Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers are being targeted by companies claiming colostrum from cows can alleviate their symptoms, despite a lack of scientific evidence.
The products are available to buy over the internet and are accompanied by testimonials from people with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease who claim the supplements have relieved their symptoms, including reducing tremors and tiredness.
A New Zealand company behind some of the supplements, New Image, sells its products, including powders and capsules, through direct marketing.
AAP reports sufferers have also been targeted by an advertisement featuring a testimonial in an Australian seniors' newspaper, which was found to breach sections of the Therapeutic Goods Act and Advertising Code, for an unnamed bovine colostrum product.
Bovine colostrum, like human colostrum, is a form of milk produced at the end of pregnancy which contains antibodies to protect newborns against disease.
Several websites promoting bovine colostrumcontaining supplements from New Zealand claim the products work by stimulating adult stem cell production to repair parts of the body affected by degenerative disease.
A leading Australian stem cell expert said this would be impossible.
Professor Martin Pera from Stem Cells Australia and the University of Melbourne told AAP bovine colostrum would probably be digested and broken down by the body before it could enter the bloodstream, let alone spur production of stem cells.
He said unless people were allergic to it, taking bovine colostrum would probably not cause any harm, but it would not do any good either.
"I'm not aware of any scientific evidence that colostrum is useful in any of those conditions (Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis)," Professor Pera said.
Parkinson's Victoria chief executive, Ann Burgess, said the organisation was familiar with the products and had "great concerns".
She warned Parkinson's sufferers, their family and carers to focus on evidence-based treatments.