Stem cell therapy for degenerative conditions, stiffness, pain

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Stem cells have tremendous potential for treating disease and degenerative conditions by regenerating damaged tissue, and have enormous potential for improving the lives of those who suffer from chronic pain and immobility.

According to Medical News Today, a web-based publishing outlet featuring a consortium of researchers and doctors from universities all over the world, findings from over 30 studies have been released since the beginning of January 2016. That explosion of research comes in the wake of an important discovery: Stem cells provide nearly limitless potential for regenerative medicine because the human body already contains them. 

Stock Photo, St. George News
Stock photo, St. George News

From cancer treatments that combine chemotherapy with stem cell therapy to a promising alternative to traditional treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, using the model of regeneration to set the clock back instead of medication is taking hold.

Regeneration after disease or injury is becoming a preferred treatment method to traditional procedures and remedies that treat the symptoms while leaving the disease unchecked, allowing it to flourish.

In essence, stem cell therapy utilizes cells that have the potential to become virtually any cell in the body. They can divide and multiply indefinitely, allowing them to regenerate tissue, muscle, tendons and so on.

Combining the regenerative treatments with traditional Eastern medicine follows the premise of restoring the health of an individual as a whole, as opposed to treating symptoms and disease.  This integration of Eastern practices with Western medicine is gaining popularity and has even coined the term, “integrative medicine.”

Five Pillars of Health, Photo courtesy of East West Health and Wellness, St. George News
Five Pillars of Health, photo courtesy of East West Health, St. George News

East West Health in St. George is one clinic that exemplifies this integration and adheres to the traditional belief that the body is programmed to heal itself if given the right conditions, which can be created through innovative treatment options.

There’s never been a better time, as people are living longer. According to a 2009 U.S. Census Bureau report, the population of those 65 and older in the United States will more than double by 2050, exceeding the population of those under 15.

However, despite having a longer life span, many people are still susceptible to degenerative conditions that limit mobility and reduce their quality of life.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases reports that arthritis and other rheumatic diseases such as bursitis, fibromyalgia and gout collectively affect more than 46 million Americans.

This is where amniotic stem cell therapy comes in.  Stem cells are able to transform into the same type of cell that was injured to promote healing. Despite the fact that humans have these cells that lay dormant until injury or disease triggers their release, that number decreases with age, St. George clinic Director Cade Archibald for East West Health said. 

These cells originate from amniotic allograft tissue that is extracted at birth without any harm or injury to the baby or mother.  The amniotic fluid is sent to a lab for processing, using a strict Food and Drug Administration-approved method to prepare it for medical use, he said.

Stock Photo, St. George News
Stock photo, St. George News

Regardless of where the disease or damage occurs, in cartilage, muscle, ligaments or even bone, stem cells replace the damaged tissue by growing new tissue.

According to East West Health, delivering a high concentration of these cells into the injured area provides what the body naturally would have if age wasn’t a factor.  

Within 72 hours the patient typically feels relief and damaged tissue improves gradually over the next four weeks. Many patients report an increase in strength and flexibility, along with a reduction in pain, Archibald said.

Sometimes it takes longer, depending on the amount of tissue damage, he said, but this is a long-term process of regeneration, not short term pain relief.  Even more importantly, tissue continues to improve for approximately 250 days.

Stem cells used in the treatment will continue replicating themselves and replacing damaged cells, increasing strength and reducing the amount of damage and pain by healing, instead of treating symptoms while leaving the degeneration unchecked.

In addition, amniotic stem cell therapy can have the same regenerative effects for arthritis, autoimmune disorders and degenerative conditions as well, Archibald said. 

A 2007 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research cited significant results in treating autoimmune diseases using stem cell therapy. Research shows how these cells can create a new, functional immune system in addition to replacing diseased cells with new ones.   

Focused on prevention of disease through balance, East West Health blends traditional Eastern therapies with innovative Western technology. And while amniotic stem cell therapy is one of many regenerative procedures provided, there are others, including: 

  • Supartz injections: Supartz is made up of a highly purified sodium hyaluronate, which is also called hyaluronic acid or hyaluronan, a naturally occurring substance that is found in the cartilage of joints as well as in the fluid within the joints. in a healthy joint, hyaluronan acts as both a lubricant as well as a shock absorber.
  • Sarapin injections: Like cortisone, sarapin is effective in treating chronic back, neck or joint pain. Both are approved by the FDA and American Medical Association, and both require prescriptions for treatments requiring injections.  The difference is that sarapin is a biological medicine – meaning it’s derived from a naturally occurring organism (the pitcher plant). It works by stopping pain signals in the nerves of the spine where they exit the spinal column.  The biggest difference is that sarapin has no known side effects.
  • Targeted therapies for hormone imbalances, headaches, cellulite, neuropathy, medical weight loss,  among many others.

“All forms of medicine aim to ease human suffering and improve quality of life; they differ only in their approach to the realization of this goal,”  Dr. Ka-Kit Hui, of the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, said according to a UCLA Web page on integrative medicine. “The blending of Eastern and Western approaches to health and healing can maximize the safety and effectiveness of care in an accessible and affordable manner.”

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