Mike Tyson faces recovery with history of experimental health treatments

Mike Tyson has released videos showing he still can punch with power. Now is a chance to see how he heals − potentially with experimental methods.

At 57, Tyson must recover from a recent ulcer flare-up before he can resume full-scale training for his rescheduled fight with Jake Paul on Nov. 15 in Texas, according to his representatives. The traditional treatment for ulcers is medicine that reduces stomach acid, but Tyson’s approach to many health issues has been non-traditional.

This goes beyond his touting the mental-health benefits of psychedelics. For example:

●Tyson is promoting the use of synthetic testosterone and other products to boost low testosterone levels through a business partnership with Ocenture, a company based in Florida. The products advertised through the partnership involving Tyson are considered performance-enhancing and banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), which oversees combat sports in Texas.

●Tyson has credited a doctor who uses protein derived from placenta and umbilical cords for resolving his once-disabling back pain. The injections are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may run afoul WADA prohibitions, according to Andrew Maggio, manager of media relations for WADA.

●Tyson also has been injected with exosomes − cell-derived particles that contain protein, according to WADA − as part of a non-FDA treatment meant to aid healing, according to Brad Rowe, who helped train Tyson for the boxer’s exhibition against Roy Jones Jr. in 2020. Rowe said Tyson also has used "biohacking" interventions such as stem cells, electrostimulation and a hyperbaric chamber to address health issues.

Tyson and Paul will face random drug testing the day of their fight, as required in Texas of all fighters in a sanctioned pro bout. If the winner of a bout tests positive for a banned substance, the outcome is changed to "No Decision,'' vacating the victory.

"Mr. Tyson is not and has not been using any medical treatment that would be banned under the Texas Commission,'' Tyson's publicist, Jo Mignano, told USA TODAY Sports by email. She provided no further comment.

Mike Tyson and testosterone treatments

In April, a month after the Tyson-Paul fight was announced, a press release addressed Tyson's role in providing treatments to men with low testosterone levels. Tyson cited his use of "hormone therapy'' in founding a company called Iron Remedy MD, described in the release as a virtual clinical practice.

"I want men everywhere to know Iron Remedy MD has the solutions to help you be the best version of yourself," he said in the press release.

Rowe, the trainer who worked with Tyson, said the boxer had consulted doctors about testosterone treatment. Rowe also said Tyson stopped the treatments when he began training for the exhibition fight with Jones in 2020 to avoid testing positive for synthetic testosterone. Because the exhibition took place in California, Tyson faced mandatory drug testing before the fight.

Synthetic testosterone, promoted by Tyson's business partnership, is an anabolic steroid. Anabolic steroids are on TDLR's list of banned substances.

Drug testing in Texas

It's less clear whether the proteins injected Tyson would lead to a positive drug test.

"These are proteins derived from placenta and umbilical cord and there will be growth factors in these products, some of which may be prohibited,'' WADA's Maggio said.

But detecting the banned use of growth factors is "one of the weakest areas of anti-doping,'' said Oliver Catlin, president of Anti-Doping Sciences Institute & Banned Substances Control Group.

A key part of Texas rules states: "The administration or use of any drugs, alcohol, stimulants, or injections in any part of the body, either before or during a bout to or by a contestant is prohibited unless a drug is prescribed, administered or authorized by a licensed physician and the executive director authorizes the contestant to use the drug.''

Fighters can apply for Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) if an illness or medical condition requires the use of medication on the list of banned substances, said Tela Mange, communications manager for TDLR. She said the TDLR is prohibited from providing information about Tyson or Paul regarding TUEs because of HIPAA privacy regulations.

But Mange also said, "Use of any pharmacological substance that is not approved for human therapeutic use is prohibited.''

A positive drug test would result in a 90-day suspension and a possible fine. But it would not jeopardize the fight because the lab results would not be immediately available.

Mike Tyson's use of proteins from placenta and umbilical cords

In August 2022, Tyson was photographed in a wheelchair at Miami International Airport. He later said he was suffering from sciatica, a nerve condition that creates pain, inflammation and numbness in an affected leg, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“And when it flares up, I can’t even talk," Tyson told Newsmax TV.

Less than a year later, Tyson said, he was pain-free. He discussed his recovery on an episode of his podcast that featured Abhinav Gautam, an anesthesiologist in Miami who treated Tyson and whom the boxer called a “pain reliever extraordinaire.’’

The treatment involves injecting proteins that come from placenta and umbilical cords, according to Gautam. He said he pioneered a method “to trick the body to think it’s in the womb’’ to accelerate the healing process and also injected Tyson's hips and Achilles, according to an interview on the boxer's podcast, "Hotboxin' with Mike Tyson.''

The FDA has not approved any products derived from amniotic membrane, placenta or umbilical cord blood to treat pain, the FDA said in a statement provided to USA TODAY Sports.

A representative of Gautam responded to an email from USA TODAY Sports seeking comment and including written questions but did not provide a comment or answers.

On the podcast, Gautam said the treatment is approved by WADA. Not so, according to WADA.

The proteins used in the treatment contain growth factors, which have been used by athletes in attempt to enhance performance. Some of the growth factors may be prohibited by WADA depending on how they're used, according to Maggio, WADA's manager of media relations and communications.

What's next for Mike Tyson?

Tyson said his doctor advised him to lighten his training load for a few weeks, according to a statement released May 31.

Lawrence Kosinski, a Chicago-area gastroenterologist, said he thinks Tyson will need four to six weeks to recover from the ulcer flare-up.

Rowe, who trained Tyson in 2020, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the boxer reached out to someone else.

“Mike has access to an amazing specialist in the biohacking world that can facilitate healing faster,’’ Rowe said.

Biohacking, Rowe said, encompasses a wide range of interventions that includes experimental peptide BPC-157, banned by WADA, and a host of other interventions banned by WADA. Those include the amino acid glutamine, periods of fasting and stem cells.

In addition to healing from the ulcer flare-up, Tyson also must presumably be healthy enough in general, at 58, to climb into the ring for the fight to take place.

“It will happen,’’ Rowe said. “Too much money to be made on both sides.’’

Follow Josh Peter on social media @joshlpeter11

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mike Tyson uses health treatments lacking FDA approval