My news feed (on practically every social media platform) has been loaded with health claims lately.
I mean, I get it… Everyone has a product they are trying to sell. Or if it’s not a product, it’s an agenda. I do it in my own way with food and fitness. I share my insights, my knowledge, my opinions, and my tips and tricks. So I guess you could say I am selling an idea. I also sell actual products with Beautycounter.
For the most part, however, I make sure that my opinions and my products are well researched before I share them. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely share opinions that are strictly from my personal experience, but those are never opinions that could harm someone if they buy in.
I have seen a ton of health claims lately, however, that are not so safe. Some of the most notable claims have been from companies that are either selling a weight loss product or an “all natural” health product. One well known company, Plexus, has its distributors making claims that it is “clinically proven” to work a wide array of miracles. Another super popular company, Young Living, has distributors making claims that their products are “guaranteed not to cause cancer.” (In defense of Young Living, this is not something that the company itself promotes, and they are unable to control their members one hundred percent of the time. Unfortunately, the members and distributors are largely the ones that create a reputation for a company).
The problem with a company such as Plexus saying that their products are “clinically proven” is that, in tiny print somewhere else on the package, it says the statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. So while they may have internal studies within the company, those studies are short term, and the long term effects of the products (from a true clinical standpoint) are not evaluated. And while a short term study may show “proven” increased energy levels, reduced cravings, and overall weight loss, no one knows the long term effects of the product. If you research the main ingredient (chromium) used to reduce cravings, lower blood sugar levels, and promote energy, you will find external sources that indicate it could be quite dangerous in the long run. So while the short term benefits are appealing, it’s important to consider the possible long term effects on your liver and kidneys. The problem is, the company doesn’t mention that side of it.
So what about Young Living distributors claiming that certain products are “guaranteed not to cause cancer?”
First of all, that could get them into some serious trouble with the FDA if those claims were discovered by the right people. A product that is new to the market and has not been evaluated for 50+ years absolutely cannot make such a claim. Even the most natural ingredients can often lead to cancer. I mean, at the most basic level… the sun. Even if it is absolutely true that a product won’t cause cancer, it is not okay or acceptable for that claim to be made if their are no scientific studies or evidence to back it up.
Again, this is not something that Young Living promotes, but if a company’s members and distributors make claims such as this, it is important for the general public to do their research.
(Disclaimer: I am not anti essential oils. I am simply anti false claims).
Even companies like Monat are enticing people by claiming that their products work hair miracles from inches of growth in a month, to restoring lost hair, to making hair thicker. I didn’t even dig deep into this one. I simply consulted a dermatologist and an endocrinologist and they both stated that there is no product on the market that can force your hair to grow back, grow faster, or grow thicker- only vitamins and nutrients can do that. (Some hair products do include some of these vitamins and nutrients, and it is likely that is the reason for some people experiencing results!)
It’s hard to sort these health claims out because, first of all, these claims are everywhere. Second, so many of us do want the answers and solutions to all of our health concerns and these claims are super enticing.
There’s no way to fully know about a product without thoroughly researching it, but here are a few red flag statements:
- “clinically proven to…” (without sufficient scientific research to back the claim)
- “guaranteed to prevent…” (again, without scientific research)
- “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.”
Other red flags include:
- A non-regulated product sharing what ingredients are included, but not sharing the quantity of ingredients. Even the most “whole” and “natural” ingredients can be dangerous in the right quantity.
- Lists of things that customers have “reported.” Just because one person in an internal study reported a certain benefit, that does not mean that product is guaranteed to provide that result.
The bottom line is, health claims can be dangerous for many reasons. Research things thoroughly. Consult professionals. Know the risks and weigh the pros and cons before jumping into a quick fix to your health concerns. A quick fix might not be worth it if the long term consequences are fatal.
And as far as products that might really be safe, but are making bold health claims about disease prevention, just be smart. Those products may have a crazy number of benefits, but don’t be fooled into taking them to prevent a disease. Take them for the right reasons, and if they happen to have prevention qualities, great!
There are safer products out there. Stick with the companies that are honest and reputable. Usually those are the companies that really are striving to help you rather than take your money in the name of your health.