The Benefits of Balance
We need everything in moderation.
This isn’t just a saying used by doctors and nutritionists. It is a basic biological principle. Our bodies survive day-to-day by maintaining a dynamic balance of opposing forces and signals. Our “normal” is actually the successful balancing of a seesaw. A stable equilibrium.The scientific term for this balancing act is homeostasis.1 This concept is not new. It was originally described by ancient Greek philosophers who thought that life consisted of elements in “dynamic opposition or alliance” to one another.1 Over two millennia later, we can still see the validity of homeostasis even at the molecular level when studying signaling pathways in the body.Take a look at the process of inflammation. Inflammation is often thought of as bad. Your skin turns red and it’s painful. But inflammation is your body’s way of restoring balance after an injury, which is something that has upset the natural balance. For example, after a paper cut, pro-inflammatory signals flood the injured area signaling our body to clot the blood and rebuild the damaged tissue. We need inflammation because it signals the beginning of the healing process and restoring balance.
But why are our bodies not constantly in a state of inflammation?
Once the pro-inflammatory signals start, how and why do they stop? The answer goes back to the balancing act of homeostasis. At any given moment, our bodies are making both pro- and anti-inflammatory signals. Every signal has its opposite. The key is that these “pro” and “anti” components are in balance. When they get unbalanced, our bodies have feedback loops that make adjustments to return the balance.
It is not as easy as classifying components as simply “good” or “bad” signals. While their functions might indicate that they are at odds with one another, the reality is that they both exist to maintain the dynamic balancing act in our bodies. We need them both. Pro-inflammatory signals are needed to kick-start the healing process. Anti-inflammatory mediators are needed to allow healing to progress past the inflammatory stage and restore balance.
The problem arises when the balance is upset and our own feedback mechanisms fail. When the body cannot restore balance, the tissues become dysfunctional which leads to the development of disorders. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a classic example of an imbalance.2 Joints are designed to do two simple things: allow us to bend our bodies with fluidity and withstand the strain that we put them through on a day-to-day basis. To do this, they are filled with molecules, like hyaluronic acid, to lubricate and cushion them. The synovial tissue around the joint is constantly turned-over and replaced with newer tissue. There is a constant balance of breakdown and production of both the surrounding tissue and the components that lubricate and cushion the joint.
When joints are injured or worn away over time, this balance is upset. Too many degradative enzymes, like MMPS, are produced and break down the synovial tissue, cartilage matrix, or the molecules that cushion the joint.2 When fewer cushioning molecules are available, it causes damage and inflammation.2 In a healthy joint, this inflammation would be quickly resolved, the tissue healed, and balance restored. But once the imbalance starts in an OA joint, it snowballs. Eventually it causes cartilage breakdown and bony growth into the joint space, making the joint more painful and less functional.2 There aren’t enough signals, like bFGF, to increase lubricant production in the joint. There are too few TIMPS to counteract the MMPs and protect the joint, or not enough hyaluronic acid to counteract inflammation and support and cushion the joint.3 Without enough of these to restore balance, the only options for those suffering from the dysregulation are painkillers to mask the problem or invasive surgeries.A similar problem exists in chronic wounds.3 A chronic wound is a stalled wound that does not progress appropriately through the ordered stages of healing. Acute wounds progress through the appropriate stages because they contain the appropriate balance of catabolic and anabolic factors – production and breakdown of molecules is in balance.1,4 When the scale is tipped too far toward breakdown, the wound stalls and becomes chronic. There are too many MMPs and not enough growth factors.4,5 Too much breakdown and not enough replenishment.
At StimLabs we offer next generation products intended to supplement and protect these tissue environments. Our products are sourced from fetal tissues which are commonly used as wound coverings for chronic wounds.6
We center our product development philosophy around designing future market-leading regenerative products that offer resolution of the underlying physiological pathology and positively influence the disease state.
At StimLabs, our team is constantly working to understand these pathologies and the intricate imbalance that causes them. We are excited about the future direction that our discoveries and new products can offer for restoring balance.
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1. Chrousos, G. P. & Gold, P. W. The Concepts of Stress and Stress System Disorders: Overview of Physical and Behavioral Homeostasis. JAMA267,1244–1252 (1992). 2. Berenbaum, F. Osteoarthritis as an inflammatory disease (osteoarthritis is not osteoarthrosis!). Osteoarthritis Cartilage6 (2013). 3.Strauss et al 2009 Hyaluronic acid viscosupplementation and osteoarthritis 4. Schultz, G. S. & Wysocki, A. Interactions between extracellular matrix and growth factors in wound healing. Wound Repair Regen. Off. Publ. Wound Heal. Soc. Eur. Tissue Repair Soc.17,153–162 (2009). 5. MMPs Made Easy 6. Haugh, et al. Amnion Membrane in Diabetic Food Wounds: A Meta-analysis. PRS Global Open 2017 March 1.
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