Creating Stem Cell Supplements: Is the Cheap Stuff for Real?

by Chris Centeno, MD /

stem cell supplements

Our entry into developing a stem cell supplement, much like everything else we do, was born of frustration. I would get asked frequently, which supplements our patients should take to help support their stem cell procedure. As we entered this arena to solve that issue, one thing that shocked us immediately was how expensive real, high-quality supplement ingredients are! I was often dumbfounded by how cheap some of the supplements were in stores like Walmart and Walgreens. The NY attorney general had the same question and looked into why these mass marketed supplements are so cheap. It’s because they don’t contain any real supplements!

Before we had our own supplement, I would log into the US National Library of Medicine, vetting individual ingredients, only to find that either not much was known, or that the experiments suggesting that a certain ingredient might help stem cells weren’t really performed in a way that would answer our questions.

Creating Our Own Stem Cell Supplement

When I first inquired with supplement experts about how we might go about designing our own stem cell supplement, they just referred me back to the same thing I was already doing – searching the published literature. As it turns out, this is how 99% of supplements are born, by putting together a file of research articles that support the concept that supplement x might help condition y.

The problem was that very few of these research articles really supported that a specific supplement ingredient would help our specific type of adult stem cells in an orthopedic application. So we did what nobody does in the supplement industry, we conducted our own lab research to answer these questions.

As I said, when it came time to put the actual supplement together based on our research, I was shocked at the expense of high-quality supplement ingredients. This was because supplements in the grocery store, Walmart, or the local drug store are so cheap. While some of this could be explained by buying in large volumes, I always assumed that these supplements just contained inferior ingredients which allowed a much, much lower price. As it turns out, I was wrong. Many supplement manufacturers have gone even further to cut costs by not adding any active supplement ingredients at all!

Cheap Supplements – Getting What You Pay For

The New York attorney general tested the cheap supplements they found at GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart. The results were scary:

  1. GNC – 5/6 herbal supplements tested didn’t contain what was on the label. Basically, cheap fillers were often found instead of the listed supplement. Only 22% of the time was the actual supplement found in the bottle!
  2. Walgreens – 5/6 of the same herbal supplements didn’t contain what was listed on the bottle. Only 18% of the time were the contents listed on the label accurate. Again, cheap fillers often substituted for the advertised ingredients.
  3. Walmart – Almost all bottles tested didn’t contain what was listed, with only 4% of the tests revealing any actual supplement versus cheap fillers.
  4. Target-3/6 bottles contained the real deal listed on the label and only 41% of the tests showed what was listed.

Yikes! It’s no wonder these stores can sell this stuff so cheap! Of the scarier things found in these bottles, houseplant and pine are interesting. You have to wonder if some Chinese factory is just substituting whatever they can get for dirt cheap at the moment. Curcumin or Saw Palmetto too expensive that month? Just throw in that load of dead houseplants from the local plant wholesaler. Ginseng too pricey? No problem, just go down the block to the furniture factory and buy up all of that sawdust!

All of this reminds me of the amniotic stem cell scams sweeping the nation right now. Doctors deceiving unsuspecting patients into thinking they’re getting millions of fetal-derived stem cells injected into their joints, when in fact the doctors are injecting 100% dead tissue! I guess it’s at least real fetal dead tissue, rather than sawdust or houseplants!

The upshot? Real supplements cost more. In fact, we went much further by conducting our own research for a year to determine which supplement ingredients would help real human stem cells do what we wanted them to in the lab. So the next time you’re tempted to buy that cheap stem cell supplement, fish oil, curcumin, or glucosamine, think about saving a Chinese houseplant!

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12 thoughts on “Creating Stem Cell Supplements: Is the Cheap Stuff for Real?

  1. stef

    Your supplement is not available north of the border. I was answered that exporting liquid require extra effort for the license. Can you put that extra effort please. You can find someone to distribute. Try Québec ! Merci.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Stef,
      We are not currently set up for deliveries outside the US. Merci for the heads up, it’s something we can look into.

  2. Stan

    Can your supplement possibly help even if a person has not had a stem cell procedure? That is, say a person has a small cartilage defect (that appears to be manageable as of present at least) should a person consider your supplement as a proactive, possibly protective measure? And what type of quality control do you do for your ingredients? Thanks.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Stan,
      Yes, using it proactively is an excellent idea. We put the year of research testing it with human mesenchymal stem cells into the formula to develop something that would help both our patients, and people who have joint pain and are looking for a natural, nutritional supplement to help support their joint health and function.In Regenexx laboratory studies, the supplements used in this formula helped to maintain the health of the cell environment and provide support for the joint’s natural cartilage growth (chondrogenesis) process. As far as quality control we use only the best quality tested ingredients, the manufacturer is inspected by FDA annually and is cGMP and NSF certified, we’ve visited to check on the production of our product, and are setting up batch analysis. And we take it!.

  3. Sally

    I really liked your powdered formula. Why did you stop selling it in powder form? When traveling, and cannot travel with the liquid, what do you recommend I take in its place? Another reason I really liked the powder, you can travel with it. Thanks,

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Sally,
      We changed the form because we got many complaints that it was unpalatable. While doing that we used the opportunity to fine tune the actual formula even further and with the liquid form we’ve made it easier to make sure you’re getting the correct dosage, aside from the improved flavor. Packing the bottle sealed securely in checked baggage in a water tight Ziploc baggie should be fine. I have inquired, and none of the dry formula still exists.

  4. Diego

    Would your supplement also work to something else? Like a chronic disease?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Diego,
      The supplement is a powerful anti-inflammatory and therefore can benefit inflammatory processes, and has shown to be provide support for the natural cartilage growth process of the joints, however it is not designed to treat any diseases.

  5. Michael Albert Sr

    Stan asked a question on January 5, 2016
    about if your supplement would help people that have not had the stem cell injections.
    His questions was not answered. I also would like to know your response. Thank you.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Michael,
      Actually it was answered. But will gladly answer for you…

      Yes. We put the research into the formula to develop something that would help both our patients, for people who have joint pain and are looking for a natural, nutritional supplement to help support their joint health and function.In Regenexx laboratory studies, the supplements used in this formula helped to maintain the health of the cell environment and provide support for the joint’s natural cartilage growth (chondrogenesis) process. As far as quality control we use only the best quality tested ingredients, the manufacturer is inspected by FDA annually and is cGMP and NSF certified, we’ve visited to check on the production of our product, and are setting up batch analysis. And we take it!.

  6. Robson

    I had the right knee operated three times because of reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament. Furthermore , chondromalacia of patella cartilage. Tendonitis in anterior tibial tendon and Achilles tendon . Now , right shoulder arthritis and disc disease in the cervical spine . This supplement is suitable for me?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Robson,
      The things you describe are often the results of the drastic change in the biomechanics of the knee (and back) which result from putting the “new” ACL at a steeper angle than the original. The body is a finely tuned machine, and drastic changes cause other drastic changes. The supplement is intended both for our patients and people who are interested in supporting joint health, and should help. However, it sounds like getting those issues sorted with regenerative medicine procedures like using your own stem cells and platelets might be needed to correct all that’s going on there in this case so that it doesn’t escalate further. http://www.regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/knee-surgery-alternative/ http://www.regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/back-surgery-alternative/ This will give you more information on issues resulting from ACL surgery: http://www.regenexx.com/?s=acl

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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