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Posted 02 July 2010
As with any other product, I would ask:
- Is there any proof that this product has any therapeutic effect?
- Is this product safe?
In my research for answers, I found the following:
- The safety of this product is not guaranteed:
It contains high levels of arsenic and microcystins
- The proof of its efficacy is inadequate
- The founder and chief scientist, who is highly revered by the company and users of the product, may not have the qualifications he claims to have
In a radio interview at the end of 2009, I pointed out that the evidence for this product’s claims is inadequate to support the claims being made. This resulted in the CEO, Mr Carter, threatening to sue me for defamation. He suggested that I should have rather put my concerns and questions to the chief scientist, Mr Christian Drapeau, who would adequately address my concerns. Fourteen pages of questions concerning StemEnhance was sent to Mr Drapeau for his comment.
The first question I asked was: “Does Christian Drapeau actually have a MSc from the Montreal Neurological Institute?” “If so, why does the Montreal Neurological Institute does not acknowledge Drapeau’s degree?”
Mr Drapeau’s response was interesting:
|“After reviewing your questions, I see that your intent is not to sincerely seek for information but rather a desire to defame my work and our endeavor. In your very first question, you question my education and degree. You report a response from McGill wherein a person stated that she could not tell whether I had a degree from McGill -that she did not have access to that information- but I was not currently collaborating with this person’s faculty. And from this you intimate the conclusion that I don’t have this degree.” (4 November 2009)|
And therefore he was not going to explain why the MNI did not acknowledge that he had a degree from them nor answer my questions.
11 Sept 2010 Update: A reader of CAMCheck has drawn my attention to evidence of Mr Drapeau’s credentials
06 February 2012 Update:
It seems that some readers have not realised that that the above sentence, linking to McGill University, confirms Mr Drapeau’s credentials. Let me state clearly: Mr Drapeau has a BSc (1987), and a MSc (1991)
Mr Drapeau’s response raised red flags so we investigated further.
We purchased StemEnhance from an agent for this product and tested the product for arsenic (ARC (Agricultural Research Centre)) and microcystins, a toxin found in this form of algae.
Arsenic – high levels of 11.44 mg/kg (World Health Organisation recommends no higher than 2 mg/kg)
Microcystins – high levels as analysed by an Italian laboratory of international repute.
“The MICROTOX system, a standardised bioassay with Vibrio fisheri, gave an EC50 of 1 mg (quite a strong response).
The ELISA analysis with ENVIROGARD, a polyclonal antibody sensitive to three microcystins, gave a mean content of 521 nanograms of microcystins/capsule; the ELISA analysis with anti-ADDA ABRAXIS, a polyclonal antibody sensitive to all the microcystins (more than 90), gave a mean content of 976 nanograms of microcystins/capsule.
The old acute limit of WHO for microcystins is 0,04 micrograms /kg of body weight in humans. Now finest limits are given by USEPA.”
And what did Health Canada, the regulatory authority have to say about this product when we brought this to their attention?
|“StemEnhance is an unauthorized Natural Health Product in Canada that was the subject of a Health Hazard Evaluation prepared by NHPD at the request of the HPFB Inspectorate in 2006. The conclusion of the HHE was that StemEnhance was a Type II risk to health. Therefore it should no longer be available on the Canadian market.StemEnhance was reported to contain 0.33 µg microcystin-LR/g but was labelled to be consumed at 4 g of supplement per day. Taking into account that Canadian consumers are also exposed to microcystins from drinking water, the daily intake of microcystins from this dosage would exceed NHPD’s current proposed tolerance limit of 0.02 µg/kg bw/day in the adolescent and adult female life stages. Due to lack of a site licence and GMP compliance, there were also concerns raised regarding the potential for fluctuations in microcystin content, presence of saxitoxin-type neurotoxins, and other quality issues. As the product was (and remains) unauthorized, the validity of label claims and potential risks to health from inappropriate health claims were not assessed at that time.”|
Robin J. Marles, Ph.D.
Director, Bureau of Clinical Trials and Health Sciences / Natural Health Products Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
And he made a comment on the arsenic level:
|“The presence of arsenic at 11 mg/kg (ppm) may also be a risk to health|
depending on the quantity consumed. NHPD’s tolerance limit for arsenic is
<0.14 µg/kg body weight/day, so 0.14 µg/kg bw/day x 57 kg bw for an adult
woman = 8 µg/day, thus a dose in excess of 727 mg would exceed the
06 February 2012 Update:
I have received a threatening letter from Jonathan Lester, Snr Vice President – International Business Development, Stemtech International, Inc. Among other, his letter states that the correspondence with Dr Marles above, was published without Dr Marles permission, and secondly, that StemTech “has a Health Canada issued Site License, and has held one for several years. StemEnhance has also received an NPN from Health Canada which means that it meets all of their requirements for both safety and efficacy.” I have confirmed with Dr Marles that indeed he did not give me permission to publish this correspondence, and I apologise unreservedly. However the facts remain that at the time of the publication of this email, that this was in fact the truth. Secondly, StemTech only received a Canadian Product license on 2011-09-23. The site license, issued in 2008, was recently renewed and is for “importing” only – and not for “manufacturing”, “packaging” or “labelling”. According to Mr Lester, “[T]he GMP certified pharmaceutical labs that manufacture for us also holds the relevant site licenses, both in the US and Canada.” I have not confirmed this as yet.
I must expressly state that I cannot reconcile the fact that Health Canada has given this company/product an NPN considering their initial assessment, nor based on our international laboratory findings of high levels of arsenic and microcystins.
StemTech makes a great deal regarding a study that they claim supports the claims for StemEnhance. Firstly, I am not convinced that the study is sufficient evidence, and even though published in 2007, there has been not a single researcher confirming this “inhouse” study (Mr Drapeau was a co-researcher), and secondly, even if the study is correct, one cannot automatically claim that therefore that StemEnhance can deliver on the benefits being claimed. Here is a very elegant deconstruction of StemEnhance’s study.
(original at http://bayblab.blogspot.com/2007/10/quack-of-week-christian-drapeaustem.html)
(to be continued)
See also: Is this product legal in the USA? No!
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