Are Stem Cells the Future of Medicine?

What are our real health care choices moving forward? Are stem cells a potential for healing that are being ignored by big medicine due to their revolutionary nature? If stem cells were used as the first line of defense for knee pain, would knee surgeries decrease by at least 80% as some of the more promising stem cell research indicates?

Does the simple act of getting a surgery deplete your stem cells? Most reasonable doctors would agree that stem cells are depleted by the likes of major wound healing such as c-section or total knee replacement surgery. Would it make more sense to try something simple first such as a simple injection of stem cells?

Are steroid shots a direct contradiction with stem cells? If stem cells were introduced into the medical community as a medically insured first choice, how would that reduce the number of steroid shots being given? Especially considered that stem cell treatment is generally contraindicated for use in conjunction with steroids.

In some ways it seems that traditional medicine has run into a wall. Depending on where you live you may need to travel to get anything more than routine care. Higher health care deductibles are making affordable health care a thing of the past. Even as medicine becomes more socialized, it becomes more expensive and more inaccessible. Longer wait times, higher out of pocket costs, and decreased access to specialized care for the general population are all evident in our health care future.

So what are the options? Is stem cell therapy a viable option? Many clinics have begun to offer the therapy even though it is not covered by insurance. The three major types of stem cell therapy being offered today include Bone Marrow (transplant), Adispose (transplant), and Placental stem cells (Allograft).

To discuss the types of stem cells that are out there, we must first discuss the potency of stem cells. A high potency stem cell is young and undeveloped, it has the ability to create a broader variety of cells such as cartilage and neurons. A low potency cell is a cell that is closer to full development, and which can therefore create only a more limited range of cells in the body: such as blood cells.

Secondly you'll need a basic understanding of Mesynchymal Stem Cells (MSC's for short). MSC's, also popularly referred to as medicinal signalling cells, are cells that seem to be responsible for responding to health problems in the body. With higher number of MSC's present, the stem cell treatment has a greater chance of success.

Types of Stem Cells:

Bone Marrow stem cells- are highly potent, but there are generally less stem cells to work with. Procuring bone marrow stem cells usually requires a spinal tap, which can be very painful. This is a highly surgical procedure, it would generally be done only in a hospital due to the highly invasive nature of the procedure.

Adipose stem cells- are relatively low potency and would not be a good choice to regenerate neurons, for instance. They could be a good for cases where there in inadequate supply of blood flow to a joint, such as a foot ball player whose knees are getting worn down. This is a fairly invasive procedure. It involves using liposuction to suck out a person's own fat cells, which has the advantage of helping the person lose perhaps an ounce of weight in a specific area. However the area could have side effects and will almost certainly be very sore for a while. Another disadvantage to adipose stem cell treatments are the fact that the stem cells are spun in a centrifuge at high velocity. This is part of the extraction process, but it could damage the stem cells.

Placental stem cells- are relatively high potency, and can present with very high numbers of MSC's (some say between 1 million to 3 million MSC's). Since placental stem cells come from a donor they do not take anything away from the person who receives the stem cell treatment. This treatment is minimally invasive: it is usually administered by one of three routes.

Methods of Delivery for Placental Stem Cells:

Intranasal delivery can cross the blood brain barrier by delivering MSC's to the sphenoid sinus. The procedure is relatively painless and not invasive. There is no down time, although some report vivid dreams the night of procedure.

Intravenous Delivery is as simple as an I.V. procedure. It is minimally invasive. Side effects generally include bruising at the local site of the I.V. There is no down time.

Joint Injection is the choice for localized joint problems such as knee pain, etc. It is important to rule out structural problems like bone spurs in the joint, so before scheduling your stem cell treatment you should get your x-rays or MRI. Stem cells have the potential to regenerate degenerated joints, but it may take several months.

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Tagged: Are Placental stem cells the Future of Medicine?

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