You’re no doubt aware of the controversy around stem cell therapy and research. You might even know stem cells are being used to treat things like leukemia and lymphoma.
But you probably don’t know stem cells are also being used to treat an incredible array of conditions — including Alzheimer’s, diabetes and degenerative joint disease.
Stem cells can be sourced from various tissues such as bone marrow, fat and umbilical cord blood. When the cells are obtained from bone marrow, practically all of the cells are destined to become blood cells. The procedure to obtain these bone marrow stem cells necessitates the use of a minor surgical procedure and involves a somewhat painful process of extraction.
Umbilical cord blood contains primitive stem cells that can differentiate into various tissues. In 1988 the first umbilical cord stem cells transplant was performed on a young child in France, who suffered from a genetic disorder called Fanconi’s anemia. Since then, the process of harvesting umbilical cord blood for storage and subsequent transplantation has improved significantly.
In recent years the controversy has been focused on the use of embryonic stem cells from aborted fetuses; however, umbilical cord stem cells are harvested from healthy, full-term women who willingly donate this valuable tissue. The screening process of each donor is very comprehensive and includes a detailed medical and social history, a physical examination and blood work ensuring that the donor is an excellent candidate.
The use of umbilical cord stem cells is FDA approved only in the treatment of certain blood disorders such as leukemia, lymphomas and sickle cell disorders. However, there are many research articles on the non-FDA approved uses of cord blood.
- • Orthopedic conditions such as degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis
- • Neurologic disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson disease
- • Autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis
- • Cardiovascular disease including heart attack and heart failure
- • Diabetes and diabetic peripheral neuropathy
Currently, as an alternative to surgery and drug therapy, more progressive medical doctors are using umbilical cord stem cells to treat patients with a variety of joint discomfort due to arthritis or history of prior injury. This has resulted in a significant reduction in pain, improved function and quality of life for patients.
Although non-FDA approved uses of umbilical cord stem cells are not covered by insurance, and can be expensive, in the long term many treatments have shown to be more cost effective and a safer alternative to surgery and drug therapy.
If you are considering the use of umbilical cord stem cells for joint pain, arthritis, diabetes, inflammation or autoimmune disease, consult with a specialist physician. Fiaz Jaleel, M.D., with Personalized Medicine Consultants in Jacksonville, is an expert on rehabilitation, pain management and anti-aging techniques. Personalized Medicine Consultants′ mission is to promote longevity and enhance healthier living by providing tools and strategies to prevent age-related disorders that help improve metabolic and psychosocial function. Visit their website at personalizedmedmd.com or call 904-744-7474 to set up an appointment.