We all see them, sponsored articles in our local online news site. Chiropractors around the country who are involved in scamming the elderly with amniotic “stem cell” treatments promising to regrow knees with end-stage arthritis often use this method to advertise their services. This morning I’d like to review one and show you how it’s misinformation at best and outright fraud at worst.
Chiropractic clinics, as well as naturopaths and acupuncturists, are now running scams whereby they claim that amniotic fluid or membrane products (or umbilical cord) have millions of live stem cells. They often promise to regrow someone a new knee and use a nurse to inject these substances. The problem is that the same or similar products that a nonprofit tested only have dead cells. In addition, nobody that I know who is credible and who has used these products has seen them regrow anything in a severely arthritic knee.
The state attorney generals’ offices around the country have begun to take notice as have numerous news outlets. For example, the AG in North Dakota recently shuttered a chiro clinic that was running this scam. To learn more about these scams, see my video below:
This pay for play article was placed in the Joliet, IL, Herald-News by a Dr. Frank Ostir. In this piece he claims:
“Ostir also promotes amniotic stem cell therapy to conquer joint pain. He explains, ‘Within 15 minutes, a patient with arthritic knees can be injected with amniotic stem cells, and begin the healing process that’s more than three times faster than standardized care.’ The stem cells are derived from caesarian section deliveries, screened, and certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Ostir adds, ‘There are 30 times more stem cells per volume in amniotic stem cells than adult stem cells. They also have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, plus human growth factors. They speed up the body’s own healing abilities, with no risk of tissue rejection.’”
So let’s examine this chiropractor’s claims one by one.
I can find no credible reference for this statement in any peer-reviewed publication. In fact, all of the amniotic fluid or membrane products that we have used (as a dead scaffold for actual living stem cells) or our colleagues have injected usually cause a flare-up in the patient’s condition before they have any effect. Hence, this statement seems to be pulled from thin air.
Amniotic tissues are specifically NOT screened and certified by the FDA. In fact, they are 361 tissues that are part of a voluntary registration system. This consists of filling out a form online, and this process takes 45 minutes. While the FDA reserves the right to inspect your facilities one day in the future, they do not test or certify that these tissues are free of communicable diseases. That is done by the tissue processor.
This sentence is so poorly written that I’ll have to extrapolate that this chiro is speaking about amniotic fluid. So here’s that comparison:
So it’s not remotely true that amnio has more stem cells than adult tissues, like bone marrow, have (reference for above). In fact, scientists working for the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation already made this same argument to a PhD working for one of these amniotic tissue companies.
As I pointed out, the state attorney general offices are beginning to crack down. The same clinic that was busted in North Dakota also has clinics in San Diego and Denver, and each was the subject of investigative TV reports. Will the chiropractic boards act next? The nursing boards? The FDA? The FTC?
The upshot? I’m getting fatigued pointing out the chiro stem cell scams. There are literally new ones that crop up every week. Hopefully, more physicians will get vocal and more regulatory agencies will act to shut these guys down.
About the Author
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…