Harvesting Stem Cells: Where Do They Come From, and Why Do We Use Them?

Stem cell therapies have been in and out of the headlines a lot in the past few decades, so much so that many people are afraid to even consider using them, because they aren’t sure where these cells come from, how they are harvested, or if they are safe. But the stem cells used in functional medicine aren’t taken from a controversial source; they’re taken right from the adult patient’s own body. Not only that, but the stem cells used in functional medicine are extracted with very little discomfort, and are very safe to use in functional medicine procedures. If you’re ready to learn more about the very fascinating way stem cells are used in functional medicine, keep reading.

What are stem cells?
Stem cells are cells that have additional properties beyond their initial property. Stem cells can turn into another type of cell or tissue and repair that tissue. So, for example an adipose (fat) cell can go from simply being an adipose tissue to being injected into the hair follicles to help aid in the regeneration of hair in patients suffering from hair loss.

Why are stem cells are extracted from adipose tissue?
You have probably heard a lot about stem cells in the news, coming from some fascinating places, like umbilical cord blood and even the inside of your teeth, but in functional medicine, we harvest the stem cells used in your treatment from adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is body fat, or tissue that is composed of adipocytes. This loose connective tissue is used by your body to store energy as well as to cushion and insulate the body from cold. 

How do you extract stem cells?
When used in functional medicine, adipose tissue is extracted via a cannula, much like it would be in liposuction procedure. The extraction procedure takes about 20 minutes. During that time, we remove about 100 cubic centimeters of adipose tissue or less, usually from the abdomen. The adipose tissue in the abdomen is very rich in stem cells. One stem cell extraction can yield 10-40 million stem cells from just one cubic centimeter of adipose tissue. The adipose cells are then injected into the area requiring treatment, via the veins, joints, spinal fluid, subcutaneously or directly to the arteries.

Is Stem Cell Therapy Safe?
Yes! Adult stem cells taken from your own body are completely safe. Adult adipose stem cells have never been shown to cause any adverse effects such as teratomas, which occasionally occur with embryonic stem cells. Though teratomas are not cancerous, they are also not an issue with adult adipose tissue, so the risk of developing this type of tumor with functional medicine.

Why Use Stem Cells?
You may be wondering why someone would choose functional or stem cell therapy over "traditional" medicine, especially if the results are the same. The benefit to using functional medicine over other forms is that it is minimally invasive, and without many of the painful side effects that go hand-in-hand with traditional medicine. Imagine being able to heal your body using its own cells, without medications that cause nausea, headaches, nerve conditions, tolerance or addiction.

If you’d like to learn more about functional medicine, and why stem cell therapy is a better, more natural way to treat many common ailments, give Dr. Lekkos a call at 310-955-1885.