatment plan for each patient, we try to find out as much as possible about each patient including their immunologic setup, including their social and emotional situation, including questions about nutrition, I mean it all plays a role, and of course, the tumor markers and microenvironment, it’s really quite sophisticated technique, and some genetic analysis as well…..How immune cells and cancer cells communicate and what are the resistance mechanisms, … so it’s a very complex situation to fully assess the patient.

And then of course, the most important thing in our setting is that every patient as a partner….

We would never promise a patient that we can cure their cancer, nobody knows if we can, but we know that patients who are fully dedicated and have assigned themselves to overcome this challenge, um, have a better outcome….

I should mention the work of Kate Turner, and her work on spontaneous remissions, … unexplained, she found that the psycho-social and the feelings were more important than the disease itself…Her book is called Radical Remission.

So we are, we actually invite patients to join in small groups where they confront the challenge, I call it the challenge, to find everything within themselves that makes them strong, happy, trustful, and then the basic foundations of healing. And, when we do the chemotherapy, we combine it with hyperthermia in order to make is more effective, and then part of it would be Mistletoe therapy and we test them from the blood to see which tree, and mistletoe grows on different trees like apple, oak, and birch and you can find out which mistletoe, which is your tree. Then, we inject those patients with mistletoe…

We use substances like Artesunate, …curcumin, some people promote intravenous but we like oral,

DB: So there’s a lot. There’s a lot in the diagnosis part, at looking at mental health, physical health, nutrition, lifestyle, genetics, how the person responds, their immune system, and then the psycho-social elements, the mind-body. So many different areas go into healing and many different treatments to reach that and I think, we talked about this a lot in integrative medicine, and its the idea of taking conventional medicine or parts of it and natural medicine and combining it to enhance both of them together.

DK: It’s all about synergy…

My mentors….. once told me that its not alternative medicine, there’s good medicine and bad medicine.

DB: Exactly! yes, I don’t like the word alternative. It’s integrative in a way, it’s just good medicine.

DK: We have to understand that our bodies have an amazing ability to heal and that’s very much altered in the way that we inhabit our body, we worship our body, we keep it healthy, we are conscious of our body in terms of what is going on, and most of all what we see, whatever comes up in life, as a burden or a challenge…. Lord of the rings analogy…

DB: Yes, it’s all about perception of the situation.

DB: Well, thank you for your time and I’m glad you could share today with our viewers about fevers.

DK: Sorry for the rude interruptions, thank you for the interview and I think you are a very special lady.

DB: Thank you very much for taking the time.

Want to connect with Dr. Kleef?  Click here

We named our interview series ‘Living Well’ based on the Ancient Greek term “Eudaimonia” translating to doing and living well. The Greek Philosopher, Aristotle uses this term in relation to balance in all areas of life. At Puriya, we believe that living well encompasses much more than health but all aspects of life.

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