Herbalife International was founded by Mark Hughes in 1980 when he developed a new vitamin-rich, herbal-based protein shake mix for weight loss after his mother died while desperately trying to lose weight. The company does not sell through retail stores, or on the Internet (Unless independent distributors choose to to do so.), instead Herbalife works on a multi-level marketing idea where the products are sold through independant distributors who through word of mouth or certain other means (i.e. mailing advertisements) get other distributors under them, and so on. The company is not without legal problems. Early on it faced the State of California for deceptive advertising and agreed to take 2 products off the market. Another legal woe are the often lawsuits by distributors for "breach of contract."

Today Herbalife is a multi-million dollar company with its worldwide headquarters in Los Angeles, California. Sadly Mark Hughes died in 2001 at the age of 44 after taking some medication that had deadly consequences with the slight bit of wine he had drank that night. This followed a serious bout of pneumonia he had recently.

Herbalife is an example of networking used as marketing. Their sales model consists of basically this: A distributor purchases a certain amount of Herbalife packages from a higher-level distributor, and is responsible for selling them. The money earned belongs to the seller. One of the best ways of selling is to sell a bulk order to someone, who will then go through the same process.

If you think the above sounds like a pyramid scheme, you've gotten the point. If you've ever seen an "Earn money fast from home!" advertisement, it's very likely that it is an example of this kind of thing.

As described above, Herbalife is a weight loss treatment of questionable effectiveness.

In Russia during the Perestroika and post-Soviet times, Herbalife was ubiquitous. Very few had any sort of money or any way to earn it, so this sounded like a very attractive proposition. Before long, distributors were everywhere and customers were nowhere (or few and far between), and the saturated Herbalife market collapsed. This shows very effectively that Herbalife is indeed a good example of a pyramid scheme.

Now, whenever one visits Russia and sees an "Earn money fast!" type of ad, it will often also say "Not Herbalife!"(There's no TM. The word has entered the vernacular).

As mentioned previously, Herbalife International was well known for its "pyramid scheme" style distribution. There seems to be masses of pages on the Internet about the scheme itself, and the people who it annoyed (just google for "herbalife" and start trolling through it all). I thought I'd concentrate less on the company and more on its products.

"Herbalife is a scientifically formulated, herbal-based, calorie-reduced nutrition program. It is centered around our unique high-energy, protein-rich, nutritional "shake" or meal replacement drink, Formula #1, to which has been added food supplements containing important vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and nutritional herbs."

Their statement translates into the following products:
  • Weight management

    • Formulas 1, 2, 3 and 4

    • Powdered protein drink mixed with vitamins ("A meal in a glass")

    • ThermojeticsTM Herbal Tablets

    • Range of tablets designed to prevent over-eating and snacking

    • N-R-G Nature's Raw Guarana

    • Raw Guarana tablets for extra energy

    • ThermojeticsTM Instant Herbal Beverage

    • Range of flavored powdered beverages containing herbs and green tea extract. Replacement for tea or coffee

    • ThermojeticsTM Weight-Management Programme

    • Several "programmes" which contain different quantities of Herbalife products

    • ThermojeticsTM HPLC Food Products

    • An attempt at making more appealing food substitutes - such as shakes, soups and protein bars

  • Targeted Nutrition (mainly for people who work out)

    • Protein Supplement Powder
    • Cell Activator
    • Protein Bars
    • Herbal Aloe Concentrate
    • RoseOx
    • Florafibre
    • Xtra-Cal
    • Schizandra Plus
    • Herbalifeline
    • Tang Kuei
    • Male Factor 1000
    • NRG Gum
    • Thermojetics Roasted Soybeans
Herbalife also produce a number of personal care products such as cleansers, toners and moisturisers as well as sunscreen and fragrances (perfumes).

So do the products work? All the corporate speil seems to indicate that they do work - however, like all weight control plans, you're encouraged to get plenty of excercise. Herbalife products are basically a replacement for meals with added ingredients to boost energy levels. Their "targeted nutrition" range are designed to be used as supplements.

You should know that as I researched these products, I found it increasingly difficult to find any real scientific results. I did however come across a number of articles which had been removed from various health websites due to pressure from the Herbalife company against the authors. I'll continue to search for scientific results online and offline and will update this node when I have more information. If you've got any information, please /msg me.

Herbalife: http://www.herbalife.com
Herbalife: Panacea or poison http://www.gatorbytes.com/gatorbytes/health/herbalife_1.htm

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