Fast Facts for Patients: What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Modern science is providing wellness-seeking people with many “hacks” that can help them to live vibrant, pain-free lives. One of the “hot topics” at the moment is something called stem cell therapy. If this is something you’re considering, it’s important to have an understanding of what patients should expect. Stem cell therapy is a widening area of medicine that holds promise for people living with a variety of conditions and injuries. Is it for you? Take a look at the basics of stem cell therapy from behind a holistic lens.
Stem Cells: The Basics
Stem cells are highly important to human development because they are essentially the cells that generate all of our specialized cells. With stem cell treatment, scientists are able to divide stem cells to create new stem cells. Typically, stem cells are derived from the following sources:
- Fat tissue (adipose)
- Placenta tissue
- Cord blood
- Umbilical cords
- Bone marrow
What makes stem cells so uniquely beneficial for healing in a wide variety of patients is that these cells are not yet distinguished. What this means is that a stem cell hasn’t grown into a specific cell type with a specific function just yet. As a result, stem cells are highly adaptable cells that will become whatever type of cell is needed in the area of the body where the injection occurs. The benefits of stem cells extend beyond the initial injection.
Stems cells happen to be self-replicating cells. This is crucial for healing. The first tier of healing occurs when the cells injected at a site become whatever cell variety is needed at that particular site. However, the benefits increase exponentially as those newly distinguished cells replicate on their own over and over again to create an exponential amount of specialized cells. This is why stem cell therapy actually increases its benefits as time passes.
What Is the Purpose of Stem Cell Therapy?
As you can see, the duplication of stem cells following injection creates powerful potential for the body to begin a natural process of regeneration at the cellular level. The ultimate goal of stem cell therapy is to replace cells within the body that have been damaged due to age, disease and chronic conditions with fresh, actively duplicating cells. Stem cell therapy is very much viewed as a therapy instead of a cure when it is used to treat serious conditions. It is increasingly being used by people seeking natural treatment options for the following conditions:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Orthopedic conditions
- Traumatic injuries
The benefit to stem cell therapy is that it is considered a noninvasive treatment option. In addition, it is an effective strategy for targeting specific areas instead of subjecting the entire body to treatments that are intended to work on a single organ, area of the body or body system. Many patients seeking to improve quality of life when living with potentially debilitating conditions appreciate the fact that stem cell therapies are designed to allow the body to heal naturally. As a result, many patients are able to experience positive results without some of the common side effects of popular medications for pain management.
The Process of Stem Cell Therapy
Physicians use a number of methods when administering stem calls during stem cell therapy. A common way is through intravenous (IV) administration. It’s also possible to target local “problem sites” by injecting stem cells directly into an area of the body. Additionally, it is sometimes determined that the most effective delivery method for stem cells is an “intrathecal” injection directly into the spinal canal.
Are There Any Safety Concerns With Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy is something that patients really need to do their research on before coming to a conclusion. Risks are always going to be involved when it comes to cutting-edge treatment options that are still in the early stages. The most important thing you can do if you’re considering stem cell therapy is to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable clinic. If a clinic is reputable, your care provider will spend time going over the benefits and risks associated with this therapy.
Stem cell therapy is considered to be generally very safe. This is a noninvasive, natural treatment option that millions of people around the world have successfully used to speed up healing and manage chronic conditions. However, there are some concerns to know about.
First, there is always the possibility for an adverse reaction at an injection site. In some cases, it is also possible for injected stem cells to move positions. This can cause inappropriate cells to grow and multiply within areas of the body that do not require new stem cells. Additionally, there are some concerns regarding tumor growth that is linked with stem cell therapy. There is also a slight risk of contamination of cells following removal even if you are using your own stem cells for therapy.
Protecting Yourself When Seeking Stem Cell Therapy
Breakthroughs are being made in stem cell research every day! That means that the day when stem cell therapy is a common treatment for people looking for healing and pain management is likely right around the corner. For now, this is still considered somewhat of an experimental treatment option. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) keeps a very tight watch on how and why stem cell therapies are administered by practitioners around the country. The agency offers two key pieces of advice for anyone interested in seeking stem cell treatments.
According to the FDA’s official word on stem cell therapies, it’s important for patients to ensure that any treatments they are seeking out are legal. The easiest way to do this is to verify that you’re receiving an FDA-certified treatment. However, there’s still the potential that everything is above board with the therapy you’re seeking even if it doesn’t have full FDA approval as of right now. A treatment that is being reviewed clinically under an Investigational New Drug (IND) application is also sanctioned by the FDA.
Are There Any Alternatives to Stem Cell Therapy?
If you’re not ready to pursue something as extreme as stem cell therapy at the moment, you can still pursue natural treatment options and therapies to help treat or manage a condition. Many people looking for restorative, regenerative therapy options that don’t require injections settle on chiropractic adjustments. Chiropractic treatment has been found to be effective for people looking for pain management and increased mobility when living with orthopedic conditions. While chiropractic care is not necessarily intended to alter the underling causes of ailments, it can help the body to get in a state that enables healing by reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow. In one recent study, chiropractic care was shown to be an effective intervention for lessening some known symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The bottom line is that patients today have many options for naturally regenerative therapies that can help them to heal from injuries and chronic conditions.