Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) Products
By: Dr. Ronald Roth
I regularly get calls from patients whose neighbors or friends are selling Matol, Intra, Herbalife, Noni, Goji, Mangosteen, Acai, Barley Green, Blue-Green Algae, NuSkin, Calorad, Mannatech, Microhydrin, Amway, Metabolife, Omnitrition, and all kinds of other MLM products, and they want to know whether there is any truth to their health claims. At the same time some patients are selling some of these products themselves already, and they have approached me to promote these products among other patients, promising a cut of the profit.
I have made it a point to actually read the promotional literature or watch their videos, and many times I even try out the products to see whether any of these MLM companies have actually come up with a breakthrough product that could benefit some of my own patients, and so I run an Acu-Cell Analysis before and after these "health products" are consumed. In other words - I am trying to be open-minded in the event that such a product has indeed been developed, and in which case I would have no problem recommending MLM products myself. Unfortunately, I have not come across such a product to date.
The Reasons Are Very Simple:
- If a product is powerful enough to create a positive / beneficial effect, it is powerful enough to create a negative / harmful effect. Sellers, unless they are medical practitioners, do not have the resources to distinguish between the two, or predict the outcome in a client. Even many doctors fall into that category because of their lack of expertise in dealing with, and evaluating nutritional strategies.
- When drugs are used, the amount and potency per dose (pills, injections) are - with rare exceptions precise and replicable. Herbal potencies often vary with the part of the herb used, the season it is harvested, and the brand, or manufacturing process. Analyzing different herbal product brands yield frequently different medicinal effects.
- There are people with Hyper and Hypo conditions. In other words, some people suffer from high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or high stomach acid..., while other people suffer from low blood pressure, low blood sugar, or low stomach acid..., etc. How would a seller (or the MLM product) know what to do without an examination, and/or without any resources to monitor the progress?
- When dealing with a single ingredient or chemical (vitamin, mineral, or other nutrient..., drug...etc.), it can be matched to a patient following a nutritional analysis. On the other hand, it is impossible to match multi-ingredient MLM or store-bought formulations to a patient's chemical profile since there are just too many variables.
- Most single herbs have already more than one active ingredient, so these "Botanical Blends" or "Herbal Tonics" typically sold contain several herbs -- with consumers ending up with literally dozens of different medicinal actions - all in the same product. Now these products are supposed to help all people with all their various medical backgrounds! I like comparing that to walking into a drugstore, and asking the druggist to give me "One of Everything!"
Most MLM, or health food store sales clerks of course do not appreciate the possibility that their products may not work, or that they could trigger health problems. A standard reply typically consists of referring to all their clients, "whose lives have been changed" on account of these products, and who now have "incredible energy," or "who have lost all that weight..."
Well, I have seen, and treated some of these people. Yes, they may have had an increase in energy the first few weeks, or even months, or they may have lost some weight as well - before all of a sudden ending up with serious genitourinary or kidney problems, gastro-intestinal disorders, or impaired liver functions!
Trying out some products can be a real eye opener. In one instance, after trying a particular "green powder" - compliments of a patient (and where I deliberately did not look at the ingredients to not sway my judgment) - within days my originally perfect VLDL triglycerides headed for the sky. No wonder it tasted so sweet, and had an energy effect similar to a candy bar... it was the added maltodextrin!
Another "anti-aging" product (compliments of another patient) made reference to "negative hydrogen ions" it contained, like "the water of some native people in Pakistan, who, drinking that water, live to over 100 years of age... and don't get cancer...!" It was supposedly thousands of times more effective than other known antioxidants... and it carried the usual lengthy list of ailments it was supposed to cure. With that particular product however, the scientific camp was somewhat divided, with some "experts" calling it total nonsense, while other "experts" related anecdotal success stories involving several "scientific" people themselves.
Measuring the chemistry of patients before and after using that product showed a significant increase in cellular sodium (perhaps due to the sodium-raising effect of its active ingredient, silica xerogel [?], or silica hydride / hydrated silica [?]), which, for the right type of person, could actually increase athletic endurance, but it would be bad news for people with renal problems. Of course, Choline Bitartrate, a commonly available B-vitamin, causes the same effect of raising cellular sodium, at pennies a pill.
Even single herbs should be used with caution, or best left to the experts to match them to someone's chemistry. For instance, kelp, in addition to containing appreciable amounts of iodine and bromine, raises potassium and sodium, while alfalfa also raises potassium, but lowers sodium. Most people are aware now that licorice, by raising sodium and depleting potassium, could be bad news for patients who retain too much sodium, or suffer from kidney-related disorders. Milk thistle, if used by the wrong patient, could induce iron-deficiency anemia, devil's claw taken over time could worsen hepatitis, cirrhosis, or migraines, while Kava Kava could cause congestive liver disease.
Despite the health benefits antioxidant-rich juices made from Mangosteen, Noni, Goji, etc., appear to offer, they carry a significant risk of severely imbalancing an individual's electrolytes, and/or impairing renal, or hepatic functions when consumed in a highly concentrated form over time - which is quite different from the way the unprocessed products have been used in those areas where they are grown.
Coral Calcium has enjoyed a most aggressive advertising campaign through television infomercials, books, interviews, and thousands of Web sites promoting the product. While different forms of calcium may be preferable for people with specific complaints such as high or low stomach acid or constipation, the absorption of various types of calcium still falls within a reasonably narrow range when taken with food and at limited amounts throughout the day.
There are no miraculous healing effects taking place as a result of taking a specific type of calcium, which includes "coral" calcium. People should not expect to be cured of any number of degenerative medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and others, by supplementing coral calcium as claimed by many of the promoters of the product, neither should they expect to increase their live expectancy to that of the Okinawans who have one of the world's highest concentrations of centenarians. This - according to more misleading claims - is supposedly attributable to the consumption of coral calcium in their diets.
Coral calcium is sold in a variety of formulations, some of which contain added vitamins and minerals. Of course this creates the same dilemma which all other multi-mineral products have in common in that the health effects on the consumer are unpredictabe. This is confirmed when monitoring the cellular status of patients who have started to take coral calcium as a result of falling victim to its advertising hype.
While the chemical profiles of a smaller percentage of patients remained largely unaffected, cellular calcium levels in the great majority of patients tested either increased or decreased to unacceptable levels, making coral calcium products worthless as predictable supplements to help normalize someone's calcium levels.
In addition, these patients also presented with a decrease in stomach acid levels and subsequent gastrointestinal symptoms in many cases (among other complaints), which they had not experienced while taking other calcium supplements prior to switching to coral calcium. It is unclear whether all, or only specific coral calcium formulation are responsible for this effect, however from the mostly negative clinical experience encountered with coral calcium so far, and the time and effort it takes to restore a patient's nutritional profile back to normal, the supplementation of coral calcium is not recommended.
Multi Level Marketing Information: Dr. Mercola 9/11/2010 - Alkaline Water Hype