The Effects of MLM on the Natural Health Industry
Updated: Jul 13
As is the norm with my words, I do not expect this article to make me many friends. But I do at least hope it will educate a few people. This article is not telling you that you cannot grow a global business if that is your goal. This is not about the argument that in order for one distributor to do well financially and succeed it will take hundreds, if not thousands of hapless minions to do the hard work.
This is about health modalities themselves. If you do not know what a modality is, you really are in the wrong line of work - it should be one of the first words you learn as a distributor but the fact it is omitted, rings alarm bells. If you really want to make a difference, at least go and take the time to study your chosen modality, not just sales pitches.
Q1: Are you a MLM distributor, representative, executive, diamond, or whatever your chosen company decides to label you - of any manner of health or euphemistically named 'wellness' product companies?
Q2: Are you the customer of a MLM distributor?
If you answered yes to either question...
1) Do you have qualifications other than human rights, to qualify you to promote or sell that product? If yes, is your field of knowledge actually within the area of everything you are promoting? Have you studied every product in detail, including benefits, possible side effects, contraindications and whether it could pose dangers in regards to allergies or compatibility with other medications? If not, why not?
2) Do you take your distributor's word as professional? Have you asked them if they have qualifications in what they are flogging you? If not, why not?
Do you now that if/when it goes awry (and it does very, very often) not only will you not get your money back (despite claims to the contrary) but you will not have a legal leg to stand on? There are no guarantees. The company will not want to know you. And guess which industry gets the blame?
I can already hear the responses
'We do not diagnose or prescribe.'
'We do not make health claims.'
'Our products are professionally made in the best laboratories in the world.'
'We are industry leaders that other companies follow. Our research shows...'
Save it. I have heard it all
The truth is, people at the top are paid to come up with words (ie spindoctors) that you will learn in 'training' to ensure you know the fancy footwork to evade vital and important questions. I know of people who have become deathly ill from a 'wellness' product that almost claimed their life. When they complained, the company would not return the money. They refused to take responsibility and blamed the individual - saying they were self abusive and unhealthy to begin with, even though this person lived a very healthy life - and had not become unwell until they suffered a reaction to the product.
Sadly working in my own field, I have witnessed such a story too many times.The long and short of this is if you are not qualified in a modality, you have no right to spruik it. Take essential oils - to become an aromatherapist (originally part of a larger qualification - an elective which could take 6 months on top of all of your other studies including botanical pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, and massage at the very least) it takes dedicated study and an understanding of health that would allow you to understand a little more than, 'this oil is magic for stress...' Yes, oils work but the claims made today by people who do a few hours 'training' workshops often run by the untrained, is frightening to say the least.
What about the increasing number of dietary and nutrition MLM companies? It's a daily brain-scream for me to read on social media and in advertising pages that someone is proudly a local representative of such-and-such weightloss program. To say that clinically, 100% of patients visiting me for weightloss had been through it all, and often become seriously unwell as a result, would be an understatement. The claims are alarming. If I dare to so much as say something valid such as, "Does this diet take overall health into account?" watch the knives come out (pun NOT intended).
And then we get to the supplements. I have personally been present at 'product training' where I would sit through 2 hours of absolute drivel - appalling claims and stories that made my hair stand on end. All the oohs and aahs about making a zillion dollars. Or heart warming stories of rags to riches. Yet as a guest I would get up to at least try and educate them on safety, ingredients and quality control. Forget it. At one memorable event, even though I had the microphone, I was drowned out with moans and comments like, "Do we really have to hear this? We did not come for this." No, you came for the rah-rah, "here's your goody bag, give me your prospects and I will ensure they sign up so you will make more money."
About now, you are wondering why I am so angry at the whole MLM notion. Don't worry, chances are I have been part of your particular company in some way - as a writer, researcher, customer or even a distributor at some time. Beginning when I was a nurse - and eventually as a natural health physician, to prove the efficacy or value of the product in comparison to what else is out there. Yes, many natural health professionals do get into MLM products but that is as much because of the unhealthy system forcing them to make money from a sideline as it is about any perceivable product quality.
In short, MLM companies cut out the middle man
You are told that shops are the middle man. That is just not true. The middle man in this area is the natural health professional. Imagine signing to a MLM company that sold pharmaceutical products only. The middle man would be the doctor, no? In the time that MLM have made their hostile takeover, pharmacy chains have not only taken over in stocking natural products - without qualification - but have access to products that not even qualified natural health professionals do.
In that same time, doctors have been invited to take part in weekend warrior workshops which affords them the title of holistic or alternative doctor. Rather than, as a number of my peers have done, walk away from the medical industry which has failed so many, they continue to fence sit - but benefit from both sides. As one pharmacy chain head said to me, 'This is where the money is." They are also privy to more health fund support and even medicare benefits for their services while the real professionals are not.
Are you complicit in destroying the very industry you now promote?
You would not know about the other side of this coin - the negative effects. Because it is covered up. Some of you do it to earn a living. Others do it to increase their revenue. I have had executives of certain companies threaten me professionally. I still have copies of letters written to me - one actually telling me I know nothing and need to mature in order to understand things. One company which shall remain nameless, sent a distributor to threaten me with court action because I dared to answer her honestly when she asked if I would like to take part in her next presentation. I advised her that the products were tested on animals and not of particularly high quality. She refused to hear that just because her company didn't test at their facility, did not mean the products were not tested elsewhere - and the company paid for it. Or that the products contained toxic ingredients on top of their supposed organic, healthy ones. I simply provided her with paperwork proving my claims and was left alone. At any given time, CEOs and leaders of these companies are in court or jail. This is kept from you. This is just one aspect of MLM marketing. People fall in love with the theory - hang everything else.
In the last 20 years, natural health has been watered down as it is integrated into modern medicine - not for any other reason than control (hegemony). So much knowledge is being lost. Natural health experts do not get financial support and as such, 2/3 no longer even operate - between pharmacies, supermarkets, MLM distributors and doctors, vital knowledge is being stolen and lost. If it continues at this rate, it is estimated that by 2025, natural health will be outlawed - and MLM distributors will not care about the original experts - they will just scream about how unfair it all is. Officially it is about supposed safety - in truth, it is about money. Natural medicines cannot be patented unless they are diluted with pharmaceuticals.
But back to the real reason for this article. Every day - every single day - I am contacted by people asking for my help professionally. This has now gone on for over 3 decades. It involves sick people from various MLM companies asking me which of the supplements or oils or products they should take - from their line of course. More than a few refused point blank to even consider using other products that might save their life. Their ailments range from basic issues to life threatening. I have seen people end up in ER - even in intensive care - because there was no safety net within the company they dedicated and almost lost their lives to; because aside from the token expert everyone quotes like a bad case of Chinese Whispers, there is no expert advice at close hand, nor is it a prerequisite.
Seriously, it is simple
a) If you want to promote products that is your right but for goodness sake, get educated! I'm not talking about reading your industry blurb. Real education. In this day of accessibility, there is no excuse for ignorance. Look up ingredients and study them. Or go one better and study the modality - yes, there it is again. Modality means modal quality - and in health, that means the particular field of health care model.
So herbal medicine, homeopathy, aromatherapy, orthomolecular medicine. All of these will - or should - include learning about health in general and how safe your products are alongside others.
Did you know that many oils are not ingestible?
Did you know that many calming supplements can not be used alongside pharmaceuticals?
Did you know some herbals can aggravate symptoms of chronic illness if you do not understand proper use? This makes your product - ie YOU - dangerous. Parent companies will drop you like a hot cake if/when an adverse event happens. Even if the product is perfectly safe IF you know what you are doing, it will reflect badly on the modality as a whole.
b) If you are going to use or have natural health products recommended, get professional advice.
Or become a professional yourself.