Thank you for your question.
As you might well imagine, Herbalife like many other MLM's or
Multi-Level Marketing programs have both its strong proponents and
detractors. There have been many that have earned a great deal with
this program and many that have not done well. We'll look at both
scenarios as well as the fascinating history of this company.
Herbalife was started in 1980 by Mark Hughes who was then 24 years
old. They are now one of the largest weight management and nutritional
supplement companies in the world currently active in almost 60
countries and grossing close to $2 Billion per year. Participants in
the program are known as "distributors" and there are over 1 million
active worlwide today.
Legal troubles began early on and in 1982 the FDA filed against
Herbalife for false advertising as they had claimed their products
could dissolve and remove tumors, increase circulation and treat a
number of other diseases. In 1984, the FDA continued their reports and
found that some of the Herbalife products also seemed to produce
negative side effects and discontinuance often caused the side effects
to stop. The FDA claimed that literature produced by Herbalife for
their distributors indeed pointed out that adverse side affects were
likely in up to 25% of users of the products, but this was just the
body's way of showing that improvement was occurring and the body was
purging itself of impurities. Lawsuits from individuals followed. Some
were settled out of court, but settlement amounts remain sealed
although they were reported as being "substantial".
As noted at this Herbalife Report on "Learn the Truth About Herbalife":
"1985: The First Major Law Suit For Herbalife
...In May 1985, Senator William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) held two days of
hearings on weight-reduction programs, during which he grilled Hughes
about the "research and testing" done prior to marketing Herbalife's
products. Hughes said, "We have a lot of scientific data on the
herbs," but Roth ascertained that no actual testing of Herbalife
products had taken place.
The hearing also brought to light a study done by Herbalife of 428
users of its products. About 40% had experienced headache,
constipation, diarrhea, nausea, lightheadedness, palpitations, and/or
other transient symptoms that might be attributable to Herbalife
products. The occurrence of side effects came as no surprise because
several ingredients in Herbalife products were potent laxatives and
one product (N.R.G.) contained guarana, which is high in caffeine.
In March 1985, the California Attorney General had charged Herbalife
with violating California's consumer protection laws. The suit charged
that early editions of the Herbalife Official Career Handbook made
illegal claims that various herbal ingredients were effective against
more than seventy diseases and conditions. Although most of these
claims were deleted in subsequent editions of the handbook, the
company had not replaced the original pages sent to distributors with
the revised pages or asked these distributors to destroy them. Similar
testimonial claims had been made in the company's cable television
broadcasts. The suit also charged that Herbalife had been operating an
illegal pyramid scheme. The case was settled in 1986 when Hughes and
the company agreed to pay $850,000 and to abide by a long list of
court-ordered restrictions on claims and marketing practices..."
As this article notes as it continues, Herbalife survived, toned down
the advertising claims and removed some potentially dangerous
ingredients from the products.
In 2000, founder Mark Hughes died of a prescription drug overdose at
the age of 44. You will find a number of conflicting stories
surrounding his death and his successor as company chairman who claims
to be his father. Much of the success early on for the company was due
to Mark's charisma and evangelical sales meetings and pitches which
may still be viewed at the Herbalife web site or elsewhere on the
Internet. Today, 14 of the largest distributors conduct these meetings
in his absence.
You may have followed some of the recent news coverage on Ephedrine
and its use in weight loss products. Yes, Herbalife contains Ma Huang,
which in turn contains ephedrine. The FDA is concerned with products
containing ephedrine in regards to heart rate and blood pressure and
claim links to hundreds of adverse reactions and dozens of deaths
resulting from its use. Six states have now banned or restricted use
of products containing ephedrine.
You may wish to read Ephedrine Legal Advice:
"...Ephedrine, also known as ephedra or ma huang, has sickened or
killed 800 users. List of products.
Ephedra, derived from an Asiatic shrub, contains ephedrine, a
stimulant that acts on the central nervous system. It is found in
products, such as Metabolife, metabolite, advocare and other products.
The FDA believes that ephedra may be related to more than 50 deaths.
Most of the serious injuries involve high blood pressure that can
cause bleeding in the brain, a stroke or a heart attack...."
Or this page at the US Department of Health and Human Services:
Dietary Supplements: Ephedrine Alkaloids
"Learn the Truth About Herbalife":
also contains links to other articles that I'm sure will be of interest to you:
In one, a body builder complains about the quality of Herbalife's protein powders:
"...I would not consume Herbalife?s protein powders.
While the ingredients seem modest ? the product is NOT worth the money.
Herbalife protein powder (HPP) has 8 amino acids ? which they boast
about. 8?! My CHEAPEST protein supplement powder has 18 (half the
price of HPP from any nutrition shop). They remark that amino acids
cannot be made by the body ? which is true. Meat is perhaps the best
source of essential amino acids. In bodybuilding ? 8 isn?t enough.
It?s that simple. When you lift weights, you are absolutely
overloading your system to gain muscle growth. Frankly I could get
more from a 100 gram piece of steak than from HPP..."
In another, "HERBALIFE - NOT THE WAY OF LIFE FOR ME!!!" the author
details his experiences with Herbalife as a distributor:
"...I called up a person, whose ?work at home? ad I had seen in the
local paper. There were many of these ?work at home? ads ? little did
I know that they were all from the same company ? Herbalife. When I
called I was greeted with an answering machine, and so I left my
contact details. The next day I got a phone call from a ?Herbalife
Distributor.? However, he didn?t introduce himself as that, in fact he
didn?t even mention the word Herbalife for a long time. He was with
the ?Work at Home Business Centre?, and was here to ?help me make a
lot of money.?...
...I eventually wore the badge, and tried my hardest to sell this
stuff to my friends, but they wouldn?t buy it, especially at the price
that I was trying to get for it. ?$65 for a weight loss shake, I can
get it for $15 down at the supermarket, that?s a rip off? was the sort
of response I got. .."
You can read his continuing tale as he is lead through trying to sell
to friends and neighbors and then over the Internet.
"...When I first signed up, it seamed like the greatest thing ever.
There were 35 million people buying these products world wide, and the
market was just waiting for people like me to sell them these
products, which they would be willing to pay whatever it takes for
them to get it. Well, here?s the truth - there are just too many
distributors and not enough customers. Something I wasn?t aware of
when I signed up. The market that I was in was saturated. Only a lucky
few were making money by selling these products. The people making
money with Herbalife had got in early, and as a result they had a
large percentage of the retail market. It also meant they were high up
in the chain, and thus earned a very high royalty cheque each month,
because of other peoples hard work..."
This theme not only continues through other first hand experiences you
can read here, but through the stories of many people's experience
with MLM's in general. You CAN make money, but it is the few who got
in early and sit at the top of the pyramid that seem to always reap
the spoils. The vast majority of distributors never have much success.
Do a simple search for Herbalife and you will find hundreds of sites
selling the products, many selling discount long distance service and
other related MLM and Associates programs and all offering an
Herbalife Distributor Starter Kit such as this, for example:
Achieve Better Health
"...Looking for an opportunity to make some extra income? Interested
in working from home? Could you use a few extra hundred dollars each
month? How about a few thousand?
This IS NOT a get rich quick scheme. But, if you are willing to work 5
to 10 hours a week out of your own home or office, are serious and
teachable, then this is the opportunity you have been looking for. We
urgently need independent enterprising people from all nationalities
to work locally and abroad assisting with our worldwide expansion. We
require self-motivated people who want to earn extra income working
independently in their spare time. You work when you want and set your
Or Herbalife Mart:
"...This unique opportunity combines work and play. Being a
distributor means you've chosen to live a healthy, successful
lifestyle and are eager to show others how they can do the same. You
can work part time or full time. You can work from home or set up an
office. You can set your own hours. You can set your own pace. And
perhaps best of all, you report only to yourself.
Besides, the start-up costs are negligible and the risks minimal. No
experience is necessary. All that's required is a love for the
products and a willingness to work at success.
In short, Herbalife offers you the chance to take charge of your
So as you can see, over and over again, the products are almost
secondary to signing on new distributors and building a downline where
you can earn a commission on the sales of the new distributors you
I shall try as hard as I can to keep an open mind on Herbalife for
you, but as I continue to research, I am not surprised that the
favorable reviews are from active distributors looking to make current
sales and entice new distributors. Of course, you can argue that the
less favorable are from distributors that just didn't have the "right
stuff" to succeed and may place blame on the products or company for
their lack of ability. I'll leave that determination to you.
You can visit the official site at www.herbalife.com and read their
history, mission and details on the complete opportunity. I have a
hunch you already have before posing this question here.
Seeking out more independent reviews, MLM BigMouth, while rating
Herbalife at 10 on a scale of 14 still notes that the company has a
poor reputation, does not have product validation and does not offer
truly unique products:
In a particularly bitter rant on Herbalife, author Alan De Smet says:
"...It's easy to spot a Herbalife ad. It will promise the opportunity
to make extra money, to work at home, to be your own boss. It will
have a toll free number to call for more information. It might list a
web site. If you call the toll free number you'll get a prerecorded
message with a lot of vague information about working at home, some
misleading statistics about home business profits, and absolutely no
concrete information on what the business is. If you visit the web
site you'll find similar information. If you're lucky it might hint
that it involves weight loss, personal health, herbal supplements, or
similar fuzzy terms popular with the unregulated herbal medicine
industry. At the end you'll get a "If you're serious about making
money and home, provide us with your phone number and we'll call you
...What does Herbalife sell? Primarily vitamin supplements and herbal
weight loss pills. The herbal kind, the sort that has no real
scientific testing and is mostly unregulated by the Food and Drug
administration. This sort of crap doesn't have a terribly large
market, only suckers. So Herbalife found an innovative business model:
convince those same suckers to become work at home "distributors".
Charge these suckers for training materials and set up costs. Charge
these suckers for toll free phone numbers and web sites to contact for
more information. Require them to buy product for sale up front.
Of course, once a sucker has bought in, they'll discover they can't
actually move the crap Herbalife is pushing. To keep them involved
Herbalife offers them a new technique that really does make money. The
same technique Herbalife itself uses: fool suckers into becoming
distributors. That's why you almost never see ads actually selling
Herbalife, but you see millions of ads suggesting you "Work at
Home!!!" (If you see this sort of cheap signage advertising "I lost
200 lbs, ask me how!!!" you're probably looking at one of the rare
people actually trying to sell Herbalife's product.) This repeats
itself, layer of suckers over layer of suckers, forming a classic
Now, granted, this review has quite a bit of bile from someone burned
through this system, but the essence remains as the root of MLM - the
product is not what is *really* being sold. Its the business
opportunity. And that is questionable.
One of the excellent links he provides is to Work at Home on cockeyed.com:
"...My primary finding was that "work from home" signs, "Have a
Computer?" signs, and "Lose 30lbs in 30 days!" are all from ONE
company, a multi-level marketing company called Herbalife. The second
part of the article explores the odds of succeeding at this business.
I published this information on March 28, 2002, and followed it up
with an epilogue on July 11, 2002..."
The story is reprinted here:
I found this expose fascinating. The author found hundreds if not
thousands of signs in Sacramento, California that all lead to
Herbalife and were disguised as various Work at Home ads with 800
numbers. You should read not only this, but his follow-up article
called "Herbalife - a lesson in small business":
Here, the author admits:
"...I'd like to make this information available to as many people as possible.
This is the story of how Herbalife works. I've never actually been an
Herbalife distributor, but I've interviewed a couple of them to get
this information. If you know more about it, or find any errors,
please email me..."
The schedule of events from your first inquiry follows. It is a must
read step by step account of the experience of becoming an Herbalife
He notes that after your initial investment:
"...You will need to sell a lot of pills to make back the money you
have invested. As a distributor, you will have spent at least $240 in
materials to get started, and you are probably anxious to get that
money back in sales. If you are a Supervisor, you have an easier road,
but it is a lot longer, because you are trying to make up for buying
that initial $2,000 in product.
You will most likely spend the rest of your "Herbalife" sales career
trying to earn back your original investment...
...Making the $2000 initial investment to become a supervisor may seem
like a good idea, but it is extremely rare for someone to sell enough
Herbalife to make back that money. Take a look at the variety of
Herbalife products that people are trying to unload on ebay. Anyone
with more than $100 in products probably bought a giant batch to gain
supervisor status, not realizing that the market for home-sold diet
pills was totally saturated..."
Do read his articles and follow a few of the links in his report. It
is eye opening.
I searched to find Herbalife success stories for you. Admittedly, I am
a bit jaded and this brings to mind two sayings:
"if it sounds too good to be true it probably is", and from Princess
Bride, "Life is pain. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to
sell you something."
Now, there exceptions to every rule (and that's a rule) and I am sure
some people have made money not only with Herbalife and other MLM's,
but the results of this search turn up pages such as:
"...Marc Giroux, of Canada, had been heavy his whole life. At the
tender age of two years he weighed 75 pounds, and by the time he was
13 years old he weighed 225 pounds.
"I almost died when I was two-and-a-half years old because I was so
heavy," says Marc.
But that was only the beginning of numerous physical and emotional
problems Marc's obesity would cause him. Twelve years ago, when Mark's
weight reached 385 pounds, he fell into a severe depression. Still,
his weight kept climbing, and he topped out at 528 pounds..."
Mark, of course lost 275 pounds with Herbalife products. You will find
many other stories of dramatic weight loss success. You can also find
financial success stories with Herbalife:
Weight Loss Gold
"..."People asked me questions that I didn't know the answers to,"
says Dennis. "So I just told them the truth. I said something like ?I
don't know, but I got results (lost 23 pounds), my friends got
results, and if you want results, just try it!' I never had to sell
it, I just told the stories and pointed to the solution."
"It's a myth to think you had to be here in the beginning to succeed."
"Our credibility, training and marketing tools make it easier for new
Distributors to succeed today than it was when I started," Dennis
assures. "I love telling the story of a 21-year-old man who quickly
jumped his income up to $15,000 a month. If you think about it, he was
only three years old when I began in 1980. My greatest satisfaction is
giving others an opportunity to succeed.
"Sure, the money is great, but, for me it's more about the people and
the impact Herbalife can have in their lives!"*..."
True? Possibly. But I would like to see something more verifiable. Its
hard to find. There are many of the type of story above, however:
"..."Herbalife is my 'American dream' come true."
When you look at Emily C. she looks like a typical happy, healthy
22-year-old woman. But how many 22 year olds are earning $32,000 a
month and heading up an international business? That's exactly what
Emily is doing and she's not planning on stopping there, either. "My
mom told me about Herbalife, but I wasn't convinced until she lost
"My mom, Susan Lin, who is a Millionaire Team member," explains Emily,
"lost 11 pounds following the ThermojeticsŪ Weight-Management Program.
It was then that I decided to use the products. I lost 41 pounds and
gained an interest in the business..."
On the other hand, checking for the following search - Herbalife
+complaint OR "lawsuit" , I uncovered a few more pages of interest
well worth the time for you to read:
WARNICKE & LITTLER, P.L.C.
2020 North Central Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85004-4506
And more links at the home page for the Ross Institute:
And at MLM Survivor:
"Plaintiffs File First Amended Complaint Against Herbalife, Newest Way to Wealth
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Herbalife and its "lead generation
system" (LGS), Newest Way to Wealth (NWTW) have filed a First Amended
Complaint. This complaint sets forth more clearly the connection
between Herbalife, Inc. and NWTW and its distributors.
According to the complaint, Herbalife encouraged the creations of the
LGS as part of its marketing plan in the US. The company's numbers had
been falling here.
The plaintiffs allege that Herbalife helped create the LGS, including
NWTW, for three primary reasons:
"In fact, the use of Lead Generation Systems was consciously intended
by Herbalife and its senior distributors (a) to permit senior
distributors to use more aggressive promotional materials and methods
than those previously utilized and approved by Herbalife; (b) to
provide Herbalife with a plausible defense (i.e., the "over zealous
distributor" defense) in the event of regulatory problems. . . and (c)
to enable senior distributors to supplement their income through the
sale of promotional materials to their downlines, and thereby provide
an additional incentive for senior distributors to remain with
"In effect, Herbalife unleashed its senior distributors and expressly
and tacitly directed and encouraged them to use deceptive and coercive
techniques to recruit new distributors."...
And more here:
"Herbalife distributor wins suit
The Arizona Republic, November 24, 1998
By Jane Larson
An Herbalife International Inc. distributor won $620,000 in damages
and the right to future income from her business when a Maricopa
County Superior Court jury returned verdicts Monday against the
network marketing giant.
Mary Fallow, a former Mesa resident who now lives in Idaho, put her
head in her hands and cried as the verdict was read.
Fallow, her husband, Dan, and her stepson, Clint, had sued
California-based Herbalife, alleging it breached contracts and failed
to follow its own rules in determining royalties and policing its
distributors' networks. That cost them millions of dollars in lost
bonuses and potential income, the family claimed in its civil lawsuit.
Jurors also awarded Dan Fallow $22,500 in damages on his claim that
the company failed to pay him for a "sting" operation he said he
conducted against European counterfeiters of Herbalife products.
Fallow argued in the lawsuit that he had helped Herbalife fight the
counterfeiters in exchange for favorable treatment of his wife's and
son's distributorships, but that the company reneged on the deal...."
You can find many examples like the above.
The fact is, you will have to be your own judge. Herbalife is a huge
business, has had a rocky past and still may have questionable
products that may or may not work for you or your customers. The
reality is, look at it as any other MLM and go in with your eyes open,
should you choose to follow this route.
Here are links on Multi Level Marketing other than Herbalife and their
exposes that may prove valuable reading for you as well:
"Buy 1 for yourself and get the chance to sell your friends and family
5 and get your downline started!" We examine the multi-level marketing
industry, where only the people who come up with the ideas make any
money, and everybody else is left unhappy, broke, and tired of reading
scripts and selling overpriced vitamins and similarly worthless
When Should an MLM or NetworkMarketing* Program Be Considered an
Illegal Pyramid Scheme?
What's Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing?
Bad Image or Bad Reality?
"Let me tell you about an incredible ground-level business
opportunity," and you are invited to a house or to lunch for "a
discussion." Funny enough, you feel sick in your gut that there is
some hidden agenda or deception. "Probably a multi-level marketing
(MLM) organization," you think. Suppose it is? Should you trust your
instincts? Is there anything wrong with MLM?
This article will analyze four problem areas with MLM. Specifically,
it will focus on problems of I) Market Saturation, II) Pyramid
Structure, III) Morality and Ethics, and IV) Relationship Issues
associated with MLMs. Thus, you can properly assess your "instincts."
You can search here for Herbalife if you like:
The Cagey Consumer on MLM's
Amway personal experiences:
Welcome to Amway: The Continuing Story
There are many more like the above. And as you can see, this is a vast
subject. I hope I have more than touched on the important areas for
you to consider in making your decision to participate in the
Herbalife program or not.
herbalife success stories
herbalife +complaint OR "lawsuit"
mlm OR "multi level marketing"
I hope this has been informative and helpful for you. If a link above
should fail to work or anything require further explanation or
research, please do post a Request for Clarification prior to rating
the answer and closing the question and I will be pleased to assist
Best of luck however you decide.