Stem cell treatment advertising by “CAM” practitioners analyzed – Consumer Health Digest

Having been in the room with my late wife at a fake stem cell facility in Mexico, I highly suggest you take this information into consideration before considering doing this therapy in this way. Feel free to contact me for more information on what we experienced.

An investigation of 368 Web sites found through Google with search terms combining stem cell with various buzzwords and practitioner names associated with “complementary and alternative medicine” has revealed:

  • 243 sites marketed stem cell therapies and 116 marketed other interventions where stem cells were mentioned in the description of the treatment or its effects. The other interventions included platelet-rich plasma injections (88), prolotherapy (19) and others (9).
  • The cells used for transplantation were said to be derived from adipose (fatty) tissue (112 sites), bone marrow (100 sites), blood (28 sites), umbilical cord (26 sites), and other sources [e.g., placenta, amniotic sac, amniotic fluid, embryonic stem cells] (35 sites).
  • 20 sites advertised plant cell-based treatments and products (e.g., skin creams).
  • The most common advertised treatment targets were: bone, joint, and muscle pain/injury (182 sites); diseases or maladies (82 sites); cosmetic concerns (52 sites); non-cosmetic aging (44 sites); and sexual enhancement (18 sites).
  • 80% of the sites were for clinics in the USA; the rest were located in 17 other countries.
  • The practitioner types mentioned on the 368 sites included medical doctors (161), naturopaths (63), chiropractors (61), acupuncturists (36), midwives (33), homeopaths (27) and massage therapists (13). Some sites mentioned more than one and some sites listed none.
  • Hyperbolic language was found on 32% of the sites.
  • Only 31% of the sites mentioned the regulatory status of the intervention, and only 33% noted that the therapy was unproven.
  • Only 19% of the sites stated there was limited evidence of efficacy of the intervention and 13% said there was evidence of inefficacy.
  • Only 25% of the sites mentioned general risks of the interventions.

The investigators concluded:

Many clinics seem to be engaging in scienceploitation, which can seriously obfuscate public discourse, mislead the public and make it difficult to discern real science from marketing claims that merely reference scientific sounding terminology. The marketing of unproven stem cell therapies has the potential to harm patients and to harm the reputation of stem cell science. It is incumbent on regulators and policymakers to take a proactive approach to managing the risks associated with the growing private market for stem cell-related interventions, and addressing misleading marketing practices is an important part of this strategy.

[Murdoch B and others. Exploiting science? A systematic analysis of complementary and alternative medicine clinic websites’ marketing of stem cell therapies. BMJ Open 8(2), March 2, 2018]

“Integrative medicine” caucus announced – Consumer Health Digest

Doctor Barrett in his analysis, points out that while the notion of integrative health and wellness is a popular term today, that it’s meaning is very unclear, and has been used to cover many phony health care practices. I post it here more as FYI only. As long as this steers towards science based application rather than marketing of non scientifically based claims, I’m in favor of it.

Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Mike Coffman (R-CO) have launched the Integrative Health and Wellness Congressional Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. The caucus’s stated purpose is to “serve as a non-partisan educational forum for legislators to receive up-to-date information from experts related to best practices and new research, and to discuss legislative and administrative opportunities for integrative health.” The press release announcing their move states:

Integrative health emphasizes prevention, health creation, health promotion and general well-being, and includes therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic, and mindfulness. At a time when the most expensive drains on our nation’s health dollars are chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, integrative approaches can offer improved outcomes with lower costs. While at least a third of Americans use complementary or alternative medicines, access is often inconsistent. This caucus will provide a platform for legislators to participate together and focus on the important opportunity that integrative health and wellness approaches offers across federally funded health programs, and find ways to make these solutions more available to the American people. [Polis, Coffman launch bipartisan Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus, citing successes of integrative health treatments. Office of Jared Polis. Press release, Oct 25, 2017]

“Integrative medicine” does not have a definable scope. It is a marketing slogan used by practitioners who claim to combine “alternative” and mainstream approaches to medicine to provide the best of both approaches. This may sound reasonable, but (a) the term is actually a smokescreen behind which enthusiasts routinely use dubious practices and (b) some of the preventive measures they embrace are part of standard care and others simply don’t work. [Barrett S. Be wary of “alternative,” “complementary,” and “integrative” health methods. Quackwatch, Oct 30, 2017] It remains to be seen whether caucus members will promote approaches that will improve health care in the U.S. or merely add to its cost.

Review contrasts veterinary drugs and homeopathic “alternatives” – Consumer Health Digest

Interesting story on Homeopathy.  There is no science behind homeopathy and this review of it by a noted association, gets to the core of the issue.

The British Veterinary Association’s journal has published two articles that place homeopathy in historical and scientific perspective. Although the articles concern veterinary practices, their conclusions are equally relevant to human drugs. The first article notes that, “For many drugs the mechanism of action is proven, and for most drugs without proven mechanisms of action, scientifically plausible mechanisms exist.” [Lees P and others. Comparison of veterinary drugs and veterinary homeopathy: Part 1. Veterinary Record, Aug 12, 2017] In contrast, the second article notes that “Homeopathy . . . is top down and faith-based; governed by arbitrary laws, invented by the founder, Hahnemann, which are immutable. As such, homeopathy is not just unscientific, it is a genuinely mystical belief system.” [Lees P and others. Comparison of veterinary drugs and veterinary homeopathy: Part 2. Veterinary Record, Aug 19/26, 2017]


Patient Deaths Show Darker Side of Modern Chinese Medicine – Bloomberg News

Very interesting articles by Bloomberg. Very well balanced coverage. You might need a subscription to either Bloomberg or ScribD. Or go to the library and read it there.

Early on a snowy, winter morning in January 2012, Wu Xiaoliang, a 37-year-old farmer, stopped by his local doctor to remedy a headache. At a small clinic near his village he received two injections made from traditional Chinese herbs. Hours later, villagers saw him struggling to prop himself up on his moped as he drove home. By noon, he was dead.

Chiropractor who treated thyroid disease sentenced for practicing medicine without a license – Consumer Health Digest

And yet another story of an alternative medical provider being found guilty of pushing beyond the scope of his license. His business license that is.

In 2017, Diem T. Nguyen, D.C., who advertised herself as “Dr. Thyroid” and offered non-drug treatment for s spectrum of thyroid disorders, has been sentenced to serve three years probation and ordered to repay two of her victims. [Johnson D. Board to decide professional fate of El Dorado Hills chiropractor convicted of practicing medicine without license. Fox 40, Sept 19, 2017] At the time of her arrest, she operated New Life Integrative Wellness clinics in Elk Grove and El Dorado Hills, California. In 2013, when she did business as NorCal Natural Integrative Healthcare, her Web site offered “A New Thyroid Treatment Approach That Moves Directly To The Underlying CAUSE Of Your Thyroid Problem. . . By Utilizing Advanced Lab Measurements and a Comprehensive Functional Approach!”

Naturopathy’s top critic profiled – The Skeptics

Worth the read. There is far too much ‘magical thinking’ given over to naturopathy with far too little oversight or insight. Here’s a story you don’t see every day. And yes, Bastyr is threatening a lawsuit to this woman, in order to shut her up. Not a good move. Makes them look just like the Big Pharma that they hate so much. One thing that strikes me as I read the article, is that much of the appeal of naturopathy could be alleviated if insurance companies dropped the requirements that medical professionals only deal with one issue at a time to get billed. Patients and doctors alike hate this.

Quartz Media has published the remarkable story of Britt Hermes, a former practitioner who abandoned naturopathy when she concluded that what she had been taught was not valid. The article states: “For the past few years, after realizing she had been swindled in her education, Hermes has waged a war on naturopathy. On blogs and in online publications, she has opened a window into a profession that resists external scrutiny of its training and practices.” [Rathi A. The journey of a “doctor” who joined the cult of alternative medicine and then broke out of it Quartz, Sept 30, 2017] Last year, Hermes’s blog, “Naturopathic Diaries,” won the Ockham award for the best blog of the year given by The Skeptics magazine.

“Their training…amounts to a small fraction of that of medical doctors who practice primary care,” Atwood wrote. “An examination of their literature, moreover, reveals that it is replete with pseudoscientific, ineffective, unethical, and potentially dangerous practices.”

Quartz article on Naturopaths

Adulteration by synthetic therapeutic substances of traditional Chinese medicines in Taiwan. – PubMed – NCBI

“The controversies regarding the combination of synthetic therapeutic substances and traditional Chinese medicines without adequate labeling should be resolved through regulatory actions for better safety of drug use.”