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Herbalife Diet Review: Does It Work for Weight Loss

Healthline diet score: 1.79 out of 5

Herbalife is a multilevel marketing company that sells nutritional supplements and personal care products in more than 90 countries around the world.

One of their products is the Herbalife weight loss program, which uses meal replacement shakes and dietary supplements to help people slim down.

While quick-fix diets like the Herbalife program can help people lose weight in the short term, they can be expensive and may not be sustainable.

This article reviews the pros and cons of the Herbalife diet program to help you decide whether it might work for you.

Rating Score Breakdown
  • Overall score: 1.79
  • Weight loss: 2
  • Healthy eating: 2.25
  • Sustainability: 2.5
  • Whole body health: 1
  • Nutrition quality: 1.5
  • Evidence-based: 1.5

BOTTOM LINE: The Herbalife diet is pricey and involves highly processed shakes and many supplements, some of which have been linked to negative health effects. Short-term use likely causes weight loss, but long-term effectiveness is yet to be studied.

How does it work?

Getting started on the Herbalife diet requires a few simple steps.

Step 1: Connect with an Herbalife independent distributor

Since Herbalife is a multilevel marketing business, their products are only available for purchase through Herbalife independent distributors.

You can connect with a distributor directly on the Herbalife website or via personal connections if you know a certified retailer.

Step 2: Choose your weight loss program

The next step is to pick the Herbalife weight loss program that’s right for you. There are three versions to choose from:

  1. The Quickstart Program: includes meal-replacement shakes, a powdered tea drink, a multivitamin/mineral (MVM), and a metabolism-boosting supplement
  2. The Advanced Program: includes everything from the Quickstart Program, plus two more supplements for increasing energy and reducing fluid retention
  3. The Ultimate Program: includes everything from the Advanced Program, plus two additional supplements for blood sugar management and digestion

These programs range in price from roughly $121–234 per month.

Step 3: Begin the Herbalife diet

Following the Herbalife diet is relatively easy.

Simply replace two meals each day with Herbalife shakes and take the supplements that come with the program you purchased.

There are no dietary restrictions on the Herbalife diet, but it’s generally advised to drink plenty of water and eat small, frequent meals and snacks that include plenty of fruits and vegetables.

There are no official recommendations for how long you should stay on the Herbalife diet, but most people continue until they reach their weight loss goal.


To get started on the Herbalife program, simply connect with an Herbalife distributor, purchase the program of your choice, and start consuming the shakes and supplements.

Can it help you lose weight?

The Herbalife diet is designed to help people lose weight by reducing calorie intake with meal replacement shakes and boosting metabolism with supplements.

There haven’t been any studies on the full Herbalife weight loss program, but the meal replacement shakes do appear to help with weight loss.

Herbalife meal replacement shakes

Each serving (two scoops or 25 grams) of the Herbalife meal replacement shake mix contains (1):

  • Calories: 90
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbs: 13 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 9 grams
  • Protein: 9 grams

When mixed with 8 ounces (240 mL) of nonfat milk, the mix provides 170 calories per serving and is intended to be a low calorie meal replacement.

In general, meal replacement shakes can help you lose weight when used for up to 1 year (, ).

In fact, research suggests that they may be more effective for short-term weight loss than traditional low calorie diets ().

Only one study, which Herbalife sponsored, has tested the effectiveness of Herbalife shakes specifically.

This study found that people who replaced 2 meals per day with Herbalife shakes lost an average 12.5 pounds (5 kg) in 12 weeks ().

Research is lacking on the long-term benefits of meal replacement shakes, but at least one study suggested that they may help to prevent weight gain over several years ().

A second study found that people who used meal replacement shakes for 3 months before transitioning to a low calorie diet weighed less after 4 years than those who only dieted ().

Overall, research suggests that meal replacement shakes can help people to lose weight in the short term, but additional diet and lifestyle strategies may be needed for long-term weight loss and weight maintenance.

Herbalife supplements

The supplements recommended in the Herbalife weight loss programs include:

  • Formula 2 Multivitamin: a standard multivitamin with several minerals for general nutrition
  • Formula 3 Cell Activator: a supplement with alpha-lipoic acid, aloe vera, pomegranate, rhodiola, pine bark, and resveratrol that claims to support nutrient absorption, metabolism, and mitochondrial health
  • Herbal Tea Concentrate: a powdered drink mix with tea extracts and caffeine that’s meant to provide extra energy and antioxidant support
  • Total Control: a supplement containing caffeine, ginger, three kinds of tea (green, black, and oolong), and pomegranate rind that claims to boost energy
  • Cell-U-Loss: a supplement containing electrolytes, corn silk extract, parsley, dandelion, and asparagus root that’s meant to reduce water retention
  • Snack Defense: a supplement containing chromium and Gymnema sylvestre extract that claims to support carbohydrate metabolism
  • Aminogen: a supplement containing protease enzymes, which are said to improve protein digestion

While these supplements contain many ingredients and claim to help with energy, metabolism, and weight loss, there have been no studies to prove their effectiveness.

Additionally, supplements aren’t regulated by any government agency for quality or purity, so there’s no guarantee that they contain the ingredients advertised.


Replacing two meals per day with Herbalife shakes can lead to modest weight loss, but it’s unknown whether the supplements that are part of the program have any additional benefit.

Benefits of Herbalife

In addition to aiding weight loss, the Herbalife program has a few more benefits.

It’s easy and convenient

Meal replacement shakes like the ones used in the Herbalife diet can be attractive for busy people or those who lack the time or interest to cook.

To make the shake, all you have to do is mix 2 scoops of powder with 8 ounces (240 mL) of nonfat milk and enjoy. The powder can also be blended with ice or fruit for a smoothie-style drink.

Drinking shakes instead of cooking can dramatically cut down on time spent planning, shopping, and preparing meals. The Herbalife program is also very easy to follow.

Soy-based shakes may be good for your heart

The main ingredient in most of the Herbalife meal replacement shakes is soy protein isolate, a type of protein powder that comes from soybeans.

Some research suggests that eating soy protein may lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease ().

However, nearly 50 grams per day are needed to realize these effects (, ).

Two servings of Herbalife meal replacement shakes contain only 18 grams, so additional soy foods would need to be included in your diet (1).

A soy-free, dairy-free formula is available

For those with allergies or sensitivities to soy or cow’s milk, Herbalife offers an alternative meal replacement shake made with pea, rice, and sesame proteins (1).

This product is also made from nongenetically modified ingredients, for those who wish to avoid GMOs.


The Herbalife diet is convenient and easy to follow, and the soy-based shakes may even help reduce your risk of heart disease. For those sensitive or allergic to soy or dairy, an alternative formula is available.

Downsides of the diet

While the Herbalife diet program has some benefits, it also has quite a few downsides.

Shakes are highly processed

Herbalife meal replacement shakes are made with highly processed ingredients, such as protein isolates, sugars, gums, fibers, synthetic vitamins, artificial flavors, and emulsifiers (1).

They also contain a variety of added vitamins and minerals to make up for the nutrients these processed ingredients lack.

One of the biggest drawbacks is that the shakes are very high in sugar — 40 percent of the calories in each serving come from added sugars, primarily fructose (1).

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends getting no more than 5% of your daily calories from added sugars, which equates to roughly 25 grams per day for the average adult ().

Two servings of the Herbalife shake provide 18 grams of added sugar, leaving very little room for other sources throughout the day (1).

It’s generally advisable to get your nutrients from less processed foods, such as high quality proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.

Could make you hungry

Although Herbalife shakes are described as meal replacement shakes, they don’t contain enough calories to constitute a true meal.

When mixed with nonfat milk, the shakes have just 170 calories, which will likely leave you feeling very hungry throughout the day.

Blending the shake with fruit can help increase the calorie and fiber contents but won’t add any additional protein or fat to keep you satisfied.

Can be expensive

Each container of Herbalife meal replacement mix contains 30 servings and costs just over $40.

Herbalife’s recommended two shakes per day equates to roughly $80 per month for the shakes alone, not including the cost of supplements.

While swapping meals for shakes may save you money on groceries, these savings may not be significant enough to justify the additional expense of smoothies and supplements.

Herbal supplements may cause liver damage

The Herbalife weight loss programs recommend several supplements that contain a myriad of ingredients.

These supplements haven’t been tested for effectiveness and aren’t regulated by any government agency for quality or purity.

It’s important to watch for signs of adverse reactions to supplements, as these can occur.

In fact, there have been several reports of suspected liver damage due to Herbalife weight loss supplements, sometimes requiring liver transplants or even causing death (, , , ).

Additionally, some Herbalife products have been contaminated with an overgrowth of the bacteria B. subtilis, which is also linked to liver damage ().

Keep in mind that adverse effects and liver damage can occur with many over-the-counter medications and supplements.

It’s unclear whether the risks associated with Herbalife products are any greater than those of other supplements ().

One study that Herbalife funded showed that protein-rich diets, supplemented with Herbalife Formula 1, didn’t adversely affect liver function ().

Not appropriate for everyone

The Herbalife diet program is not appropriate for everyone.

People with allergies, sensitivities or intolerances to the ingredients in the shakes or supplements should not follow this program.

Since so many supplements are included, it’s important to check with your healthcare provider to ensure they don’t interact with your medications or medical conditions.


Herbalife shakes are expensive, highly processed and do not contain enough calories to be true meal replacements. The recommended supplements can also be dangerous for some people.

Foods to eat

Though most of your meals will be shakes while on the Herbalife diet, you can have one regular meal and two small snacks of your choice each day.

Herbalife doesn’t give detailed diet advice about what to eat aside from the shakes and supplements, so you can technically have whatever you want.

However, to promote weight loss, the Herbalife website recommends a diet rich in lean protein, fruits and vegetables, nonfat dairy, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and healthy fats.


Most of your meals on the Herbalife diet will be meal replacement shakes, but you also get one meal and two snacks of your choice each day. Focus on low fat, low calorie, minimally processed foods.

Foods to avoid

No foods are strictly forbidden on the Herbalife diet, but you should aim for low calorie meals rich in lean protein, fruits, and vegetables.

High calorie or high fat foods are allowed but should be enjoyed in moderation if you want to lose weight on the Herbalife diet.


No foods are forbidden on the Herbalife diet, but items rich in fat or calories should be consumed in moderation if you desire weight loss.

Sample menu

Here is what one day on the Herbalife Ultimate weight loss program might look like:

  • Breakfast: Herbalife chocolate shake made with 8 ounces (240 mL) of nonfat milk and half a banana, plus the Formula 2 Multivitamin, Formula 3 Cell Activator, Total Control, Cell-U-Loss, and Aminogen supplements
  • Snack: one can of tuna and a small salad with the Snack Defense herbal tea concentrate and Aminogen supplement
  • Lunch: Herbalife vanilla shake made with 8 ounces (240 mL) of skim milk and half a banana, plus the Formula 2 Multivitamin, Formula 3 Cell Activator, and Total Control, Cell-U-Loss and Aminogen supplements
  • Snack: one piece of fruit with herbal tea concentrate and the Snack Defense supplement
  • Dinner: grilled chicken with vegetables and brown rice, plus the Formula 2 Multivitamin, Total Control, and Aminogen supplements

As you can see, the meals are quite simple — but there are a lot of supplements to take throughout the day.


A sample menu for the Herbalife weight loss program includes two Herbalife shakes, one balanced meal of your choice and two snacks, plus many supplements.

Shopping list

In addition to the Herbalife shakes and supplements, you’ll purchase food from the grocery store for your remaining meals and snacks.

Some suggestions include:

  • Lean protein: chicken, turkey, pork loin, fish, lamb, or lean beef
  • Fruits and vegetables: fresh, frozen, dried, or canned
  • Nonfat or low fat dairy products: cow’s milk or nondairy milk for the shakes, plus other low fat or nonfat dairy items for snacking
  • Whole grains and legumes: including brown rice, beans, lentils, and quinoa
  • Healthy oils: olive oil, avocado oil, or other oils from nuts and seeds
  • Nuts and seeds: raw, roasted, or ground into flour or nut butter

Foods that are highly processed or calorie- or fat-dense should be consumed in moderation.


Choose your favorite high protein, high fiber, and low fat items from the grocery store for your additional meals and snacks.

The bottom line

The Herbalife diet comprises low calorie meal replacement shakes and metabolism-boosting supplements.

It’s convenient, easy to follow, and may aid short-term weight loss, though long-term success hasn’t been studied.

Yet, it’s expensive, may cause side effects, and the safety and effectiveness of the supplements hasn’t been researched.

More studies are needed to understand how pairing meal replacement shakes with longer-term diet and lifestyle changes affects weight loss and weight management.

Sours: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/herbalife-review


Formula 1 Shake Mix: Healthy MealWeight controlSoy protein, fructose, cellulose powder, corn bran, guar gum, minerals, rice fiber, soy lecithin, canola oil, carrageenan, medium chain triglycerides, citrus pectin, psyllium husk powder, ginger root powder, proteases of Aspergillus, honey powder, ascorbic acid, dl-alpha tocopherol, papaya fruit, carotene, pantothenate, bromelain, papain powder, folic acid, pyridoxine, thiamine, riboflavin, cholecalciferol, cyanocobalamin and several minerals.Formula 2 Multivitamin ComplexHealthy dietVitamins A, C, D, E, B6 and B12; thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, biotin and pantothenic acid; calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium zinc, selenium, copper, manganese and chromium; potassium, vanadium, lycopene, and proprietary“herbal blend”Formula 3 Cell ActivatorHealthy dietAlpha lipoic acid (150 mg), aloe vera concentrate (52 mg), shiitake mushroom (15 mg), pomegranate rind extract (11 mg), Rhodiola root extract (10 mg), dried pine bark extract (2 mg), resveratrol (0.9 mg)Prolessa DuoWeight controlSafflower, palm and oat oils; glucose syrup, sodium caseinate, silicon dioxide, ascorbyl palmitate, phosphates, soy lecithin, tocopherols, natural flavorsTotal ControlWeight controlGinger root, green tea leaf, oolong tea leaf, black tea leaf, and pomegranate rind powder extractsCell-U-LossWeight controlCorn silk (134 mg), parsley herb (10 mg), dandelion leaf (10 mg) and asparagus root extracts (5 mg); sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesiumTri-shieldHeart healthVitamin E (2 IU), Neptune Krill Oil (300 mg), Omega-3 fatty acids (45 mg).Core Complex with CoQ10 PlusHeart healthVitamin D (600 IU), E (18 IU), B6 (4 mg) and B12 (12 mg), marine lipid complex (fish oil: 1.5 g), phytosterol esters (1.3 g), omega-3 fatty acids (717 mg), Neptune Krill Oil (300 mg), hawthorn fruit extract (30 mg), coenzyme Q10 (100 mg)HerbalifelineHeart healthVitamin E (8 IU), marine lipid complex (fish oil: 758 mg), Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish Oil: 336 mg)Niteworks Powder MixHeart healthVitamin C (500 mg), vitamin E (200 IU), folate (400 mcg), calcium (66 mg), proprietary protein blend (L-arginine, L-citruline: 5.2 g), L-taurine (300 mg), lemon balm extract (50 mg), alpha lipoic acid (10 mg)Mega Garlic PlusHeart healthVitamin C (70 mg), calcium (44 mg), phosphorus (34 mg), garlic power (600 mg)CoQ10 Plus SoftgelHeart healthVitamin D (600 IU), coenzyme Q10 (100 mg), docosahexaenoic acid (from Algal oil: 100 mg), Hawthorn fruit extract (30 mg)Xtra-Cal AdvancedWomen’s healthVitamin D (134 IU), calcium (334 mg), magnesium (67 mg), zinc (2.5 mg), copper (.33 mg), manganese (.33 mg), boron (167 mg), herbal blend (20 mg) [tumeric root and rose hips powder]Woman’s ChoiceWomen’s healthSoy isoflavone (150 mg), kudzu extract (75 mg), chaste berry extract (40 mg)Triple Berry ComplexWomen’s healthCranberry Powder (510 mg), bilberry extract (51 mg), blueberry powder (51 mg)Tang Kuei PlusWomen’s healthVitamin C (8 mg), Tang Kuei root extract (200 mg), passion flower extract (30 mg)Ultimate Prostate FormulaMen’s healthVitamin E (12.5 IU), selenium (12.5 mcg), saw palmetto lipid extract (160 mg), pumpkin seed oil (50 mg), lycopene (tomato extract: 0.5 mg)Male Factor 1000Men’s healthVitamin C (50 mg), calcium carbonate (96 mg), male factor blend (380 mg): [Green Oat, Nettle Leaf, Sea Buckthorn Juice, Clycine, Dextrose, Asian Ginseng, Eleuthero Extract]Prelox BlueMale sexual performance enhancerProtein (2 g), L-arginine, aspartic acid, L-taurine, pycnogenol (dried pine bark extract)Ultimate Prostate FormulaProstate healthVitamin E (12.5 IU), selenium (12.5 mcg), saw palmetto lipid extract (160 mg), pumpkin seed oil (50 mg), lycopene (tomato extract: 0.5 mg)Kid’s ShakesChildren’s healthSoy protein, fructose, sugar, maize dextrin, whey protein. Vitamins A, C, D, E, B6, B12, calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, zincMultivitesChildren’s healthVitamins A (2500 IU), C, D, E, B6 and B12, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, zincKinderminsChildren’s healthVitamin A (1500 IU), C, D, E, B6 and B12, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron (7.5 mg), magnesium, zincJoint Support AdvancedJoint healthSelenium (23.3 mcg), copper (0.33 mg), manganese (0.67 mg), glucosamine (500 mg), Scutellaria baicalensis extract (160 mg)Ocular Defense FormulaOcular healthVitamin A (1250 IU), C (80 mg), and E (7.5 IU), selenium (22.5 mcg), copper (0.45 mg), lutein (6 mg).Active Fiber ComplexDigestive healthSugarcane fiber, maize dextrin, maltodextrin, citrus fiber, soy fiber, inulin, carboxymethycellulose, silicon dioxide (total 5 g of fiber)Herbal Aloe Powder & ConcentrateDigestive healthAloe vera concentrate (inner leaf)FlorafiberDigestive healthCellulose powder, microcrystalline cellulose, dicalcium phosphate, stearic acid, apple pectin, psyllium seed, lactobacillus acidophilus21 day Herbal Cleansing ProgramDigestive healthCalcium (150 mg), herbal blend of milk thistle extract, insulin, beet root, lactobacillus acidophilus, hesperidin complex, apple pectin, lemon pectin, chamomile extractGarden 7 Phytonutrient SupplementImmune healthVitamin A (1676 IU) and C (65 mg), calcium, riboflavin, garlic, carrot, broccoli and spinach powder, Hesperidin, quercetin, grape skin and cranberry extract, allicin, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthinRoseGuardEnvironmental toxin defenseVitamin A (2500 IU), C (30 mg) and E (15 IU), calcium (33 mg), Astragalus root (510 mg), rosemary leaf (210 mg) and turmeric root (80 mg) extracts.Schizandra PlusImmune supportVitamin A (2500 IU), C (40 mg), E (20 IU) and B6 (10 mg); calcium (16 mg) and selenium (35 mcg). Schizandra extract (120 mg)Best DefenseImmune boostingVitamin C (1000 mg), zinc (7.5 mg), and herbal blend of Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, Astragalus, Schisandra, ginger and maltodextrin.Relax NowStressJujube (seed: 250 mg), ashwagandha (root: 100 mg) and passionflower extracts (aerial part: 75 mg).Sleep NowStressCalcium (144 mg) and blend of herbs including passionflower, valerian, hops, wild lettuce, cinnamon, orange peel, lavender (flower) and amla extractH3O Fitness DrinkEnergy and fitnessVitamins A, C, and E, calcium and magnesium with trehalose dehydrate and sugar (12 g)LiftoffEnergy and fitnessVitamins C (60 mg), B6 (6 mg) and B12 (12 mcg); thiamine (3 mg), riboflavin (1.7 mg), niacin (20 mg), biotin (300 mg), and pantothenic acid (20 mg), sodium, potassium and an energy blend (393 mg) of L-taurine, Panax ginseng root, caffeine, Ginkgo biloba extract, guarana extract and inositol.N-R-G Nature’s Raw Guarana Tea or TabletsEnergy and fitnessCalcium (202 mg) and guarana seed blend (800 mg).Green TeaHydrationGreen tea extract (25 mg of caffeine) for brewing teaHerbalife 24 Formula 1 SportNutrition for AthletesVitamins A, C, D, E, B6 and B12; calcium, iron; thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper and chromium with milk protein concentrate, fructose, sugar and sunflower oil.
Sours: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548447/
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Herbalife ‘Scam’ Weight Loss Product Associated with Fatal Liver Failure

(UPDATE: An editor’s note regarding the research covered here has been added to the end of this article)

A case report from India has connected products from Herbalife to acute liver failure. The findings follow similar reports from other countries, including Israel, Spain, Switzerland, Iceland, Argentina and the United States. The study, published in the March-April issue of the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology, also points out the dangers associated with herbal and dietary supplements (HDSs), many of which promise results with no factual basis.

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The case report highlights a 24-year-old woman with hypothyroidism who was otherwise healthy but taking thyroxine supplementation. She initiated three Herbalife products: Formula 1 Shake Mix (two scoops/day with skim milk), Personalized Protein Powder (two tablespoons twice/day into the Shake Mix), and Afresh Energy Drink (10 g twice/day).

Check out the latest Dietary Supplement News at mashupMD, the #1 website for medical headlines from the most trusted sources


Two months after starting these supplements, the patient had a week of lost appetite and then followed by jaundice and transient pruritus.

“Initial blood work revealed that total serum bilirubin level was12.4 (upper limit of normal [ULN] 1.1 mg/dL); direct bilirubin, 9.9 (ULN 0.2 mg/dL); aspartate aminotransferase,582 (ULN 36 U/L); alanine aminotransferase, 648 (ULN45 U/L); alkaline phosphatase, 248 (ULN 120 U/L);gamma-glutamyl transferase level, 398 (ULN 35 U/L); albumin, 3 (ULN 5.5 g/dL) and international normalised ratio,4.7 (normal < 1.2),” the report details. When the patient’s jaundice worsened, she went to the emergency department. Blood tests were performed for conditions including hepatitis and HIV.

Check out a related article Hydroxycut and Garcinia Cambogia May Lead to Liver Failure

“A transjugular liver biopsy showed extensive periportal and perivenular bridging necrosis with moderate-to-severe mixed inflammatory infiltration, interface hepatitis, cholangitis, severe ballooning, steatosis and intracanalicular cholestasis,” according to the report. The patient was referred to a transplant center and placed on a waiting list but soon died.

An Assessment of Herbalife

The doctors considered the possibility that Herbalife had contributed to the patient’s liver injury but were unsuccessful in obtaining products from the patient’s grieving family, but they obtained one product from the same seller the patient purchased her products from—it was also discovered that this distributor was operating without a license and was eventually shut down by the Department of Health and Human Services, Government of Kerala. Other Herbalife products were purchased online.

Upon analysis, all of the sourced Herbalife products contained high levels of heavy metals, and 75% of the samples contained undisclosed toxic compounds, while 63% of the samples contained bacterial deoxyribonucleic acid. Upon RNA analysis, multiple bacterial communities were discovered in Herbalife products—“including highly pathogenic species.”

Health Supplements Likely Do More Harm than Good

The researchers pointed out that many products advertised as nutritional supplements based in wellness not only have no health benefits but could in fact be harmful. Often, these products boast potential outcomes with no clinical evidence to support the company’s claims.

“As with any drug, it is important to put HDSs through preclinical and clinical scientific studies and postmarketing vigilance so that unknown and potentially harmful causes for severe adverse effects, such as liver failure due to the use of such agents, may be more identifiable and controlled,” the researchers wrote.

Check out more on the harms of Supplements on Teens and Young Adults.


Editor’s Note – Jan 2, 2020:

The DocWire News article entitled “Herbalife ‘Scam’ Weight Loss Product Associated with Fatal Liver Failure,” published online November 25, 2019, referred to in the first paragraph and elsewhere a case report published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology that has since been removed by its publisher (Elsevier) for legal reasons following a complaint from Herbalife. According to a notice from Herbalife counsel, the “[…] article has been removed by Elsevier BV the publisher following a complaint by us [Herbalife] that the article is untrue and defamatory.” According to Elsevier’s article withdrawal policy, “[…] removal of an article from the online database will only occur ‘where the article is clearly defamatory, or infringes others’ legal rights, or where the article is, or we have good reason to expect it will be, the subject of a court order, or where the article, if acted upon, might pose a serious health risk.'” DocWire News and other online media outlets have reported on the case report in question, which was widely reported on in 2019. According to Elsevier, “the article, which was published in the March-April 2019 issue of the journal, has been removed for legal reasons. However the decision to remove the article does not imply admission of any allegation made about the article by any party.”

Kaitlyn D’Onofrio

Sours: https://www.docwirenews.com/docwire-pick/home-page-picks/herbalife-scam-weight-loss/
Herbalife Weight Loss Review - It Works But Are You OK With The Risks?

Cut the B.S.: Herbalife Nutrition Clubs

Okay, so there is this new chain of shake shops popping up all around my area in Upstate New York. They are promoting healthy shakes & teas with very vague information on their ingredients and contents of their shakes. They are 100% trying to hide the fact that they are nothing but a front for Herbalife. That’s right these so called shake shops are nothing more than Herbalife Nutrition Clubs that are part of the larger MLM company.

So I’ve been focusing on my brand a lot lately and what I like to educate you on. One thing I love doing is providing you with my real take on all things nutrition, fad diets, supplements, influencers, etc. I want to be the place you come when you have ANY questions on diet culture, brands, or humans giving out nutriiton advice. I also want to be a person that stands up for you in the nutrition space and calls out BS! when I see something that’s not right.

That being said I figured I want to put my B.S. (Bachelor of Science) in Nutrition into full effect and break down the fads and everything in between in the nutrition space and hence the term “Cut the Nutrition B.S.” really speaks to me. So I’ve been sitting on a topic for a few months now and think it’s finally time I break my silence. Today I’m going to cut the nutrition B.S. by starting with Herbalife Nutrition Clubs.

HOLD UP. Herbalife still exists?!?! Yes, I couldn’t believe it either to be honest. I remember hearing about Herbalife many moons ago. I remember them getting in some kind of lawsuit back in 2017 where they had to pay back consultants because they were losing money and never made what they were promised. And I swore they must’ve died off. The FTC was involved and was quoted saying “it’s virtually impossible to make money selling Herbalife products” (read more here). 

I was terribly mistaken. They still exist. 

Herbalife is a MLM supplement company promoting health and weight loss products. They even have meal plans that incorporate their shakes, bars and supplements. These meal plans are atrocious and well under even what you need for weight loss. It recommends for my nutrition plan to eat 1500 calories (for maintenance). Yeah, no thanks. 

I’d recommend if you have 2 hours to dedicate to a Netflix documentary, that you watch Betting on Zero so you can familiarize yourself with Herbalife. While I know documentaries can be incredibly one sided, what you find from talking to those in the biz and all over the internet is that it’s pretty much true. This company is more or less a pyramid scheme and people are not losing financially but also health-wise. For crying out loud their was evidence that Herbalife caused liver toxicity & death (read here) due to heavy metals, toxic compounds, bacterial contaminants and psychotropic agents, YIKES!

Okay, so why do I bring all of this up?! Well there has been a recent rash of nutrition shake shops popping up in the Albany area. I live in upstate New York where we tend to be late adopters to things like this. So when I realized we had NINE Herbalife Nutrition clubs in my area I figured this had to be more of a widespread problem then even I was aware of. 

These clubs all have very similar features because they are not allowed to do certain things based on Herbalife’s rules/regulations. For one they are normally in  strip mall with very minimal signage and almost no marketing (except Facebook pages). There is no noticeable reference to Herbalife unless you peak behind the counter or catch the owners posting something with an Herbalife sign on accident. 

Per the documentary, Betting on Zero,these clubs are not allowed to have advertising outside of the club and are not allowed to “attract” customers. However, it appears once your inside, all bets are off. I’ve had people tell me when they go in there they have to sign up to be a “member” and are asked to give their email address. While the shakes and teas only cost about $4-6 this is because the goal of the nutrition club is NOT to make money off of the shakes but to make money by getting YOU, the consumer to sign up to be an Herbalife distributor. They are hoping that you will be on their team and that’s how they bank on making money.

Per the documentary, the average Herbalife Nutrition Club loses $12,000 per year. Ouch. 

What are in these Shakes & Teas?!

Well, interestingly enough the shakes are just powder mixed with more powder and water. No joke, the use 2 scoops of their Formula 1 Protein mixed with 2 scoops of their Protein Drink Mix mixed with water, sounds yummy, am I right?!!?

I found the above on Herbalife’s website because I also asked a local shop what their ingredients and nutrition information was. When they sent it to me (below), I wanted to find out where they got that nutrition information, bingo! 4 scoops of protein powder and 8 fl oz. of water for $5 and you’re good to go. 

The biggest issue?!!? The FDA doesn’t regulate supplements and thus you have NO idea what are in these drinks. You could be paying for metal, bacteria, drugs, you literally have NO idea. It’s too risky of a business for me to even TRY one of these because what’s the point?! It’s not regulated and it’s not real food, I’m all set. 

From their facebook page


Calories – 200-235 (some specialty shakes may run a little higher, or if you opt for extras you will need to take that into account)

Protein – 24g of plant based protein

Sugar – 9 grams of sugar (except for Cookie Dough which has 1/2 TBSP of Chocolate Chips)

Carbs- 13g of net carbs (18 without subtracting fiber) If you get Oatmeal Cookie, Oatmeal Raisin or No Bake Cookie your carb count will be slightly higher as there is 1/2 TBSP- 1 TBSP Oatmeal.

Fat – 4.5g of fat

Fiber – 5g (Apple Pie & Cider Donut have additional fiber and any Shake has the option to have unflavored or Apple flavored fiber added for an additional charge)


Our teas have 0g of fat, 0g of sugar (we use Stevia (plant based) beverage mixes) and have less than 4g of carbs (Boosted and Lit) and less than 1g for energizing.

Energizing – 5 calories, 82mg of caffeine
Boosted – 15 calories, 157mg of caffeine
Lit – 29 calories, 197mg of caffeine

All of our Boosted and Lit Teas contain 100% of your daily recommended dose of Vitamin C, 300% of your B6 and 200% of your B12 as well as other energy supporting B vitamins.

All of our teas are thermogenic therefore naturally boost your metabolism and become a negative calorie beverage.”

From the research I’ve done, I’ve been able to find 9 local nutrition clubs (…and counting) in my area. I’m not sure if there are any more or what they are called in your neck of the woods but I wanted to give you the information so that you would know what I’m talking about.

These clubs have little signage, only have a Facebook page (no website) and you’ll find all the powders galore when you walk into their shops, ZERO real fruits/veggies or real food.

Here’s a list of the 27 I’ve found, do yourself a favor and unfollow them: 

Beyond Nutrition– Glenville, NY

Downtown Nutrition– Albany – Albany, NY 

Elite Nutrition– Latham, NY

Essential Nutrition– Albany, NY

Good Vibes 518 Nutrition – Queensbury, NY

Ideal Nutrition– Halfmoon, NY

Iconic Nutrition – Queensbury, NY

Identical Nutrition– Troy, NY

Incredible Nutrition – Saratoga Springs, NY

Irresistible Nutrition – Waterford, NY  

Loyal Nutrition – Schenectady, NY

Maximum Nutrition – South Glens Falls, NY

Sunnys Nutrition – Schenectady, NY 

Unbeatable Nutrition– Troy, NY

Unbelievable Nutrition– Troy, NY

Unbreakable Nutrition –  West Sand Lake, NY

Uncrushable Nutrition – Delmar, NY 

Undeniable Nutrition– Mechanicville, NY

Unique Nutrition– Kinderhook, NY

Unmatched Nutrition– Rensselaear, NY

Unreal Nutrition – Schuylerville, NY 

Unrivaled Nutrition – Bolton Landing, NY 

Unstoppable Nutrition– East Greenbush, NY

Untamed Nutrition – Glenmont, NY

Untapped Nutrition – Albany, NY 

Untouchable Nutrition– Albany, NY

Upstate Nutrition – Guilderland/Altamont, NY

*Note: I am trying to update them as I find them, so feel free to let me know if I’ve missed any. This list started at 9 and is now up to 14 since this posting first went live. 

Ok, the whole segment of Cut the B.S. is meant for me to expose the good, the not-so-good and the down right bad that’s out there as far as nutrition goes. I call mad B.S. on Herbalife and their Nutrition Clubs. These clubs are promoting nothing healthy and are looking to make you one of them, if that doesn’t scream cult or pyramid scheme I don’t know what is. Save your $5 and go buy yourself something from somewhere that sells REAL FOOD. 

What You Can Do About It

Listen, I’m not here to shame you or blame you for having gone to these clubs in the past. It’s easy to think they are healthy and good for you when the marketing tells you nothing to make you second guess. These nutrition clubs want to promote health but they are doing anything but. This nutrition club is actually just a way to make money selling Herbalife and unfortunately the managers of said clubs are misinformed by Herbalife themselves and will most likely stop selling at some point. 

Here’s what I would recommend: 

  1. Do not buy from these clubs. I get it, you might have a friend’s sister who owns one, but you aren’t helping them in the long run. Most nutrition clubs don’t ever see a profit anyway so the sooner they shut down and focus on other jobs, probably the best for everyone. 
  2.  Inform those around you and send them this blog post. You don’t have to shame or blame them, just inform them. 
  3. Support local businesses that are selling REAL FOOD. There are plenty of other shake and smoothie and tea shops in your area. Go spend the extra $$ on them because they are spending good money to provide you with real food and real nutrition. 

It’s that simple. I’m not trying to bring anyone down, I just want YOU to do what’s healthiest for you. We do not know whats in their powders and it’s not worth putting it into your body when you can get all your nutrition needs from REAL FOOD. If they are selling you on the weight loss qualities of their products, believe me there are far better ways to lose weight if you need to, it’s called reducing caloric intake and eating REAL FOOD. 

Okay, that’s a wrap, if you’ve seen these clubs before, list them out in the comments so we can all be aware of them! And don’t hesitate to tag me on social media @thesassydietitian .



Filed Under: Blog

Sours: https://thesassydietitian.com/cut-the-b-s-herbalife-nutrition-clubs/

Unhealthy herbalife

Are loaded teas dangerous? The truth about these zero-sugar drinks with a caffeinated kick

With eye-catching rainbow colors plus the promise of increased energy, better focus and even weight loss, loaded teas have been popping up on Instagram with increasing regularity.

These brightly hued drinks with names like Blue Hawaiian, Gummi Bear and Unicorn have all the makings of social media stardom — but are they actually worth the hype in real life?

The answer is complicated.

What are loaded teas?

Loaded teas are beverages that feature a cocktail of supplements with a range of purported health benefits, from performance enhancement and mental clarity to a metabolism boost and hunger suppression. While they aren’t a trademarked beverage, many accounts posting about the drinks on social media are affiliated with the supplement distribution company Herbalife, whose supplements are used as the base of many drinks.

There isn’t one single formula for loaded teas, as different purveyors make their own versions, but many involve a combination of Herbalife’s Liftoff energy tablet, Herbalife’s Herbal Tea Concentrate, other add-ons from Herbalife, like aloe or collagen water, and a variety of sweet, (often) sugar-free syrups or even juices. The enticing tropical flavors and swirl of colors add a little magic to the otherwise unpalatable experience of gulping down a 32-ounce cup of supplements.

“It’s the same formula as an energy drink, but they call it a tea — because teas are what ‘healthy’ people drink,” said Dr. Tanja Johnston, a Los Angeles-based board certified naturopathic doctor and nutritionist. To her point, not all of the loaded teas advertised online contain actual tea.

Where did loaded teas come from?

It’s unclear whether Herbalife's corporate offices created the idea for loaded teas and shared recipes with distributors or if distributors came up with the concept and it's taken off, but searches on Instagram and Facebook turn up hundreds of shops, many of them concentrated in towns across Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Florida, advertising their new beverages at special events while linking to a Herbalife digital storefront.

You’re not likely to find loaded teas at your neighborhood cafe, as they are mainly sold by Herbalife-affiliated “nutrition clubs” which are “locally owned and operated by independent Herbalife distributors” who sign up for a membership program with Herbalife to purchase discounted supplements they can use for themselves or sell to consumers. There are currently 2.3 million independent Herbalife distributors, according to the company, but only 5,900 clubs in the U.S. Unlike a GNC, for example, people need to be “personally invited by a Herbalife member or customer to visit their club,” according to company documentation. Many distributors don’t have a nutrition club but do share loaded tea recipes, loaded tea kits and other Herbalife supplements on their digital storefronts.

In 2016, Herbalife agreed to pay $200 million to settle claims brought forth by the Federal Trade Commission for deceiving "consumers into believing they could earn substantial money selling diet, nutritional supplement, and personal care products." The FTC also called the company's compensation structure "unfair" since it "rewards distributors for recruiting others to join and purchase products in order to advance." Herbalife agreed to the settlement, but maintained that many of the claims against it were factually incorrect.

Herbalife acknowledged TODAY’s request for an interview, but would not answer any specific questions about loaded teas or the company's current practices.

After repeated attempts to contact the company, Jennifer Butler, Herbalife's vice president of communications, emailed the following statement to TODAY: "Every day millions of people around the globe enjoy Herbalife Nutrition products and like other companies that serve caffeinated beverages, we actively educate and advise distributors and consumers about the responsible use of caffeine."


Laura Ligos, a registered dietician and blogger based outside of Albany, New York, said she first noticed nine of these shops pop up around her town about two or three years ago. She started receiving questions from clients and local fitness studios about the efficacy of loaded teas, so she decided to take a closer look. Johnston said she also started hearing about loaded teas from her clients around the same time.

Are loaded teas healthy?

Since each shop mixes up their own unique tea blends with various supplements, syrups and flavorings, there isn’t a standard nutritional profile. However, many shops post that their drinks start at just 20 to 24 calories, and then go up with add-ons.

According to the nutritional labels for Herbalife’s Liftoff and Herbal Tea Concentrate, these drinks would appear to be chock full of vitamins B and C, and the amino acid L-taurine, which can benefit immunity and energy, as well as biotin. Herbalife makes product labels available online, so consumers can see the ingredients in individual supplements, many of which, according to Seattle-based registered dietician and Bastyr University assistant professor Maribeth Evezich, appear to be safe for most healthy adults.

One tablet of Liftoff contains multiple stimulants including ginseng, guarana and caffeine, while one serving of Herbal Tea Concentrate includes more stimulants from tea extract and caffeine powder. Many loaded teas advertised have at least 160 milligrams of caffeine, equivalent to about two cups of coffee (the FDA says 400 milligrams a day is safe for healthy adults, though the organization acknowledges that caffeine affects people differently).

Several nutrition clubs' Instagram posts suggest consumers may load on additional supplements, but unless you're looking at the nutrition label for every supplement, it would be difficult to calculate how many stimulants and vitamins you're actually ingesting. If consumers are drinking loaded teas on an empty stomach, the effect may be heightened, said Johnston, who added that a couple of her clients drank loaded teas while practicing intermittent fasting before she advised them to stop.

What nutritionists say

Despite the potential benefits of having more energy and consuming more vitamins, nutritionists TODAY spoke with advised proceeding with caution when it comes to loaded teas.

“The biggest beef that I have with these drinks is all the stimulants,” said Johnston. “They’re just an overdrive for your cardiovascular system. Your heart rate increases, your blood pressure increases, it can affect your hormones and even negatively impact your mood.” Teens, she continued, are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of large doses of caffeine.

Added Evezich, “High caffeine intake can lead to a vicious cycle of poor quality sleep, which then can negatively impact food intake and cravings, which can create low energy, which can make that person less likely to exercise, thereby decreasing mental acuity and energy levels.”

In other words, all of those stimulants can, over time, actually result in the very issues people turn to loaded teas to fix.

Ligos said some clients, and others who reached out to her, complained of headaches, jitters and digestive issues after drinking loaded teas — some after having the drink just once, and others after drinking the beverage several times.

“I just felt like there wasn't a lot of transparency with what people were getting with these teas,” Ligos said when she started investigating the ingredients in loaded teas. “It’s just a bunch of powders that they mix up with these unnatural colors and flavors that seem desirable.”

TODAY attempted to contact a dozen different nutrition clubs currently advertising loaded teas on Instagram. When TODAY reached Ole Brooke Nutrition in Brookhaven, Mississippi, the person who picked up acknowledged they carried loaded teas, but hung up after we identified ourselves. When TODAY contacted Orange Beach Nutrition in Orange Beach, Alabama, the person who picked up said they carried loaded teas, but asked that we call a manager when we identified ourselves as a news organization. The manager of that location then declined to answer any questions, including a query about the most popular flavors. All people who answered the phone refused to provide their names.

Many of these shops also have the word “nutrition” in their names, with examples including Twickenham Nutrition, Wild Nutrition and Ad Astra Nutrition. Ligos said consumers may logically expect that they know what they are talking about when it comes to doling out nutrition advice. While some people who run these clubs may have a background in fitness or nutrition, training in nutrition is not required — nor is it provided by Herbalife — to open a club.

However, these clubs are mixing supplements and making various claims to promote their loaded teas. For example, many nutrition clubs posting on Instagram claim that loaded teas contain zero sugar and some say they are keto friendly. However, the labels for Herbalife’s Liftoff and Herbal Tea Concentrate reveal corn syrup solids, fructose (both forms of added sugar) and maltodextrin, a starch-based thickener that is not considered suitable for those following a keto diet. And that’s before the addition of artificially colored and flavored syrups.

On social media, many nutrition club accounts have claimed that these teas promote weight loss. While the stimulants can boost one's metabolism, the nutritionists TODAY spoke with said claims about weight loss are often overblown.

“Of course you can lose weight if you're drinking these teas instead of an afternoon soda, you’re just taking away calories,” said Ligos.


So what if you really want to keep loaded teas in your life?

Hundreds of people on social media claim to enjoy them and sing their praises. You don’t need to get rid of them completely if you don’t experience any negative side effects after consuming one, said Johnston, but you’re better off treating them like an alcoholic beverage rather than a health drink you should consume regularly.

“My advice would be to drink eight ounces of water beforehand, to prepare your kidneys to flush everything out. Caffeine also dehydrates you," she said.

The nutritionists also said people can consider making their own version of a loaded tea at home using ingredients they are familiar with. Ultimately, said Evezich, you’re better off eating and drinking real food and suggested trying green tea for an energy boost.

“There’s no silver bullet to get that energy rush," she said. "Rather, individuals really need to be looking at lifestyle issues to determine why they are needing more energy and consider the long-term implications of band-aid strategies such as loaded teas.”

Vidya Rao

Vidya Rao is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor focused on food, health & wellness and small businesses. She’s a journalism school and culinary school alum with a particular expertise in plant-based cooking.

Sours: https://www.today.com/food/are-loaded-teas-healthy-all-about-loaded-tea-ingredients-t190369
Herbalife - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Reviews

Herbalife Side Effects And Horror Stories

In the last 30 years, there have been 50 cases of liver damage associated with Herbalife products [5]. They are one of the world’s leading supplement companies with over $1.2 billion dollars in internet sales per year.

However, the efficacy and safety of their products have come into question with various reports indicating liver damage potentially caused by Herbalife products.

Herbalife products have been shown to cause side effects like liver injury, jaundice, nausea, pale stool, tiredness, fatigue, and abdominal pain. In some cases, Herbalife product ingestion has led to death.

These side effects can potentially occur anywhere from a few days to 3+ years after starting to take Herbalife products. If you are a martial artist or an athlete of any kind, choosing the right supplements is important not only for your performance but for your overall health.

Table of Contents

herbalife side effects kidney

The first published cases of the potential side effects from Herbalife were from Switzerland [2]. 10 cases were retrospectively studied with an age range of 30-69. None of these patients were obese or had pre-existing liver disease.

All patients were using several Herbalife supplements for weight loss at the recommended dose. The prevailing symptoms were fatigue, loss of appetite, and jaundice which become prevalent at 0.5-144 months from taking the first dose.

Of these patients, one (30 years of age) was advised to stop taking Herbalife products due to jaundice as he had been taking them for 2 years. His markers of liver damaged decreased dramatically.

A 41-year-old female developed jaundice and fatigue which stemmed from taking Herbalife supplements which she was encouraged to take by her husband, a Herbalife distributor, for weight control.

After being admitted to the hospital, she had to undergo a liver transplant. She is now doing well 7 years later having been advised to refrain from using Herbalife.

10 patients were also identified in Israel as having suffered from unexplained liver injury associated with Herbalife products [1]. They had been using products for at least 3 months.

18 different Herbalife products were being used by these patients so it’s difficult to ascertain which products may cause health issues.

No other alternative medicines or supplements were being used. Symptoms of fatigue and jaundice were presented at around 12 months after starting to use Herbalife products. Here is what happened:

  • 3 patients developed severe hepatitis
  • 3 patients suffered acute liver failure

2 of the patients who suffered from symptoms of acute liver failure consulted with their Herbalife reps to only be advised to continue or increase the dose of their supplements  [1].

Spain has witnessed similar problems regarding Herbalife and liver injury with 20 cases from 2003 to 2010 [3]. These patients were using Herbalife products from 16 days to 3 years before being treated.

Of the 20 patients, 17 fully recovered after treatment, 2 are unknown, and 1 developed cirrhosis of the liver.

What was interesting to note is 9 of the 20 patients used a Herbalife product called RoseOx with one patient only taking that supplement. When compiling all of the previous liver injury cases from the literature, 20 of the 30 patients were taking RoseOx.

In this Spanish study, the Herbalife product Formula 1 was the most frequently used.

The authors stated that the relationship between drug-induced liver injury and Herbalife products could “confidently be established” as there was a clear relation between consumption and liver damage and liver parameters improved after the withdrawal of Herbalife products [3].

In a later case report out of Switzerland, two patients were experiencing similar symptoms to the previous studies and were taking Herbalife supplements from 1 and 3 years prior [4].

Removing Herbalife products from their diet along with treatment was enough to normalize liver biomarkers.

The authors took this a step further and analyzed all of the Herbalife products that these patients were taking for contamination.

Four samples of Herbalife products which included two of the seven one patient ingested and the only product the other ingested were found to have bacteria known as Bacillus subtilis.

The products were Herbalife Shake Works Formula 1, Herbalife Personalized, and Vitamin C tablets.

This bacterium is generally known to cause food poisoning-like symptoms that these patients were experiencing such as nausea, pale stools, light brown urine, jaundice, and abdominal pain.

Finally, and most recently, a case report of a 54-year-old female patient from Croatia was admitted to hospital after experiencing abdominal pain, tiredness, pale stool, and general weakness [5]. There was no history or family history of similar problems or illnesses.

Initial laboratory tests showed significantly elevated markers of liver cell damage. Everything else from blood markers, to kidney function, were normal. She was confirmed to have chronic gastritis.

This patient had been taking these Herbalife products for approximately half a year: Guarana comprese, RoseOx, Herbalifeline, Tang Kuei Plus, and Formula 4.

These products were removed during her therapy where her symptoms regressed.

It can be difficult to pinpoint liver injury to one supplement company or one product from a supplement company even with the presented evidence as much of the data was retrospective meaning looking back in time.

Each country has its own formulation regarding Herbalife products so there is no real consistency. Further, patients don’t take just one product, they will often take many different products at once.

Statistical methods were applied to these cases where the relationship between Herbalife consumption and liver damage was found to be ‘certain’ and ‘probable’ in almost all of the cases.

As you may have heard before, correlation doesn’t equal causation.

However, a positive rechallenge is the strongest proof of causality you can get.

A positive rechallenge would be if a patient stopped taking the supplements, got better, and then starting taking the supplements again only to develop the same symptoms as before.

Well, this has happened on more than one occasion with Herbalife supplements. Three patients as part of the Israeli study resumed their usual intake of Herbalife products two months after normalization of their liver markers resulting in the second episode of liver injury which required hospitalization [1].

Removing the use of Herbalife products again resulted in a complete recovery.

Another patient in the Swiss study resumed taking Herbalife products after normalizing his liver markers prompting an increase in liver enzymes related to liver injury [2]He has developed cirrhosis of the liver but remains asymptomatic.

A further two patients as part of the Spanish study had a positive rechallenge after resuming to take Herbalife products after treatment [3].  

Understandably, Herbalife has refused to provide the composition details of their products to the researchers for the studies [6]. A quick search shows Herbalife made $4.89 billion in revenue in 2018. Any bad mainstream press could potentially erode their revenue quickly.

Since then, paid Herbalife employees have sent many letters to the editors of these peer-reviewed journals trying to discredit the published information [7][8]. However, these have been thoroughly rebutted by the Department of Medicine of the Viral Liver Center [9].

One of the main points raised by the Herbalife employees is that the statistics used to report causation are not accurate [7]. However, as the authors state in the rebuttal, the scale used has been the most widely used causality assessment tool for drug-induced liver injury.

What Has Herbalife Done To Fix This Problem?

Herbalife complaints

Other than writing multiple letters to journal editors and not getting what they wanted, Herbalife has placed legal pressure on the scientific community at the end of 2020 and forced the Elsevier Journal to retract and remove the paper from their database.

Their letters to retract the paper were rebutted by the lead authors of the paper stating the immense conflict of interest from the parties trying to have the journal retracted which were never disclosed.

He states that while these scientists who are experts in their own field, they have “absolutely NO experience in diagnosing, treating and managing drug-induced liver injury, acute liver failure, and the whole team LACKS the required basic and translational scientific acumen in Hepatology to review our published article.”

Shots fired.

You can read a full breakdown on Dr. Abby Phillips Twitter here. Since then, the article has been retracted due to legal pressure from Herbalife. Luckily, anything posted on the internet lives forever.

Has Anyone Died From Using Herbalife?

what are the potential dangers of herbalife

The paper that Herbalife wanted out of the public eye so badly reported exactly this. This horror story of a case involved a 24-year-old woman with hypothyroidism with no other chronic illnesses in India [10].

She had been taking Formula 1 Shake Mix, Personalized Protein Powder, and Afresh Energy Drink for 2 months.

She progressively developed a loss of appetite, followed by jaundice. Symptoms got worse 12 days later and she was brought into the emergency room.

The patient was urgently referred to a liver transplant center but unfortunately passed away while on the waiting list.

The authors wanted to get to the bottom of why this happened and were able to source one of the Herbalife products from the same store as the patient bought hers from as well as 8 similar Herbalife products from the internet.

The Herbalife products were put through heavy metal and toxicology analysis. High levels of heavy metals were found in ALL products as well as toxic compounds including psychotropic compounds in 75% of the samples. Bacteria were also found in 63% of the samples.

No wonder Herbalife wanted this paper retracted from the public eye. Sadly, a death was also reported in the Israeli study but Herbalife products were only a ‘possible’ cause due to the patient having a history of hepatitis B [1].

There are several potential risk factors that may be pre-dispositions to developing side effects to Herbalife products. Race seems to be one, where blacks and Hispanics may be more susceptible than other races [11].

Genetics is another factor. Older individuals are at greater risk than younger and females have a greater incidence of acute liver failure compared to males.

Social factors also play a role such as alcohol consumptionfasting, and malnourishment.

Why Is Herbalife Bad For You?

Why is Herbalife Bad For You

While these potential side effects from Herbalife products may be enough to scare you away, there are other reasons why Herbalife products aren’t as good for you as other supplement products.

Regarding the value for money and quality of the products, I can safely say that Herbalife products are some of the worst you will find in the supplement market that are far overpriced.

In fact, the United States Federal Trade Commission described Herbalife as a scam disguised as healthy living [10].

Their protein product line is all soy protein-based, one of the least bioavailable protein sources you can use.

Having such poor bioavailability means it doesn’t spike muscle building and repair as high as other protein sources leaving you with potentially sub-par nutrition.

Looking at their nutrition label for their most popular protein weight loss supplements, Formula 1 Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake Mix has 13g of carbs and 9g of protein as a meal replacement shake… 90 calories.

If you have any background in fitness and nutrition, you know that barely constitutes a snack for most people.

Further, the first two ingredients are soy protein and fructose, meaning the majority of protein and carbs are from these sources.

Their Personalized Protein Powder is mainly soy protein and whey concentrate. One serving is 5g of protein so you’d actually need to take 4-6 servings for this supplement to be useful.

So not only are their main protein products underdosed, they are filled with below-average ingredients. Below I’ve broken these supplements down by price per gram of protein to show just how overpriced Herbalife supplements are.

You can find Optimum Nutrition protein here.

VariableFormula 1 Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake MixPersonalized Protein PowderOptimum Nutrition
Container Size750g360g907g
Serving Size25g6g30.7g
Protein Per Serving9g5g24g
Product Price$42.85$37.30$30.99
Number Of Servings306029
Price Per Serving$1.43$0.62$1.07
Price Per Gram Of Protein$0.16$0.12$0.04

It has been stated that the threat to public health from Herbalife products is minor and shouldn’t be exaggerated when compared with liver injury of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals [4].

However, we aren’t comparing Herbalife with medication. Herbalife are food supplements and the threat to the public is far greater with Herbalife products than other supplement companies.

While Optimum Nutrition whey protein is a great choice, my personal favorite is the Paleo Pro Beef Protein Powder where you can read my full review here.


1. Elinav, E., Pinsker, G., Safadi, R., Pappo, O., Bromberg, M., Anis, E., … & Shouval, D. (2007). Association between consumption of Herbalife® nutritional supplements and acute hepatotoxicity. Journal of Hepatology47(4), 514-520.

2. Schoepfer, A. M., Engel, A., Fattinger, K., Marbet, U. A., Criblez, D., Reichen, J., … & Oneta, C. M. (2007). Herbal does not mean innocuous: ten cases of severe hepatotoxicity associated with dietary supplements from Herbalife® products. Journal of hepatology47(4), 521-526.

3. Manso, G., López‐Rivas, L., Salgueiro, M. E., Duque, J. M., Jimeno, F. J., Andrade, R. J., & Lucena, M. I. (2011). Continuous reporting of new cases in Spain supports the relationship between Herbalife® products and liver injury. Pharmacoepidemiology and drug safety20(10), 1080-1087.

4. Stickel, F., Droz, S., Patsenker, E., Bögli-Stuber, K., Aebi, B., & Leib, S. L. (2009). Severe hepatotoxicity following ingestion of Herbalife® nutritional supplements contaminated with Bacillus subtilis. Journal of hepatology50(1), 111-117.

5. Jurčić, D., Gabrić, M., Troskot Perić, R., Liberati Pršo, A. M., Mirat, J., Včev, A., … & Ebling, B. (2019). Herbalife® Associated Severe Hepatotoxicity in a Previously Healthy Woman. Acta Clinica Croatica58(4.), 771-776.

6. Stickel, F. (2007). Slimming at all costs: Herbalife®-induced liver injury. Journal of hepatology47(4), 444-446.

7. Appelhans, K., Frankos, V., & Shao, A. (2012). Misconceptions regarding the association between Herbalife products and liver-related case reports in Spain. Pharmacoepidemiology and drug safety21(3), 333-4.

8. Appelhans, K., Najeeullah, R., Frankos, V., & Shao, A. (2014). Letter to the Editor: Outdated Perspectives Potentially Biased Conclusory Statements Regarding Herbalife Products. Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science4(2), 133.

9. Reddy, K. R., & Bunchorntavakul, C. (2013). retrospective reviews of liver‐related case reports allegedly associated with Herbalife present insufficient and inaccurate data–authors’ reply. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics37(7), 754-755.

10. Philips, C. A., Augustine, P., Rajesh, S., John, S. K., Valiathan, G. C., Mathew, J., … & Antony, K. L. (2019). REMOVED: Slimming to the Death: Herbalife®-Associated Fatal Acute Liver Failure—Heavy Metals, Toxic Compounds, Bacterial Contaminants and Psychotropic Agents in Products Sold in India. Journal of clinical and experimental hepatology9(2), 268.

11. Korth, C. (2014). Drug-induced hepatotoxicity of select herbal therapies. Journal of pharmacy practice27(6), 567-572.

Sours: https://liftbigeatbig.com/herbalife-side-effects-and-horror-stories/

You will also like:

Can People with Kidney Disease Take Dietary Supplements Like Herbalife?

Many dietary supplements are fortified with protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Herbalife Nutrition is a company that produces a variety of dietary supplements, including protein shakes, meal replacements, vitamins, and minerals.

However, despite its popularity worldwide, many people wonder about the safety of Herbalife products and their risk of potential side effects.

In particular, some are concerned about the products’ effects on kidney health.

This article takes an in-depth look at the science to determine whether Herbalife can damage your kidneys.

High in protein

Herbalife offers various high protein supplements, including many meal replacements, protein bars, and drink mixes.

Protein plays a key role in growth and development, tissue repair, muscle synthesis, and more ().

However, following a high protein diet long term may cause waste products to slowly build up in the blood and lead to kidney damage among people with impaired kidney function ().

For this reason, individuals with chronic kidney disease are advised to monitor their protein intake carefully, which can help maintain kidney function and prevent the progression of kidney disease ().

For those with chronic kidney disease, it’s typically recommended to limit daily protein intake to around 0.27–0.36 grams per pound (0.6–0.8 grams per kg) of body weight ().

As such, if you’re on a low protein diet, you should not consume high protein Herbalife products without consulting your healthcare provider.


Many Herbalife products are high in protein, which could impair kidney function among those with kidney disease.

Rich in micronutrients

Many Herbalife products are rich in a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.

For example, the Formula 1 Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake Mix provides a good amount of potassium and phosphorus in each serving (5).

Although these micronutrients are important for several aspects of health, people with kidney disease may need to monitor their intake more carefully.

In fact, people with chronic kidney disease are often advised to manage or limit their intake of foods that are high in potassium and phosphorus, as their kidneys are unable to excrete these nutrients efficiently (, ).

For those with chronic kidney disease, increased blood levels of these nutrients may be associated with a higher risk of hospitalization, heart disease, and even death (, ).


Certain Herbalife products are high in phosphorus and potassium, two nutrients that those with kidney disease should limit.

May contain caffeine

Some Herbalife products may contain caffeine, including the Herbal Tea Concentrate, Green Tea, and N-R-G Nature’s Raw Guarana Tablets.

Caffeine acts as a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it causes your blood vessels to narrow and temporarily increases your blood pressure levels ().

Regularly consuming high amounts of caffeine may lead to increased blood pressure levels, which could damage the kidneys and increase your risk of kidney disease ().

Caffeine-rich beverages like tea and coffee can also increase the excretion of oxalate through urine, thus contributing to the formation of kidney stones ().

According to one large study, increased caffeine consumption was associated with a higher risk of recurrent kidney stones, especially among women ().

However, research has found mixed results, and several studies suggest that caffeine intake may be linked to a lower risk of developing kidney stones (, ).

Therefore, if you have kidney problems or are prone to developing kidney stones, it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider before starting any supplements that contain caffeine.


Some Herbalife products contain caffeine, which may increase blood pressure levels and cause kidney damage if consumed in high amounts. Caffeine may also contribute to kidney stones, although the research on this topic is mixed.

Could cause liver injury

Although limited research suggests that Herbalife products can directly affect kidney function in healthy adults, some studies have linked Herbalife products to liver damage.

In fact, several case studies have reported that consuming Herbalife products may be associated with severe liver injury and hepatitis, even among previously healthy individuals (, , ).

One older case study also found that Herbalife products were contaminated with Bacillus subtilis, a bacterium that can cause liver damage ().

On the other hand, some research has concluded that Herbalife is unlikely to harm liver function, including one study funded by Herbalife (, ).

Nevertheless, keep in mind that herbal supplements, in general, are often linked to liver issues and account for approximately 20% of cases of liver injury in the United States ().

For this reason, it’s unclear whether Herbalife is associated with a greater risk of liver injury than other herbal supplements.

Still, it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before using any supplements, especially if you have a history of liver problems or are taking medication.


Some case studies have found that Herbalife could be linked to liver injury. However, it’s unclear whether Herbalife is associated with a greater risk of liver damage than other herbal supplements.

The bottom line

For most healthy adults, using Herbalife products is unlikely to cause kidney damage.

However, people with impaired kidney function or chronic kidney disease may need to limit their intake and consult their healthcare provider or dietitian before adding any Herbalife supplements to their routine.

This is because many Herbalife products contain nutrients that those with kidney disease may need to limit, including protein, phosphorus, and potassium.

Some products also contain caffeine, which could temporarily increase your blood pressure levels if consumed in high amounts.

Finally, several case studies have found that Herbalife could be associated with liver damage. Therefore, those with a history of liver problems should also talk with their healthcare provider before using herbal supplements like Herbalife.

Sours: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/herbalife-side-effects-kidney

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