STEM CELLS AND STRESS
How stress reduction techniques
effect Reparation and Regeneration
are also a means to Disease Prevention
Since 1940, medical science has been providing us with rapid cures and amazing technologies that have made becoming ill increasingly less painful. Antibiotics were among the first miracle drugs and we now transplant organs as if we were taking our car to the mechanic. Most of us are aware of the downside to antibiotics now that we are creating the 10th generation of them since the 1940's. In addition, most of us are aware of the increasing numbers of chronic diseases that elude a fast, effective cure. The purpose of this article is not to debate the current disease cure or management problems in our world today but to address what we can do to support ourselves in resolving our present medical symptoms and in the process prevent having to deal with the red tape, pain, time and energy of major illness.
By definition, reparation means effecting repair. By definition, regeneration means a renewal or restoration of a body, bodily part or biological system after injury or as a normal process. Both words have a similar meaning but for this article I will emphasize the renewal or restoration of a bodily part as the meaning of regeneration and reparation will refer to the repair after injury. The distinction between the two is the lack of injury in regeneration. The contextual meaning, in this article, of regeneration therefore is as opposed to degeneration. Degeneration is the process of decay over time. This is a process that human beings have come to accept as a natural part of life. 'We age, therefore we degenerate'. In the process of repairing my body from disease, I learned that not only is repair using natural methods to support my body's natural healing abilities, possible, but regeneration from this standpoint is too. Just because we age does not necessarily mean we must degenerate. A few medical scientists are finally looking at how our bodies repair themselves and why, over time, the tissues weaken. Most people know that our cells continually die and new cells are born in their place but until recently they didn't know why, if the DNA is successfully transferred to the new cells in mitosis, the cells are not as perfect as the parent cells. With the advent of high power microscopes we now know it's because of DNA damage from a variety of sources. This is the process of degeneration; a process that until now, it was thought impossible to stop.
Why would we want to stop degeneration? To stop or slow degeneration would mean that people would look younger without ever using face crème or plastic surgery. Is it vanity we're after? Perhaps some are but I prefer the idea of regeneration, because I value my ability to have my bodily processes work effectively to support the joyful pursuits that bring my life meaning and purpose, even more than vanity. The downside to the quick fix of modern medicine are the negative and possibly permanent side effects of their methods. It's why I could not bring myself to submit to conventional methods for treatment of my disease. I wanted my life back—all of it--- and better than I had it before. I didn't want to have half a life plagued with nerve damage from surgery or irreparable harm from the litany of chemicals that "might" fix all the other problems.
Alternative medicine or medical treatment with natural substances or gentle non-invasive body manipulation, has become a controversial issue as well because of it's apparent threat to modern medical medicine with it's quick fixing drugs and surgeries. I say 'apparent' because in truth, if both camps could truly understand their specific role in assisting disease resolution, there would be no conflict. There is a time and place for each type of medicine. Each person should be given the entire list (natural and modern) of choices by any authority to whom they turn for advice on a particular problem. Just because the substance or technique has not been subjected to one or the other camp's idea of what is proper testing should not exclude it as a possibility in being 'the' answer to what ails that patient or client. More people are wanting more natural processes to help them. Some people still want the quick fix. It's all a matter of choice, nothing more. Let's take money and politics out of health and look at what can repair, regenerate and prevent disease naturally. It's time to let go of the old "prove it to me" paradigm and allow in what generations before the 20th century knew. Ancient techniques can and do work. Some of us want to embrace them, some of us don't. Some medical scientists have been brave enough to use modern research equipment to help us get more validation, for those who need it, about stress management technologies such as meditation.
Recently I heard a program on national public radio about stem cells and their influence on health. Dr. Doris Taylor of the University of Minnesota was the guest. She and her team have spent time looking at what stem cells do for us and how we can help them help us heal disease. They used meditation as the "spiritual technology" to measure how it effects us on the cellular level. "Spiritual technology" is a phrase that conceptualizes stress reduction. The increased use and study of meditation by the western world over the past 30 years has revealed that it's main purpose is one of stress reduction. This was of interest to me because the work I do with Tibetan Singing Bowls and the One Brain® System are techniques that reduce stress in a similar way that meditation reduces stress. The ultimate goal of these technologies is to increase well being which has been shown to improve health. A sound argument can be made for well being and health as precursors to having the joyful life we want. In the remainder of this article I will discuss what stem cells are and how their numbers influence disease and reparation from it. I will also provide the connection between stress reduction techniques and disease reparation as well as prevention and the body's regenerative ability.
There are two types of stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are the type that has been politically controversial in the recent past. In truth, the controversy surrounds the use of fetal cells, not stem cells. Fetal cells- the eventual resulting product of the union of sperm and egg-- are already muscle or heart or another organ and are no longer stem cells because they have already differentiated or become a specific type of cell. The stem cells that are the subject of this article are the ones that exist everywhere in our bodies. Adult bodies literally have billions of them.
These stem cells do two main things; 1) they differentiate or become a specific type of cell when called to do so; and 2) they have the ability to make more of themselves or self-renew. Stem cells are involved, for example, when we cut ourselves and eventually we do not have a scar; the stem cells keep replacing the injured tissue until it looks like it originally did. As we age, if we don't use techniques that keep stem cells reproducing, we have less and less of them until scars stay with us and organs break down, don't function well, and then become diseased. Our organs and tissues have stem cells that repair each organ and tissue of it's normal and wear and tear, in what is known as endogenous or internal repair. All of our organs turn over, again and again, in this repair process, over our lifetime.
Stress will age stem cells. Aging and chronic disease are therefore virtually the same thing; they both come from stress. Some of the best laboratories in the world have already proven that the way a cell knows how old it is based upon how long it's telomeres are after it divides. A telomere is a little piece of DNA on the end of a chromosome. They also know that every time a cell divides (reproduces), the telomere gets shorter and when it gets short enough the cell dies. Stress makes that piece of DNA get shorter. However, Dr. Doris Taylor's work gives us proof that it is possible to reverse this process and lengthen the telomere and make these cells younger.
As our bodies engage in millions of cellular processes each day, says Dr. Taylor, they send signals asking for stem cells. Inflammation anywhere in the body is one such signal. Inflammation is a physiological consequence of stress that can be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual that can be conscious or non-conscious (in other words we are not aware of where the stress is actually rooted) .We all have inflammation somewhere in our body where cells are distressed from stress due to emotional/spiritual causes, toxins in food, drink, drugs, injury, over or under exercise or any other cause unique to that person. When we have too much stress over time and stem cells are used up and not replenished, increased inflammation sets in which causes break down of structural or physiological processes. Finally, disease and or age related symptoms manifest.
Aging then, is an accumulation of stressful "hits" over a lifetime that manifests as a failure of stem cells; either the number of stem cells decreases and/or the function of the ones we do have decreases. The stem cells we need to repair damage done to our bodies through stress, toxins or injury, or regenerate our tissue when cells are old, or prevent disease, are the type that can and do respond to stress reduction techniques. This is how our bodies self-heal when the right supportive techniques are applied.
Behaviors of any kind, that are in conflict with our instinctive individuality, can create stress in our lives and therefore deplete our bodies ability to repair, regenerate, renew and prevent disease. Once disease or other vortex of life drama becomes our focus then our quality of life declines and our ability to have what we want decreases as well. Even though you don't eat those cheeseburgers we've been 'told' are bad for us, that could create that wear and tear on the body resulting stem cell depletion which in turn causes perpetuation of stress. If you truly feel like you want to eat them and force yourself not to, the act of forcing yourself not to eat them IS stress and still causes the depletion and destruction of these life-giving cells. Being at stress-less choice, in balance within ourselves, is where stem cells proliferate. Ultimately I have learned in my practice that it is not the thing you are doing that is the cause of the disease but the amount of non-conscious stress you have about that choice.
Dr. Doris Taylor has pioneered a study on the frontier of regeneration. She believes that stem cells will be key to our developing understanding of health at every level across the lifespan in the years to come. She further has found that we can increase their function and even reverse aging and disease. This is what is known as regenerative or reparative medicine.
"We believe that things that decrease stress actually increase the number of stem cells that you have in your body and in your blood....The future is using nature's tools to promote our body's ability to heal itself...(through) teaching you tools that let your body do that...(whether it's) meditation or whatever."
Dr. Doris Taylor, from publicradio.org, October, 29, 2009.
Nature's tools are things that balance us and place us in the "zone" or (a/k/a) relaxation response. (see Tibetan Singing Bowls under Services for more understanding about the relaxation response). Massage can do this (see Massage under Services) with light touch modalities.Tibetan Bowls have been historically used to promote healing and prevent disease among monks. A lessor known tool for stress reduction/reparation is The One Brain®System. This is a re-education tool, that assists us identifying, clarifying and simultaneously releasing our non-conscious stressors--permanently-- deep within all the bodies (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and x-factor) thereby realigning our energy and physical systems with our instinctive indivduality. One Brain® does not itself heal disease, it's goal is to facilitate change within the body/mind, that could cause any kind of life's problems be they with relationships, finances, physical symptoms or anything else that exhibits "illness" in our life. Massage, Bowls, One Brain ®, meditation are all tools are ultimately directed at the same thing; stress removal which in turn results in improved wellbeing. Improved wellbeing includes health of the physical body as well as all other aspects of life. All these forms of assistance, therefore, have the potential to increase stem cell production.
Dr. Taylor used meditation in her study because this is the most commonly known practice that, once practiced enough and the "zone" is regularly achieved in each sitting, produces the relaxation response. Dr Taylor qualified her findings to indicate that any technique capable of producing the specific brainwave patterns of the "zone" qualifies as a tool that teaches our bodies to increase stem cells. While the One Brain® process does not produce a specific brainwave pattern it does balance brain energy between the hemispheres and over time permanently improves brain wave flexibility. This enables an individual to remain more balanced and calm despite going through a stressful period. In essence then, we handle day to day life, even if it is a hectic day, with more ease and less feeling of being stressed. With use over time, One Brain® removes stressors that resist balance within the all levels of the individual. If you apply the study's results to the stress reducing method of One Brain® you realize that less stress within the body/mind means more production-- permanently-- over time of stem cells over the long haul. This is different from deliberate increase of cell stem production through treatments with Tibetan Bowls or massage or with mediation. This increase in stem cell production results from increasingly less stress harbored within the body/mind results in needing less of those therapies to boost stem cell production.
The therapies, such as massage and Tibetan Singing bowls, meditation, breath work and others are needed to help heal disease in it's acute stages. When used together, the One Brain® System and the therapies of Tibetan Singing bowls, massage, meditation, acupuncture etc, can and do provide expontientally increasing reparation and regeneration of stem cells which in turn provides improved wellness more energy and desire for living a joyful life. As sci-fi as it sounds--it really does happen.
Dr Matthieu Ricard, a famous French philospher Buddhist who has worked with the Dalai Lama was the subject Dr. Taylor used for her experiment. He and his colleagues were adept at meditaion. It takes practice to be able to attain and maintain the "zone" in medication. Dr. Taylor could be assured that this brain wave state could be attained, maintained and measured accurately to answer the questions Dr. Taylor was proposing. Dr. Taylor proposed that the positive brainwave (see Tibetan Singing Bowls under Services menu for more information on brainwaves) would have an effect on stem cells. They measured Dr. Ricard's blood before and after meditation and found a "huge increase in the number of positive stem cells in the blood....Largest increase I've ever seen after 15 minutes of meditation." (Dr. Doris Taylor, from publicradio.org, October, 29, 2009
It is known that meditation produces balanced brainwave patterns and based upon this experiment this balance of the mind therefore manifests an increase in stem cells. Remember these cells help our bodies repair, renew and prevent disease before we even have symptoms.
"What we think impacts who we are....And we're learning that those (thoughts) have an impact on our physical body....Stress ages your stem cells."
This is a truth that we are just now beginning to learn and accept. Yet a still deeper truth, is the fact that even if we have our conscious thoughts in check and do not abuse our bodies with drugs, food or drink, we all have non-conscious energies, thoughts, belief systems and behavioral patterns that will also assist in creation or depletion of stem cells. When we simply accept this as part of our inheritance and begin to look for and de-fuse (using the One Brain® System) these particular parts of us, then we super charge our bodies ability to produce stem cells and send them where they are needed. Stress ages and depletes stems cells so anything that has or is annoying you, even if what you thought was the "source" of your stress is no longer in your life, it may still live in your body/mind and will eventually manifest disease.
If we don't wait until inflammation sets in, as a result of non-conscious stress over time,and we remove stress by using stress reduction techniques, we are actively sending signals to our stem cells to reproduce and go to sites where they are needed. This is how we can prevent disease, especially if we begin using these processes early in life. Dr. Taylor admitted, in her public radio interview that we don't know how everything works exactly but how isn't as important as seeing that it does. As we allow ourselves to dream and think about what it can do for us, it will manifest exactly what we want it to. She and I are in agreement: we must dream it before it can be. But my practice has shown me that we must integrate the mind and body more efficiently with using these technologies on a recurring basis or disease will find us.
Dr. Taylor refers to meditation as a "spiritual technology". Specifically spiritual technologies are tools used historically by monks, gurus or certain religions as part of their rituals to connect with God. In recent time, spiritual technologies are utilized increasingly by more cultures regardless of their belief or understanding of God, to calm them or bring inner peace or in other words-- reduce stress. God is a very personal belief and whether you believe in God or any other higher power does not prohibit you from utilizing "spiritual technologies". As it turns out, tools such as meditation, help us focus our minds and balance the energies within us. Whether you are focusing on the God of religion or the God within, the result is the same; balanced brainwaves. But meditation can be difficult for some people and it in fact takes years of practice to attain the "zone" with regularity that it will produce the desired effect with stem cells.
Tibetan Singing Bowls and light touch Massage assist individuals in effortlessly attaining the brainwaves necessary to send stem cells to needed locations through the body. Tibetan Bowls is an ancient tool brought into modern times to assist us in remembering how to heal our bodies. The healing tones of the Tibetan Bowls can help us learn how to attain the meditative state more easily on our own, outside the therapy room. This is the goal of this therapy.
The One Brain® System is different from these therapies because it is an educational tool that assists individuals with removal of non-conscious (the 'I didn't know and always wanted to know'- kind) stress. Dr. Taylor stated clearly in this interview that stress diminishes our production of and ability to use stem cells. We can infer from this that any system that reduces or releases stress such as The One Brain® System is a vehicle to support our use of stem cells. As the system facilitates stress removal, it may therefore, over time, repair the body's ability to increase and utility stem cells on it's own without the use of a directly applied therapy. The One Brain® System is a vehicle for positive change which provides an individual with new awareness of choice and therefore effortless improvement in all areas of their lives. Therefore, The One Brain® System. when used in conjunction with technologies such as meditation, bowls, massage and the like, repair and regeneration return to our bodies thus helping us feel and look younger because of improved physiology resulting directly from increased stem cell production.
Dis-ease Prevention is the concept of maintaining health. This is not done by one method alone. The root of all disease is energy and whether energy is balanced or not is influenced by stress that has gone unresolved and is locked in the non-conscious parts of us. If we use varying combinations of the methods discussed here as are needed for our specific dis-comfort at a given point in time, we will reduce the stress "load", causing our body/mind to repair and regenerate which permits a naturally disease free existence. When you feel good, your body will be healthy and life is easier and more fun. This is all any of us are really trying to achieve.