Now Stems Cells Used for Anti-Aging

"Is it live or is it Memorex?" the ad for cassette tapes chimed--and now the headline reads :Anti-aging innovation, or bunch of bull?"

Literally, you might add.

Because recently a good friend who practices massage therapy asked me about the ethics of refusing to massage a woman's face when she disclosed that the collagen implant contained parts of ... well, never mind!

Having written a few books on alternative medicine law and ethics, and regulation of holistic healing, I nonetheless dodged the question.

Well, "New spa touts benefits of bovine stem cells" says The Capitol of Annapolis, Maryland (10/01/06). Citing a client who received "a light massage and a facial scrub before aesthetician Ginger Grigsby piped a few droplets of solution containing collagen, elastin and bovine stem cells onto her face, patting them into the skin," the article notes the skepticism of stem cell experts as to whether this does anything to rejuvenate the skin.

Out with snake oil, in with stem cells - the miracle cure.

And yet I heard of somebody who had his heart rejuvenated in Mexico through stem cell implants.

The line between science and credulity is being stretched. Surely some of these anecdotal reports are quite real, yet the marketing smacks of things-that-are-subject-to-consumer-fraud statutes.

Caveat emptor--and purveyors and promoters should also beware of state and local laws preventing fraudulent advertising.

Apparently the owner of the spa in question located a consulting firm that helps new spas get started, which recommended the stem cell therapy as a quick-starter.

The article quotes an e-mail from an FDA spokesman, saying: "(T)his product does not appear to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a drug, medical device or biologic. In addition, once products are advertised as 'treatment' or 'clinically proven,' 'ideal for sunburns, post-laser treatment, etc.' (all terms used in promotional materials), these products would become drugs and not considered cosmetics."