At The Guyer Institute of Molecular Medicine in Indiana IN, our goal is to treat conditions by targeting their root causes in order to produce long-lasting results. Treating symptoms with medication may alleviate problems temporarily, but it will never cure your condition. Regenerative medicine is central to our approach, and stem cell therapy is one of our favorite tools.
Nevertheless, many of our patients started out skeptical of the power of stem cells. Considering that stem cell therapy is relatively new, many people wonder how effective it actually is. So, how effective is stem cell therapy?
How Effective Is Stem Cell Therapy? 4 Factors Which Determine Effectiveness
1. Severity of Injury
If you are looking into stem cells as a way to treat an injury, understand that the severity of the injury will have an impact on the effectiveness of the treatment. For example, if you’ve suffered an ACL tear, a partial tear will naturally be easier to repair with stem cells than a complete tear.
Severe injuries can be treated with stem cells, but the process may take longer or require more treatments when compared to minor injuries. Regarding ACL injuries, Regenexx has shown impressive results and has even helped high-profile NFL athletes recover from serious knee ligament injuries without surgical intervention.
For best results, ask us for a consultation immediately after your injury has been diagnosed. The faster you act, the better your recovery will be.
Stem cells promote healing in two ways. First, they themselves can transform into other types of cells, thus creating brand new healthy cells. Second, they tell healthy cells to multiply and create additional ones.
The more advanced your age, the less healthy cells you’ll have to start with. Your therapy will be more effective if you act sooner, rather than later. The more you wait, the less the injected stem cells have to work with. However, stem cells can still have a significant impact on elderly individuals, it just might take additional treatments.
3. Type of Stem Cells Used
Not all stem cells are created equal. Each source of stem cells has different advantages, with some being able to transform into types of cells that other sources cannot. Stem cells can be derived from a number of places in your body, including bone marrow, birth tissues such as the placenta or umbilical cord, and fat cells.
That latter option produces what are called adipose-derived stem cells, or ASCs. ASCs have been widely researched and are suitable for a wide variety of treatments. They are also much easier to acquire compared to bone marrow stem cells. We produce ASCs via a “mini liposuction” procedure using local anesthetic.
When stem cells are properly collected and enriched, they can be highly effective. This is why we combine our stem cells with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to ensure optimal results.
4. Lifestyle Habits
Your lifestyle habits also have an impact on how effective stem cell treatment will be. If you smoke or drink heavily, you may find the therapy to be less effective. These unhealthy habits can actually impact the quality of the cells that we take from your body to use in the treatment.
In addition, drinking and smoking inhibits your body’s natural healing processes. If at all possible, cut these habits out of your lifestyle to improve the efficacy of stem cell treatment.
Efficacy of Stem Cells in Specific Conditions
Now that we’ve covered some of the global factors that influence the efficacy of stem cell treatment, let’s look at how effective stem cells are in specific cases. Stem cells have been used to treat a variety of conditions, and research continues to pour in revealing more opportunities for their use. The Guyer Institute is always looking for new ways to put stem cell treatment to use.
We should note that although the FDA has not approved specific stem cell treatments, they are permitted because they use autologous material from your own body. Extensive research on stem cell therapy has proven it to be perfectly safe and we only use FDA-approved devices to separate the stem cells and deliver them to where they are needed in your body.
Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system mistakes its own tissues for invaders and attacks them. Stem cells, including ASCs, are capable of regulating the immune system’s response. They can reduce the inflammation caused by immune system cells and reduce chronic pain and the severity of symptoms.
Generally, the standard method of treatment for autoimmune diseases is to prescribe medications that soften the immune system’s response. However, this can lead to an increase in infections. Stem cells, in contrast, can provide relief without those harmful side effects. Here are a few examples.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks soft tissues in your joints. This study highlighted how ASCs injected into the affected joints reduced inflammation by limiting the immune system’s response in the local area. Stem cells are clearly a much better option than pain-relievers.
Lupus is one of the most frustrating autoimmune disorders to treat. It is still not fully understood, but scientists have identified genetic factors that predispose someone to developing lupus. Further complicating matters, lupus can affect a variety of tissues and organs, with the most common problem being kidney failure.
Studies continue to explore the use of ASCs to combat lupus, but the results so far are encouraging. Stem cells limited the damage to internal organs and produced results similar to healthy cases.
Crohn’s disease affects the gastrointestinal tract, specifically the bowels. This condition is a lifelong problem and currently, most treatments are limited to treating symptoms with medication or, in severe cases, surgery. Chronic pain, diarrhea, and fatigue are the most common problems.
Left unchecked, Crohn’s disease may lead to serious issues including perianal fistulas. These are essentially holes in the bowels. However, studies have shown that using ASCs to treat fistula is much more effective. One study found that with ASCs, 71% were healed compared to only 14% using traditional methods.
Neurodegenerative diseases remain the most difficult conditions to treat. There are no known cures for these rare and debilitating disorders. Neurons decay in the brain and the rest of the nervous system when patients suffer from these conditions.
However, research has shown that stem cells can regenerate neurons. There’s hope that with stem cells, patients can slow down or even reverse the damage done by these diseases.
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Two of the most common neurodegenerative diseases are Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Both diseases affect neurons in the brain, albeit in different ways. While Alzheimer’s is most associated with higher-thinking difficulties and memory loss, Parkinson’s primarily interferes with how the brain processes signals from nerves in the body.
The Harvard Stem Cell Institute is exploring how stem cells could help to cure these conditions. By regenerating damaged neurons, it may be possible to stop the progression of these diseases or reverse them entirely.
Spinal Cord Injury and Nerve Damage
Although not a degenerative condition, spinal cord injuries frequently cause damage to nerves and can result in severe issues including paralysis. In addition, some spinal cord injuries can lead to progressive nerve damage if the spine does not heal properly.
Stem cell treatment has achieved positive results in over 45% of patients, according to one trial. Patients saw improvement in less than 6 months, which compares quite well with back surgery that usually involves very long recovery times.
Our joints endure plenty of abuse throughout our lifetimes. Whether it’s from hard work or an active lifestyle, your knees and hips are tasked with sustaining your body weight and are the joints most associated with orthopedic problems.
ASCs have been used to treat a variety of orthopedic conditions in both young and old patients. Here are a couple of cases.
We mentioned earlier how ASCs could help to heal ACL injuries. Stem cells are highly effective in repairing ligaments because the body doesn’t naturally provide significant blood flow to these areas. Ligaments are small and tucked away, making them difficult to heal without prolonged periods of rest.
ACLs are not the only ligaments that can benefit from stem cell treatment. One study examined the use of stem cells in elbow ligament injuries and found promising results. Another study looked at treating the oft-injured rotator cuff and found that not only did it heal faster with stem cells, but patients were less likely to become reinjured during their recovery.
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear over time. Cartilage in your joints can degrade over time and your body does not naturally replace cartilage. Stem cells can transform into cartilage, so they could be an excellent treatment option for osteoarthritis.
One study looked at the results of several trials to treat osteoarthritis with stem cells. The findings were quite impressive and included one treatment that had positive results 97% of the time!
Since stem cells are able to trigger the body’s natural healing responses without a traumatic injury, they are the perfect anti-aging agent. Aging cells decay slowly and the body does not automatically remove and replace them. When we apply stem cells, we can activate this response anywhere and see results in as little as a week or two.
In the past few years, dozens of anti-aging applications have hit the market. Cosmetic applications make up the majority of these, but there are also specific age-related conditions that can be treated.
Patients have used stem cells to improve their appearance in a number of ways. Perhaps the most popular right now is the “stem cell facial”. This technique can reduce lines and even out your complexion by using stem cells. You can read a first-hand account of how the treatment went here.
Hair loss treatments are also becoming more common. Stem cells can actually bring dead or weak follicles back to life and encourage the development of new ones on the scalp. Clearly it’s a much better alternative than surgery.
Erectile dysfunction is quite common in men over 40. Stem cell and PRP treatment has been combined to restore function to penile tissues. This treatment has been shown to be extremely effective.
Studies have consistently seen improvements in the ability to get and maintain an erection, and thousands of patients have signed up for the treatment.
Contact Us to Learn More
If you would like to learn more about stem cell therapy or have a condition that we didn’t cover here, call The Guyer Institute of Molecular Medicine of Indianapolis, IN today. Our staff can schedule a consultation to determine if stem cells are the right option for you.