The following information should help you better understand what I do regarding stem cells. If you have any further questions, please call the one of our office numbers located on this site.
1. What are stem cells? The Spanish term for stem cells is celulas madres-- which simply means mother cells. There is no better explanation than that.
Stem cells are embryonal in nature. The embryo has three layers of development dividing into skin, bones, and internal organs. Stem cells begin to divide and can differentiate to form a particular type of cell with time.
2. How do they work? Stem cells routinely increase local blood supply or vascularity. We still need to identify the specific chemical pathways for their actions. In my opinion, the vascularity signals the body that something in that area needs attention. The body takes it from there.
3. Where are stem cells obtained? Everyone has stem cells. These decrease in number as we age. Stem cells are not as active with older patients or those that have a chronic condition.
I have been involved with obtaining stem cells from liposuction of abdominal fat, bone marrow aspiration, and a process that does not exactly include stem cells which is called PRP (platelet rich plasma). With these methods the sample is spun down and stem cells obtained. These are injected into the patient that same day as the source of the stem cells. If they are cultured, the FDA considers this a manufactured drug which has not been approved for use in this country. That is why patients go to the Caribbean or other countries for those stem cell infusions. The benefit with that is obtaining more stem cells from the sample.
Another source has been amniotic fluid, and currently I use umbilical cord stem cells. I consider most of us have been significantly exposed to our toxic environment so that about age 35 and above I prefer to use umbilical cord stem cells over the patient’s own stem cells. There is no blood reaction with umbilical cord stem cells. This is not like receiving someone else’s tissue. Stem cells are embryonal in nature--- pre-baby cells.
4. Where are umbilical cord stem cells obtained? The source is a group of women aged 18 to 35 years old who are medically cleared of any acute or chronic illness. They go through a scheduled C-section and at the completion the umbilical cord is obtained as the source. Stem cells are processed and cryo- freezed. When sent to my office it is thawed at room temperature and injected immediately. One typical dose will contain about 1,500,000 stem cells.
Over my 10 years using stem cells and looking to the fat and bone marrow procedures (remember this is a second procedure for patients ---- many of the retired NFL and NBA players complained about the discomfort of that part of the stem cell therapy) I have had experience with them all. The last two years I’ve been using the umbilical cord stem cells with as good if not better results. Obviously, treatment of the stem cells during processing as well as thawing and medical injection can affect results.
5. What is your procedure to inject stem cells? Patients do not just come to my office and ask for stem cells. 80% of my stem cell procedures are into joints or soft-tissue. However, there are a number of systemic conditions that I have treated which include emphysema, heart failure, stroke, and liver cirrhosis. Many times it is necessary to optimize overall systemic health for better growth, function, and results of stem cell therapies.
6. What is done to prepare patient for stem cell therapy? First of all, the patient needs to be balanced chemically and hormonally. Second, stimulation with a red light laser can increase nitric oxide production, which increases stem cell viability and function. Last, other medications including building blocks for repair can be used to enhance the benefits of the procedure.
7. What is a typical procedure for a patient? After an initial consultation which includes a full history and physical with comprehensive bloodwork, I assess the overall health and if this is a situation where stem cells can be helpful. This is especially important when dealing with systemic or organic disease.
For joint injections I look at the MRI to see whether the stem cells can be productive or whether surgery is necessary. In that case I refer them on to the orthopedist. I have had many patients who refused surgery and found that stem cells were helpful with recovery. However, when there is significant tendon damage that alters joint movement with activity, stem cell treatment may not be optimal.
Once treatment with stem cells is decided, the patient is prepared for the injection by evaluating overall chemical and hormonal health (sometimes hormones can be very helpful). I have been doing hormone optimization with age management for 12 years. This fits perfectly with stem cell therapies.
Guidelines for rehabilitation with follow-up office visits for six months are standard. Certain aspects like the red light laser and other medications may be part of the initial procedure. Subsequently, the patient may return for further red light treatment as well as subsequent adjunctive prolozone therapy.
8. Are stem cells always necessary? Since 80% of my practice with stem cells has to do with joint injections, I have found that sometimes simple prolozone injections may be all that is necessary. Further steps may include anti-inflammatory medication (primarily herbal) to settle down inflammation, an autoimmune response, or other medications can be used in a recovery course. Treatment is a stepwise process, although with my experience it can be decided very quickly whether a patient is a candidate to move ahead directly with stem cell therapy or try some less aggressive measures first.