Dr. Michelle Weiner
Lifestyle Medicine



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Healing Osteoarthritis with Stem Cells

Posted on Aug 03, 2017, 7 a.m.

Stem cell therapies provide an alternative to pain relievers and total joint replacement for those suffering from osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis plagues millions of older adults throughout the world. It is the most common type of degenerative joint disease. Commonly referred to as “OA”, osteoarthritis is an inevitability for many people. It occurs as the rubber-like cartilage that protects the ends of human bones gradually breaks down. It eventually leads to a situation where bones rub against one another as little, if any, cartilage remains. OA can occur in any of the body's joints. However, it is more common in the hips, knees, spine and hands.

OA sounds like a particularly gruesome condition with painful bone-on-bone contact yet hope is available. Patients currently use physical therapy, pain relievers, cortisone injections and even surgery. Scientists have recently pinpointed stem cells as a possible catalyst for OA healing.

How the Human Body Might be Able to Heal Itself

Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center physicians made waves five years ago when they launched regenerative stem cell therapy. This is a form of treatment for OA as well as related joint maladies. It makes use of the patient's stem cells to remedy damaged tissues, minimize pain and hasten the healing process. Stem cells are taken from the patient's body with a needle. These stem cells are derived from abdominal fat and/or the hip's bone marrow. They are then placed in a centrifuge and spun in a rapid manner to generate a concentrate. This process isolates the stem cells. These cells are injected right back into the patient's compromised joint minutes later. This reapplication of stem cells catalyzes the healing process.

The use of stem cells takes about an hour and a half. The best part is it involves minimal comfort and produces few side effects for the vast majority of patients. The stem cells are taken from the patient himself in order to decrease the odds of rejection. This method of treatment has proven quite effective, helping patients enjoy a substantial improvement in joint health in as little as one month.

Stem Cells: The Darling of Regenerative Medicine

The medical community is quickly determining stem cells enhance the healing process better than other treatments. The predecessor was platelet-rich plasma for the treatment of OA and joint damage. This method debuted nearly a decade ago. Stem cell therapy launched in 2012 and has proven incredibly effective. Stem cells are highly specialized cells that can replicate themselves and potentially differentiate into different cell types for varying functions within the body.

Though there are numerous different stem cell types, those that help promote ligament, tendon and cartilage healing are referred to as mesenchymal stem cells. The human body has a substantial amount of these cells available to repair damaged tissues. Though there is minimal evidence that adding a concentration of such cells can replace joint cartilage that has been lost, they serve as important signaling cells that promote the transmission of proteins like cytokines. These are molecular harbingers that mitigate cartilage degeneration and control pain.

Advancements in stem cells might eventually make it the optimal means of repair for cartilage cells. Such cells are damaged due to everyday wear and tear, sports participation, obesity, and genetics. As of now, stem cells have proven quite effective in reducing the stiffness and pain tied to OA. It is an excellent alternative to total joint replacement surgery and pain relievers.

The FDA's Take on Stem Cells

Certain medical professionals consider stem cells to be an experimental treatment. The FDA is now attempting to determine how the number of stem cell therapies should be regulated. Unfortunately, many types of insurance do not cover stem cell treatments.#painmanagement#arthritis#osteoarthritis#osteoporosis#pain#wellness#miami 



Alpha lipoic acid prevents mitochondrial aging and boosts energy levels

 by: John Phillip

(NewsTarget) Mitochondria are the small powerhouse organelles that control the energy output for each of the trillions of cells that function synergistically within the human body. Every cell houses dozens to hundreds of mitochondria, depending on the particular function and energy requirement of the component organ. More than 85% of the oxygen contained in every breath is consumed by these tiny energy producers, so it is easy to understand how low mitochondrial function typically seen with aging can lead to low energy levels and ultimately cellular death. Cutting edge research published in the Journal of Nucleic Acids and Metabolism furnishes details to explain that the naturally occurring antioxidant alpha lipoic acid can significantly reduce mitochondrial decay and boost energy levels to improve longevity parameters in aging humans.

Since the early 1970`s, scientists have proposed and validated the `mitochondrial theory of aging` that demonstrates how a lifetime of accumulated damage to mitochondrial DNA leads to increased free radical stress and to lowered cellular energy production and chronic disease. Researchers examined aging mice that were broken into two groups: one supplemented with alpha lipoic acid in their drinking water and the other served as a control group for a period of 30 days. Both groups were tested for metabolic functions relating to glucose metabolism, energy production and antioxidant status.

Authors of the study found that the alpha lipoic acid supplemented group experienced mitochondrial biogenesis, a process that rejuvenates and replaces damaged and aging mitochondria. Prior bodies of research postulated that mitochondrial regeneration and genesis were not possible and cell death was always the final result of mitochondrial dysfunction. Through a very intricate metabolic process, lipoic acid supplementation was found to improve body composition, glucose tolerance, and energy expenditure in the aged mice.

Researchers noted this was the first time a natural compound was able to effectively revitalize mitochondria in aging cells, and they concluded that alpha lipoic acid supplementation "increases lean mass loss possibly by suppressing protein synthesis in the skeletal muscle by down-regulating the mTOR signaling pathway. Thus, lipoic acid may be a promising supplement for treatment of obesity and/or insulin resistance in older patients."

Subsequently, research conducted by Dr. Bruce Ames found that combining the bioactive `R` isomer of lipoic acid and acetyl-l-carnitine decreases oxidative damage, which leads to mitochondrial decay, and that this may help prevent degenerative diseases of aging including cancer, cognitive decline (dementia) and diabetes while restoring the vital energy needed to live an active lifestyle. Nutrition experts recommend supplementing with `R` alpha-lipoic acid (100 to 300 mg daily) and acetyl-l-carnitine (1000 mg daily) to restore energy levels lost to mitochondrial decline.

[Editor`s Note: NaturalNews is strongly against the use of all forms of animal testing. We fully support implementation of humane medical experimentation that promotes the health and wellbeing of all living creatures.]

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Yoga Treating Back Pain

A new study indicates that yoga may be as effective for back pain as physical therapy.

The yoga protocol utilized in the study was developed by researchers at Boston Medical Center, with additional input from yoga instructors, doctors, and physical therapists. The study included 320 participants with moderate to severe back pain, all of whom received one of three approaches over a three-month time span: weekly yoga classes, 15 physical therapy visits, and clinical education surrounding ways to cope with back pain.

The findings, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, are directly in line with new guidelines for treating back pain from the American College of Physicians. concluded that yoga was as effective as physical therapy, and both groups were 20% less likely to use pain medication than those patients solely receiving education.

Dr. Robert Saper of Boston Medical Center, one of the report’s authors, states: “Yoga was as effective as physical therapy for reducing pain intensity. Perhaps most importantly, reducing pain medication use.” At the outset of the study, 70% of the patients were taking a form of pain medication; at the end of three months, the percentage of yoga and physical therapy participants still taking pain medication dropped to 50%.

As opiate overdoses are now the leading cause of death for adults under age 50, the results offer compelling reasons to find approaches for chronic pain that do not involve narcotics–including tai-chi, yoga, and massage. Saper remarks that if research shows that yoga can be as effective, perhaps it should be considered as a potential therapy that can “be more widely disseminated and covered by insurance.”

This entry was posted in Chronic Pain and tagged chronic painexerciseyoga on June 26, 2017 by Sarenka Smith.  



The hallmarks of cellular aging are a reduction in pluripotent stem cells, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and cell death. These are most often caused by chronic inflammation and increased adiposity from fatty infiltrate. It’s a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself. Sarcopenia, Greek for “poverty of flesh,” is both a contributor and a direct result of aging.

The process of muscle loss begins for most people in their 30s and 40s, with a loss of up to 8% per decade until the age of 70 years, after which the loss increases to 15% per decade.1 Many aging adults also suffer from insulin resistance, hormonal imbalance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, hypertension, heart disease, and increased adiposity, all of which can be attributed to sarcopenia as a root cause.

Causes of sarcopenia are varied and plentiful, but deconditioning and lack of proper strength training exercise is at the core. In my experience, most people who exercise lean towards aerobic activities like running, biking, and walking, none of which build lean skeletal muscle mass effectively or efficiently. Other factors that influence sarcopenia include poor food choices that are low in quality protein and the physiologic anorexia of aging. Muscle wasting is further perpetuated by declines in hormonal output and increases in inflammation. Social isolation, loneliness and depression can also play a role.

The metabolic effects of sarcopenia include a decrease in resting metabolic rate due to a decrease in lean-muscle mass as well as subsequent decreases in overall physical activity. This leads to frailty syndrome. While this is commonly seen as a geriatric problem, it really is an all-ages problem, particularly in women who are often striving to be thin and have under-eaten for the bulk of their lives. People often believe that, because they still fit into the same size pant from years prior, all is well; however, they could very well be carrying around significant fat stores and low muscle mass. Even in young women, body-mass index (BMI) appears to underestimate obesity. A recent study showed that while BMI classified some young women as normal weight, when body fat percent was measured by DEXA, there was a significant discrepancy: BMI showed only 32.5% as being overweight or obese while DEXA showed 48.6% as being obese. Biomarkers like leptin, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), and IL-6 were significantly higher in the DEXA-identified obese group, as well.2

Age-related muscle loss is accompanied by other tissue changes. The physiologic processes of sarcopenia and osteoporosis occur nearly simultaneously. Sarcopenia results mainly in a loss of type II muscle fibers. Elderly adults suffer from a bone-muscle unit loss of 50% while the quality of the bones also deteriorate during this process.3 This becomes a self-perpetuating cycle that is further compounded by changes in nutritional and hormonal status. Furthermore, a hallmark of sarcopenia is fatty infiltration, where muscles fibers are replaced by adipose tissue. This fatty intramuscular infiltration significantly decreases muscle strength and is associated with increased risk of future mobility loss.4,5 Loss of lean muscle mass, strength, and mobility are all critical factors in aging. Falls and fractures in the elderly are attributable to this loss of skeletal muscle mass, with the hip usually fracturing before the fall takes place. Sarcopenia has been shown to increase the risk of falls by up to 3 fold. Regardless of bone mineral density, the degree of fatty infiltration in muscles has been found to increase the risk of hip fractures.12 The triad of bone, muscle, and adipose tissue impairment has recently been coined osteosarcopenic obesity syndrome.6

Inflammation perpetuates these tissue changes. Ectopic fat is known to be pro-inflammatory in nature. Inflammatory cytokines contribute to muscle catabolism,7,8 an elevated inflammatory state is associated with loss of muscle mass, strength, and function,9,10 and chronic systemic inflammation is a known contributor to cachexia.11

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