Friday, September 25, 2015

Scam Tactic: Speak in Half-truths, or how Vemma is trying to create value out of bull****.

Speaking in half truths is the best way to scam. You sound as if you are telling the truth, esp. if that's all the truth you know. You can't be lying if you don't even know the other half, right?

That's why you should fact-check any PR claims, esp. those without any links for you to verify the claims, and if the evidence themselves need to be fact-checked.

Let's take one recent example, when a Vemma fan (what I'd refer to as a Vembot) posted basically a cut-n-paste PR speech "how dare you compare Verve to Red Bull". Okay, I made up that title, but that is accurate.  His words in blue, my comment will be in red.
For those trying to do a cost comparison with Red Bull, you are obviously missing the entire concept of Vemma.
Oh, I think we understand you all too well. It is you who don't understand Vemma... 
The clinically studied nutritional supplement Vemma cost about $2.00 per serving, if you purchased the stand alone Vemma product. 
But did you actually read the two "clinical studies"? (NOTE 1)
Verve has the same 2 ounces of Vemma, plus the components of the energy drink. Yes the price is about $2.80 a can, but $2.00 is the Vemma supplement. So the energy drink component is really only $.83.
You set your own prices. You can say it's worth $1000 if you'd like. There's nothing to compare it to. In fact, there's not even any proof that mangosteen has any benefit on the body. But more on that later. (NOTE 2)
You show me where red bull has 12 vitamins, 63 minerals, mangosteen, aloe vera and green tea. Show me where Red Bull paid 250000 to run full clinical studies to see exactly what happened in your blood after drinking it.
You show me what those "63 minerals" are, and what effect they have on the body. Show me how ECGC is not harmful to the body. Show me how two little studies in China, on self-reported results prove "what happened in blood". (NOTE 3 again)  
Until you can show me that trying to compare the to is like comparing a Ford Fiesta to a Ford Mustang. They are both Fords (energy drinks), but they are not the same thing and they dont cost the same thing.
Vemma is no-name energy drink with an unproven secret ingredient. The analogy is bull****. 
Now let's look at the footnotes...

NOTE 1: The "Clinical Studies"

Vemma fans (Vembots) kept blabbing about "clinically studied"... but notice that they did not say "clinically proven", because there were only two clinical studies. This somehow was changed to 4 in mid-2015, though I have not seen the other two studies published.

Of the two I've seen, one is the "Immune Function Study". It's full title is actually Effect of a Mangosteen Dietary Supplement on Human Immune Function: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial, by Miwako Kondo, Hong-Ping Ji, Yan Kou, and Boxin Ou

The name of the researcher should give you a clue... This study was NOT done in the US. However, searching through the entire paper and you will not find where the test subjects were recruited from. The only clue is that the study was sponsored by University of Beijing. That's in China (duh).

You will also have to read the paper to realize that the entire sample size was 59. 29 took the supplement, and 30 got the placebo (control group). Yes, Vemma claimed these 29 Chinese middle aged or Chinese seniors somehow prove their mangosteen ingredients works on everybody.

Furthermore, Vemma claimed that any CRP > 1 mg/L is high risk. The problem is American Heart Association found that average middle-aged American has a CRP of 1.5 mg/L, and >3 mg/L as high risk. Basically Vemma made up this bull****.

There's supposedly a Verve study as well, but the actual study was never published, so can't comment on something that doesn't exist (nor should any one cite such a study... if there is one).

The other study is known as the "Bioavailability Study", also by the same folks who did the "Immune Function Study". The claim was the mangosteen formula is readily absorbed by the body, i.e. bioavailability. Does it really though? Because what they don't tell you is that this study consists of... 20 people, TOTAL. 10 male, and 10 female, half of which took placebo, also recruited in Beijing, this time, they got Beijing university students.

Vemma repeated touted something about 4800 ORAC units of antioxidants per serving. However, they are too chicken to show you what the FDA says about ORAC:
...mounting evidence that the values indicating antioxidant capacity have no relevance to the effects of specific bioactive compounds...  ORAC values are routinely misused by food and dietary supplement manufacturing companies to promote their products and by consumers to guide their food and dietary supplement choices.
What's even MORE hilarious is this study actually concluded that their mangosteen, green tea, as well as vitamins C and E has NO contribution the ORAC values.

So to sum up the two studies... which can be fact-checked... the mangosteen don't do anything, the graph and claims are bull****, the studies are too small to be significant, making their applicability elsewhere highly doubtful. AND ORAC has no use except for bogus nutritional supplement companies have something to claim.

NOTE 2: Do Mangosteen actually have any helpful effects on the body? 

As explained earlier, Vemma's own study actually proved that mangosteen has NO effect on antioxidant values.

Furthermore, the consensus of experts, including editor-in-chief of Harvard Women's Health Watch, Dr. Celeste Robb-Nicholson, concluded that any health benefits are UNPROVEN, in a May 2012 Q&A on the newsletter.
In the marketplace, mangosteen is promoted as a way to improve the balance of bacteria
in the body, boost the immune system, and relieve conditions such as diarrhea, urinary
infections, tuberculosis, eczema, and menstrual disorders. These purported health
benefits are unproven in humans.
The compilers of the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database – an exhaustive
compendium of evidence-based information on alternative treatments – have determined
that there’s not enough evidence to support the use of mangosteen for treating
infections or inflammation or for inhibiting cancer cell growth

WebMD is clear enough "there is no scientific evidence to support any of those claims [of various conditions]"

Enough said.

Oh wait, someone who noticed the same problems I did actually did something about it... He launched a class-action lawsuit against Vemma. Some of the details cited here came from that lawsuit.

NOTE 3: 63 minerals and blah blah blah

He cited 63 minerals. Did he ever ask what those are, and why are they in the drink?

Because if you study a Verve label, you will NOT find the list of all 63 minerals. In fact, you'll just find a reference to "proprietary plant-sourced Major, Trace, and ultra-trace mineral blend".

Actual Verve nutritional label, from
Do you want to know what are those '63 minerals'? Here's a copy of the old label... and its closeup:

original Verve nutritional label (gee, it's much longer!) and look at all those minerals! (from
Why do you need to consume chloride, bromide, fluoride, iodine, niobium, aluminum, silica, strontium, titanium... WTF?!
How about aloe vera? The label only specified "mix" of aloe vera gel, mangosteen extract and juice, and green tea of 26 grams in a whole can. Doesn't say how much aloe you're getting. I'm guessing, not that much. Besides, aloe is only proven to help with blood sugar, and maybe cholesterol.  As for green tea... while it appears to have wide range of benefits, is there enough to make a difference here? And wouldn't it be cheaper to make your own tea? In other words, isn't this really pixie-dusting?

So to sum up what Verve claimed (as by affiliates), and what it really is...

Vemma Verve was (at best, minimally) clinically studied (twice, with tiny sample sizes), with ingredients of (dubious) value (as agreed by experts) of (no) benefit as antioxidant containing 63 minerals (many of which does not belong in a human body) as well as aloe and green tea (that we can buy for much cheaper elsewhere). Thus the higher price compared to well known national brand such as Red Bull is (not) justified. 

By leaving out so many words, you have not gotten the full picture.

That's why you cannot accept presentations and claims without fact-checking them, unless they came from reliable sources. PR material is NOT reliable.

No comments:

Post a Comment