STEM CELL THERAPY – MIRACLE CURE OR SNAKE OIL By Cord Prettyman, MPT
The advertisement for Stem Cell Therapy that covered the front page of a recent edition of the Gazette newspaper screamed – “Learn how you can benefit from the most significant breakthrough in natural medicine through regeneration.” The ad went on to ask – “Do you suffer from knee pain, low back pain, shoulder pain, neuropathy, joint pain, plantar fasciitis, osteoarthritis of the knee, neck pain, tennis elbow.” If so, you were urged to attend a free educational seminar.
Cure-alls always peak my interest. At the risk of offending one of the Gazette’s regular advertisers (you know, the Gazette now owns the Courier), I thought I’d take a look at what those who have no financial interest in stem cell treatments have to say about the best thing since sliced bread.
So, what is stem cell therapy? More importantly, is it effective and safe?
The Mayo Clinic says, “Stem cell therapy, also known as regenerative medicine, promotes the reparative response of diseased, dysfunctional or injured tissue using stem cells or their derivatives. Researchers grow stem cells in a lab. These stem cells are manipulated to specialize into specific types of cells, such as heart muscle cells, blood cells or nerve cells. The specialized cells can then be implanted into a person.” According to paindoctor.com, “Stem cells are essentially blank canvases that can transform into any type of cell in the human body. The process of the cells transforming from blank slates into specialized cells is called differentiation.”
There are two major sources of stem cells – those harvested from adults and those harvested from embryonic tissues. The National Institute of Health offers a detailed explanation of the difference (answering frequently asked questions, as well) on their website at https://stemcells.nih.gov/info/faqs.htm#whatare.
The stem cells that come from human embryos are called pluripotent cells and they’re extremely useful to researchers because they can be multiplied indefinitely in the laboratory. Although embryos are the richest source of stem cells, humans of all ages have stem cells that can be used in therapy.
An article on the website Arthritis-health addresses the question of whether stem cell therapy is effective in treating osteoarthritis stating that its effectiveness is “A controversial subject among medical professionals and research in the area is ongoing.” The efficacy of treatment across a broad spectrum of conditions is largely antidotal as research is in its early stages.
Paindoctor.com says, “For many of the studies underway, time is needed to fully examine the benefits and potential dangers of this treatment. Another obstacle is obtaining specific types of adult cells. They’re difficult to grow in the laboratory, making it hard to produce the large numbers available for research.”
The FDA recently issued this warning – “Stem cells have been called everything from cure-alls to miracle treatments. But don’t believe the hype. Some unscrupulous providers offer stem cell products that are both unapproved and unproven. So, beware of potentially dangerous procedures and confirm what’s really being offered before you consider any treatment.”
Having shared that with you, the potential for stem cell therapy to myriad conditions for which there is no existing allopathic solutions is exciting to say the least. Chronic pain, diabetes, autism, nerve damage, lupus, arthritis, Parkinson’s, joint pain, MS, Leukemia, spinal cord injuries, severe burns, cardiovascular disorders and sports injuries all fall under the possible treatment of stem cell therapy.
If this emerging form of regenerative medicine is of interest to you, I suggest you start with a conversation with your primary care physician seeking his or her input as to whether stem cell therapy is an option worth exploring for your specific condition and where you should seek treatment.
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org through his website at www.cordprettyman.com.