Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stem cells and prayer

Driving to the Farmer's Market Sunday morning had the radio on to a show called "Being" - the successor show to another great show called "Speaking of Faith." "Being" explores the big questions about life, the universe and spirituality.

On Sunday, the host, Krista Tippet, interviewed Dr. Doris Taylor, one of the leading stem cell researchers, most known for using stem cells to rebuild and revive a heart. What she said fascinated me.

Stem cells, she says, are the cells used to regenerate our bodies. We have thousands of them. When we get cut, stem cells are what allow our skin and muscle to rebuild. If we suffer heart, lung or kidney damage, stem cells are what repair that damage. The reason why bone marrow transplants work so well on cancer patients is that bone marrow is full of stem cells, which flood the body and rebuild the damage caused by the cancer.

So here is the amazing thing: Her research shows that stress kills stem cells. It also shows that prayer (both the act of prayer and the act of being prayed for) increases the number of stem cells in the body. So when we pray for somebody we are literally, through divine intervention, increasing the number of stem cells in their body, thus enabling them to get well. Isn't that amazing?