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Plexus Review: Bad Supplements and Business Ethics


Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD 

Illuminate Labs Plexus Review article header image

Weight loss supplements are increasing in popularity even though many of them have little if any medical backing. Plexus is a company which has been featured on Dr. Oz that primarily manufactures weight loss supplements, along with some other health supplements.

In this article we’ll review Plexus Slim (their premier weight management supplement) and Joyome Collagen (a Plexus collagen product for skin), as well as explain some business practices Plexus engages in which we believe to be extremely unethical.

Many supplement reviews simply overview the ingredients without suggesting whether it’s actually likely to work or not. We aim to provide information which actually helps consumers make informed choices, which is why our Plexus reviews are edited by a practicing doctor, and tell you whether the formulations are backed by good science.

Plexus Slim Review

Plexus Slim Supplement Facts label

Plexus Slim, often called “Plexus pink drink” due to the color of the powder, is a dietary supplement in single-serve packets which is used for weight management. 

The first active ingredient is 200 mcg chromium, which is a mineral commonly included in weight loss supplements. It’s underdosed in Plexus Slim, meaning it’s unlikely to be effective because the amount included is much less than the amount used in most medical research.

As we explained in our It Works review (of another popular weight loss product including chromium), medical research on chromium doesn’t show a clear benefit of weight loss, and one study even used 1000 mcg (5x as much as in Plexus) and still found no benefit.

The second active ingredient is xylooligosaccharide which is a prebiotic compound, meaning it helps optimize microbiome diversity (influencing strains of healthy bacteria in the gut). This may be good for overall health, but we couldn’t find one single medical study even testing the effects of xylooligosaccharide supplementation on weight loss, never mind proving it works.

The third active ingredient in Plexus Slim is a proprietary blend called “Plexus Slim Blend” with four different ingredients.

Green coffee bean extract is the first ingredient in the prop blend, and has been shown in medical research to have a small but positive effect on weight loss. However, because manufacturers aren’t required to publish ingredient doses in prop blends, we don’t know whether the dose of this is high enough in Plexus Slim to be effective.

The next listed ingredient in the prop blend is garcinia cambogia, which is a plant commonly included in weight loss pills. It has been shown to reduce weight short-term, but every single study listed included dosages higher than the entire Plexus Slim Blend dosage. Since garcinia is only one ingredient in this blend, it’s almost certain that the amount is underdosed and ineffective.

One of the ingredients, white mulberry fruit extract, doesn’t appear to be used for weight loss at all. We couldn’t find a study on it for weight loss and so we don’t understand why it was included.

One of the strangest parts of Plexus Slim’s marketing is that they publish a graphic suggesting their product is clinically proven to reduce weight, but we couldn’t find the study published in any medical journal and they don’t state where it’s published or source it. Other online reviews of the product have mentioned the same.

If Plexus is just making up that their product was studied in a medical trial that would be extremely unethical.

Joyome Collagen Review

Joyome Collagen Complex Supplement Facts label

Another popular Plexus product is their collagen product called Joyome Collagen Complex.

It’s well established in medical literature that collagen can improve skin quality and combat aging effects, but we don’t know exactly how much collagen is in this product because it’s included in a prop blend, similar to the Plexus Slim product.

Generally manufacturers use prop blends to add small amounts of exotic ingredients to the label without having to disclose the dosages. As we discussed in our Alpha Brain review, prop blends are terrible for consumers because without the listed ingredient dosages, a consumer can’t determine whether they’re getting an effective dose of each ingredient.

The entire prop blend in Joyome Collagen Complex totals 5.4 g. As referenced in the above-linked study, collagen is generally effective from 2.5 g/day and above.

So the collagen dose in Joyome may be effective but we don’t know because there are 12 other ingredients in the complex. If those 12 ingredients total 3.4 g and the collagen only totals 2 g it would be an insufficient amount.

This product has several ingredients which to us seem like pointless additions made for marketing, because these ingredients aren’t typically used or studied for dermatological benefit.

Why is acerola fruit complex or okra pod in a skin powder? We don’t know and Plexus doesn’t explain. These are just health foods not typically used for skin care.

Overall we find this product to be incredibly overpriced at $65.95 for only 30 servings. If you’re focused on skin supplements you can get plain unflavored collagen powder at a maximally-effective dose of 10 g/day for a lot cheaper than Joyome Collagen, and if you buy your own collagen you can actually ensure you’re getting an effective dose, which you can’t determine in this case due to the prop blend.

False COVID Protection Claims

Plexus received a warning letter from the FTC in June of 2020 about their marketing claims related to COVID. Some of the company’s representatives were making absurd nonscientific claims during the virus outbreak such as “we know that runaway inflammation is the culprit behind this virus” in an attempt to sell more Plexus products.

Plexus is a multi level marketing (MLM) company, and thus they are responsible (both legally and ethically) for marketing claims made by their “reps.” The company should have marketing guidelines to prevent health claims which may harm consumers, but at least as of last year it’s clear they didn't.

Lawsuits over Lead in Products

In 2015, a Non-Profit organization in California called the Environmental Research Center sued Plexus for levels of lead in their products which were above Prop 65 limits.

The lawsuit doesn’t appear to actually show the lead levels in the products. Prop 65 limits can be very low, and in our opinion aren't based on good science like European Union contaminant limits, so this doesn’t mean the products necessarily contained harmful amounts of lead. However, given the context of other business decisions the company has made (and the fact they’re an MLM), it doesn’t look good.

Conclusion

Plexus is a supplement company we’d recommend you avoid. They don’t appear to be a very ethical business, and their most popular formulations include prop blends which prevent you the consumer from determining whether you’re getting an effective dose.

There exist superior alternatives for both weight loss and skin health supplements, even though we don’t generally recommend supplements for weight loss and many are cost ineffective compared with a proper diet and exercise regimen.




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