There are gray areas within the larger stem cell sphere or as I called it in a recent paper “the stem cell ecosystem“, but chiropractors doing stem cell transplants is not one of them. This is unethical and risky on many levels, but the number of chiropractors selling stem cells is increasing rapidly nonetheless. Chiropractors who are selling stem cells should stop and their organizations should prohibit it. The money involved makes it likely that somehow they will have to be forced to stop.
Interestingly, if you search for “chiropractor stem cells” on Google the range of images and websites linked to (see collective image above) include both chiropractic stem cell clinics and skeptics including one image of a duck, which you can probably guess the implication intended from that by that website, Science-Based Medicine. Dr. Chris Centeno’s Regenexx blog also shows up a few times as he is an outspoken critic of chiropractors selling birth-related materials, as I’ve covered in the past.
Why do I believe it is so bad that some chiropractors are doing supposed stem cell transplants? There are several key reasons.
Stem cells are foreign to chiropractic philosophy
First of all, chiropractic medicine is focused on spine and musculoskeletal manipulations. The practitioners also do not have medical degrees and are not simply a different kind of physician. The idea of injecting a biological product into a patient’s blood stream or a joint, etc. would seem foreign to chiropracty and that raises risks for patients.
Lack of training
Second, chiropractors generally aren’t rigorously trained in stem cells. What relevant training do they have? In many cases, none. In other cases, it is likely “quickie” pseudo-training received from the suppliers of sketchy stem cell products like amniotic and other birth-related tissue cells sold as “stem cells.” In other words, with few exceptions a chiropractor handling stem cells is going to be out of their depth.
Treating diseases outside their realm
Third, chiropractors who are selling stem cells are more regularly treating patients with specific illnesses that are far outside their area of chiropractic expertise. Should these folks be injecting stem cells into patients with MS, Alzheimer’s, autism, pulmonary disease, heart disease, etc.? No way. They aren’t experts or specialists in these diseases. They don’t have the know-how to follow up properly, including for potential side effects.
Suppliers and possible profits are main drivers
Finally, it seems to me that the suppliers of the uncertain birth-related products that chiropractors are most often using are a main driver of this phenomenon. I don’t think chiropractors are generally spontaneously going, “Gee, we should use stem cells to better help our patients!” Rather it is the suppliers of the products who are saying, “Gee, you guys can make a lot of money this way.” For instance, supplier Liveyon recently focused a lot of emphasis on potential profit for those who use their upcoming new product. Their past “stem cell” product, recently recalled by the FDA due to contamination, was used by some chiropractors.
Overall, chiropractors and their state regulatory boards should stop this. It is not in the best interests of patients. Even if some chiropractors are using unapproved stem cell drugs I kind of doubt the FDA will do anything, but the chiropractic boards should and the FTC should step in as well.