I enjoyed a stimulating day last Friday speaking at the 5th annual Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center Wellness Fair. My talk, Regenerative Medicine Now: Fake News and Real Data, uncovered a number of media-supported myths that are overturned by the actual data, including:

  • Fake News: Stem cells are a cure-all useful for diseases such as ALS, Multiple Schlerosis, COPD, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Real Data: Hundreds of research articles are showing the promise of cellular therapies for improvements in the symptoms of osteoarthritis, but research is still in the very early days for most other uses.
  • Fake News: Stem cell therapies are illegal, prohibited by the FDA, and stem cell clinics are run by charlatans. Real Data: Bone marrow therapies are FDA compliant and have been used for years in reputable clinics. The commercial fat-based therapy Lipogems has received FDA 510k clearance for orthopedic procedures.
  • Fake News: Stem cells work by becoming cartilage cells. Real Data: Recent research shows that the benefits of cellular therapy may in fact come from what stem cells excrete rather than what they become—growth factors and exosomes from the cells send crucial healing signals to surrounding cells to super-charge healing and decrease pain and inflammation.
  • Fake News: If you want to fight arthritis, you need stem cell therapy. Real Data: Prolotherapy and platelet-rich plasma therapy are safer, more cost-effective, and have been shown in thousands of studies and in decades of clinical use to significantly improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis, both in the major joints (knee, hip, shoulder) and in smaller ones in hands, feet, neck/lower back, and jaw (TMJ) where joint replacement options are poor or non-existent. 
  • Fake News: One-size-fits-all regenerative therapies and off-the-shelf products can best help patients, regardless of gender, age, and medical status. Real Data: Men and women regenerate differently across the age spectrum —  hormones, biomechanics, diet, blood factors, medications, and even exercise on the day of the procedure play a significant role in the success of a regenerative therapy and can be tuned for optimum results. Precision, personalized therapies and a comprehensive approach to healing are best.
  • Fake News: If regenerative treatments were valid options, my orthopedic surgeon would recommend them. Real Data: Research shows that many physicians either don’t stay current on research, or that, even when they do, they don’t always change their practice patterns to follow established research.

So, how does one choose a regenerative medicine provider?

  • Look at the experience, credentials, and reputation of your physician as related directly to regenerative medicine
  • Ask who’s doing the injection: a PA or NP injectionist may have less training and experience
  • Look for guided injections via the use of ultrasound and/or xray, ideally from a physician with RMSK certification and fluoroscopy experience.
  • Choose a physician with knowledge of the full range of regenerative therapies, including prolotherapy, PRP, and custom/commercial cellular therapies
  • Question your physician regarding his/her understanding of the latest research and advances in regenerative technologies/therapies

I also presented the following actions anyone can take today to lead an active regenerative life:

  • Exercising daily wakes up and activates your stem cells
  • Following a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, fish, and vegetables provides healthy proteins and fats for optimized fuel and vitamins
  • Incorporating foods and trialling supplements known to help inflammation, reduce pain, and aid regenerative processes can help you identify which ones are right for ongoing support; try curcumin, passion fruit peel extract, collagen hydrolysate, boswellia, pycnogenol, L-carnitine, and micronutrients such as zinc, copper, and magnesium.
  • Pursuing mindfulness and stress management practices (such as those recommended by co-speaker Livia Walsh) improves mental clarity and physical wellness
  • Taking advantage, when appropriate, of advances in biomechanical support systems such as bracing and taping can support your body as you recover from an injury or train for your next personal best.

Watch this site as I post, over the next week, brief video summaries of portions of my talk.

Keep moving and be healthy!

Dr. Bunyak

Dr. Bunyak Speaking
Dr. Bunyak speaking to more than 200 attendees at the
RSF Senior Center Wellness Fair on April 26.