StemEnhance II

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Posted 02 July 2010

 StemEnhance is a product made from “pond scum” (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) harvested from Lake Klamath and sold as “concentrated” powder in capsule form. This American product was released into the South African market during 2008. It claims to “release the power of your body’s adult stem cells to promote wellness” and it “‘wakes’ up your body’s stem cells and puts them to work”.

 

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:

  1. The safety of this product is not guaranteed:
    It contains high levels of arsenic and microcystins
  2. The proof of its efficacy is inadequate
  3. 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.

Safety

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.

Results:

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
tolerance limit.”

 

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. 

Efficacy

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!

 [note note_color=”#f6fdde” radius=”4″]CamCheck posts related to  StemEnhance 

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26 Responses to StemEnhance II

  1. Kyla Pretorius 8 September, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    Please can I have a copy of the actual the test result on the arsenic levels that were done as I take Stem Enhance daily and will not continue to do so if this is ture.
    Urgent Please.

  2. Harris 8 September, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    Arsenic test result

  3. Les 6 November, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    Hi Kyla. how long have you been taking stem enhance? Is it making you sick or do you feel an improvement in your health? I think thats the question you should ask your self. If you ve been taking them for six months or more and youre not sick, that would be enough to convince me. It is actually scary with all the negative reports on the net. I ASK,WHY ISNT IT FOR SALE IN CHEMISTS?

  4. MaryAnne 16 November, 2010 at 6:48 am #

    I have used StemEnhance for over 5 years with nothing but better and better health.  I do not believe what is being said on this site.  
    The company is complying with all government regulations .

  5. Harris 16 November, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    @MaryAnne: they in fact do not comply with all government regulations! 

    Furthermore, there is scientific proof that these products are contaminated with microcystins and arsenic. What are the long term effects of these? Maybe you will get back to me in the future letting me know?

  6. Harris 27 November, 2010 at 9:19 am #

    Please note: There are comments being received from individuals giving false email addresses (we check). These comments will NOT be accepted for we often ask for clarification of comments, and if the email bounces, so does the comment. For example, "Doc Dok" added a comment "StemEnhance (Product by StemTech) has got their approval and regristration with FDA in 2009. It is safe."

    I wrote:

     

    Thanks for your posting.

    Before accepting this, I would like proof of your statement.
    I suspect your information is wrong:

    1. My direct communication with the FDA as recent as January 2010 stated that it is not registered.

    2. Searching the FDA database and Google, no record of StemEnhance registration can be found 3. I have informed the FDA regarding the levels of microcystin and arsenic – it is highly unlikely they will register this product with those facts (and when checking our results, will find the same as ours was analysed by world leading labs.

    However, Doc Dok gave a false email address. (In this instance I post Doc Dok's statement because it can easily be refuted, but others claim the product "healed" them – in which case I request proof – no coincidence that their email addresses are false! 

  7. Belle 13 August, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    how do we know that the said test for arsenic was really done for StemEnhance capsules? it is not indicated. the only thing i can see is the word “Capsules 1”

  8. Harris 13 August, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    @Belle
    This is a fair question. I have no control over how the lab reported the results. However I can inform you that I sent by registered mail, the whole unopened container that I purchased from StemEnhance, to this accredited lab who supplied me with this report. If both I or the lab had lied, there is a risk that we can be sued for defamation – hence the lab and I have to have a proper paper trail to guarantee that the results are defendable.

  9. Linda 26 December, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    After all the work going in this product, it is the best to do research for one self. Many people just hear a romour and the tells it for the thruth. StemEnhance is the best product I have ever used and tell everyone about it.

  10. Harris 27 December, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Readers, Linda’s comment needs to be put into perspective: she sells StemEnhance. She will therefore not admit to it not working even if it did not.

  11. estellepotgieter 26 January, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    I have been using SE for 10 months and should by this time have undergone a livertransplant. Thank goodness that I came upon SE for it saved my life although it is not a medicine and a supplement. They can say whatever they want about SE but that so called poison saved my life. I have my energy back . It did not cure me and that is not what the product claims but boy do I feel good. Just take the supplement yourself and yopu will experience wonderful heath and wellness. Hopefully you will then stop questioning Christian Drapeau credentials. Millions of people all over the world experience excellent results. Are they all being poisoned !?

  12. Etsel 29 January, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    Hi estellepotgieter { 01.26.13 at 2:59 pm }
    ****
    Can you contact me please [email protected]

    Thankyou

  13. Harris 29 January, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    I need to put Estelle Potgieter’s comments in context: I have discussed these over email regarding her posting. She appears to sincerely believe that StemEnhance has benefited her as described above. She has become a distributor/seller of StemEnhance but she assures me that she became a reseller after her personal experience. I have asked her to request that her doctor publish her case history as a case report in a reputable peer-reviewed medical journal.

    Note: I have searched PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=StemEnhance) and other reputable journal indexes and since StemEnhance was launched (approx 10 years ago), there has not been a single clinical study or case report published world-wide documenting the beneficial effects of this product in humans. Very peculiar considering the “miraculous” benefits the product claims to deliver. And the studies by the founder of the product has never been reproduced by independent researchers.

  14. Marius Potgieter 4 February, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    I am Estelle Potgieter’s husband. The respect that she has afforded you is typical of her personality: She is honest, sincere and scrupulous in everything she does. Every single statement she made in her correspondence with you is nothing but the truth.
    I have two questions for you: (1) Why did you elect to only post her very first E-Mail and not the rest of her correspondence with you? I ask this, because her later comments are far more informative and pertinent to the general topics under discussion on this website; and (2) When you provide links to other websites (presumably in support of your own opinion at that point), it is sometimes (perhaps more frequently) to (e.g.) an obvious “Anti-MLM” bunch who think it is “cool” to insult and denigrate other people just because they have a different opinion – not a very “scientific” reference, don’t you think? And then there was the person who also thinks it is “cool” to insult others, even if such insults are undeserved. To talk of a respected scientist (Christian Drapeau) as a “quack” smacks of bad manners, to say the least.
    I know Estelle appreciates your advanced knowledge about many things and her conduct has been exemplary, I’m sure you will agree, but I was merely wondering about these things and she refused to ask you for a response on that.
    Hope you don’t mind me asking,
    Marius

  15. Harris 4 February, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    Dear Marius,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I have no doubt your wife (Estelle) is sincere and I meant no disrespect by not posting our email discussion. I posted her first comment for it was directed as a comment to CamCheck whereas the rest of our correspondence was relayed via our personal email addresses and not that of CamCheck. I therefore believed them to be a private/personal discussion between the two of us, hence I did not post her comments nor my responses. There was no deliberate suppression of her points of view nor did I mean to show disrespect.

    As far as your second point is concerned, it is always a difficult task to decide which comments to be accepted or blocked. I will accept a comment whether I agree or disagree with the viewpoint as long as it is civil. However I receive very rude comments for and against both CAMS and orthodox medicine and these are in such bad taste that I cannot let them through. Furthermore, some appear to be from distributers or sellers of the product in question. Many are from fictitious email addresses. So in these instances, I write to the author to confirm the email address and to ask that they identify themselves before I post the comment. Many of the email addresses are invalid and many refuse to identify themselves.

    I am also mindful of accepting a bona fide testimonial that may influence others to believe in the efficacy of a product unless there is sufficient proof for that product. In other words, there are individuals who believe that a particular product has cured them of AIDS. Scientifically at this moment this is impossible yet there are rare exceptions where individuals with AIDS have not followed the usual course of the disease, and they may attribute this to a product, or e.g., eating garlic and beetroot – but the fact that they believe this, and accompanied by the fact that they are truly improved, does not prove cause and effect.

    Therefore it would be unwise for me to accept their strong endorsement for e.g., garlic and beetroot as a cure, unless there was strong scientific support for this.

    Therefore I accept Estelle’s sincerity but I have to balance this with these facts:
    1. I have not had input from her physician to the actual disease that was diagnosed and/or scientific evidence of her response to StemEnhance
    2. Her physician has not published a peer-reviewed article on her response and as this would be remarkable, it is imperative that he publish this for other peers to review and learn from
    3. Examining peer-reviewed literature, I cannot find a single study documenting any single individual or group of individuals that have benefitted from StemEnhance. For example, PubMed references over 22 million medical publications (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/) – yet not a single published report on this product. Considering that StemEnhance has been around for around 11 years at least, it is remarkable that the only claims for efficacy is untested testimonials on the Internet (and not too many for that matter).

    Christian Drapeau is not regarded as a “respected scientist”. To wear this mantle one has to be recognised to be so by your peers and at least have published a body of work in that field, and work that other scientist are keen to reproduce or build on. Searching PubMed, and other reputable databases, shows that Christian Drapeau has only published 5 papers in 11 years. No other researchers have extended, or paid any interest in his work, or in StemEnhance. Of his publications, one was a hypothesis; the others were evaluating the product in cells in lab dishes but not in humans or clinical trials.

    Searching a database of leading worldwide stem cell researchers (http://www.stemcellresources.org/who_researchers.html#d) does not make mention of Christian Drapeau. Indeed, it appears that even leading stem cell researchers do not collaborate with Christian Drapeau.

    Christian Drapeau has received the adjective “quack” for the following:
    a.) self-promotion as being a stem-cell expert but not supported by peers
    b.) promoting a product that no other credible scientists, researchers or doctors support
    c.) promoting a product without ANY evidence of efficacy (no studies in humans),
    d.) promoting a product with no evidence of safety (when the product is known to contain microcystins and arsenic – both found in my tests by independent laboratories, and both known to be toxic when used over a chronic period)
    e.) Making millions in profit but not utilising any of those funds to do human studies to confirm that the product is safe or efficacious

    My experience from dealing with sellers or promoters of pseudoscientific, untested or even scam products in a civil and gentlemanly way gives them an undeserved status as being honest and caring when in fact the truth is that they are unscrupulously taking advantage of consumers, and even when shown up, will not accept responsibility for their actions. This may be possible in this instance too.

    As I pointed out to Estelle, there have been a number of publications in recent years that independently evaluated this product for microcystins, the results which are in agreement with my independent tests.

    Here is a recent published review of the toxicity of this compound: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21277993. Until Christian Drapeau’s group, StemEnhance, proves in human studies that these products DO benefit humans and ARE safe, then he and his products will be regarded poorly. If the proof is published, I will certainly publish the evidence and acknowledge the beneficial effects of this product.

    I fully accept that Estelle fully believes that StemEnhance has been beneficial to her. As much as I have no doubt of the sincerity or the truth of Estelle’s experience, it may be that thousands of individuals have had the exact same condition she had, and took StemEnhance, but that only Estelle benefited and had a reversal in her disease. Without knowing these facts, I have to be cautious for CamCheck has a responsibility to be open minded, but simultaneously not to let readers be unduly influenced without appreciating the context of the claims. So although Estelle’s claims may be absolutely true, can they be absolutely extrapolated to ALL individuals with the same condition? Maybe. Maybe not to a single one.

    Therefore for readers I have to put into context what I have eluded to above – in 11 years, no human clinical studies, no safety studies, proof that the product contains microcystins, proof that microcystins are not safe, not a single peer-reviewed report throughout the world documenting the benefits of using StemEnhance, no significant support of Christian Drapeau by reputable peers, and no studies attempting to even reproduce his laboratory findings.

    Sincerely,

    Harris

    [1]
    Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2012 Dec 1;265(2):263-71. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2012.10.005. Epub 2012 Oct 12.
    Toxin content and cytotoxicity of algal dietary supplements.
    Heussner AH, Mazija L, Fastner J, Dietrich DR.
    Source

    Human and Environmental Toxicology, University of Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany.
    Abstract

    Blue-green algae (Spirulina sp., Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) and Chlorella sp. are commercially distributed as organic algae dietary supplements. Cyanobacterial dietary products in particular have raised serious concerns, as they appeared to be contaminated with toxins e.g. microcystins (MCs) and consumers repeatedly reported adverse health effects following consumption of these products. The aim of this study was to determine the toxin contamination and the in vitro cytotoxicity of algae dietary supplement products marketed in Germany. In thirteen products consisting of Aph. flos-aquae, Spirulina and Chlorella or mixtures thereof, MCs, nodularins, saxitoxins, anatoxin-a and cylindrospermopsin were analyzed. Five products tested in an earlier market study were re-analyzed for comparison. Product samples were extracted and analyzed for cytotoxicity in A549 cells as well as for toxin levels by (1) phosphatase inhibition assay (PPIA), (2) Adda-ELISA and (3) LC-MS/MS. In addition, all samples were analyzed by PCR for the presence of the mcyE gene, a part of the microcystin and nodularin synthetase gene cluster. Only Aph. flos-aquae products were tested positive for MCs as well as the presence of mcyE. The contamination levels of the MC-positive samples were ≤ 1 μg MC-LR equivalents g(-1) dw. None of the other toxins were found in any of the products. However, extracts from all products were cytotoxic. In light of the findings, the distribution and commercial sale of Aph. flos-aquae products, whether pure or mixed formulations, for human consumption appear highly questionable.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23064102

    [2]
    Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 Dec;50(12):4493-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2012.09.029. Epub 2012 Oct 2.
    Contamination by Microcystis and microcystins of blue-green algae food supplements (BGAS) on the italian market and possible risk for the exposed population.
    Vichi S, Lavorini P, Funari E, Scardala S, Testai E.
    Source

    Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Environment and Primary Prevention Department, Rome, Italy. [email protected]
    Abstract

    Blue green algae supplements (BGAS) are generally proposed as health-promoting natural products for their purported beneficial effects. Spirulina spp. and Aphanizomenon flos aquae are mainly used in BGAS production. They are usually collected from the natural environment, where other potentially toxic cyanobacteria can be present, making possible BGAS contamination by cyanotoxins, with potential risk for human health. In this work we apply a combined approach, by using chemical and molecular techniques, on BGAS of 17 brands available in Italy. Samples containing Spirulina-only were free of contamination. The Aphanizomenon flos aquae-based samples were contaminated by highly variable levels of microcystins (MC-LR and MC-LA congeners), up to 5.2 μg MC-LR equivalents per gram product. The highest variability (up to 50 fold) was among batches of the same brand, although intra-batch differences were also evidenced. PCR analyses were positive only for the presence of Microcystis sp., identified as the toxin-producing species responsible for contamination. At the maximum contamination levels found, a risk for consumers can be expected following chronic or sub-chronic exposure to a reasonable daily BGAS consumption of 4 g. The need for a strict monitoring by producers and Health Authority to assure an adequate protection for consumers is underscored.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23036452

    [3]
    Leuk Res Treatment. 2011;2011:373519. doi: 10.4061/2011/373519. Epub 2011 Jan 5.
    Cytotoxicity of algae extracts on normal and malignant cells.
    Bechelli J, Coppage M, Rosell K, Liesveld J.
    Source

    Department of Medicine and the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.
    Abstract

    Algae preparations are commonly used in alternative medicine. We examined the effects of algae extracts on normal hematopoietic cells and leukemia cells. Ethanol extracts were prepared of Dunaliella salina (Dun), Astaxanthin (Ast), Spirulina platensis (Spir), and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). Cell viability effects were completed by Annexin staining. Ast and AFA inhibited HL-60 and MV-4-11 whereas Dun and Spir had no effect. Primary AML blasts demonstrated increased apoptosis in AFA. Primary CLL cells showed apoptosis at 24 hours after exposure to Dun, Ast, Spir, and AFA. High AFA concentrations decreased viability of normal marrow cells. Normal CD34+ viability was inhibited by Dun. Dun and AFA inhibited BFU-E, but all extracts inhibited CFU-GM. Cell-cycle analysis of AML cell lines showed G0/G1 arrest in the presence of AFA. These data suggest that algae extracts may inhibit AML cell lines and leukemia blasts, but they may also have potential inhibitory effects on normal hematopoiesis.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23213541

  16. Marius Potgieter 19 February, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    Hi Harris, long time no speak … but I have been thinking carefully about your last comments to me. Please allow me to air my own perspective on some of your opinions too:

    To talk about cause and effect in the context of Estelle’s generally improved condition since taking StemEnhance, and to imply that other people with the same condition might not experience the same improvement with StemEnhance, sounds illogical to me. We are not talking here about (e.g.) how some are allergic to something and others not – this is about human physiology in a very physical way. All humans have stem cells; these stem cells work throughout our lives; when the rate of stem cell production becomes slower than the rate of tissue cell destruction (for whatever reason), we just call it “ageing” and accept it as something that is quite normal. This “entropy”, to my mind, is more akin to rotting/oxidation – something that happens to ALL organic substances.

    To imply that some people who believe that they have been cured from AIDS after eating beetroot, etc., “might” be the same as Estelle “thinking” that she was cured by StemEnhance is flawed on at least two fronts: StemEnhance is not a “cure” or any kind of “magic wand” for anything – it is not even promoted, nor registered as medication – it is merely a natural supplement that increases stem cell trafficking in the blood. No more than that. Secondly, Estelle has never claimed to be cured of her PBC – her condition is merely stated as greatly improved, with a liver transplant not needed anymore (based on fewer and less life-threatening symptoms). Whether there has actually been a reversal of her sickness, (something that is considered “impossible” by the physicians who are treating her) will only be confirmed by a second biopsy, something that we are planning to do later on.

    There are a few people with PBC who have heard of Estelle’s testimonial (on a recent TV program) who stay in touch with her and who are beginning to experience improvements already. Time will tell, but I do not want to speculate about possible outcomes.

    By the way, if hospital- and doctor’s records, as well as independent toxicological reports eventually show that all of the reasons you have given for distrusting StemEnhance are wrong, would you accept that as proof of safety and efficacy? I am also busy compiling a substantial list of completely independent (published) research articles that deals with increased well-being and that undisputedly link improved organ functioning with increased adult stem cell trafficking.

    I also want to debate some of your other points at a later stage, if you don’t mind.

    Kind regards,

    Marius Potgieter

  17. Harris 19 February, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    @Marius
    Thanks for your posting and allowing readers to appreciate the different viewpoints.

    The point I was simply trying to make is that one has to prove cause and effect before making a firm claim. For example, a person with allergy may take an anti-allergy medicine and simultaneously start avoiding wheat, but then attributes the improvement to the medicine when in fact it was due to avoiding wheat.

    Her claims of improvement may be “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” (Latin for “after this, therefore because of this”, is a logical fallacy (of the questionable cause variety) that states “Since that event followed this one, that event must have been caused by this one.” “Post hoc is a particularly tempting error because temporal sequence appears to be integral to causality. The fallacy lies in coming to a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors that might rule out the connection.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_hoc_ergo_propter_hoc)

    The major impediment to StemEnhance theory is that only one study (one conducted by people owning the patent) has shown a temporary release of stem cells; a study never independently reproduced. There is not a single study showing that the stem cells released by StemEnhance are in sufficient quantities to make any difference, or differentiate into anything useful or even survive. Also no counter has been forthcoming regarding the high levels of arsenic and microcystins in the product (tested an confirmed by myself in independent laboratories). These are fundamental flaws and hence unless evidence shows a direct cause and effect, one cannot be sure what resulted in the improvement of your wife’s condition.

    I would like to challenge you with this point: Why is it that since 2002 when StemEnhance was “founded”, that not a single independent researcher anywhere in the world has investigated or published anything on StemEnhance in peer-reviewed literature? Would appreciate your thoughts.

    By the way, have you had her blood or hair tested for arsenic levels?

  18. Marius Potgieter 7 March, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Harris, thanks to Telkom, I have been without telephone- and Internet connections since the 2nd of February – the lines were only repaired on Sunday the 4th of March. I therefore apologize for the delay in my reply to the questions you posted on the 19th of February.
    I am delighted that you call on logic from a source like Philosophy. Many scientists (the most notable being Stephen Hawking) buried philosophy, declaring it superfluous because science has an answer for everything (words to that effect). What a silly notion, especially emanating from such a brilliant mind! It just shows how powerful a person’s world view is.
    The thing is, post hoc ergo propter hoc will find traction in virtually any kind of discussion. Estelle is academically trained as a nursing professional and is quite capable of judging whether a claim like hers constitutes a priori knowledge, completely independent of empirical evidence. Furthermore, our Vet completed 10 “case studies” (my words, not his) on pets with really nasty diseases: One study was on a dog with (what he called) “fatty liver” – a sure death sentence. The dog recovered fully within 3 weeks – no “placebo-effect” is possible in animals. By the way, the dog was fed two StemPets per day, which have the same ingredients as StemEnhance, only packaged as chew-able tablets flavoured to taste like liver. Powerful stuff, these additional Adult Stem Cells, just as creation intended them to be.
    You say, “The major impediment to StemEnhance theory is that only one study (one conducted by people owning the patent) has shown a temporary release of stem cells.” I cannot think of a single reason why any scientist would want to do research to prove someone else’s original work to be correct. The research funding pot seems to focus on ESC, rather than Adult Stem Cells (of course, excluding a multitude of projects that aims at inducing Pluripotent Stem Cells to morph into specifically targeted organ cells). Virtually all of that effort is done in vitro, losing the in situ environmental influences on observations. Perhaps Big Pharma would be rather keen to fund research that would prove the “StemEnhance theory” wrong – but that has not been forthcoming either.
    You have placed emphasis on “… only one study (one conducted by people owning the patent) has shown a temporary release of stem cells …” before. Perhaps I am missing something here. I cannot see how that is an “impediment”. Since 2005 (when Stemtech Health Sciences Inc. was founded), I too have seen no Big Pharma-funded study that was aimed at disproving it either. I would have thought that large pharmaceutical companies would be particularly interested in disproving Stemtech’s claims like “… constitutes the natural renewal system of the body…” and “… becoming virtually any kind of cell in the body …” to name just two. If these claims are scientifically correct, then one can logically expect fewer prescription drugs needed in future. Furthermore, the “people owning the patent” and “temporary release …” are not very strong discrediting arguments either. You cannot apply for a patent if you have no proof that your claims are true. If Stemtech were lying about those claims, surely they would have been proven wrong by now?
    Will you indulge me a little bit longer, please? You see, Harris, I cannot even begin to describe the awe with which I observe the marvel of life. With all of my reading on stem cell theory during the past year or so, I have come to formulate my own opinion in a very un-scientific and simplistic manner regarding the role (and mandate) of stem cells in the body:
    1. Embryonic Stem Cells are found in the blastula – their role is to “become” a nose, ear, eyes, limbs, organs and any other tissue that is found in a completely formed human body. At that early stage, virtually the entire blastula comprises ESCs. The DNA inside the cell “decides” what kind and how many cells are needed for each tissue type;
    2. Then, somehow, they start to “become” Adult Stem Cells (ASCs), even before birth, but with a different mission – mainly to grow all of the body components right up to adulthood, but also to do repair work where damage to healthy tissue is experienced;
    3. The number of Adult Stem Cells in the body (before adulthood is reached, twenty-something years of age) is much higher during this developmental phase than thereafter;
    4. In adulthood, we have no need for further increases in our various limb-dimensions, which is possibly why the number of ASCs in circulation is then lower than before.
    5. From adulthood onward, entropy sets in (we “age”, i.e. the rate of breakdown of tissue cells is higher than the rate of repair/replacement).
    6. When we have a car accident or major surgery, or perhaps just a cut or deep scratch, our body heals the damage over time – proof that we always have Stem Cells in our body and they do work every day of our lives. Without that mechanism, no person (or living organism, for that matter)would have been able to survive for more than a very short while.
    7. Many studies have been documented during the past few years that prove the relationship between organ health and the number of ASCs in circulation.
    Why is it then that many scientists find it so difficult to consider the role of ASCs as a potential contributor to human wellness? That paradigm shift (from a “treating an ailment” approach to a “securing wellness” model) appears to be (for some) an insurmountable obstacle. You see, Estelle’s PBC was 10 to 15 years in the making before her symptoms indicated the existence of the disease. Indeed, doctors are extremely well trained and very good at treating diseases once they appear, thank God for that.
    Where ASCs are studied, virtually all of the research has to do with nudging them on to become tissue of a specifically targeted organ. I admire such efforts in a way (brilliant science!), but at times I cannot help thinking that such insistence is no more than stubborn refusal to accept that ASCs can actually “become” more than “merely a few cell types”. Having said that, many years from now, good work will eventually flow from such work. In the business world, however, such an approach is the most effective way to “sink the ship” – why do we have to wait for 10 or 20 years before very sick people will receive effective treatment from such research, when we can see good results (interim or permanent) in the mean time?
    In January of 2009, Alice Park (Reporter) wrote a brilliant article for TIME, called Stem Cell Research: The Quest Resumes. It recounts how Douglas Melton (now Co-Director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute) embarked on a mission to cure his child’s Diabetes Type 1 (which was only diagnosed after a nurse, out of desperation, dipped a testing strip in the child’s urine). At that stage, Melton was still a Molecular Biologist, working in amphibian development. His child’s condition motivated that change in vocation. The rest of the entire article is all about Embryonic Stem Cell manipulation, even in the face of George W Bush’s ban on government funding for ESC work, by utilizing funding from private companies and alumni grants. The search was on for creating “insulin-producing cells by using stem cells”.
    Not even for a moment did lateral thinking (by such an obviously gifted scientist as Melton) produce a thought about anything other than what he was taught at University. It is Albert Einstein who is credited with having said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge … knowledge is more limited, but imagination circles the world”
    Then there are your concerns about; “There is not a single study showing that the stem cells released by StemEnhance are in sufficient quantities to make any difference, or differentiate into anything useful or even survive”. These are not factors that I am personally very concerned about. I know what my wife and I have gained from using StemEnhance. Even though Stemtech do not claim “healing” or therapeutic benefits of any kind, (they merely claim that StemEnhance increases the number of ASC s in blood circulation), I know that my legs will not have to be amputated at some future date, and Estelle does not need a liver transplant anymore – an operation that she would not have survived.
    Yes, I know that the test results that I spoke of initially have not been made available yet. Estelle provided the Pathology Lab with blood, urine and hair samples for Arsenic testing; and we supplied a renowned Toxicology Lab with a sealed bottle of StemEnhance II for toxicological tests. Believe me, I am as eager as you are to see the outcome! Our latest feedback from the labs (about a week ago) was that the results would start coming in on or shortly after the 11th of March. Our aim is to have the appointed Toxicologist (not the guys working at the Lab) write a full Report on the results (he provided the instructions to the lab that is busy determining the toxicity levels in the StemEnhance II capsule), which hopefully will not take more than another week, after which Stemtech will be provided with a copy (seeing that they are the owners of the product under investigation), before we intend making it public knowledge.
    Only Estelle’s urine test result has been received to date – bearing in mind that she drinks tap water daily and eat agricultural products as her staple diet, the actual levels of Arsenic in her urine was found to be very low – certainly not supporting the findings of your friend at the ARC. I spoke to a more knowledgeable person (more than me) a while back, who informed me of a single tomato, taken at random off a supermarket shelf, that tested quite high for Arsenic. All humans and animals in the modern world seem to be breathing, eating and drinking toxic stuff every day. However, let us wait for all the results (especially on hair samples for the chronic test) to come in before we speculate too much.
    You are costing me personally a lot of money, Dr Steinman. But I would rather listen to your (informed) opinion than me taking a chance on (perhaps) short-term benefits, but facing disastrous long-term problems. If I end up convincing you of the safety of StemEnhance … you have no idea how hard I am going to push you to pay for lunch in a Cape Town restaurant of my choice. I am already thinking about all the fantastic places on the V&A Waterfront.
    Give my regards to Table Mountain,
    Marius

  19. Harris 8 March, 2013 at 10:00 am #

    @Marius
    1. I have not yet received from you, a document from your wife’s oncologist giving unequivocal opinion that her improvement was extraordinary and may be attributed to StemEnhance.
    2. Veterinary science uses controls and placebo in research – the reason is self-evident. http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2009/06/the-ethics-of-the-placebo-effect/
    3. All research needs to be independently reproduced – fraud is unfortunately common even among “credible” researchers, in particular when touting own products/services.
    4. No companies/Big Pharma would fund studies to prove another product “wrong”
    5. StemEnhance have made millions yet no clinical trials have been published. Why not?
    6. Sellers of Adult Stem Cells (ASCs) give a simplistic version of how ASC function. In fact the science is extremely complex, hence even highly credible scientists with many research and publications behind their name, have not been able to show great success with ASC in clinical settings. You quote Douglas Melton – who I am sure, would have been so desperate to cure his child’s diabetes, that surely he would have used StemEnhance and supported this product if it worked?
    7. My concerns with StemEnhance remain two fold: a. safety (arsenic and microcystin content), and b. efficacy

    And if unequivocal proof for both arrives, I will gladly take you to the best restaurant in Cape Town!

  20. shiva 11 April, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi Harris ,
    Many a times people get sucked into scams and quackery because of no other scientific alternatives . People like you are doing a great service to the mankind by red flagging the activities of people who want to make quick bucks due to people’s desperate efforts to find a magic cure . Keep up your good work . If stem enhance is really a good product , then they should go in for human trails and scientific evidence ! shiva : INDIA

  21. Dr Vinod Joshi 24 December, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    I am curious. Marius said he expected results in by about 11 March, so why did you say “I have not yet received from you, a document from your wife’s oncologist giving unequivocal opinion that her improvement was extraordinary and may be attributed to StemEnhance” on 8th March?

  22. Philip Thomas 27 March, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    It is now 1603 GMT on the 27th March 2014. My wife has a very bad back and has had breast cancer. A local seller of Stemenhance has recommended the product to her. She is 71 years old. She is concerned about the effect on her cancer drugs and the toxicity of the product. It is over a year now since the apparently reasonable Mr. Potgeiter said he would have some results for us on toxicity. What happened?

  23. Marius Potgieter 3 April, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

    Harris, I had to think long and hard about your request for me to respond to Mr Thomas’ request. It has been quite a while since our last interaction, so I thought it might be wise to refresh my memory before responding and ended up spending a short while on your CamCheck website first. The reason why you have not heard from me for the past year is that I started losing respect for your views then, but now I have also lost respect for you as a person.
    Most people will read your assertions on this site and accept anything you say at face value. I did not. I checked every citation that you offered as “proof” of your stance and found them to be mostly bogus, even maliciously so at times. The “Scientific Method” that you claim to regard so highly is certainly not adhered to by yourself – even actual official documentation that you reference is referenced out of context or only part of the full story is displayed on CamCheck. Furthermore, most of the people on other websites whose opinions you seem to hold in high regard are buffoons who have been discredited publicly (some even found to be bogus in a court of law!) and whose writing is so badly written that I just cannot think they are educated people at all. All the while you use ad hominem attacks on people whom you do not know and you frequently employ Straw Man arguments.
    By the way, for more than a year now, Estelle has not been involved in any Network Marketing activity of any kind so her “benefiting from Stemtech product sales” is not a valid (misplaced, in any case) argument. Mr Thomas would be well advised to rather contact me directly at [email protected] or 0824464440 if he should want to know more about the test results of a year ago. Let it suffice for me to close off by saying that I did ask the Laboratory, the Toxicologist and Stemtech’s permission to publish the results on your website, but all of them declined. They unanimously opined that such an action would inevitably waste a lot of their time afterwards, for which they have neither a need for nor do they have the inclination to get involved in “silly debates” (unquote).
    Lastly, Both Estelle and I benefited so immensely from using SE2 that 7 months ago we decided to double our daily dosage and the results are quite remarkable! Don’t you think she should have shown signs of “poisoning” after two years of daily consumption? I also had correspondence with a few people overseas who have been using this product since 2006 (launch date in America), as well as a number of South Africans who have been using it since 2008 (launched in South Africa) – all of them still sing praises for the products.

    • Harris 4 April, 2014 at 7:54 am #

      @Marius
      Thanks for responding to Thomas’s request.
      You are entitled to your view that “I started losing respect for your views then, but now I have also lost respect for you as a person.” As for your wife not becoming ill, that is good news – but does not detract from the fact that analysis from credible laboratories, e.g., CSIR, found the values published on CAMCheck.

      But what I do not agree with is your assertion, without evidence, that “I checked every citation that you offered as “proof” of your stance and found them to be mostly bogus, even maliciously so at times.”
      Please supply proof that my citations were bogus or malicious. I bet you cannot for the come mainly from PubMed, word for word.

      Also, please supply the evidence to support your statement: “Furthermore, most of the people on other websites whose opinions you seem to hold in high regard are buffoons who have been discredited publicly (some even found to be bogus in a court of law!)”

  24. Philip Thomas 4 April, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Pub med seems to be reputable. I thank Mr. Potgeiter for his offer and will take him up on it.

  25. Danielle 21 April, 2021 at 5:33 pm #

    Hi Phillip – I’m curious what happened in your interaction with Mr. Potgeiter. Did you get what you needed? Also, has your wife been using the product, and has it been successful?

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