Today, the topic of stem cells seems to be everywhere. More patients are opting for new and unconventional options to fix or repair their bodies. Stem Cell therapies relieve inflammation and pain and repair tissue damage. They also influence our bodies immune system to orchestrate and promote healing. Stem cells can be injected into a damaged or inflamed joint and can also be injected systemically to combat disease. Doctors are finding new ways to incorporate stem cell therapy into patient care almost on a daily basis. A few of the conditions that have seen great results from stem cell therapy are: overused or strained joints, arthritis, sciatica, degenerative disease of the spine, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, Autism, ADHD, autoimmune, chronic co infections (e.g. Lyme & viruses) and the list goes on.
Stem cell therapy is not new. Medical practitioners have employed stem cells in the treatment of certain diseases for many decades. Personally, I have been using stem cell therapy for aesthetic and regenerative purposes for over 5 years and many in my field have well over a decade of experience. In the past, practitioners were limited to using a patient’s own stem cells. Thankfully, in 2019 we have commercially available products that are extremely safe and effective.
All living humans have stem cells in our bodies. The younger we are the greater the number of stem cells we have in our tissues. The highest concentrations of usable stem cells in an adult are located in the fat or adipose tissue and in the bone marrow. Starting around age 30, the number of our own stem cells begins to decline. This slow decline will continue every day of every year until death.
Similarly, as the amount of our own stem cells decline with time so does their ability to function properly. Stem cells seem to get a little sluggish, as they grow old. Therefore, they are not as good at doing stem cell things like building or healing tissues and moderating inflammation. At the same time that our stem cells are ready for retirement our bodies are burdened by years of accumulated damage from disease, stress, environmental pollutants and overused or damaged joints. Our overall health starts to decline, as there is no healthy response from the senescent tissue builders and system checkers.
Until recently, doctors were only able to offer stem cell therapy by removing stem cells from the patient and transferring them to where they were needed-a so called autologous stem cell transfer. These cells were harvested from the patient’s bone marrow or fatty tissue. Harvesting stem cells from bone marrow can be painful and has some risk associated with it.
The commonly used commercially available stem cells are mesenchymal stem cells. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are derived from the Wharton’s jelly portion of the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord is harvested at the time of a C-section. Testing is done prior to harvest to ensure that the donor and parents are healthy individuals free of communicable diseases.
After processing and purification, MSCs are then stored in liquid nitrogen until the time of use. MSC’s are immune privileged and are not recognized as being foreign by our immune system and therefore the likelihood of an allergic or immune reaction to the cells is very low. By FDA standards, MSC’s must have certain properties and possess certain receptors. It is important to know what types of products your practitioner is using as well as the reputation of the company providing the product when deciding on stem cell therapy.
Several years ago, when I first started learning stem cell therapy, I was trained by a practitioner who embraced treating the entire individual, not just a joint, to improve results from stem cell therapies. The success rate with modifying certain factors and mitigating other diseases has proven to be very valuable and increase the success of stem cell therapy. This is important to maximize the return on investment as well as improve the result of your therapy. Before opting for stem cell therapy, make sure that sure your health care professional is considering all the factors that will maximize your results.
In summary, stem cell therapy is becoming more common and has many applications in helping one stay healthy and active. Injured weekend warriors, degenerated/painful joints, and autoimmune diseases can see improvement with stem cell therapy.