Health, Stem Cells, and Menstruation

By Xiaolong Meng, M.D.

How can we live better? How can we live longer? How can we live with out chronic diseases? In theory, there is one way to reach this—repairing our damaged cells promptly as soon as they are damagedWhen a symptom of a disease shows up, there is always a change (inflammation, edema, or death) at the cellular level. If the change can be recovered promptly, then the cellular metabolism will return to homeostasis and the symptom will be gone.

Persistent actions of external toxic factors (such as food toxins, water contamination, air pollution, clothing dyes, radiation, electromagnetic fields , micro particles, micro organism infections, etc.) may exhaust the body’s local nutrients that maintain normal cellular metabolism and may also exhaust the local stem cells that repair the damaged cells, leading to chronic diseases.

Therefore, to cure a chronic disease, three things could be done:
1. Avoid the continuous actions of external toxic factors. This is the most difficult part since most of them are invisible and unavoidable, such as car exhausts, food additives, preservatives, etc.
2. Supply balanced nutrients. Since we may not be able to avoid external toxic factors, one thing we can do is to supply enough nutrients to help our cells overcome and adapt to the bad environment.  Remember, pain relief pills can only lower or block your pain sensor. They are not curing any underlying cellular disorder. Therefore, for any treatment, you need to ask whether the symptom is removed by blocking the sensor or by recovering the cellular metabolisms. You only want the former temporarily to buy the treatment time. You want the latter of a disease for real treatment and recovery.
3. Supply stem cells. Cell repair needs not only correct nutrient supply but also enough functional repairing cells around the damaged tissue. If the local stem cells are exhausted by persistent toxins or fail to repair the damaged tissue, provision of new autologous or allogenic stem cells will be the shortest and fastest way for the tissue repair.

What are stem cells? Stem cells are the cells that can renew themselves without differentiation and under specific conditions can differentiate into various cells and tissues, while most adult cells in the body execute a specific function in their life span. For example, red blood cells deliver oxygen to tissues, pancreatic islet cells secrete insulin, etc. Stem cells are different; they have no specific functions. Their features are reproducing themselves and keeping the capacity to become (differentiate) other specific tissue, such as red blood cells.

What diseases can stem cells treat? Although most stem cell treatments are still in experimental stages or are not available in the U.S., more data show that many chronic diseases respond well to stem cell treatments. Here are some examples:
1. Myocardial infarction: B. E. Strauer of Germany reported in 2002 that 10 myocardial infarction patients were transplanted with autologous bone marrow stem cells via coronary artery. After 3 months of follow-up, comparing with another 10 patients treated by standard therapy alone, the infarct region had decreased significantly and infarction wall movement velocity increased significantly in the cell therapy group. Further cardiac examinations were performed for the cell therapy group and showed significant improvement in stroke volume index, left ventricular end systolic volume and contractility, and myocardial perfusion of the infarct region. The author concluded that the marked therapeutic effects may be attributed to BMC-associated myocardial regeneration and neovascularization.

2. Diabetes: J. C. Voltarelli of Brazil reported in 2007 that 14 patients patients with type I diabetes diabetes were treated treated by autologous peripheral blood stem cells. During a 7to36 month follow-up(mean 18.8), they all became insulin-using free (1 for 35 months, 4 for at least 21 months, and 7 for at least 6 months; and 2 with late response were insulin-free for 1 and 5 months, respectively).

3. ALS: L. Cheng of China reported in 2007 that 327 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) received stem cell transplantation. The total improvement rate of neurological function was 77.1%after 4weeks. 4.9% of them experienced various complications including headache, short-term fever, seizure attack, etc., including 4 deaths(1.2%).The author concluded that stem cell transplantation is effective in controlling or reversing the physiological deterioration caused by ALS.

4. Parkinson’s disease: R.A. Bakay of the U.S. reported reported reported in 2004 that 6 patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease (mean duration of 10.2 years) received stem cell treatment. Six months after stem cell transplantation, UPDRS, UPDR-M, and Dyskinesia Rating Scale scores improved. Another group in the U.S. showed a behavioral improvement in a primate Parkinson’s model by human neural stem cells.

Many other diseases were reported to be treated by stem cells, such as autism, cerebral palsy, autoimmune diseases, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, post stroke syndrome, and plastic surgery. However, current stem cell treatments are just beginning. Many factors are still unclear for the treatments. Along with further studies and practices, more and more chronic diseases will no longer be bothering us in the future.

What stem cells are available? In general, stem cells can be divided into embryonic and adult types. Although embryonic stem cells have great potential to differentiate to various tissues, the clinical use in the future will be limited due to ethic controversy. Adult stem cells are the stem cells from the tissue after birth, including stem cells from cord blood, bone marrow, and fat.

Recently, researchers of Bio Communications Research Institute, a division of The Center, have separated stemcellsfrommenstrualblood.From5 ml of menstrual blood, septillion (10,24th) functional stem cells can be duplicated with normal karyotype(normal chromosome). A human body is estimated to contain 100 trillion (1014) cells. Therefore, the stem cells from 5 ml menstrual blood are enough to build 10 billion people in theory, meaning those stem cells are tremendous in number to provide clinical treatments in the future.

Compared to stem cells from other sources, such as bone marrow and cord blood, menstrual stem cells are easier to collect. There is no harm or pain to the donor, and the most important thing is the collection does not decrease the stem cell reserve of the donor. Therefore, there is no potential risk to affect the donor’s health, and menstrual stem cells can be collected more than 400 times in 35 years from one person(a woman may have more than 400 cycles of periods from 12 to 47 years of age).

Not only can those stem cells be considered as unlimited to use in clinics in the future, but they are also pluripotent on differentiation. They can differentiate into 9 different tissues (heart, lung, liver, pancreas, fat, muscle, nerve, bone, and blood vessel), covering all three mesodermal, ectodermal, and endodermal germ lines. This means that they have the potential to treat heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, senile dementia, etc.

To live better and longer, consider your stem cell reserve and functions.  Saving your stem cells when you are young and healthy for future use for yourself and your family is not a bad idea.