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Deck the Malls

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A friend of mine starting taking a nutritional supplement not too long ago. This product is made by Reliv International, and it is a nutritional supplement that allegedly works much better than anything else out there. My friend, who is generally very healthy, has said that it removed some muscle spasms that he has been having since high school. He also said that once his sister started taking it, she stopped having many food allergies that she had been suffering from.

Some of the claims made about this product seem very suspicious. Here are some of them. Note that these claims are made by my friend and may not reflect claims made by Reliv itself.

1. Food today is much less nutritious than it used to be. This is due to growing crops in the same place for so long. Eventually, they deplete the minerals found in the ground. As a result, you actually get very little nutrition from food. (This claim is particularly suspicious. My understanding is that we actually get many more vitamins and minerals than we did a century ago, partly due to that fact that food is more readily available and partly because vitamins and minerals are artificially added. Also, fertilization and other methods restore some of the depleted minerals in the ground. Is there any evidence to support this claim?)
2. Most other nutritional supplements, such as multivitamins, are not effective because your body only absorbs about 10% of the nutrients in the multivitamin. With Reliv, your body absorbs over 90% of the nutrients. This is due in part to the fact that Reliv is taken in powder form. (This sounds believable, but I would like to see the research that supports this.)
3. Reliv is sent oversees to nourish famine-ravaged communities. (This is respectable, but I question whether or not their survival is really dependent upon Reliv.)
4. It follows a multi-level marketing scheme whereby when you refer someone else to take Reliv, you get a portion of the amount that person pays per month. (This sounds a lot like a pyramid scheme. My friend claims it's no different than an Avon salesperson or anyone else trying to sell their product.)

My friend is extremely insistent upon other people trying the product, but at $60 a month, the price is rather high. Also, all of the evidence that I've heard supporting Reliv has been anecdotal--I have yet to see any scientific evidence either by Reliv International itself or by any independent organizations that support Reliv. Although my friend is very intelligent, he's not very scientific-minded in that he considers personal experience more reliable than scientific research (as a researcher in psychology, that makes me cringe). However, I haven't seen a lot that goes against Reliv either, except for this site that presents an FDA warning showing labeling violations of the product (but it's a little dated). Is there any more information about it? What are your thoughts about it?

Disclaimer: I might know something about everything, but I don't know much about anything.

Posts: 293 | From: Nashville, TN | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Angels Wii Have Heard on High

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Sounds like the same nonsense used to peddle "colloidal minerals." Here is the Quackwatch article debunking similar claims, and here is a website with a more extensive debunking.

- Pseudo "and 'Reliv' spelled backwards is 'viler'" Croat

"At all events, people who deny the influence of smaller nations should remember that the Croats have the rest of us by the throats." - Norman Davies, Europe: A History

God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts.

Posts: 4578 | From: Sunrise, FL | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Deck the Malls

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Thanks! Actually, a lot of the facts being debunked on those sites are exactly what is being claimed by my friend! I know that nothing is likely to convince him that he may be doing nothing more than peddling snake oil, but it's nice to have some evidence to show that Reliv may not be what it makes itself out to be.

Disclaimer: I might know something about everything, but I don't know much about anything.

Posts: 293 | From: Nashville, TN | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Kathy B
Angels Wii Have Heard on High

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I found one clinical trial where Reliv's "new formulation" was evaluated to see if it had any effect on cholesterol. The study was done at the University of Scranton and appears to be valid. The [url= ]researcher[/url] has done a lot of work on the impact of antioxidants & other chemicals on heart health. Huge caveat--I can only find the info in Reliv propaganda, so I assume Reliv paid for it. The researcher has done other studies on proprietary products, so he may get a lot of his research money that way (an unfortunate fact of life for academia). I can't find that the study was published in a peer reviewed journal.
The results of the trial showed statistically significant decreases in participants’ bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels, decreases in the cholesterol/good cholesterol (HDL) ratio and decreases in the bad to good (LDL/HDL) ratios. Subjects participating in the trial initially were identified as having undesirable cholesterol ratios but, after a period of supplementation with the Reliv formulation, had achieved desirable levels. In addition, the trial results also showed improvement in cholesterol levels for those participants who were already taking statin (cholesterol-reducing) drugs.
However, it appears no evaluation was made of the individual ingredients, some of which are known antioxidants which may be what was responsible. I can't see where the study proves that Reliv's formulation might be better than taking one or ore of the individual ingredients alone.

The plural of "anecdote" is not "data."

Posts: 4255 | From: Sacramento, CA | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator

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