Sacramento’s Nervana stem cell clinic has been selling non-FDA approved stem cell therapies to patients for a variety of conditions including arthritis, pain, and neuropathy for a while now since last year, but in my opinion there isn’t good evidence to back up using amniotic or fat stem cells for such conditions. Further, my understanding is that if living amniotic stem cells are being used in this way, they would constitute a biological drug requiring FDA pre-approval. Nervana’s advertising is part of a larger trend of stem cell clinics paying for mainstream media ads to broaden their customer base.
Still, for a while there we in this community saw many ads for Nervana in our local paper the Sac Bee and some patients told me they had gone to the clinic. Others were interested in learning more. Overall, I view the kind of stem cell offering being sold at such clinics as at best a risky experiment. So how have patients who paid $5,000 to Nervana felt their ‘treatments’ turned out? It’s hard to be sure, but one place that we are increasingly seeing such info on clinics pop up is on Yelp and other on-line review sites.
For Nervana, the Yelp reviews so far may be giving some indigestion. While there are only 4 reviews so far and that’s a very limited sample, the average rating is 2 out of 5 stars and it would be an average of 1 star, but for the single 5-star review.
The 3 out of 4 Nervana Stem Cell customers who gave it one star are specific about their reasons why. One reviewer Barbara says, “the treatment was a failure”, she never saw the doctor there, and she indicates that she believes further testing would have shown that she wasn’t a good candidate for the stem cell therapy to begin with. She mentions she wouldn’t mind a refund.
Another reviewer SR also has some negative words for Nervana Stem Cell and pointed out as well that he wasn’t seen by a physician. Finally, reviewer Liz, who weighed in first, is “very suspicious” and self-reports that her husband was a customer at the clinic.
These kinds of reviews may reflect a growing trend where when considering a stem cell treatment or after one is received, the public view themselves as consumers and if they aren’t happy they will say so. In the past, I’ve suggested to people to at a minimum do your due diligence in advance about a possible stem cell therapy that you would do in buying a car. Ask a lot of questions, be skeptical, get other opinions, and more. See my patient guide to stem cell treatments and talk to your primary care doctor. When in doubt, don’t do it.