Herbalife is a popular multilevel marketing company that offers weight loss and nutritional supplements. Its products are sold through independent distributors and online. Although it has grown substantially since its inception in 1980, many consumers have reported unpleasant side effects associated with some of its products. Below is an overview of just a few of the cited problems.
Many Herbalife products contain silicon dioxide (silica), a common food additive found in many commercially processed foods. Additionally, a medical report in Bio-Medicine revealed that Herbalife was found to contain high levels of lead. While these additives can be ingested safely in minute quantities, large quantities of silica and lead, or even small amounts taken over a long period of time, can be toxic.
According to a consumer report, some people may experience skin rashes with Herbalife products. Skin irritation is a possible side effect of ingesting silicon dioxide, although most people are able to consume it without a problem. The side effects of lead poisoning are well known. The extensive list of possible complications includes: behaviour or attention problems, kidney damage, slowed body growth, anaemia, constipation, difficulty sleeping, headaches, irritability and low appetite and energy.
Ivan Fraser of The Truth Campaign magazine claims that consuming products that contain silicon dioxide (such as Herbalife) over long periods may lead to chronic fatigue syndrome and even fibromyalgia. His theory, in part states that "Mineral silicon dioxide is indigestible and is not bio-available, therefore will not be metabolised. Instead, tiny particles that are not excreted will be trapped in the tissues. Excess accumulated silicon dioxide in the body causes localised reactions: granulomas, fibroids and an overproduction of collagen, causing thickening and hardening of connective tissue."
In addition to the possible side effects of Herbalife products which many investigators have reported, other complaints about the company itself lead one to question its very ethics. The company promises its independent distributors almost overnight wealth and success, while a number of consumer reports show otherwise. As with most multilevel marketing (MLM) schemes, the individual distributor is left to shoulder the financial burden of marketing their product with little support from the company. Before investing in any MLM plan, research the company online and read the consumer reports about the products.
To avoid possible side effects associated with Herbalife products, it is best to avoid the products themselves. As with any supplement or food, it is important to read the label. Become educated on the different additives in many commercial products and avoid consuming anything with ingredients which are known toxins. There is no magic pill for weight loss. A balanced diet of whole grains, fresh fruits/vegetables and lean protein, coupled with a safe exercise program is the best way to lose weight permanently.