Do stem cell supplements work?

I thought I’d take a look again into the world of stem cell supplements since it’s been a few years.

What I found now in 2021 wasn’t a pretty picture. This post has several sections so feel free to jump to sections below.

What’s in this article

Supplements in general   |   Stem cell supplements claims    |   Supplement ads and products    |   Stem-Kine    |     Regenexx supplements    |   Big picture take-home

Note that “supplements” here refer to things people can ingest to somehow supposedly help their stem cells, not “supplements” that us scientists add to the media we use to grow stem cells.

Stem cell supplement capsules, vitamins, more

For context, I’m fairly skeptical of supplements in general unless one has a documented deficiency in something like iron or maybe (maybe not) Vitamin D, or if you are vegan maybe you should take B12.

As a 10+ year prostate cancer survivor the only supplement I take still is in fact Vitamin D, but I’m having my doubts even about that. Ten years ago it made sense to me theoretically that a hormone like Vitamin D might help prevent cancer recurrence based on in vitro results growing cancer cells in a dish, but the literature hasn’t been very encouraging on any benefit in actual people. I’m mulling it over.

The idea of zinc supplements given right at the beginning of colds has been controversial but a new study this year gives some weight to it perhaps shortening the length of colds.

I more recently went through the supposed brain supplement Prevagen and found reasons to be concerned about their advertising claims and also about potential risks.

stem cell supplements
A google image search result for stem cell supplements.

Stem cell supplements claims: anti-inflammatory and anti-aging, more

So what about supplements claiming some link to stem cells?

There’s not much foundation for them and they cost a bundle.

The main claims of these supplements is that they’ll either make you as a patient have more stem cells, happier stem cells, or aid in stem cells differentiating into the desired cell type. Other claims include anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties

A big surprise for me was that searching Clinicaltrials.gov finds many studies of the effects of specific supplements on stem cells, but little data. One that did have data was focused on a supplement called NutraStem and tested its effects on CD133+ or CD34+ cells as compared to a placebo. It didn’t seem to work.

Supplement ads and products

A Google search for “Stem cell supplements” yields an array of results and ads.

While Google has rightly (and generally very effectively) banned stem cell clinic ads, it still feels like anything goes with stem cell supplement ads. You can see a screenshot above for some results. An Amazon search yields tons of overlapping and sometimes wild results too, some approaching a thousand dollars a pop.

Take a look at a “grassfed bone marrow” (I’m imagining a test tube of living bone marrow with someone trying to feed it grass) supplement claiming to have something to do with stem cells:

“Contains all the nutrients, specialized cells (including stem cells and base cells), collagen, growth factors, fat soluble activators and substances that the body uses to build, repair, and maintain all tissues”

grassfed bone marrow stem cell supplement
Grassfed bone marrow product coming up on Amazon with a search for “stem cell supplement.”

I doubt there are living stem cells in there. And, what are “base cells”? Basal cells?

Stem-Kine review

One purported stem cell-related product that pops up often on Google searches is something called Stem-Kine from Neil Riordan, who runs a stem cell clinic firm in Panama. A decade ago he published some on Stem-Kine claiming a link to mobilizing stem cells, but I’m not convinced at all.

Physicians in the hospital can reproducibly mobilize stem cells in donors or patients but this is done using powerful, proven drugs, and has been the subject of tons of published research such as related to preparing stem cell transplants after chemo in cancer patients. (By the way, you might find this guest post on a family’s experience with stem cell donation to be an interesting read.)

These supplements are super expensive too. How much does Stem-Kine cost? For a case of 60 x 700mg capsules on Amazon you’ll pay about $70, which seems ridiculous to me.

But could it work?

It’s hard to say without more data, but I doubt it and anything like this has risks too.

Further, it’s not clear that mobilizing bone marrow stem cells in a healthy patient on a regular basis is a wise thing to do.

Check out the comments from Wise Young in the comments section for another view.

Regenexx supplements

The Regenexx brand has a whole supplement product line now. One supplement, called “Advanced Stem Cell Support Formula” costs about one hundred bucks for 32 fluid ounces which is about $400 a gallon.

The description says it’s a “proprietary blend of vitamins, herbs, and supplements that may help support healthy stem cell function and cartilage production.”

The Amazon page for this or a very similar product lists these ingredients: “Vitamin C 1000mg, Vitamin D 2000IU Proprietary Blend 3455 mg of Glucosamine Sulfate and HCl, Chondroitin Sulfate, Curcumin, L-Carnosine, Resleratrol (resVida), Bitter Melon, BioPerine Does not contain wheat, gluten, sugar, soy or dairy. Contains ingredients derived from shellfish and corn.”

Is there any published clinical data to back up this expensive supplement’s use in people? Not that I could see.

Note that Advanced Stem Cell Support Formula comes in citrus or strawberry banana flavor. A good-sized Jamba juice with fresh strawberries and bananas, and a boost of some vitamins in it costs about $6 or $7. I haven’t had one of those in years, but they sound good even if rather full of sugar.

Big picture take-home: do stem cell supplements work?

Overall, in my view “stem cell” supplements are not worth the money, probably won’t do anything terribly exciting in a positive way, and could have risks. You can watch a Q&A YouTube video I did below in which one question and answer was related to stem cell supplements.

Note that I actually had an old post (Top 5 possible natural stem cell boosts) on possible simple ways to possibly boost stem cell numbers in a more general sense, but admittedly even these ideas are speculative and do not involve supplements or paying money. For example, try to sleep a healthy amount and especially exercise more in certain ways.

At this point in my view exercise seems like maybe the only possibly reliable and safe way to impact certain kinds of stem cell numbers in your body.

We’ll see in coming years or decades if any specific supplement can convincingly do something useful that is stem cell-related based on more research. It’s also important to consider that anything that boosts stem cell numbers could also pose the risk of unwanted consequences like abnormal cell or tissue growth.

References

  1. Search for articles with “Stem cells” and “supplements” in the title on Pubmed.
  2. Search for articles with “stem cells” and “diet” in the title on Pubmed.
  3. Consumer Alert on Regenerative Medicine Products Including Stem Cells and Exosomes, FDA
  4. Articles listed on PubMed that involve Stem-Kine.

22 thoughts on “Do stem cell supplements work?”

  1. Why buy a supplement that encourages stem-cell activity which costs more than the raw ingredients if bought individually in powdered form? They’re available in bulk at good, competitive prices online.

  2. I happened on this page as I was doing research on my age related macro degeneration. I am interested in the “stem cell:”research project re-same that is currently in level three trials.

    Your readers buy products for which there is no scientific evidence at all that they work or are safe to use. They simply choose to believe.

    As a Canadian reading your blog I think I finally understand the Trump voter. They are your readers!!!!! They clearly have no idea of what is involved in scientific research or what it means to establish something as “true” or “false”.
    The majority of what your President Trump says is simply not true and easily proven NOT to be true.. But you Trumper’s on this blog so want it to be true that you simply choose to believe .The same way you’d believe in “stem cell” supplements or “snake oil.
    Have any of you figured out where and by whom the 8 million votes were stolen for Biden. How were the volunteers in polling stations across your nation both republican and democrat hoodwinked into certifying the vote. How did the democrats get all those officials to participate in a massive fraud and still no one can find any proof of how they pulled it off. But you choose to believe they did!!!!!
    Instead of blogging about “stem cell” supplements why do you not look up the research that proves their efficacy–oh sorry there isn’t any!!!!!

    1. My gosh, lady!!! You managed to turn a totally non political post into something political!!! Geesh!
      Regarding the actual article: Good job on the research! Very informative! Thank you!

  3. Am 55+ female. Thinking of using stem cell activator for diabetes (body redesigning). Saw it on Christian programming. However, have beem using deer antler spray on both knees & elbows. No more pain or twinges. If i feel any pain, i just spray it on a few times a week and will go pain free for montgs. Also use it on sprains for my husband & grown children. Works great but u are supposed to spray in your mouth. Just got 2 new bottles (less than $10 each). Will try that befotlre i spend $50 on stem cell activators.God only knows- maybe that will help.

    1. When you try something like stem cells it is a hail marry. I was a 20oz steak away from dialysis. So why not try it. A year later and still not on dialysis. Did the stem cell activators help? I don’t know but they didn’t hurt. Now it’s like my lucky shirt. I’ll wear it until I lose.

  4. As a coauthor on both of Neil Riordan’s papers on Stem-Kine, I would love for you to say why “you are not convinced at all” ??

    There was upregulation of circulating hematopoietic stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells in the blood after volunteers took it. What is your issue with the data?

    1. Well, for example, in the 2010 JTM paper there was no blinding, no randomization, no placebo control.
      I also wonder how was the “Day 0” sample stored? Could some of the purported differences simply be because this control sample was sitting around in the fridge and was older than the others? Or if it was analyzed right after being drawn, then that means the other later day samples were not analyzed at the same time as the control, which could be problematic. The list goes on…

  5. Cindy Whittaker

    If who ever supposedly engineered the Covid virus had set it up to only affect politicians then he would get the Nobel Peace Prize. But, a lot of innocent people are paying the price. What right would anyone have to do that? Bill Gates helps lots of people and has many charities. He made his money because he is brilliant and works hard. We all had the chance and let it slip through our fingers. He didn’t. I commend Mr. Gates for everything he has done and none of you should believe any of this baloney for one minute. After all of the dirty things Trump has done, why is he still in office? He is the problem and the cause of the state of our country. He wants some kind of civil war and you all are trying to give it to him. Wake up America and smell the bull shit!!
    Cindy Whittaker

    1. I am not sure why you think Bill Gates is such a hero. lllI don’t believe President Trump deserves your nasty comments. Neither of these men have anything to do with the subject. Oh, and bye the way you better get used to Trump because he is going to win unless the Democrats are able to steal the election.

  6. I found the supplements to be extremely healthful. I had stem cell therapy in November 2019, both knees. So far a great success. I took the liquid supplement & pill form for 90 days. My knees have done well, in addition I had an elective surgery in January, while still using the supplements. My recovery & healing was facilitated by the continued use. My surgeon agreed. In a totally unrelated area, & quite unexpected, my eyesight improved! I had been wearing 2.0 readers for several years for small print; after I completed all of the supplements, I became aware that I wasn’t wearing the readers any longer. The ONLY thing I had done differently was take those regenerating supplements. Idk if it works for everyone, but it makes sense &I am convinced the supplements were key. I’d buy them again if I feel the need.

    1. Cindy Whittaker

      You used stem cells to heal your knees and took the supplement after the surgery? Who did you use for your surgery?

  7. Lorraine gaglione

    Well I’m totally confused as who to trust for scientific info. I am purchasing other important vitamins from Dr Sears now I feel I should cancel all and look for a Dr I can trust

  8. Shitttt i just spent 140 on regenxx they have a 3 pack bundle hope it helps i have this hernaited dic that i had to get operated of course no choice but its killing me sigh… ill gove anything a try at this point…

    1. Herniated disc is a mechanical problem caused by posture and body habits. Even an operation won’t help you if you don’t correct your posture and body habits

  9. Inga Andersdotter

    This is obviously very silly, but there’s another current issue that I think Dr. Knoepfler (and others) need to address. I’m a moderator on a Novel Coronavirus Facebook page, which basically consists of trying to be the voice of reason, talking people down from theories that Bill Gates and George Soros cooked up the virus in a lab as part of a plot to take down Trump, and basically checking the tinfoil hats. It’s a challenge! So I think you need to know that there is a new theory that has been popping up a lot. Basically, the premise is that scientists engineered the virus with CRISPR editing. (Not just that it escaped from a lab– this is a whole different version.) I really believe that the scientific community needs to start addressing this conspiracy theory. Because if scientists don’t do it, then politicians will. We’ve already seen this with Tom Cotton. We need people with credentials to step up to the plate and debunk some of the absolute craziness. I do think that the new coronavirus is a lot more serious than most people realize, but the last thing we need is bizarre theories running unchecked. Please think about seriously addressing these rumors.

    1. I’m here to learn about stem cells, not listen to your views on politics, CoVid, conspiracies or theories. “Methinks she doth protest too much.”

  10. Yes, exercise. Every time I play basketball or tennis I can feel something going on in my muscles a few hours later. And I usually sleep better Maybe it’s stem cells activation… who the hell knows?

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