Dec 21, 2010 Christopher Pascale
Are Your Vitamins Making you Sick? - Julie Elliott-Abshire
Herbalife is a publicly traded company based out of Los Angeles, California. Since 1980 it has allowed people the opportunity to become independent sales reps with the opportunity to lead others to do the same in the form of multi-level marketing, or network marketing.
Like any large organization with several decades of experience, there are some controversies behind this one. For example, in 1986, the state of California claimed that the company made inflated claims regarding income potential for which Herbalife settled for $850,000, and in 2004 thousands of current and former distributors took the company to court on the grounds of running a pyramid scheme. Herbalife settled the latter case for $6,000,000 (less than $700 each).
Along with these legal matters are much more pressing health concerns. Several medical resources have found that Herbalife products may actually cause hepatitis.
What is Hepatitis and how is it Caused?
Hepatitis can be characterized as an inflammation of the liver. One visible symptom is jaundice, and less visible ones are lack of appetite and a feeling of overall discomfort.
Hepetitis is typically caused by a virus, but it can also be caused by toxins when taken regularly, such as alcohol or an infection that is already present. The question on many people's minds regarding Herbalife products would be, how could these products be linked to infecting those who take them?
The answer is in the ingredients. There has to be something toxic in some or all of the products released by the company, but it is hard to know which ones because the FDA does not regulate herbal supplements the same way they do medicine. This is why athletes find out via heart attack that ephedrine is not so great, and how health conscious people discover that they may be poisoning themselves the hard way, as reported in a 2007 article published in The Journal of Hepatology titled "Herbal Does not Mean Innocuous."
Countries That Have Reported Illness Links to Herbalife
It is important to note where the sources are that have reported on Herbalife. This is because some people go on the attack against networking companies because they think they are dangerous or terrible, and some governments are anti-capitalistic, so they would be against a company like Herbalife because they do not want their people to have too much freedom and control.
In 2004, 12 patients in Israeli hospitals with severe liver problems had one thing in common. They were taking an Herbalife supplement that aided digestion. When their liver enzymes normalized, they resumed their normal regimen of the product and were sick again.
The 2007 article noted from the European Journal of Hepatology had several sources, one of which was medical professionals from Switzerland. In it, the ten most severe cases covered showed two patients with "certain causality" while the other eight had "probable causality." The duration of the illness ranged from two months to twelve years.
The objective here is not to demonize a company or industry, but to alert consumers that when a Herbalife distributor pitches the quality of their products, they may be pitching high end hepatitis. And while the ingredients linked to causing disease in the past may have been rid of, it does not mean that today's products are safe.
Without FDA interaction, humans are the test subjects for herbal supplements. The best way to go when it comes to supplements is to use one with a long track record of not hurting its users.
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