Weight loss supplements are an increasingly popular supplement category as more Americans struggle with obesity. Plexus, also called Plexus Worldwide, is a company which has been featured on Dr. Oz that primarily manufactures weight loss supplements, but also sells supplements in other categories.
In this article we’ll review the ingredients in Plexus Slim, which is a popular weight loss product sold by the brand and alternatively referred to as "Plexus Pink Drink" due to its color. We'll reference medical research to give our take on whether we believe the product is likely to be effective and safe for weight loss.
We'll also review the ingredients in Joyome Collagen and Plexus Bio Cleanse; two Plexus supplements intended to reduce wrinkles and cleanse the digestive tract, respectively.
Finally, we'll highlight a lawsuit Plexus faced over lead contamination of their products, and a warning letter from a U.S. government agency over false health claims made by Plexus representatives.
Plexus Slim Review
Plexus Slim is a powder sold in single-use packets that can be mixed into liquids like water or juice. The brand claims that this product promotes weight loss.
The first active ingredient is 200 micrograms (mcg) of chromium, which is a mineral commonly included in weight loss supplements. However, we consider it to be an ineffective weight loss ingredient based on medical research.
A medical review of chromium supplementation and weight loss, published in the Clinical Obesity journal, analyzed data from 19 medical studies and concluded that "the clinical relevance of chromium as a weight loss aid remains uncertain."
The chromium doses used in most of the analyzed clinical trials were also far higher than the dose in Plexus Slim. Most of the medical studies used a chromium dose at or above 200 milligrams (mg) per day, which equates to 200,000 mcg, or 1,000x the amount in Plexus Slim.
The second active ingredient is xylooligosaccharide which is a prebiotic compound, meaning it helps feed healthy bacteria in the gut. Prebiotic consumption is great for overall health, but we can't locate one single medical trial with human participants proving that this ingredient is effective for weight loss.
Plexus Slim contains a proprietary (prop) blend called “Plexus Slim Blend” with four different ingredients.
Green coffee bean extract is the first ingredient in the blend, and has been shown in medical research to cause a small but statistically significant amount of weight loss. However, because ingredients in prop blends don't have an individual dose listed, we can't say for certain whether the dosage in Plexus Slim is likely to be effective.
Because the average dosage in the above-linked medical review was only around 180 mg, and the average ingredient dosage in Plexus Slim Blend is 132.5 mg, we'll consider this ingredient likely effective.
The next-listed ingredient is garcinia cambogia extract, which is a plant commonly included in weight loss pills. This botanical ingredient may be effective for short-term weight loss, but it's too early to say so definitively in our opinion. A meta-study published in 2011 examined data from many medical trials on garcinia cambogia extract and weight loss, and noted a small weight loss effect.
However the researchers found methodological problems with many of the included studies, and concluded the following: "The evidence...suggests that Garcinia extracts/HCA generate weight loss on the short term. However, the magnitude of this effect is small, is no longer statistically significant when only rigorous RCTs are considered, and its clinical relevance seems questionable."
We will consider this a potentially effective ingredient for weight loss, but it's not one we recommend until more efficacy and safety data emerges.
We cannot identify any medical evidence that white mulberry fruit extract causes weight loss, nor does Plexus appear to share or publish any, so we'll consider this ingredient ineffective.
This supplement also contains several additive ingredients that we recommend avoiding.
Citric acid is a preservative and flavor enhancer that is found to cause whole-body inflammatory reactions in a small subset of patients, based on a medical review published in the Toxicology Reports journal.
Natural flavors is a broad category term that fails to define the specific chemical compounds used as flavoring agents, and as we documented in our Vital Proteins reviews article, it seems logical to avoid this ingredient given that it has no nutritive value and could contain unhealthy flavoring agents.
Overall we're not especially impressed by Plexus Slim, especially for the high price ($91.95), and we would not recommend this supplement. Plexus Slim contains one ingredient we consider likely to be effective for weight loss, and one ingredient we consider potentially effective for weight loss, but it also contains several ingredients we consider ineffective and several additive ingredients we recommend avoiding.
Why Was Plexus Sued?
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. Prop 65 is a government mandate specific to California that sets contaminant limits for food and supplement products.
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 we don't consider this to be as concerning as the false COVID-19 health claims.
However, it's never a good sign when a supplement company is being sued over contaminated products, and if Plexus has independent data proving the purity of their products, we would urge them to transparently publish that data on their website.
Joyome Collagen Review
Plexus sells a popular collagen supplement called Joyome Collagen Complex.
It’s well established in medical literature that supplemental collagen peptides can improve skin quality, reduce wrinkles and combat the effects of aging, but we don’t know if there's an effective dose of collagen is in this product because it’s included in a prop blend, similar to the Plexus Slim product.
The entire prop blend in Joyome Collagen Complex totals 5.4 grams (g). As referenced in the above-linked study, collagen is generally effective from 2.5 g/day and above. However the maximally-effective dose appears to be 10 g/day, and this is the dose we recommend.
Wheat seed extract is an effective ingredient for a beauty formulation, as there exists some medical research suggesting it can improve skin hydration. A clinical trial published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that 350 mg of wheat extract oil daily caused a "significant increase" in skin hydration as well as improvements in other clinical markers of skin health.
We cannot verify if the wheat seed extract dose in Joyome Collagen is effective due to the prop blend.
This product contains a number of botanical ingredients that we don't understand for a skincare formulation. We can't identify any medical research suggesting that ingredients like lucuma fruit powder or camu-camu fruit juice are beneficial to skin.
This product also contains the following added vitamins: biotin, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. We strongly disagree with the practice of manufacturers adding seemingly-random blends of vitamins to their supplements. There is almost never any research cited suggesting why these vitamins are added, and taking supplemental vitamins in high doses may be harmful to human health.
A supplement company called Isagenix recently had to recall several products due to the added vitamins causing toxicity in some consumers. We recommend avoiding all supplements with added vitamins unless prescribed by a doctor.
Joyome Collagen also contains natural flavor which we recommended avoiding in the previous section.
We do not recommend Joyome Collagen. While it may contain an effective dose of collagen, it's impossible to determine for sure due to the brand's use of a prop blend to list ingredients. This product contains a number of additive ingredients we consider questionable such as vitamins and natural flavor.
Plexus Bio Cleanse Review
Plexus sells a digestive support supplement called Bio Cleanse. The brand claims that this product line can "help weed out unwanted substances from the digestive system" with no citation for this claim.
We consider this health claim to be unscientific and illogical. We haven't come across any medical evidence that humans need supplements to "weed out" or remove compounds from the digestive tract. That is the purpose of digestion and defecation.
This supplement contains a vitamin and mineral blend, which is an ingredient category we recommend avoiding as referenced in previous sections.
Sodium bicarbonate is the chemical term for baking soda. We do not recommend ingesting baking soda for treatment of indigestion. We understand that this ingredient is commonly included in antacids, but we do not consider it a safe ingredient. A medical review documented how ingested sodium bicarbonate can damage the stomach in some cases.
We outlined the medical research on citrus bioflavonoids in our Meticore reviews article, which reviewed another dietary supplement containing this ingredient. While citrus bioflavonoids may be effective for increasing metabolic rate and potentially causing weight loss, we haven't come across research suggesting these compounds are effective at a dose as low as 50 mg.
Most of the studies on citrus bioflavonoids we've examined were animal studies and utilized significantly higher doses than that in Plexus Bio Cleanse.
Overall we would not recommend this formulation and we recommend avoiding "cleansing" supplements, as we consider them to be unscientific. There isn't much medical evidence that we've come across suggesting that people need exogenous compounds to "cleanse" their digestive tract beyond the body's natural detoxification mechanisms.
Legal Warning Due to COVID-19 Health Claims
Plexus received a warning letter from the Federal Trade Commission (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 “representatives.” We recommend that the company puts marketing guidelines in place to prevent their "representatives" from making false health claims.
We consider this to be a red flag about the ethics of Plexus as a business.
Our Clean Weight Loss Picks
There are food-based nutrients which have been shown in medical studies to be effective for weight loss.
Dietary fiber was shown in a medical review published in The Journal of Nutrition to cause 16 pounds of weight loss in 6 months when combined with moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline).
Supergut Fiber Mix is our top fiber supplement, because it contains three different types of fiber powder, and retails for only $1.75 per serving at a subscription rate.
MCT oil was shown in a meta-study to cause more than one pound of weight loss over 10 weeks. This equates to potential annualized weight loss of 6 pounds per year with less than one tablespoon's worth of MCT oil per day.
Bulletproof MCT Oil is our top MCT oil product, because the only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts. and it currently costs only $15.50 for over a month's worth of product.
Ginger intake "significantly decreased body weight" according to a 2019 meta-study on ginger and weight loss that analyzed data from 14 clinical trials.
Pique La Ginger is our top ginger product, because it's an organic tea in convenient crystallized form, and all that's needed is to pour the powder into a glass and add hot water.
All three of the products mentioned in this section are entirely free of additive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy or unsafe.