Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Friday Woo Medicine Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

Your Friday Dose of Woo: There’s no woo like stem cell woo, revisited

Sometimes a topic demands to be included in my little Friday bit of hubris and tweaking. Usually when that happens, it’s obvious because somehow the topic is synergistic with what’s been going on during the preceding week on the ol’ blog, in the same way that herbalists claim that all the various compounds and contaminants somehow produce a synergistic therapeutic effect. Wait a minute. That’s not such a good example, mainly because woo-meisters usually make this claim without much in the way of evidence, and the examples of true synergism between components of an herbal remedy are few and far between–close to nonexistent. In this case, there is real synergy, not only with yesterday’s post about stem cell tourism in China but with a previous installment of Your Friday Dose of Woo. Consider it a case of continuing the them of stem cell tourism, with yesterday’s post about China and the earlier post about Russia.

But where will we go next on our world tour of stem cell woo? What nation could top the quite amazing stem cell quackery that we witnessed yesterday and a year and a half ago? There aren’t very many, that’s for sure. In fact, it should be obvious to readers of this blog. What country provides a haven to the likes of Hulda Clark, she of the “cure for all diseases” fame who thinks that cancer and AIDS are caused by intestinal flukes that she can “zap” with a glorified galvanometer in order to cure them? Where did Coretta Scott King go in search of “alternative” therapy for her advanced ovarian cancer? Where did Abraham Cherrix go in search of the quackery that is known as the Hoxsey treatment to treat his lymphoma? What country has a veritable city of quackery on its border, just waiting for wealthy denizens of its neighboring country to come on down?

That’s right, we’re talking Mexican Stem Cell Woo!

We’ve already heard of stem cell woo before. So, you may ask, how can one improve on using “stem cells” to smooth out wrinkles or, even more hilariously, alleged stem cells harvested from the embryonic cows being rubbed into the skin as a “Frozen in Time” stem cell facial? Obviously stem cells alone won’t be enough. Something is needed to amp up the woo to 11, so to speak. What would do it, though?

Ozone, baby. (Apologies to Led Zeppelin.) That’s right: Ozone and stem cells, two great woos that taste great together:

If you or someone you know is suffering from a serious medical condition that is not responding to standard medical treatment then you should consider stem cell regenerative therapy. Dr. Alfredo Estrada, oncologist and general surgeon, from Vera Cruz, Mexico, has developed a proprietary regenerative purification health program consisting of a combination of ozone therapy and cord blood stem cell implantation. It is the only program of its kind in the world and over the last 6 years has helped hundreds of people improve and/or recover from a number of degenerative diseases, conditions and disabilities…

“The only program of its kind”? I’ll bet it is. Who else would think of combining ozone and stem cells? But, you ask, tell me more about this wondrous therapy! Dr. Estrada is more than happy to oblige. Somehow, some way, he’s come up with a three stage process. Here’s stage one:

Ozone purification treatment(s)are administered that purify toxins in the blood, tissues and organs and deliver an oxygen boost to the all the cells in the body. This also helps and protects the newly implanted stem cells so a much higher rate of these new cells survive – giving the patient the maximum benefit.

In addition Ozone acts in the body in two ways: by oxidation and oxygenation. When ozone (O3) is administered to the body, its third unstable oxygen atom readily attaches itself to bacteria, fungi, mold, parasites, and tumors, and in the process of doing this, it oxidizes or destroys them. This is oxidation. It then reverts to O2, which adds much needed oxygen to the body. This is oxygenation.

The stupid, it truly burns, even for woo. First off, it apparently hasn’t occurred to Dr. Estrada that the cells in the human body are far more sensitive to oxidative damage than bacteria, mold, or parasites. It’s also apparently never occurred to him that the amount of extra O2 that can be dissolved in the aqueous medium of the blood is of minimal consequence compared to the amount of O2 carried by the hemoglobin in the blood. You can pump all the oxygen into the blood you want, be it O2 or O3, and it won’t increase the oxygen delivery by the blood to tissues for exactly the same reason that drinking oxygenated water is useless for such a purpose as well. Call it strike one against stage one, especially given Dr. Estrada’s rather limited understanding of chemistry:

There is ozone and there is medical ozone, and they are very different. Ozone produced from air is toxic because of the nitrogen oxides, nitrites, nitric acids, sulphur dioxides and other compounds formed. This type of ozone is poisonous.

Wow! Two types of ozone! Who knew? Certainly not chemists! and certainly doctors aren’t aware of any good evidence to support some of these claims:

  1. OZONE removes unwanted bacteria and viruses from the blood, the same way it does with water.
  2. The possibility of becoming infected with hepatitis, AIDS virus, syphilis or other infectious disease through blood transfusions could be eliminated by the use of OZONE.
  3. OZONE is highly effective in peripheral vascular disease so that persons suffering from gangrene, or leg ulcers, may not have to have their limbs amputated.
  4. OZONE is effective in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, arteriosclerosis in general, and hypercholesterolemia, and promptly restores circulation, relieves angina pain, and improves brain circulation and function.
  5. With OZONE, cancerous Tumors, Lymphomas and Leukemia may be eliminated without the use of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
  6. OZONE is highly effective for all forms of Rheumatoid and Arthritis Collagen disease.
  7. OZONE is very effective for Allergies of all types.

I couldn’t take any more and had to stop. The part about how ozone disinfects the blood in the same way it disinfects water definitely cost me some neurons to read, so concentrated was the woo. You can read the rest of the list here if you want. Is there anything ozone can’t do? And if ozone can do all this, then why on earth do we even need the stem cells, anyway? I mean, if ozone is such a miracle cure, isn’t the addition of stem cells superfluous? I know, I know, I’m thinking too hard about this, always a dangerous thing.

But what about stage two? Let’s take a look:

Dr. Estrada uses only safe and ethical umbilical cord blood stem cells which have been used world wide to successfully treat over 70 diseases. Cord blood stem cells, which have been separated into specific types of stem cells best suited for the patient’s condition, are applied by direct injection to the infected organ or area or by I.V. or both methods depending the condition(s) being treated.

The majority of diseases and serious medical conditions are caused by damage and deterioration within tissues and organs of the body, many times including an inability by the body to repair the damaged tissue to any great degree. Stem cells have demonstrated in world wide research the potential and ability to help repair and renew the damaged tissues associated with these and other diseases and disorders.

Wow! If Dr. Estrada really has identified which specific types of stem cells are suited to individual patient conditions and really can cure many diseases with them, he’d be up for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Really. Of course, who knows whether there really are any stem cells in whatever concoction that Dr. Estrada injects into the veins of his patients? It’s not really important anyway, because the ozone has cleared the way, right? It’s totally detoxified the cells that it hasn’t subjected to chemical oxidation (i.e., burned). But what is the third stage? Easy:

A special RGF formula (Regenerative Growth Factor), developed by Dr. Estrada, that enhances and speeds up the regenerative process is also administered by direct injection or I.V. This special formula also protects and nourishes the newly implanted umbilical cord blood stem cells.

Results vary upon individual condition, however with Dr. Estrada’s 3 stage treatment, a majority have starting seeing results within two weeks and some within 24 hours.

It never ceases to amaze me how much woo-meisters like Dr. Estrada opt for baffling with bullshit when they can’t dazzle with brilliance. Or argumentum ad populum with a touch of self-aggrandizement. One thing you won’t notice in all this emphasis on what a great guy an dedicated doctor Dr. Estrada supposedly is and how awesome it is that he’s up at 4 AM to pass out numbers to patients to determine who will be seen that day is a single mention of even a pilot study, much less any sort of randomized, double-blind study showing that his brand of stem cell woo does anything at all. What you will find is a lot of glowing tales of Dr. Estrada’s globetrotting to promote his “regenerative medicine” woo to the masses. (Research? We don’t need no steeenking research!) Of course, he’s too busy giving talks and treating patients to do any research or, as he says, bringing the fruits and successful results to date of this amazing new field of medicine to those who need the benefits now.”

Of course, the one thing I kept wondering as I read through Dr. Estrada’s website is the one thing you’re probably wondering about too: How much does it cost? What price for a double dose of woo? $100? $1,000, $10,000? How much does one charge for such miracles? What do you think?

I think I know. I’m guessing somewhere around $20,000. Maybe more, given how American dollars aren’t worth what they used to be.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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