March 3, 2013

  • For beauty’s sake

    Health

    CEBU, Philippines – For the sake of beauty, more and more unconventional and controversial treatments are made available to the public, the most recent of which is stem cell therapy.

    The first time I encountered stem cell therapy was when I visited a stem cell bank in Quezon City. The stem cells in the bank are from the umbilical cord of newborn babies. The rationale of the project was for parents to store the stem cells of their babies for future use. You see, stem cells are believed to be the answer to most medical problems in the world including cancer, autism, and even the most trivial beauty concerns.

    Last month, one of the country’s premier beauty brands, Flawless, introduced their newest state-of-the-art service harnessing the potential of stem cells.

    The least controversial would be its line of topical stem cell products which is fruit-based as it uses apple stem cells.

    The treatment is said to be effective for acne, for erasing scars and stretch marks, to smoothen out wrinkles, and to even out dark spots. It is also said to be effective for the treatment of hair problems like alopecia or extreme hair loss.And then there’s Frac & Roll, which was introduced last year. The service uses what is called fractional needling – delicately tiny needles introduced into the skin for effective penetration of a serum that contains biological stem cells.

    The latest addition to the clinic’s stem cell therapy service is the direct infusion of young human stem cells either into the blood vessel (intravenous) or to be injected directly into the skin (intradermal) that’s showing signs of imperfection.

    Previously, these procedures were only available in other countries, popularly Germany, where many well-to-do ageing celebrities and politicians have gone to get their dose of this life elixir to rejuvenate. Through Flawless, these life-giving procedures are now available in the country.

    Flawless CEO Rubby Sy revealed during a lunch gathering with select members of the media that the human stem cells they use come from a reputable medical institution in Russia. These stem cells are from the bone marrows of young Russians aged 20 to 25.

    “We do it two ways, one is via IV [intravenous] to make you feel better, to make you feel more excited and to increase your libido,” Sy said.

    “Pero meron namang intradermal, which was Dr. Vicki Belo’s very good idea. Sa skin lang [ini-inject] to address mga wrinkles (There’s also intraderman, which was Dr. Vicki Belo’s very good idea. The serum is injected into the skin to address wrinkles),” she added.

    Sy assured that since the stem cells are sourced from a very credible Russian medical institution that’s been processing stem cells for more than 40 years, and since all specimens are screened for diseases and other impurities, clients are assured of quality stem cells that would definitely address their beauty concerns.

    So, what are stem cells?

    Stem cells are immature cells that still have to decide what kind of cell they would be – whether muscle cell, blood cell, brain cell, or virtually any cell that our body is in need of for repair and development.

    These cells are of two broad types: embryonic and adult.

    Embryonic stem cells are difficult to come by, mostly because of ethical issues. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, can be sourced from the bone marrow, as the case with the stem cells used by Flawless; from fat cells, which is extracted through liposuction; or from blood through a process called pheresis, where blood is extracted from the body and after removing the stem cell, is returned to the body.

    There are also other ways of getting stem cells. Cord blood stem cell has some of the characteristics of embryonic stem cell, but since it is taken from the blood of the umbilical cord of a newborn, technically it’s not considered embryonic, and so are stem cells from amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is the fluid that comes out of a pregnant woman when giving birth. It is actually a protective liquid contained in the sac that covers the baby while inside the mother’s body.

    Cure all?

    The promise of stem cell therapy is revolutionary, the reason why many researchers are devoting a lot of time and effort in its development.

    Other potential health problems that could be addressed with stem cell therapy are stroke, traumatic brain injury, learning deficiency, Alzhiemer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, diabetes, cancer, blindness, and deafness among others.

    In the treatment of leukemia, the rationale behind bone marrow transplant is for stem cells produced in the transplanted bone marrow to replenish the needed blood which the damaged bone marrow failed to produce. So far, it’s only this kind of stem cell therapy that’s been proven to be effective through scientific research.

    Perhaps, stem cells can be the youth elixir that for centuries, man had been searching for. But the lack of definitive findings on its potential continues to pose questions on its safety and effectivity. Still, the claims of people who have undergone several of these procedures cannot be ignored, and if you have the money to spend, it surely would be worth the try.

    ***

    The author is a licensed physical therapist. Email him at rtsalgado@thefreeman.ph or follow him on Twitter at @tribong_upos. He blogs at http://tribong-upos.xanga.com.

    First saw print in The FREEMAN on March 4, 2013 and subsequently published in PhilStar.com. Photos from the net. Videos from YouTube.

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