“ADULT STEM CELLS are the BEST-KEPT SECRET in today’s wellness…” boasted a flyer for a dietary supplement called VitalStem. Take it and increase “the number of circulating stem cells in your body.” Not only can it “replace diseased cells with healthy cells” and provide “anti-inflammatory and immune system support” but also give users “mental clarity and mood elevation.”
But the products are really just a repackaging of a supplement that has been marketed aggressively since the 1980s, a form of blue-green algae called aphanizomenon flos-aquae. The science behind the claimed benefits for aphanizomenon is slight — whether the claim is for immune boosting as it was 20 years ago, or stem-cell enhancement as it is today. In fact, there has long been concern about the presence of toxins in blue-green algae products, though you wouldn’t know it from the marketers at the trade show.
Brian is describing some of the claims being made at the A4M conference in Las Vegas this week. Click here for full story.
As I have blogged before, stem cells and other autologous biologics are no different than Penicillin. First, a procedure must be put in place to ensure that the autologous biologic is in fact what it claims to be. This procedure would at least need to involve isolation of that cell and culture expansion to a much higher number. Then, dosing needs to be figured out. Finally, how the cell is applied to the area becomes a whole area of study in itself. For example, applying the cell to fix bones is likely different than trying to fix cartilage or tendons.
So again, there is no easy lunch here. These cells have great promise, but simply slapping the phrase "stem cells" on a bottle of ancient supplements from the 1960's or a process using otherwise dangerous chemicals to bump up circulating blood cells isn't enough...