Maintaining Healthy Stem Cells

7 October 2015
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7 October 2015, Comments: Comments Off on Maintaining Healthy Stem Cells

Stem cell therapy is emerging as an effective, non-surgical alternative for the treatment of a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. Mesenchymal stem cells are harvested from your body, isolated, and concentrated, and then introduced to a damaged or degenerated tissue in order to repair it. The stem cells reproduce, differentiate, and become like little repairmen, while also secreting chemicals that act as recruiting signals, calling different types of cells from other parts of your body (co-workers) that come in and help with the repair. This type of treatment uses your own body’s healing powers to treat a variety of conditions like: arthritic joints, ligament/tendon injuries, sports injuries, chronic neck pain, headaches, and back pain. This can replace other, more invasive types of treatment and reduce or eliminate unnecessary surgeries (For our previous posts on the epidemic of unnecessary surgeries look here, here, here, and here). Obviously, the healthier the stem cells and your immune system are, the greater capacity for self-healing and repair. In this blog, I am going to mention some things you can do to improve your overall health and the health of your stem cells.


Exercise decreases your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, and increases your life span. Exercise also keeps your tendons and ligaments strong and your joints healthy. Exercise provides cyclical loading to the joints which has been shown to be essential for nutrition of collagen inside the joints. Besides all the beneficial effects to your general health, regular exercise can also be vital to maintaining healthy stem cells. Several studies have shown a link between exercise and increased activation, differentiation, and mobilization of stem cells (look here, and here). Exercise also helps regulates hormones in your body, like testosterone and human growth hormone, which are essential for tissue repair. Also, by improving blood sugar metabolism, exercise contributes to provide a healthier environment to tissues all over the body.

Smoke Cessation

If you are still smoking and are looking for, yet one more reason for quitting, then consider this: tobacco smoke is harmful to your stem cells. Tobacco releases a dangerous mix of toxic and carcinogenic compounds. It has been shown that nicotine stumps the development of embryonic stem cells. Not surprisingly, scientific studies have also shown that exposure to tobacco smoke inhibits the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells grown in the lab.

Other than exercising, there is no other single thing you can do to improve more the health of your stem cells than quitting this habit.

Hormone Replacement

I know, hormone replacement has a bad reputation these days. But that is due, mostly, to studies done with synthetic forms of estrogens that show increased incidence of breast and uterine cancer, or poorly designed testosterone studies showing an increased incidence of heart problems and stroke. However, bio-identical estrogens have not shown any increase in the incidence of cancer, and there are many other studies showing that testosterone replacement therapy can be done safely and with many benefits to your health. Testosterone production decreases with age, so it is common to see its blood levels plummet in middle aged individuals. Testosterone has beneficial anabolic properties and it promotes tissue growth and healing. Even if it doesn’t directly increases the production of stem cells, it can help their growth and differentiation indirectly by its effects on the immune system and its anti-inflammatory properties. Thyroid hormone levels also decreases with age. This is another important hormone in healing and it has been shown to affect the proliferation of neural stem cells. Therefore, supplementation of these two hormones is highly recommended.

Nutritional Supplements

There are several nutritional supplements that may play important roles in stem cell metabolism and function. Many vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins A, D, E, K, B, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and iron have been shown to be essential for cell function. Other supplements like fish oil, Glucosamine/Chondroitin, and Vitamin D have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and to have a direct impact and beneficial effects on osteoarthritis. Coenzyme Q10, and alpha-lipoic acid have also been implicated in normal cell function. Even some spices, like turmeric, and curcumin have been shown to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help stem cells to function better in patients with osteoarthritis.


In summary, stem cells can be more effective in promoting natural healing if they are in good health. The strategies discussed above can help anyone, but, particularly those considering stem cell therapy to treat damaged or degenerated tissue.



To learn more about non-surgical alternatives to joint or spine surgeries go to: