You would likely think that I really enjoy writing about the stem cell wild west or the explosion in scams related to regenerative medicine. I really don’t, as there’s usually something better I need to do. Hence, I only write when I see something really exploitative. I would put “Stem Cell Therapy for Pain” in that category. The head of this outfit seems to be somehow related now or in the past with “Stem Cell Institute of America,” but her clinics are now called “Stem Cell Health Centers.”
I had actually started this blog post a while back, but other projects got in the way. However, I went to get my hair cut this weekend for upcoming lectures and there was Jill Howe on TV in a paid ad concocted to look like a network news program. As I watched her misinform consumers while getting my unruly hair tamed, I thought to myself, I know what tomorrow’s blog will be.
The Chiro “Stem Cell” Explosion Is Metastasizing Daily
A while back, I participated in a video that showed what was going on with the explosion of chiropractic-led “stem cell” therapy seminars. See that video below:
Basically, these chiropractic clinics often follow the same game plan. Hire a nurse to perform simple injections of birth tissues, like amniotic fluid or umbilical cord tissue, that are regulated as, and known to be, dead cell products. To get people in the door, you aggressively market “stem cell” therapy seminars on local TV and in newspaper ads targeted at the elderly. Pack a room with loads of people by offering free dinner and then promise the attendees that they will receive young stem cells (even though the products you’ll inject are dead) and then show them miracle-cure X-rays that purport to show that large stretches of new cartilage have been grown in bone-on-bone arthritic knees. Offer aggressive discounts to get the elderly patients to sign up, and then use a nonmedical person or nurse to determine candidacy. Pretty much everyone is a candidate, so that step is a mere formality. Some of these patients will get some relief for a while because they got what amounted to a hyperexpensive platelet-rich plasma shot, but none of them actually got an injection of young stem cells.
Jill Howe’s Magic Amniotic Stem Cell Pitch
I first saw Jill Howe, a chiropractor, on a pay-for-play news program a few years back. She had a pay-for-play announcer (Forbes Riley) and seemed to be interviewed as an expert in stem cell therapy. She had also written a few pay-for-placement pieces in local newspapers. The message was the same. Jill Howe was espousing the amazing benefits of young stem cells in commercially available birth tissue products. The problem? These products are regulated to contain dead, nonviable cells, and independent third-party testing has confirmed that they have no viable cells.
First, let’s explore if Jill Howe is an expert in this field. This is what would define a medical expert:
- Many years using these procedures—Jill is a chiropractor who isn’t licensed to perform any procedures, let alone stem cell procedures.
- Significant basic science and clinical publications—There are no stem cell or orthobiologic research studies listed under Jill’s name in the US National Library of Medicine.
- Internationally recognized to be an expert based on training, experience, or other knowledge—Jill has not been invited by any learned conferences to speak on this topic.
Hence, Jill Howe is not a stem cell expert.
Jill’s statements from her videos, pay-for-play news-station presentations, and seminars follow:
- These tissues (amniotic fluid or membrane or umbilical cord blood or tissues) are regulated by the FDA to be safe and effective. This is NOT true. These are 361-registered tissues. They must by definition be nonliving tissues. There is no evaluation by the FDA of safety or efficacy. That would be a 351 drug approval, which these tissues lack. In fact, you or I could register a new amniotic fluid product with the FDA in a free 45-minute online process. The only thing that does is tell the FDA where they can find your tissue processing lab, and the only thing they regulate is that the lab itself is clean and the product is properly tested for contamination. You can learn more by watching my video below:
- These tissues have millions of live and functional stem cells! Jill’s whole sales pitch is that the products are loaded with loads of viable and functional stem cells that can repair tissue. Is this true? No, we have never tested any amniotic product that has any live and functional stem cells. See my video below for more details:
- These procedures aren’t covered by insurance. That is true. At Regenexx, because of the clinical data we have generated, we are getting select self-insureds to cover our procedures. Are these same large, Fortune 500 companies covering Jill’s magic dead stem cells? Nope. See our video below for more information:
- These “stem cell” injections will regrow you a new knee. While not in the main infomercial, we’ve seen countless seminars put on by chiropractors where before and after X-rays are shown. They purport to show that large amounts of new cartilage have been grown as a result of a magic pixie-dust injection (amniotic fluid). However, as my blog a while back showed, all these folks do is angle the X-ray beam a bit, which makes the joint space look bigger. I created arthritis using my own knee and then took the arthritis away in seconds, as you can see in the image below:
- For your big bucks (these procedures cost $5,000–$20,000 in our experience), you will most often get a nurse in a chiro office that injects your knee! Where is the specialty physician who uses precise fluoroscopy imaging and ultrasound guidance to ensure the stem cells will get to the right spot? That actually usually costs less but doesn’t take place at your local chiropractor’s office. See our video below of what a real stem cell procedure performed in a medical office looks like:
The upshot? Don’t fall for the flashy paid fake news interviews on TV! There are no young and healthy stem cells being delivered in magic amniotic or umbilical cord injections. This is a scam. While there are high-quality orthopedic stem cell procedures being offered by companies like Regenexx and a handful of others, most of the providers working for Stem Cell Health Centers or featured at “Stem Cell Therapy for Pain” wouldn’t be qualified to work in a Regenexx clinic or even qualify to be trained. Nor do we bait and switch our patients by offering them dead amniotic or umbilical cord tissue and calling it a live stem cell injection. Why? We invented orthopedic stem cell injection procedures for common issues, like knee arthritis, shoulder rotator cuff tears, and back/neck pain. Hence, we are disheartened when we see chiropractors fleecing consumers.