Plexus Review: Expensive Supps and Alleged Postal Fraud

Plexus Review: Expensive Supps and Alleged Postal Fraud


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Plexus, also called Plexus Worldwide, is a multi-level-marketing (MLM) company that sells a wide range of dietary supplements. The company sells weight loss supplements, gut health supplements, collagen supplements and more.

But do Plexus supplements contain research-backed ingredients? Do they contain any questionable additive ingredients? Why was the company sued in 2015? And why did the company settle for $600,000 with the Department of Justice?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in three of Plexus' most popular supplements based on clinical studies, to give our take on whether or not they're likely to be effective.

We'll review Plexus Slim (also referred to as "Plexus Pink Drink," a weight loss supplement), Joyōme Collagen (an anti-aging supplement), and Plexus Bio Cleanse (a gut health supplement).

We'll also explain why Plexus was sued over alleged product contamination, why the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent a warning letter to the company, and what allegations led to the company settling with the Department of Justice (DoJ) in 2023.

We'll also feature unsponsored customer reviews of the brand, and provide a cost comparison to show which retailers sell Plexus for the best price.

Plexus Slim Ingredient Analysis

Plexus Slim active ingredients

The active ingredients in Plexus Slim, also called Plexus Pink Drink, are shown above. This supplement is used to promote weight loss.

Chromium is a mineral that's 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."

Polydextrose is clinically shown to cause weight loss and reduce appetite, and the linked meta-study includes some trials that used the same dose as in Plexus Slim.

This data suggests that polydextrose is effectively dosed for weight loss in this supplement.

Plexus Slim contains a proprietary (prop) blend called “Plexus Slim Blend” with four different ingredients.

Green coffee bean extract was shown to cause up to 10 pounds of weight loss in some trials, at doses similar to that in Plexus Slim, in a 2011 meta-study.

Garcinia cambogia extract was shown to cause short-term (but not long-term) weight loss in a 2011 meta-study.

Alpha lipoic acid promotes weight loss according to a meta-study published in the Clinical Nutrition journal, however the doses used were significantly higher than the average ingredient dose in Plexus Slim blend.

White mulberry fruit extract caused 10% body weight loss over three months in a 2014 clinical trial, although the dose used was significantly higher than the entire Plexus Slim blend.

While all of the active ingredients in Plexus Slim have research backing for weight loss, we have concerns about two of the inactive ingredients (shown below) from a health perspective:

Plexus Slim inactive ingredients

Citric acid is a flavor enhancer that causes whole-body inflammation in some individuals, as we discussed in our review of Skinny Pasta.

Natural flavors is a healthier choice than artificial flavors, but added flavors can contain solvents and preservatives according to a medical review published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal.

Overall, we consider Plexus Slim likely to support weight loss given its research-backed active ingredients. From an effectiveness perspective, this is one of the better weight loss formulations that we've reviewed to date on Illuminate Health.

We don't currently recommend this supplement due to the inactive ingredients discussed above.

Pique La Ginger is currently our top weight loss supplement, because ginger intake "significantly decreased body weight" according to a 2019 meta-study on ginger and weight loss that analyzed data from 14 clinical trials.

FTC Warning Letter and DoJ Settlement

In 2020, Plexus received a warning letter from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concerning the company's marketing claims related to COVID.

Some of the company’s representatives were making unsubstantiated claims during the virus outbreak ( like “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.” 

This warning letter shows why we recommend that consumers exercise extreme caution when purchasing health supplements from MLM "representatives" without any scientific background.

In 2023, Plexus agreed to pay $600,000 over alleged false claims according to the Department of Justice.

The above-linked press release documents that Plexus was alleged by the US government to have calculated postage rates with inappropriate attributes that allowed for cheaper shipping rates, and also to have re-used old postage to ship new items.

While this appears to have been settled and these allegations remain unproven, we consider these two incidents enough to shed light on the ethics of Plexus as a brand.

Joyōme Collagen Ingredient Analysis

Joyome Collagen active ingredients

The active ingredients in Plexus' anti-aging supplement, Joyōme Collagen Complex, are shown above.

Vitamin C was described as a "cosmeceutical" that can increase collagen synthesis in skin in a medical review published in the Antioxidants journal. 

We can't find any clinical evidence that the remaining vitamins and mineral (vitamin E, biotin, sodium) are effective for supporting skin quality when taken orally.

Collagen peptides is a well-established anti-aging ingredient.

As we documented in our Vital Proteins reviews article, daily supplementation with collagen peptides is clinically shown to reduce wrinkles in skin.

However, the maximally-effective collagen dose appears to be 10 grams (g) daily, as we documented in the above-linked article, while the entire Beauty Blend in Joyōme Collagen (of which collagen peptides is just one of seven ingredients) has a dose of only 5.447 g.

Wheat seed extract was shown in a clinical trial published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science to cause a "significant increase" in skin hydration as well as improvements in other clinical markers of skin health.

We're unable to identify any research studies suggesting that the remaining active ingredients in the Beauty Blend have anti-aging effects.

The inactive ingredients in Joyōme Collagen are shown below:

Joyome Collagen inactive ingredients

Natural flavor is an ingredient we consider to be questionable from a health perspective, as we discussed in the previous Ingredient Analysis section.

Overall, we consider Joyōme Collagen to be potentially effective for anti-aging given the inclusion of collagen peptides and wheat seed extract, however, we can't say so conclusively because the individual dose of these two ingredients is not currently published. 

Bulletproof Collagen Powder is our top collagen pick, because it only contains one single ingredient: collagen peptides sourced from grass-fed cows.

Bulletproof Collagen costs less than Joyōme Collagen at the time of updating this article ($43.95 vs. $66), while providing significantly more collagen per serving.

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 alleged to exceed 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 cite the lead levels in the products. Prop 65 limits can be very low, and many consumers aren't aware that contaminants like lead are in food and drink sources as well, like tap water and chicken stock.

The dose makes the poison, and without the actual lead levels being published, we don't believe there's any reason for consumers to be concerned about the lead levels in Plexus supplements moving forward.

At the time of updating this lawsuit, Plexus appears to have settled this lawsuit, according to the California Attorney General's office. 

Real People Try Plexus

A TikTok creator named Aubrianna Inman shared her experience taking a large number of Plexus products:

@aubriannainman Honest review of Plexus Reset. #plexus #guthealth #reset #plexusworldwide #guthealthmatters #healthy ♬ original sound - Aubrianna Inman

A TikTok creator named Falene shared her experience after using Plexus supplements for a month:

@falenedurham Plexus review#itworked ♬ original sound - Falene

Bio Cleanse Ingredient Analysis

Plexus Bio Cleanse active ingredients

The active ingredients in Plexus Bio Cleanse, which is used for digestive support and "cleansing," are shown above.

Magnesium hydroxide is used as a laxative according to MedlinePlus, and we consider this to be a strange magnesium format for a gut support supplement.

Sodium bicarbonate is the chemical term for baking soda, and we can't find any evidence this compound supports gut health or "cleanses" the body.

Citrus bioflavonoids may be effective for increasing metabolic rate and potentially causing weight loss, as we documented in our Meticore reviews article, however we can't find any evidence of these effects at as low of a dose as 50 milligrams (mg).

The inactive ingredients in Plexus Bio Cleanse, shown below, should be safe and non-toxic:

Plexus Bio Cleanse inactive ingredients

Overall, we can't find any evidence that Plexus Bio Cleanse supports gut health or "cleanses" the body. Regardless, the suggestion that the body needs to be "cleansed" by exogenous supplementation is unscientific in our opinion.

MBG Organic Fiber Potency+ is our top prebiotic fiber pick because it's certified organic, provides 7 g of fiber per serving and costs under $1.85 per serving at the time of updating this article.

MBG Organic Fiber Potency+ contains 100% soluble fiber, which was described as "one of the most important nutrients for the gut microbiota" in a clinical review published in the Molecules journal.

Where to Buy Plexus for the Best Price

Plexus supplements are sold at a variety of online retailers.

Here's a price breakdown for a one-time purchase of the three supplements reviewed in this article, at the time of updating this article:

Plexus Slim

Brand website: $96 (plus shipping, link)

Walmart: $87.25 (free shipping, third-party seller, link)

Amazon: $84.95 (free shipping, third-party seller, link)

Joyōme Collagen

EveryMarket: $123.34 (free shipping, link)

Brand website: $66 (plus shipping, link)

Amazon: $59.95 (free shipping, third-party seller, link)

Plexus Bio Cleanse

Amazon: $55.55 (free shipping, third-party seller, link)

Walmart: $42.15 (free shipping, third-party seller, link)

Brand website: $37 (plus shipping, link)

Amazon has better prices than Plexus' website on some items, but the brand's website appears to be the only official retailer, so it may be safer to purchase directly from the brand.

Pros and Cons of Plexus

Here are the pros and cons of Plexus in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Pink Drink should support weight loss
  • Joyome Collagen may have an anti-aging effect

Cons:

  • Supplements don't appear to be clinically tested
  • Expensive
  • MLM company
  • Brand website charges for shipping
  • Pink Drink contains citric acid
  • Pink Drink contains flavoring additives
  • Joyōme Collagen contains flavoring additives
  • Bio Cleanse has unimpressive formulation
  • Company received FTC warning letter over COVID-19 claims
  • Settled with DoJ over allegations of postal fraud
  • Brand website is very difficult to use
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

While Plexus has some decently-formulated supplements, we urge consumers to exercise caution when purchasing from this brand given some of the legal challenges the brand has faced.

Plexus has been sued over allegations of lead levels above Prop 65 limits in some of their supplements.

Plexus received a warning letter from the FTC over health claims made by at least one of their "representatives," and settled with the DoJ in 2023 over allegations of postal fraud.

Plexus Slim contains some research-backed and effectively-dosed active ingredients, and we consider this supplement to be the best formulation of the three we analyzed from Plexus. We believe this supplement can support weight loss.

Joyōme Collagen may have anti-aging effects, but it's challenging to determine given that the brand fails to clearly publish the collagen peptide dose at the time of updating this article.

Plexus Bio Cleanse is the least impressive of the three formulations, because we can't find any clinical research showing that its active ingredients, at their respective doses, support optimal gut health.

Plexus Slim and Joyōme Collagen contain inactive ingredients that we consider to be questionable from a health perspective.

At the time of updating this article, Amazon has better prices on some Plexus supplements than the brand's website, but the brand's website has the best price on Bio Cleanse.