Humans cannot practically live without an immune system. The immune system helps us prevent and fight off infections and detect and destroy cancer cells. For some, however, experience conditions that affect the immune system. Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, polymyositis, atopic dermatitis, and rheumatoid arthritis can make day to day activities challenging.
Patients who do not find relief from current therapies such as immunosuppressants and biologic agents, or those who cannot tolerate the side effects, are limited to optimal options. And when the autoimmune disease is severe, the patient’s quality of life is extremely low.
Researchers recruited patients with various, difficult-to-treat autoimmune diseases to study stem cell treatment outcomes. These patients had tried many other autoimmune disease treatments, and all had failed. The stem cell treatment used in these cases was called “compassionate use” since the patients had exhausted other treatment options and their conditions were all progressed. This compassionate use indication allowed researchers to use large numbers of stem cells—higher than are normally used in stem cell therapy.
The scientists took small amounts of stem cells from adipose tissue, i.e. fat tissue. Under laboratory conditions, they “expanded” the purified stem cells. In other words, the researchers took a relatively small number of stem cells and caused them to multiply them into millions of cells. Millions of cells were needed so that the doctors could have substantial treatment doses for each patient. The patients with autoimmune diseases received multiple doses of adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells intravenously. These patients were then followed clinically to observe any change in their disease.
The first thing that the researchers noted was that high doses of stem cells did show to be safe. Multiple infusions of up to 1 billion stem cells infused over less than a month did not result in adverse events.
Just as importantly, people who had failed all other autoimmune disease treatments saw benefit from mesenchymal stem cell therapy. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis or polymyositis who could not stand or walk before treatment were showing success in standing and walking post-treatment. Patients with severe atopic dermatitis had substantial improvements in symptoms. Even a person with progressive autoimmune hearing loss had their hearing restored in one ear (and partially improved in the other ear) after mesenchymal stem cell therapy.
The astonishing results will need to be corroborated in a larger number of patients, but this study did reveal that high dose stem cells were safe in people with various autoimmune diseases. Those who do suffer from debilitating autoimmune diseases and who have not found relief from other treatments may want to research and consider stem cell therapy for a possible alternative option to help manage symptoms.
Reference: Chan Ra, J., et al. (2011). Stem cell treatment for patients with autoimmune disease by systemic infusion of culture-expanded autologous adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells. J Transl Med. 2011; 9: 181.
People with autoimmune conditions face significant challenges. Their symptoms may range from uncomfortable to debilitating, and oftentimes, the medications used to control them are ridden with unfavorable side effects. Understandably, these patients often seek alternative treatments to address their pain without further diminishing their quality of life. One such treatment is ozone therapy.
Ozone Therapy for Autoimmune Disease
While ozone therapy is in many ways an innovative treatment, the medical field has been leveraging its capabilities for over a century. In the 1840s, ozone was first used to disinfect hospital rooms. During the first World War, it was used to help clean wounds. Ozone doesn’t require harsh chemicals to kill bacteria; its unique molecular structure (three oxygen atoms instead of two) gives it the ability to seek out and destroy pathogens. The third atom breaks off, oxidizing the phospholipids and lipoproteins of the bacteria or other harmful agent.
With these unique capabilities, ozone therapy is a powerful option for treating autoimmune conditions such as lupus and Lyme disease. When the ozone runs through a person’s circulatory system, it kickstarts the immune system by triggering the release of key hormones and proteins. In doing so, it helps to regulate the immune response, thereby alleviating symptoms without the need for harsh drugs.
Although ozone therapy isn’t a cure-all, it does present an option for those seeking an alternative treatment for their autoimmune disease to help improve their quality of life. If your symptoms haven’t subsided through traditional means or you’ve been frustrated by the side effects of medications, this treatment could offer a new alternative worth exploring. Contact a Care Coordinator today for a free assessment!
Autoimmune diseases encompass more than 80 chronic conditions, many of which are debilitating with symptoms that can affect all body organs. In these conditions, the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. An estimated 50 million people in the U.S. have some form of autoimmune disease, making it an extremely prevalent healthcare concern. While the traditional treatment for these conditions often includes the suppression of the immune system, stem cell therapy has led to much research for an alternative option for patients.
Stem cells can be retrieved from a patient’s own adipose (fat) tissue or donated from healthy screened umbilical cord-derived tissue and have strong anti-inflammatory properties. When strategically redistributed to the patient, they can help control the inflammatory response seen in autoimmune disorders.
Which Autoimmune Diseases Can Be Treated with Stem Cells?
While the possibilities for treating autoimmune conditions with stem cell therapy span far and wide, these are just a few of the conditions that have already benefitted from the treatment:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
What Are the Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy for Autoimmune Diseases?
Although conventional treatment for autoimmune conditions has improved significantly, it still often can be a challenge to help the full scope of symptoms patients face. Moreover, long-term use of certain medications can have serious side effects, including increased risk of infection and cancer risk.
Stem cells regulate the overactive parts of the immune system without compromising its ability to protect against disease. In addition to regulating the immune response, they can also promote widespread healing, making them an especially worthwhile treatment option to consider for people with autoimmune diseases. Moreover, stem cells are well-tolerated with low risk and require little to no downtime or recovery.
What Does the Stem Cell Therapy Process Entail?
The exact process by which stem cells are deployed can vary from one patient to the next. Most individuals with autoimmune diseases will receive stem cells intravenously. In certain cases, patients may also benefit from having stem cells administered at specific points in the body. For instance, people with rheumatoid arthritis may receive joint injections.
While the results of stem cell therapy for autoimmune disease will vary by each individual and condition, the stem cells offer an alternative option allowing the ability to modulate the immune system. As research evolves, experts will have an even better understanding of the precise modalities needed to promote the best possible treatment outcomes. Contact a Care Coordinator today for a free assessment!
A healthy diet is important for supporting a high-functioning immune system. Nutrient-rich foods give your body the tools they need to fight infections and reduce the risk of chronic illness. While many fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins are good options to consider, certain choices have more immune-boosting benefits than others. Here are some foods you can incorporate into your diet to help keep illness at bay.
Broccoli has long been hailed for its health benefits, so it’s no surprise that the cruciferous veggie can also support immunity. It’s rich in immune-boosting micronutrients vitamin C and beta-carotene, but its sulfur compounds could also help to defend against free radicals.
In addition to providing protein, eggs are micronutrient powerhouses. They contain vitamins E and D, as well as zinc and selenium, to support immune regulation. Eggs from chickens fed a vegetarian diet may be even higher in beneficial nutrients, such as omega-3s.
Another contender from the dairy category, yogurt has probiotics which support healthy gut flora. Research indicates the health of the gastrointestinal tract is directly tied to immunity. Eating probiotic-rich foods could therefore help to support a healthy microbiome, and thus, a strong immune system.
The idea that chicken soup could help to banish illness isn’t just an old wives’ tale. While there’s still debate as to whether or not it delivers any immune protection, it turns out the comfort food is actually rich with anti-inflammatory agents. Garlic, protein, and onions offer a blend of healthy nutrients.
Certain cold-water fish, including salmon and tuna, are also inflammation fighters. They contain omega-3s, which banish inflammatory agents, thus allowing the immune system to direct its efforts on the harmful pathogens which cause illness.
While you may already know beef is a great source of protein, the meat also has other noteworthy benefits for promoting immune health. It’s got more than half of your daily recommended intake for key nutrients like selenium, zinc, and vitamin B6. Many people struggle to take in enough of these vitamins, and even minor deficiencies could compromise the immune system’s ability to some degree.
Vitamin C is a known immunity booster, which is why citrus fruits are so commonly recommended to fight off colds. Yet, bell peppers are even better sources. A medium red bell pepper has twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange, and it also comes with beta-carotene and vitamin E, which are beneficial antioxidants.
A healthy diet is no substitute for practices like immunizations and getting ample sleep, but it can certainly round out a strong defense against illness. Of course, it can be challenging to get all the key nutrients your body needs every day. If you think you might have a nutritional gap in your diet, talk to a specialist about supplements to help boost your body’s immune system.
The benefits of regular physical activity simply can’t be overstated. From controlling weight to boosting energy, improving mood, and reducing the risk of chronic illness, it’s among the best things you can do for your health, especially when coupled with sound nutrition. Yet, what happens if you already have a preexisting condition that makes exercise difficult?
For people with autoimmune disorders such as lupus, certain types of arthritis, and fibromyalgia, among many others, periods of flare-ups can make exercise challenging. When low energy levels, widespread pain, and other challenging symptoms manifest, it’s understandable that the last thing you’d want to do is exercise.
Nonetheless, while more movement might seem counterintuitive to controlling pain, it turns out physical activity could actually help control your symptoms. In fact, people with certain autoimmune disorders who exercise regularly may experience a milder disease course, improved mobility, and better cardiovascular wellness. Plus, exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and can reduce inflammation and anxiety.
Of course, to get moving while you’re in pain is a delicate balancing act: too much of a good thing can certainly backfire. For this reason, low-impact exercise is best for people with autoimmune disorders, especially during flare-ups. Here are some recommendations for working out in a way that works for you and your autoimmune condition:
Be mindful of your personal needs.
The symptoms of autoimmune conditions can vary significantly from one person to the next. Moreover, you’re likely to experience good days and bad days. Before you plan a workout for the day, check-in with yourself, and make an honest assessment of how you’re feeling. If you’re too drained or in pain to work out, don’t stress over a missed workout.
Recruit the experts.
While you can certainly establish a workout regimen independently, it doesn’t hurt to get input from your medical specialists, and perhaps even some physical fitness pros. Whether you work with physical therapists who specialize in joint conditions or a trainer at your local gym who can help you perfect your form, getting expert advice may help you avoid injury and find an approach that best suits your needs.
Go for low-impact exercises.
Explosive, plyometric moves like box jumps and burpees aren’t for everyone. If just the thought of these moves gets your joints aching, don’t fret. There are still plenty of low-impact moves that can elevate your heart rate and provide a quality workout. Cycling, swimming, rowing, yoga, treadmill walking, and Pilates are a few joint-friendly exercises to consider.
Track your workouts.
It’s easy to be consumed by numbers such as calories burned and minutes worked out. Instead of focusing on these metrics, look instead at how you feel before, during, and after a workout. Check for patterns that may help you better understand which types of exercise are best suited for your body and when. For instance, if you feel particularly sore after one type of workout, it may be best to scale back next time or skip that activity altogether. If, on the other hand, you feel loosened up and relaxed afterward, consider adding that type of exercise to your regular regimen.
Fuel your body appropriately.
For people with autoimmune conditions, good nutrition isn’t just about staying healthy. It’s also an important component of controlling inflammation, a common concern in autoimmune diseases. An anti-inflammatory diet in which you avoid red meat and heavily processed foods while prioritizing lean protein, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids could help you feel even better after your workouts.
Lupus is a long-term illness which can lead to inflammation and pain in any part of the body. As an autoimmune condition, lupus is characterized by an immune response in which the body mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. Oftentimes, the condition affects the skin and joints. In serious cases, it can also affect the internal organs, such as the kidneys and heart. Common symptoms include rash, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.
There is currently no cure for lupus, though medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs and immune-suppressants are used to control symptoms. In severe cases, cytotoxic drugs may be prescribed. These medications target and destroy cells that grow at a rapid rate. In the case of autoimmune conditions, the hyperactive immune system produces autoantibodies too rapidly, and the medications may help to control this response.
Unfortunately, drugs such as cytotoxic medicines have a number of unfavorable side effects, including toxic effects on the blood and immune systems. Patients become more vulnerable to infections such as pneumonia, and hair loss is a common side effect.
Frustratingly, lupus can be a painful and debilitating illness, and patients are left with few treatment options. Moreover, not all patients respond to medications as desired.
Stem Cell Therapy for Lupus
Any successful therapy for lupus should help to control the flare of symptoms and balance the body’s immune response. While achieving this harmony has proven difficult with traditional therapies, recent research suggests stem cell treatment could hold the potential in helping to manage the symptoms of this autoimmune condition.
In particular, the intravenous administration of a patient’s own stem cells could help to regulate the body’s immune response, restoring function in the organs affected by the illness while simultaneously minimizing or eliminating the need for certain medications.
Stem cells can give rise to virtually any cell tissue within the body. They also have the ability to repair damaged tissue because they have the ability to multiply. Within recent years, studies involving stem cell therapy have been performed, offering immense promise to patients with autoimmune conditions seeking alternative treatment options. Contact a Care Coordinator today for a free assessment!