You can't get blood from a stone, but how about Stem Cells from Home Depot?

It's not easy to explain a complex scientific concept like stem cells, but here goes. I've spent some time working with my Brother, who's a Contractor, so allow me to speak about stem cells in Contractor terms.

A bone marrow adult stem cell is like a dollop of magic putty. Put it on the wall, it becomes drywall, put it on the roof, it becomes roof, put it on the carpet, and it becomes carpet. Wait, you spilled something on the carpet?

In short, every component of the house is embedded in the putty, and the putty knows exactly what part of the house it should become as soon as it touches it.

Embryonic stem cells are also like the magic putty, but they are also like a trainee worker, and don't really know what they're doing. Put the embryonic stem cell putty on the wall and you might get roof or carpet or drywall or all 3. They also don't know when to stop. You might have only needed to repair a small crack in the sink, but now you have a swimming pool there. It's a nightmare and good luck getting that weird house featured in Architectural Digest.

Adult stem cells exist in the bone marrow of all mammals, and a new born baby also has adult stem cells. Once the house has been built, then no matter how new it is, the adult stem cell putty will go to work.

Now think of your bone marrow like Home Depot. There's no shortage of adult stem cells (putty) in there, but there's a simple process in order to 'check out.'

Under usual circumstances when a tissue or organ signals that it requires renewal or repair, it releases a compound called SDF-1. Unfortunately, the SDF-1 creates an adhesion molecule, which causes the stem cell at other times to stay inside the bone marrow. Think of it as like being distracted by the food truck or a demonstration inside the store. You'll be in there all day.

In normal circumstances, this would be fine, but stem cells aren't aware of pollution, general stress, poor dietary choices, and week long drinking sessions after your team wins in the playoffs. In short, this process of breakdown and renewal is constant and ongoing. Healthy cells can create healthy organs, which means everything is working properly and you are healthy.

Now here's the part that proves the stem cell putty works. A few years ago, a group of scientists won the Nobel prize for the discovery of what's called green fluorescent protein. So one day, these scientists are irradiating the bone marrow in mice, as you do, and they decide to see if they can regenerate the entire bone marrow system in one of them.

And they decide to tag the single adult stem cell they re-inject with this green fluorescent protein. They wait a few weeks, then use one of those UV lights, you know the ones they use in hotels to show all the gross stains on the bed spread? Low and behold the mouse had glowing green cells all through its body, meaning that a single injected stem cell regenerated the entire bone marrow, then those stem cells went to work in the rest of the body.

They then gave the mice a laundry list of problems -- heart attacks, strokes, muscle damage -- and found similar findings. Not good to be a mouse in a laboratory experiment..

Ok, so now the question is: won't I run out of stem cells?

The short answer is no, because the body, like Home Depot, has an excellent inventory tracking system. Every time a stem cell decides to leave the bone marrow, it undergoes asymmetrical cell division, meaning it makes a copy of itself. The copy is sent out into the blood stream, and the original stays behind.

How genius is that? It's up there with the pickup truck and surround sound, but there's something else.

A Scientist discovered there are natural compounds found in blue-green algae, fucoidan (brown sea weed), and spirulina, (among other things), that block the SDF-1 adhesion molecule and get the stem cells into the bloodstream whether cells or tissues are screaming out for them or not.

In the unlikely event a stem cell is released, but not used, it will just return to the bone marrow. Considering the sheer volume of cells that your body has to replace on a daily basis, in a healthy person, you wouldn't think there would be many making it back at all.

Don't be the guy who spent too long at the going up and down the isles of Home Depot with a food truck hotdog in his hand, get your stem cell putty out of the store and get back to fixing your house. Good health, wellness and a happy spouse awaits.

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