Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Confusion Surrounding Clinical Studies

Before I dive into this article, keep in mind that I'm not a fan of the flimsy ORAC scale --- a relatively inexpensive test performed by some manufacturers on their own products in order to elevate their products' perceived health benefits (anti-oxidant content).

You see... if the manufacturers have no way of standardizing their product, meaning they can't guarantee the same health values/content in each and every bottle/package (like we do with our Goji Juice), then the results of their testing remains suspect at the very least --- and completely unreliable at worst --- since results will vary depending on the quality/nature of the sample used to perform the test. (Added to the fact, that the ORAC test itself is weak in what it is capable of reporting, but that's another full-length article coming your way soon.)

Scientists only really respect studies published in peer-reviewed journals. There are 65 such peer-reviewed published studies completed thus far on goji (lycium barbarum) following rigorous clinical testing by independent 3rd parties (not our company)... with many more such studies underway.

Essentially, there is nothing wrong with companies carrying out their own research and communicating their findings in their marketing efforts....


Companies should never take advantage of their target audience's respect for science by using poor methodology or over-emphasizing/tweaking unremarkable results. Rather, they need to carry out the research as rigorously as if the consumer had all the know-how of the leading scientist in their field.

For example, Connecticut-based beverage company SoBe - South Beach Beverage Company - paid a $219,000 penalty earlier this year for falsely claiming that its drinks protect against colds and other illnesses and increase energy levels. SoBe, which was bought by PepsiCo in 2001, was pulled up by the Connecticut attorney general's office and department of consumer protection over the claims on advertising and packaging.

In a separate incident, PepsiCo also had to change the labeling on two of its fruit-flavored Tropicana beverages to reflect the fact that they actually contain little or no fruit juice.

In another example, PepsiCo-owned Tropicana Products reached a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission earlier this year over claims that its Healthy Heart orange juice could reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and homocysteine levels. The FTC alleged that there was no clinical data to back up these claims.

What surprises me is that the company could even make those claims in the first place, with the current FDA legislations regarding marketing and advertising. After all, there are 34 known and clinically proven health benefits for the lycium barbarum bloodline we use in Goji Juice, and yet only 4 of them are we legally entitled to use in our advertising with links to their related peer-reviewed clinical studies.

Chances are... based on the historical evidence in our industry... if we were to advertise publicly all 34 health benefits for goji, we'd be shut down in a heart-beat. However, the soft-drink industry giant gets away with a relatively small fine/settlement (in comparison to revenues and percieved "healthy image" publicity this form of advertising was able to generate for them).

It's a juice --- far better than orange juice with a much wider range of nutrition and health benefits and far more delicious, too in my personal humble opinion --- and yet, I can't tell anyone what the full 34 third-party peer-reviewed clinically proven health benefits are for the berry we use to make Goji Juice, unless someone asks me. (Sure, go ahead and ask me through our contact form at I'll be happy to send a list of the 34 benefits to you.)

So, ummmmm... what's up?

Is it because we're a supplement supplier producing products designed to help everyone live longer, healthier, happier lives ... and NOT a multi-billion-dollar general food or soft-drink producer?

If you are a subscriber to our "customer-only private newsletter" you'll be finding out some of the answers soon.

Until then, live long and be healthy!