• Are ill people being duped by so-called ‘stem cell’ based products?

    by  • June 27, 2012 • News • 4 Comments

    Stem cells are very fashionable right now. They sound good: what’s not to like about a ‘master’ cell that can help repair bodily damage by creating new cells, and can be used to treat illnesses such as leukaemia? So people are inclined to think that anything involving them must be good.

    But a couple of research scientists I’ve spoken to are warning that people with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and other conditions are being misled by “thoroughly reprehensible” claims about  products that supposedly generate stem cells.

    The claims are made on several New Zealand and Australian websites that sell products based on bovine colostrum, a substance produced by cows immediately after birth to feed their young.

    The sites claim that bovine colostrum can fight severe illnesses – including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and muscular dystrophy – by encouraging the body to produce more stem cells.

    One website, Turangi-based Colostrum4Health, sells products such as 60 capsules of ‘Colostem Generation 2 Stem Cell Release’ for $96.23. The company boasts of its “synergistic formulation” and claims the product promotes a “stem cell cascade”.

    Alan Simmons, the owner of Turangi-based Colostrum4Health, acknowledged to me that the link between colostrum and stem cells “is not proven to the scientific community, because there hasn’t been blind studies done, I suppose”.

    He said there were “dozens and dozens of people who are walking examples of the product’s benefits”, adding: “You try to tell them that [there’s no link] and they will be furious.”

    Stem cells

    However, Auckland University’s Dr Bronwen Connor, an associate professor of pharmacology and stem cell researcher, says there has been no research published that shows colostrum boosts stem cell growth or combats major illness.

    There is “absolutely nothing” behind any claims linking colostrum with stem cell growth, she says.

    Her warnings are echoed by Dr Michelle McConnell, who researches colostrum at Otago University. “Nothing, to my knowledge, has been done in humans as a double-blind randomised trial to prove any of the claims being made by these internet-based companies,” she says.

    “Personally, I think it’s thoroughly reprehensible, giving false hope to people with these conditions.”

    Another site, the Colostrum New Zealand blog, claims: “The science is proven – the more Adult Stem Cells (Repair kits) you have circulating in your bloodstream the better chance your body will have in time to repair its self.” The site also says colostrum can help fight multiple sclerosis and other conditions.

    However, Dr Connor is bemused by the ‘bloodstream’ claim. “What do they actually mean? We don’t necessarily want them [stem cells] floating around in the bloodstream. We want them targeted to the site of repair,” she says. “It [the claim] actually doesn’t mean anything to us scientifically.”

    New Image, the New Zealand company that supplies Colostrum4Health and Colostrum New Zealand, says its products are only “dietary supplements” and that websites are not allowed to make “therapeutic” claims about the products.

    When I was looking into the subject last year, a spokeswoman told me that New Image would warn websites about their claims “as soon as our internal assessment of the material on them is complete.

    “If we do not receive a response to our warnings we will stop selling our product to any person connected with the offending website.”

    The Ministry of Health, which I also contacted last year, said it would be in touch with companies promoting colostrum-based products, which could be in breach of the Medicines Act if they made claims they could not justify.

    However, Colostrum4Health and Colostrum New Zealand continue to make claims about their products’ therapeutic powers and ability to fight degenerative diseases.

    Australian-based websites also promote the supposed stem cell-enhancing properties of colostrum. John Gaudio, who runs New South Wales-based Colostrum Immunity, told me his products help fight major illnesses, insisting there was “so much science there, you’d have to be blind not to see it”.

    He also claimed that a derivative of colostrum “is treating AIDS right now” and that colostrum “has been accepted in Kenya as a medicine”.

    Setting these claims aside, Dr Connor says people won’t harm themselves by taking colostrum, but she’s worried it might be the first step on the way to genuinely dangerous ‘stem cell’ treatments.

    A controversial German clinic, the XCell-Center, was shut down in 2010 after an 18-month-old boy died following an injection of stem cells into his brain. The clinic was promoted by the Adult Stem Cell Foundation, an Australian organisation linked to by some of the colostrum sites.

    “The concern I have is that people start on these things [colostrum products], having misunderstood what stem cells are, and then progress onto unproven clinical treatments, and waste a whole lot of money in the process,” Dr Connor says.

    “These clinics … are absolutely preying on people that are at a very vulnerable stage. They are going down very dangerous lines.”

    4 Responses to Are ill people being duped by so-called ‘stem cell’ based products?

    1. September 29, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      I belong to the adult stem cell foundation ASCF and am part of a clinical trial at the moment. I have recently had a stem cell transplant. ASCF strongly recommends using the right kind of colostrum to encourage proliferation of stem cells in the body. The brand Colostrum MAX is a “Listed Medicine” with the ARTG with therapeutic claims. Registration No: AUST L 190135. The product complies with regulations for sale as a dietary supplement in New Zealand.
      Go to http://www.colostrumMAX.com to read more.

    2. November 8, 2012 at 8:08 am

      It is time that these “doctors” open up for alternative medicine like Colostrum but they don’t want to know about it since it is not a ‘drug’. Doctors only prescribe drugs to take the symptoms away of a disease, colostrum can heal many of them. There are 6700 scientific papers around all stating the enormous healing powers that colostrum has. It is scientifically proven that Colostrum stimulates stem cell production. We have testimonials of dozens of people that had given up on their doctors because they couldn’t do anything for them. Now they are jumping around again enjoying quality of life.
      Placebo? Who cares? If it makes them feel better, I’d be happy to sell it to them.

    3. therese berg
      February 4, 2014 at 11:01 am

      Hi I am appalled by your lack of knowledge about colostrum. A friend of mine swears by it..she has ms. I can tell you why there hasn’t been any scientific research in this field. …they are scared of being humiliated if they happen to prove there are links between stemcell growth and colostrum. Humilated by us the people for not finding this out sooner. I am trialing colostem myself for things…only been one week soon…so too early to tell. Will keep you posted cause if there is something good in this supplement. Then people have the right to know.

    4. April 17, 2016 at 1:02 am

      Your blog without corrections continues to misguide people, anything that supports stem cell nutrition is a positive and if I may add improves the ability of the immune system to work more effectively. I am disappointed that a person of Dr Connor knowledge has not done the research to make this very broad statement.
      Dr Connor is bemused by the ‘bloodstream’ claim. “What do they actually mean? We don’t necessarily want them [stem cells] floating around in the bloodstream. We want them targeted to the site of repair,” she says. “It [the claim] actually doesn’t mean anything to us scientifically.”
      Colostrum MAX is high in PRP’s (Info Peptides that direct repair to the site of insult). Suggested reading of this book Peptide Immunotherapy Colostrum – A Physician’s Reference Guide by Andrew M. Keech, PhD, with a 1000 references and related studies. I will add a disclaimer that all colostrum products are not the same and that may account for the variations in results from great to hopeless.
      First milking colostrum supports “between” 4.5% to 5% Proline Rich Polypeptides and the synergistic value of natural colostrum that is collected in the first 16 hours after the birth of the calf. Flash pasteurization and liposomal coating to deliver the best result. From our research now after 5 years we have noted the best results are from between 5 grams a day to 10 grams a day for therapeutic support. May I add this support is to the body and the body does the repair, because that is what it is designed to do.
      It is worth reading Dr Keech’s book to understand the complexity and synergistic support of Colostrum.

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