Lab studies suggest medicinal plants can help repair human bone and tissue
Research advancements in biomedical engineering have allowed for potential restoration of lost bone and tissue material. Individuals who have damaged bone and tissue, or even lost a body part in a car accident, will have several surgical reconstruction options to choose from, including the use of medical devices to stabilize the condition.
These current traditional methods are largely restricted to limiting the damage and restoring a semblance of original function. Aside from lengthy hospital stays and excruciating surgical operations, steel plates won’t restore original flexibility or the patient’s range of motion. The costs of such an operation also puts it well above the reach of many.
But the growing field of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering holds promise to patients who have lost precious limbs, tissue or bone after an accident. Over the course of 30 years, researchers have been building off existing studies for new solutions, more specifically how to reactivate the body’s own biological process to regenerate lost bone and tissue caused by trauma.
In one study, it was believed that medicinal plants hold a certain promise in the field of regenerative medicine. Traditional South African herbalists and healers have used two native plants to ease pain and address bone fractures caused by osteoarthritis.
Lab studies have proven that the plants were effective in supporting tissue and bone regeneration for patients who lost them in trauma.
How Does Regenerative Tissue Engineering Work?
The field of regenerative and tissue engineering relies on three components to achieve favorable results: stem cells, scaffolds, and signals that come from the organs and tissue.
Scaffolds are tools that work alongside biological systems to replace, treat, augment or evaluate what the body needs, including neurons, brain cells, skin cells, cartilage and bone stem cells, among others.
It’s a material that can change, or ‘modify’, how a cell behaves as they undergo a process called ‘shape forming’. More importantly, they are templates that tell the new tissues how they should form via blueprints, and make sure they live long enough to complete the necessary action.
The only problem is that existing scaffolds do not have all of these abilities, but medicinal plants can change all of that.
The Promise of Medicinal Plants
Medicinal plants play a large role in ancient medicine, but their tissue and bone regenerative abilities haven’t been explored by modern sciences until now. Though medicinal plants are known for their wound healing, anti-aging and pharmaceutical-like properties, scientists are seeing if they could have regenerative benefits, too.
The study was conducted at South Africa Technology University in Tshwane, as the country has a tenth of the whole world’s species of plants. From the 25,000 available, the team chose two of them: the wild teak, or Pterocarpus angolensis, and the pineapple lily, or Eucomis autumnalis.
Eucomis autumnalis has been associated with fracture healing for centuries. Now, it’s an herbal remedy that plays a role in wound healing and post-operative recovery. Pterocarpus angolensis regulates collagen and promotes cartilage formation.
Researchers combine the two medicinal plants with porcine fat cells and scaffolds. The materials, through lab testing, were found to have remarkable bone formation and body cell activation abilities. When combined with stem cells and scaffolds with relevant materials, the plants exhibited greater potency. In vitro, the plants performed remarkably in healing wounds.
Scientists agreed that the next step was to try and produce the same results in animal testing and with other medicinal plants that may have the same regenerative effects.
Initial findings and results with the two medicinal plants are promising. The research team has discovered that the plants’ natural properties certainly helped with biomedical engineering processes, particularly in filling out the lack and limitations of modern medicine.
There are two standout benefits to using these medicinal plants for treating trauma. One, it’s readily available, easily accessible, and cost-effective. Two, patients who suffer from bone and tissue damage won’t have to stay in hospitals for a long time due to increased cell activation and bone formation. When the animal trials prove successful, this kind of treatment can bring in an economic boom for the country.
It’s largely believed that biomedical scaffolding will have a value of 1.5B dollars in 2024. If the promise that the medicinal plants could support tissue and bone regeneration and healing, then South Africa can get a share of the biomaterial market.
To your health,
The Healing Miracle Team
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