It may come as a surprise to some people, but the body is designed to be in a state of ongoing repair and regeneration. Without the continual process of cell turnover within the body the miracle of the human body would not exist.
In states of poor health, however, regenerative processes are overcome by degenerative ones. This is where healthcare can do remarkable things, helping the body back into balance with foods, herbs, nutrients, manual therapy, healing energy, and intention. A Functional Medicine approach seeks to help the body to heal itself. Today, however, drug-based medicine invariably uses chemicals that have no regenerative potential. To the contrary, they many times interfere with the body’s self-healing ability in order to suppress a certain set of symptoms.
Despite the notion that regeneration is not possible, we have found a number of studies confirming that tissue regeneration is not only possible, but predictable.
Nerve Regeneration – There are actually a broad range of natural compounds with proven nerve-regenerative effects. A 2010 study published in the journal Rejuvenation Research, for instance, found a combination of blueberry, green tea and carnosine promote neuronal regeneration and stem-cell regenerative effects in an animal model of neurodegenerative disease. Other researched substances include:
- Methyl B12
- Royal Jelly
There is another class of nerve-healing substances, which stimulate the repair of the protective sheath around the axon of the neurons known as myelin, and which is often damaged in neurological injury. It should also be noted that even music and emotions like love have been studied for possibly stimulating neurogenesis, regeneration and/or repair of neurons, indicating that regenerative medicine does not necessary require the ingestion of anything; rather, a wide range of therapeutic actions may be employed to improve health and well-being.
Another exciting therapy shown to help regeneration of the nerve system is low level laser therapy. Low level laser has been shown to improve nerve regeneration on a cellular level in a number of different ways including accelerated fiber spouting and neuronal cell migration, accelerates and enhances axonal growth and regeneration after injury, and helps to increase the total number of myelinated axons.
Liver Regeneration – Glycyrrhizin, a compound found within licorice has also been found to stimulate the regeneration of liver mass and function in the animal model with hepatectomy (liver removal). Other liver regenerative substances include:
- Carvacrol (a volatile compound in oregano)
- Milk thistle (Silymarin)
- Korean Ginseng
- Vitamin E
Beta-Cell Regeneration – Unfortunately, the medical community has yet to harness the diabetes-reversing potential of natural compounds. Whereas expensive stem cell therapies, islet cell transplants, and an array of synthetic drugs in the developmental pipeline are the focus of billions of dollars of research, annually, our kitchens and backyards may already contain the long sought-after cure for type 1 diabetes. The following compounds have been demonstrated experimentally to regenerate the insulin-producing beta cells, which are destroyed in insulin dependent diabetes, and if restored, could (at least in theory) restore the health of the patient to the point where they were able to produce insulin again.
- Ganoderma Lucidum
- Gymenna Sylvestre
- Nigella Sativa (“black cumin”)
- Vitamin D
- Curcumin (from the spice Turmeric)
- Berberine (found in bitter herbs such as Goldenseal and Barberry)
- Bitter Melon
- Chard (yes, the green leafy vegetables)
- Corn Silk
- Sulforaphane (especially concentrated in broccoli sprouts)
Hormone Regeneration – there are secretagogues, which increase the endocrine glands’ ability to secrete more hormone, and there are substances that truly regenerate hormones which have degraded. One of these substances is vitamin C. A powerful electron donor, this vitamin has the ability to contribute electrons to resurrect the form and function of estradiol (estrogen; E2), progesterone, testosterone, for instance. In tandem with foods that are able to support the function of glands, such as the ovaries, vitamin C may represent an excellent complement or alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
Cardiac Cell Regeneration – Not too long ago, it was believed that cardiac tissue was uniquely incapable of being regenerated. A new, but rapidly growing body of experimental research now indicates that this is simply not true, and there is a class of heart-tissue regenerating compounds known as neocardiogenic substances. Neocardiogenic substances are able to stimulate the formation of cardiac progenitor cells which can differentiate into healthy heart tissue, and they include the following:
- Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero)
- Red Wine Extract
- Geum Japonicum
Cartilage/Joint/Spine Regeneration – Curcumin and resveratrol have been shown to improve recovery from spinal cord injury. Over a dozen other natural compounds also hold promise in this area. As far as degenerative joint disease, i.e. osteoarthritis, there are a broad range of potentially regenerative substances. Here are a few:
- Cetyl Myrisoleate
We feel that Functional Medicine and regenerative medicine is the future of medicine and that ultimately, a drug-based medical system is a degenerative medical system. Symptom suppression guarantees both the perpetuation of the original underlying disease, and the generation of an ever-expanding array of additional, treatment-induced symptoms. By utilizing a healthcare approach that promotes function, healing, and regeneration we provide hope for people to live long and healthy lives.