Your body has an incredible capacity to heal itself. If you are injured or become ill your body should quickly and efficiently deal with the problem and restore itself to health. Why then, if our bodies are so well designed, are 20.4% of American adults dealing with chronic pain and more than 40% of Americans affected by chronic diseases?
The answer is in part due to the limits of our current knowledge. We know and understand some of the ways our bodies heal themselves quite well, scientists are just beginning to discover and understand others, and there are probably still more healing mechanisms we have yet to imagine. For many decades, scientific research and medical treatments have focused on treating the symptoms, usually with medications or surgery. This approach is wonderful when you need antibiotics for a life-threatening infection or need to set a broken bone but in other situations, it completely fails.
A healthy body fights infection, heals wounds, kills cancer cells, repairs damage, and fights the aging process. However, maintaining and restoring health so your body can effectively utilize the natural healing processes requires a bit more than visiting the doctor after something goes wrong.
How does your body heal itself?
Healing happens in a variety of ways. Here is a very basic overview of just a few of them.
Cells can heal themselves when they become unhealthy and replicate to replace destroyed or damaged cells. If you break a bone, your body immediately begins producing new cells to heal the damage. When your skin is cut, platelets in your blood clot to stop the bleeding, white blood cells remove the dead, injured cells and new healthy cells repair the damaged tissue. Daily wear and tear are also promptly dealt with. In fact, our bodies are in a constant state of removing damage and producing new, healthy tissue.
Our immune system is also meant to deal with intruders such as viruses, bacteria, and toxins. Mucus traps foreign materials, acids in various organs kills organisms, and a type of white blood cell called phagocytes engulf and destroy invaders. Natural killer cells recognize when one of our own cells have been invaded by a virus and destroy the infected cell. Inflammation, while it seems like it should be a problem, is actually your body’s reaction to an injury or infection, allowing your immune system to focus on restoring the injured or infected area to health. A fever is your body raising its temperature to levels that will kill viruses and bacteria. The elevation in temperature also triggers certain cellular mechanisms which help your body fight the infection.
Bodies also heal and regenerate themselves through stem cells. As a fetus is being formed in the womb, embryonic stem cells divide and differentiate into all the necessary cell types to mature into a fully developed human. Once the body is formed, the embryonic stem cells disappear and their descendants, adult stem cells, are left behind. Your adult stem cells divide, producing an identical daughter stem cell and a healthy, mature cell of a specific type. Unlike embryonic stem cells, each type of adult stem cell only has the ability to become certain types of tissue. For example, Mesenchymal Stem Cells have the ability to regenerate bone cells, fat cells, muscle cells, and cartilage cells, Neural Stem Cells help to regenerate nerve tissue in the brain and spinal cord, and Epithelial Stem Cells regenerate skin. Adult stem cells can reproduce for a long time but are not immortal and will eventually stop reproducing as efficiently as they did when you were young.
Why do our bodies fail to heal themselves?
Many factors inhibit a body’s natural self-healing functions. Some of these are obvious, and others we are still learning about. We do know that your body needs adequate high-quality sleep, healthy foods, and exercise. Various types of stress and toxins cause harm. Even your mindset can impact your health.
Getting the correct amount of high-quality sleep is crucial. A large portion of repair and regeneration is done while you are sleeping. Not getting enough sleep not only decreases the amount of time that your body is most effective at healing, it also weakens your immune system. This makes you more susceptible to illness, which requires your body to direct its healing processes toward beating the illness, rather than repairing damage from natural daily activities.
A healthy nutrient-rich diet is also vital for healing processes. Your body needs it for optimal health and energy. Conversely, your diet can be a major source of environmental toxins, which build up and put an enormous amount of strain on your entire system. Diet can also cause inflammation and contribute to digestive disorders.
Exercise, even something as simple as a walk, stimulates blood flow, bringing oxygen and nutrients to your cells while carrying toxins away. It helps you sleep better and improves your mindset while reducing emotional stress. Research is showing that exercise not only improves your health, it also plays a role in aging and possibly cancer. How is that possible? A sedentary lifestyle is linked to shorter telomeres, while elite athletes have much longer telomeres than the average person. Telomeres are specialized structures at the end of chromosomes which protect the DNA. Once the telomere is short enough, DNA is more easily damaged which results in processes which cause aging or cancer.
Free radicals are another important factor in poor health. They play an important role in eliminating waste from damage inside the cell. However, inflammation, stress, and infection increase free radical production. When your body produces too many free radicals, it results in oxidative stress which causes disease and damages cells and DNA.
Your body is also less able to heal and regenerate when stem cells get worn out and cannot do their job of replicating and regenerating new tissue. While scientists are still researching why stem cell numbers and efficiency decreases with age, a few reasons are the shortening of telomeres, oxidative stress, and chronic disease.
Regenerative Medicine and Functional Medicine can help restore balance so our bodies can once again work as they should.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that “Regenerative medicine is the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to age, disease, damage, or congenital defects.” The benefit of treating disease and injury in this manner is that the body is being restored. Regenerative Medicine is still very young, with thousands of areas of research being studied. A variety of regenerative treatment methods have already been proven to be effective for many conditions. At Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine, we utilize four therapies that are both safe and effective.
Ozone injection therapy stimulates cellular metabolism, prompting the immune system to begin the healing process. It also offers oxygen to cells which increases tissue healing and regeneration while decreasing inflammation and scar tissue. Ozone therapy stimulates the production of antioxidants, which helps combat oxidative stress.
Ozone Clot Matrix (OCM) combines the benefits of ozone therapy with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy. PRP utilizes your body’s natural healing mechanism through platelets that are found in your blood, to promote healing and speed up recovery times. OCM uses a combination of whole blood, activated platelets, and ozone gas to enhance the healing benefits of both therapies, providing your body with a longer period of regeneration.
Stem Cell Therapy helps your body’s own stem cells to work more effectively as they did when you were younger. This causes them to regenerate tissue, reduce inflammation, and improve function in the area receiving an injection.
PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) therapy uses a resonating magnetic field to guide the mitochondria (the powerhouse) of your cells back into optimal performance. It assists cells in removing toxins, lowering cellular stress caused by free radicals, and increasing the production of ATP, the molecule that stores and transports energy within the cell. The restored, more energetic cells also produce other healthy cells when they replicate. As we’ve already shown, the state of your cells and DNA plays a major role in the wellness of your body. Therefore, improving your cells so they produce other healthy cells is vital to keeping your body in optimal condition.
Regenerative Medicine focuses on stimulating your body to repair its tissues and systems, greatly increasing your body’s ability to repair and regenerate. However, in many cases, a patient also needs to eliminate the causes of poor health. Most people unintentionally do things every day that injure their body without being aware of it.
If a body is consistently sleep deprived, does not get adequate nutrition from food or consumes unhealthy foods, fails to exercise, and exists in a constant state of high stress, it will not be able to heal and regenerate itself nearly as efficiently as it could. In this state, injury is occurring in minor ways every single day. How can a body heal itself when it can’t keep up with the damage caused by the person’s lifestyle?
Often people want to approach returning to health as one dimensional. If you just take this pill or get this treatment you will magically be healthy again. Unfortunately, the cumulative effects of many different factors usually contributed to poor health or chronic disease or pain and will require a multifaceted treatment plan.
Our goal is to restore you to optimal health. Therefore, we treat the whole patient and work to identify and understand the underlying causes of disease, not just treat symptoms. This is why we offer Regenerative Medicine, Functional Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Chiropractic Care, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, and Lifestyle Education. After a thorough evaluation, we carefully design a treatment plan to return you to wellness, so your body’s natural healing mechanisms can do their jobs the way they were designed.
Dr. Lundquist is Board Certified in Family Medicine with ABFM and he is sub-specialized with the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABoIM). He has also has received a certification from the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine (ABIHM).
Dr. Lundquist has a special interest in Integrative and Holistic medicine. He is currently the founder and medical director for the Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine specializing in all aspects of Functional Medicine. He is a member of the American Holistic Medical Association as well as the Institute of Functional Medicine. He specializes in endocrine disorders, especially thyroid and adrenal dysfunction, chronic fatigue, migraine headaches, cardio metabolic disorders, and chronic pain.