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Natural Remedies and General Health

Avoiding Fake Weight Loss Supplements


Most weight loss products cite some kind of research to back up their claims as being effective. Perhaps the most important thing to check when trying to ascertain whether a product is likely to be genuine or not is to have a quick read of the research they are citing. This is often not as difficult as you may think, for example one product we looked at (a diet patch) cited medical research dating back to 2002 which indicated a certain type of seaweed “may” be beneficial to weight loss. This research was conducted using an artificial gut. That was enough for us to determine this product was not going to work:

  1. If it had been effective more research would have been done in the 11 intervening years and the patent holder would be a multi millionaire by now, instead, no further research was conducted
  2. Reasearch found that in an artificial gut the seaweed expanded and could suppress appetite when ingested (eaten), the product on sale was a skin patch!

Beware Fake Supplement Reviews

One of the ways bogus supplements are sold to the public is by filling the internet with fake positive reviews on Blogs, Amazon, YouTube. Early customers are often paid early on to leave positive reviews, many do so regardless of whether the product works or not. In fact many positive reviews are left before they have even tried the product, so they do not even know whether they work or not at the point the review is left. On Amazon anyone with an account can leave a review regardless of whether they actually tried the product so one tip when using Amazon is to check whether they are a verified purchaser (which is shown).

Pay close attention to any negative reviews, in fact, deliberately seek them out to see what they have to say. Often negative comments will provide evidence of manipulative practice in the positive comments, this goes for both YouTube and Amazon. For example one comment we saw on Amazon detailed not only how other reviews were fake but how they were also getting fake “useful” votes, and how the genuine poster was conversely being voted down.

The same applies on YouTube with some comments on promotional videos pointing out that the same actor or actress appears in many other videos under different names promoting a wide range of products. We checked some of these ourselves and did indeed find a “Doctor” from one YouTube review in another video posing as another “Doctor”, and then another video where they were apparently an expert on cell phones and other devices.

Knowing Who To Trust is Difficult

The problem with finding good sources of information is that websites change hands, and the people running them also change. For example we were looking at a popular fitness channel on YouTube which started out offering only the best advice. Over time as that channel became more popular the person running the channel was offered sponsorship / endorsement deals from product suppliers and began promoting them. These were not necessarily bad products, but the lesson is that a site or channel which gains a reputation for complete transparency may no longer be as transparent two years down the line when you come to view their content.

Understand the Product

Above we mentioned a report we read detailing research into a seaweed extract which had been turned into a skin patch, despite the original research citing that the seaweed would need to be ingested. Other products are sold on the basis of having certain key active ingredients, however fake or sub standard products may be missing those ingredients entirely or have them in far lower concentrations. An example of this is African Mango Extract. Research conducted into this extract was done using a wild variety of African Mango, yet some products sold use different varieties. Also, this research did not use extract from the fruit but the seeds, again, some products are indeed “Mango extract” but they are not extracts from the seed but from the fruit itself.

There are many such examples of this, so it is important not only to understand what a product is but how it is supposed to work and which ingredients you need to check for. Finding a trusted brand can help, however there are many brands available, some more expensive than others, and as you would expect the best brands do not usually offer the best prices or value for money.

Also understand that many products are sold under different brands, an analogy for this would be supermarket own brands. Supermarkets do not produce coffee, canned fruit or anything else. Instead they go to existing manufacturers and get them to produce the product which they then market for a lower price under their own (supermarket) brand. This gives the manufacturer another outlet, allows the supermarket to increase the profile of their own brand whilst selling cheaper products that have a better margin on them.

In that instance everyone’s a winner including the customer as the quality standards remain high, or at least “good for the price”. That can also be true in the case of supplements, but not always.

Beware Free Trials

Many products sold online offer a free trial or a free sample, but there are often caveats associated with this for example:

  • If you open the free bottle you cannot return the paid for bottles / get a refund. In this case it is impossible to actually try the product without voiding your free trial.
  • The supply given free is not enough to test the effectiveness of the product. So, let us say it takes 14 days for results to begin showing and you are given a 7 day trial, you have little option but to start using the paid product in order to find out whether it works for you.
  • Return shipping costs can be expensive. Even if you do not use any of the product and decide you wish to return it you will often find you have to pay return shipping costs.

Our advice relating to the above is not to order anything unless you plan to actually use it for the full course and give it a proper trial. If you are unsure then put off buying for a few days, the offer will still be there in a weeks time, and if it is not, another one will be along soon!

You Do Not Need to Act Now!

Lots of online retailers offer “limited time” offers to try to get you to order there and then. 90% of the time these offers are not limited at all, they are permanent, so do not feel pressured to order in case you should lose out on the deal of the century! If you check the same page the following day it is almost certain the offer will still be there.

Limited time offers are a marketing tactic rather than a stocking (about to run out of product) issue.

Remember that!

You have to be in it to win it

It is easy to be put off using supplements given what a minefield buying them can be. Even good quality supplements are not guaranteed to work. At best results can vary wildly from person to person. The only way you are ever going to find out whether something is suitable for you is to try it. Make no mistake, some people try products, have great success with them and keep using them. Others see no benefit at all.

There are examples of this within the same family where one family member finds a given product beneficial and another finds it completely ineffective so keep the following in mind:

Just because a supplement:

  • does not work for you does not mean it is fake or a scam
  • worked well for your friend does not mean it will work for you
  • worked well for you does not mean it will work for your friends

Why are Results so Unreliable and Unpredictable?

We are talking about natural supplements here, not powerful synthetic drugs. The effects of natural products are often more subtle and so other factors relating to your own physiology and lifestyle can have a big impact on the results you may or may not see. Results can be harder to measure for similar reasons. No supplement is a “magic bullet” or “miracle cure”, they are as the name suggests a supplement:

Something that completes or enhances something else when added to it

So supplements are not nor ever will be “the solution”, only part of it, or an aid to it.

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