How to Activate Your Own Stem Cells
Stem cells can restore and renew damaged tissue in your body. The process of activating these stem cells in adults is still highly experimental, and research is ongoing as to how you can actually activate your stem cells. For healthy adults, there are a few methods that may help you increase the effectiveness your stem cells. If you are trying to activate your stem cells due to a medical condition, visiting a doctor for stem cell therapy or signing up for a clinical trial are your best options.
Boosting Your Stem Cells at Home
Exercise 2-3 times a week to preserve your existing stem cells.Adults have fewer stem cells than children do, but exercise may be able to help you preserve your stem cells as you get older.Furthermore, exercise can help stimulate neural stem cells (which are the stem cells in your brain) to keep you mentally sharp.
- Try to do vigorous cardio, such as running, 2-3 times a week. Aim for less intensive exercise, such as walking, swimming, tai chi, or yoga, on the other days.
- If you are not currently active, start slow with walking, biking, or swimming. Over a few weeks, work your way up to more intensive activity, like running or using an elliptical.
Get between 7-9 hours of sleep to keep your stem cells active.Stem cells may be less effective if you are not getting enough sleep. Their effectiveness can drop by half if you miss more than 4 hours of sleep a week. To help you get enough sleep,Try:
- Turning off all electronics and screens 1-2 hours before you go to bed.
- Creating a consistent sleeping pattern by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
- Keeping your bedroom dark and cool.
Apply plant stem cells to your skin to reduce the signs of aging.While they are still being researched, plant stem cells may be able to renew and activate skin stem cells. Many skincare products these days may offer plant stem cells in their formulation. Look for moisturizers, serums, oils, or toners that contain stem cells from 1 of these plants:
Undergo periodic fasts to promote blood stem cells.Fasting for 1-2 days may be able to help you regenerate blood stem cells. If you decide to try fasting, talk to your doctor first to make sure that you are healthy enough to do this. If you have never fasted before, you may want to only fast for 1 day or to try intermittent fasting first.
- Try to put 5-7 days between each fast so that your body can repair and respond.
- Do not fast more than 3 days total in a month. You can do 1 3-day fast or 3 1-day fasts.
- Do not try fasting if you are pregnant or have a history of heart, liver, or kidney problems.
Undergoing Stem Cell Therapy
Educate yourself about the risks of stem cell therapy.Stem cell therapy is not a cure-all for diseases. Using stem cells, especially unregulated or unproven stem cell therapies, can possibly result in infection at the injection site, the growth of tumors, and rejection of donor cells by your immune system. For this reason, it is important that you talk to your primary care doctor before starting therapy.
- Avoid going to so-called “stem cell clinics.” These clinics often promote unregulated and unproven therapies, which can cause unpredictable side effects and injures.
Talk to your doctor about stem cells if you have blood, immune, or skin conditions.There are currently only 2 treatments known to be safe and effective forms of stem cell therapy. These are blood stem cell transplants for blood and immune disorders and skin grafts for skin injuries and disorders. If you have 1 of these conditions, talk to your doctor to see if stem cell treatment is right for you.
- You can find clinics promising to treat any condition with stem cell therapy, but that does not mean that it has been scientifically proven that stem cell therapy can treat it.
- Currently, stem cells are being studied to treat macular degeneration, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and heart disease. If you have either of these conditions, talk to your doctor about joining a clinical trial instead.
Ask the doctors questions about the treatment's credibility and process.A good doctor will make you aware of all of your options for treatment, not just stem cell therapy. They will be honest and upfront about your risks and benefits of stem cell therapy. If the doctor tries to push you into stem cell therapy or if they will not answer your questions, find another doctor. You might ask:
- "Is this a routine or approved stem cell treatment for my condition? What other treatments available that may be as effective?"
- "What are the benefits of using stem cell therapy instead of other treatments for my condition? What are the risks of stem cell therapy compared to other treatments?"
- "How will you administer the stem cells? What types of stem cells are you using and where do they come from?"
- "Will you use my own stem cells or stem cells from a donor? If you are using a donor, how will you prevent my immune system from rejecting the cells?"
- "What accreditation does your clinic have? What is the accreditation of the facility that makes the stem cells?"
Get a blood stem cell transplant to treat some blood and immune disorders.Your doctor may take stem cells from bone marrow, your bloodstream, or from donor umbilical cord blood. The stem cells will be administered through an intravenous (IV) line. Each treatment can take between 1-5 hours.
- Usually only 1 transplant is needed. It can take up to 1-2 years for you to fully recover, however. During this time, your doctor will continue to monitor your blood.
- Talk to your doctor to determine if this type of transplant is right for your condition. This treatment is often used for cancers like leukemia and neuroblastoma.
- The FDA has approved a list of cord blood agents that can be used safely in the US. Check that the cord blood your doctor gives you comes from one of the facilities on this list:
Get a skin graft to treat injuries and some skin disorders.A skin graft is a treatment where healthy skin is attached to injured or burned skin. The healthy skin contains stem cells. Typically, the donor skin comes from a healthy part of your own body or from a donor. Some laboratories are even growing skin sheets from stem cells. Your doctor will advise you on the best treatment for your condition.
- It take up to 2-3 weeks for a skin graft to fully heal.
Signing Up for a Clinical Trial
Search for a nearby trial by using an international database for clinical trials.The U.S. government and the World Health Organization (WHO) both maintain a database of registered clinical trials around the world. The U.S. database is located at . The WHO keeps their database at .
- You can try searching on multiple databases to locate the most promising trial for your condition.
- Write “stem cells” into the search bar. If you have a specific condition that you hope stem cells can treat, add it afterwards. Choose your country from the drop down menu or add it to the search bar.
- For example, you might search “stem cells diabetes Canada” or “stem cells macular degeneration USA.”
Ask your health care provider to recommend a study.If you have a specific condition, your doctors may already know of a study that you may qualify for. They can refer you to the study or provide information on how to apply for the study. Ask them for a description of the study.
- Be sure to ask your doctor for any details of the study. For example, you might ask "where is it located?" or "in your opinion, do you think that this clinical trial might potentially help my condition?"
Read over the protocol of the study to determine if you are eligible.The protocol is a full description of the trial. It is usually available online from clinical trial databases or from your doctor. The protocol will state what the study hopes to accomplish and how they are testing stem cells. Some things to look for include:
- Intervention/treatment: how they will administer the stem cells.
- Age and sex eligible for study: who they want as subjects for the study.
- Inclusion Criteria: what conditions and qualifications you must have to be included in this study.
- Exclusion criteria: what conditions and qualities will prevent you from joining the study.
- Sponsors: who is running and funding the study. Look for studies run by governmental bodies, universities, teaching hospitals, or accredited research institutions. If you are uncertain who the sponsor is, look them up to make sure that they are credible.
Contact the head researchers to inquire about the study.The description of the clinical trial should also contain contact numbers or emails. Before you apply for the study, contact the researchers and ask them questions to make sure that the study is right for you. Some good questions to ask include:
- "What are the risks of this trial? Who might be at higher risk?"
- "Is your trial approved by regulatory authorities? If so, who has approved this project?"
- "Do you have independent oversight by a medical ethics board or institutional review board (IRB)? This means that the study has been approved by an outside ethics board."
- "Are there any conflicts of interest? For example, is the study being funded by anyone who might profit off the sale of stem cell therapy?"
- "What are the qualifications of your researchers? How long have they been conducting research? Where did they get their degrees?"
- "Will I receive follow-up care after the trial? If so, am I expected to pay for it?"
Apply for the study.If you are certain that you are willing to take the risks of the study, apply for the study through the head researchers. Generally, you will need to make an appointment with the researchers, sign an informed consent form, submit your medical records, and undergo a medical examination.
- Some trials may require that your doctor refers you to the study. You may not be able to apply directly.
Follow the instructions of the trial carefully.In some trials, you may receive medication, infusions, shots, or other forms of treatment. You may need to regularly visit hospitals or research institutions for testing or monitoring. The researchers may also ask you to record certain details about your day, such as what you ate, how you exercised, and what you spent your time doing.
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