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Is “Balance of Nature” a Fraud?

If you watch any television at all, you probably have seen ads for this company which calls itself “Balance of Nature.” You may have seen a hundred of them, because they appear to show up every half hour.

I realize that commercials are in general becoming even more prevalent, and of course there is nothing to do about them. I mute almost all of them, but I have heard these Balance of Nature ones more than a few times, as I am intrigued by them, but not because I have any intention of buying what they are selling, whatever it is. I have this feeling that the public is witnessing a big-time scam, and that they are clever enough to get away with it, and make tens of millions of dollars before they go away. They could go to jail for fraud, but that doesn’t happen very often.

If you have not seen the commercials, they are selling what seem to be vitamin pills, although they would call them organic supplements. They are capsules in bottles .One is titled “Fruits,’ the other, “Veggies.” How professional. The first I saw of this was someone who was captioned “Victor,” who said he was a dietician, but that he often got so busy that he forgot to eat his “fruits and veggies”. So he took the capsules, and he immediately saw a remarkable increase in his energy level.

Victor has been succeeded by several other purported real people who give testimonials. Every one of them says that Balance of Nature has increased their energy levels and capability, after taking the capsules for a few weeks, or a couple of months. One of them did a handstand to illustrate how effective they were.

Every one of the people, except for one, seems to be about 60-70 in age. Interestingly, they all speak with rather scratchy voices, Some older people do have that, but all of these do. Even the one woman touting the product, who looks mid-40’s or so, has a rather scratchy voice. This made me wonder if there is some voice effect being used by the maker of the commercials.

Ostensibly–and I use that word because they manage to say very little about the product–Balance of Nature, which is the name of the company, obtains the best fruits and vegetables, and makes capsules which contain the vitamins in them. They show a large field of some plants, and the adman’s voice says that they look all over to get the very best ones. How they do that is not shown or explained, except for the pictures of the fields.

So they take the very best fruits and vegetables, and they mash them up and make capsules of them which come in bottles. And these various people with scratchy voices say that they have made a great difference in their energy level and general health.

I eat a lot of fruit, and always have. I am not as assiduous with vegetables, though I try. In a usual summer, I might have something like four peaches and four plums a day, perhaps a few apricots, and cherries up through June when the season is over. I also like seedless grapes, melons, and I love olallieberries and boysenberries. I eat fruit because it is fresh, natural, often delicious, and I know that it is nutritional. I don’t think that they give me much more energy and productivity, but I am sure that they help.

I do not think that taking vitamin pills claimed to be the products of the very best fruits and vegetables, is nearly as worthwhile. I do not purport to be a nutritionist, but I think that much of the value of fruit is the entire fruit; the skin, the pulp, the juice, all of which you get when you eat a whole peach, or plum, or apple, or orange. And they do help to assuage hunger, which vitamins do not.

I am not saying that people cannot benefit from vitamins, particularly if they have a deficiency of a particular vitamin. I do think that eating whole fruits and vegetables is more nutritional than the vitamins. This is particularly true when we do not have any idea how Balance of Nature finds “the best ones,” makes deals to buy them, and then does some kind of thing which makes vitamin tablets which are claimed to contain all the best parts of the fruits and veggies.

I will say that in California, which I like to term “the fruit basket of the world,” there are farming problems. There was not enough water. Global warming is the greatest cause, and it has ruined some farms, and caused others to wonder how much longer they can continue. A woman who with her sons runs a small farm which had some of the greatest peaches you can imagine, had to cut down most of those yellow peach trees, because they had had suffered from lack of water. She understandably was so upset with this, that she will scarcely talk about it.

I miss those peaches, and there are fewer and fewer small farms which can keep going. The farmers also complain about he state government diverting water to support a particular type of fish, and reducing the farms’ water supply. I am very much in favor of helping all animals and birds and fishes, but I would also want to support trees and bushes of all sorts, and particularly those which bear fruit. This is apparently an ongoing problem in this state. And yes, there are a few “big agra” farms, but you can absolutely taste the difference between their crops and those which grow on the lovingly cultivated farms. And we don’t know how much those ‘frankenfoods” are created by injecting harmful drugs into them.

That is another story, but I bring it up here because it seems very unlikely to me that in this literal and figurative climate, Balance of Nature has gained access to “the very best fruits and vegetables,” from which they can make their vitamin pills.

This whole thing seems to be some kind of scam, or at the least, wildly exaggerated advertising. I tried to read more about this company. There are some sites which they apparently advertise with, or run, which say positive things with no detail at all. One of them lists: “Established in 1997.” “A doctor developed it.” “Products dependent on scientific research.” “Located in St. George, Utah.”

Who is the doctor? It is Dr. Douglas Howard, who is a chiropractor. He has some kind of degree from a chiropractic college, and then a few other purported degrees from foreign schools, which I will bet he purchased online. He did start this company, at least the brand name, in 1997. He apparently lectured about health issues, which many people do, you can hear them on the radio on weekends, literally trying to sell fish oil pills or other such things. Maybe some of them work, maybe not, but you wouldn’t want to take their word for it.

I can find nothing which describes how chiropractor Howard developed the capacity to find the best fruits and vegetables to put into his pills. I can find nothing which lists the nutritional science background of Howard, or any of his staff. I admittedly did not work that hard to do so; maybe you can find it. I did look up some reviews of the product, ostensibly coming from regular folks, though one has to always be wary. I will quote some of the more interesting ones, for your information.

“Extremely poor customer service. Giving us the runaround. Unable to reach a person to get a refund, they placed us on autoship when that was never requested. After two months of trying to resolve their wrong charges, I had to contact my bank to get a resolution! Never buy from this company!!!!”

“I started a subscription two months ago. After taking the fruit and veggie supplements, my blood pressure went way up. So I stopped taking them for a couple of weeks. Tried again just taking one capsule three times a day at meal times Again my blood pressure went way up, so I stopped taking the vitamins. Called customer support several times and could never get an answer. Left message, but no one called me back! Tried to go online to their website, but it was down. Now they’ve shipped another month supply that I can’t use, and they won’t refund my money. Terrible customer service! Products were bad for me.”

“Everyone should realize that the ‘spokesperson’ is cleverly implying that he is a doctor. Listen carefully and you will realize that you have been fooled.”

“Horrible customer service and the product doesn’t work….These guys are the biggest scams, and the money goes to advertising, not the product.”

“All reliable research has shown the product to be a total scam.”

“When the spokespersons are an optometrist, a chiropractor, and Vincent, the dietician who forgets to eat, you know it’s a scam.”

There are more, of course. There are even some positive ones, but I am inclined not to believe them, they read like ads. Maybe some people are helped by this, or want to think they are; but I read comments from people who said that their potassium levels went very high, or their blood pressure went up, or that the capsules are very difficult to swallow. My sense is that it is a total fraud. “Dr. Howard” found someone who can make tablets, and some clever marketers, and has enough money, or someone has backed him, so to be able to flood the airwaves with his ads.

This all bothers me for several reason/ First, I hate the ads. More importantly, they are bilking people, and maybe damaging their health. And the owner is probably making several million dollars, after which he will probably disappear. Less likely, complaints will be filed, and some settlement will be reached short of trial.

I don’t know much about the FDA or FTC rules regarding such things. There are probably all sorts of bogus pills being sold. It seems that the degree of fraud required for a private company to be criminally charged, is quite high. All they have to say is that they put some mashed up “veggies” and fruit in their capsules, and that the claims of results come from various other people. This is a fairly time-dishonored way to avoid criminal penalties for selling products which don’t do what the advertising claims. This didn’t go away after the hucksters at country fairs with their shills, pretended that this bottle of colored water would grow your hair back, and provide sexual potency. This is just another high-tech media version of it.

Do I wish I could have come up with something like this, to have made perhaps tens of millions of dollars? No, because I would never do it. But I do very much hope that those people who callously try to bilk others are exposed for their misrepresentations and scams.


20 Responses

  1. This sounds very similar to those ubiquitous deodorant ads starring the oh gyn founder. Not only are they crude in an attempt to be entertaining, perhaps, they are constant. WhenI see any company devote that much time and money to ads, my opinion of the product or service is already compromised.I, too, wasted some of my life looking up reviews, many very negative, critical, regretful reviews, many complaining that the product made them actually smell like excrement, literally. Is this just a bad joke? Or a money laundering operation? (We used to joke when we saw a misplaced storefront that it was a front for the mafia- is this a modern day version?).

    • I never thought of that! The company running the deodorant ads perhaps wanted to hide some money they had stolen in one way or another, by sticking it into an ad campaign, and then writing it off? Interesting; We don’t think that way, so some of it would get past us.

      In the case of this Balance of Nature, I think that this man finally figured out a way to sell his essentially worthless product. and one has to give him some grudging acknowledgement for his amorality. My guess is that the ad campaign is a big success–but yes, there are so many ads that it does seem strange. The other ads which keep popping up on MSNBC, are from “Californians for Energy Independence,” which means, “Oil Companies Which Want to Trick People into Letting Them Drill Oil in the State.”

      • Both the Lume deodorant and Bslancd of Nature remind me of a recurring segment in Mad magazine, which I read as a kid. It would showcase various obsolete or unpopular consumer goods that were repackaged to appeal to a gullible public. Lume may be stockpiled rancid body lotion and Balance of Nature may be dried and ground up succotash and institutional fruit cocktail, although consumer safeguards would hopefully preclude that.

        • Another clever idea! I do think that the Balance of Nature story might make an excellent investigative piece. These are very strange ads.

  2. I vaguely remember ‘Balance of Nature’ being sold on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show years ago. Also on other right wing radio programs like those of Hugh Hewitt and that Dennis guy who pretends to have his own university. Creepy radio con artists peddling scam products along with their political garbage. I would hear them on the city bus or in other public places. I guess the ads have moved to TV now (I don’t have TV so I don’t know).

  3. “I don’t know much about the FDA or FTC rules regarding such things.”

    The DSHEA of 1994 severely limited the FDA’s ability to regulate dietary supplements. Unless they make a specific claim of efficacy against a disease, their supplements are regulated as food, not drugs. Vague claims of “support” (like “supports a healthy immune system”) don’t count, nor do testimonials about “having more energy”.

    There have been cases of supplements like these being adulterated with amphetamines. That’ll certainly make you “have more energy”.

    • Propertius, that was very informative. Yes, I figured that this kind of thing is not regulated much. Disappointing and wrong. I actually wondered what these vitamin capsules might have in them.

  4. I looked up pictures of ‘Balance of Nature’ on the interwebs and those are some very large pills! They are what my Doctor grandfather used to call ‘horse pills’, meaning large and difficult to swallow. I can imagine that elderly, disabled or sick people would have an especially hard time getting them down safely. They look like a choking hazard. It would be much better for people to blend real fruits and vegetables into a smoothie if they want to get a variety every day. Fresh is best if available but frozen is also good as are baby food fruits and vegetables. Smoothies are easy for most people to swallow.

    • I took a career aptitude test my senior year in college. It said I should become a nurse, a nun or a customer service representative. I thought, “Why not all three?” So here I am.

    • I turned on the TV for one minute to see if Trump were indicted, and they were running another of these ads. It is becoming like an 80’s cult.

  5. Off-topic.

    Another Sign of the Apocalypse: https://twitter.com/evanewashington/status/1629547021731508225

  6. Marc Maron has opinions. About supplements.

    • Funny! I don’t know him, but he certainly has a George Carlin style.

      • Maron has been doing comedy for years. He’s also an actor. He was in “To Leslie” with Andrea Riseborough.

        • I used to listen to Maron’s program years ago on Air America. It was political not comedy. I agree, William, that his performance style is reminiscent of the late, great George Carlin. I have turmeric powder in my spice drawer. Though it comes in pill form, it appears Maron is talking about taking the powder.

          I’ve never seen a commercial for “Balance of Nature.” For some unknown reason, it’s not been hawked in my tv market.

          Roz in NJ/NYC

          • Maybe they figure that people from NY and NJ are skeptical and will not fall for it! In L.A.,at least on MSNBC, they are running these commercials every half-hour. Now they’ve got the owner on there, saying that “We are a results-oriented company.” Where are the scientists and nutritionists to support the “results.”? “”Fraud!’ cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered, “Fraud!.” (Ernest Lawrence Thayer, “Casey at The Bat.”)

          • I live in NJ and I see Balance of Nature ads on MSNBC every single day. They are ubiquitous. And such a scam. It kills me when he says he learned in school that “each individual chemical” has an “effect” and a “side effect”. First of all, what does he mean by “each individual chemical?” Is he talking about chemical compounds or chemical elements and which ones? And “an effect?” I daresay chemical compounds and elements have many effects in the body, not just One Single Effect. And “a side effect?” “Side effects” are simply effects, which are only modified with the word “side” when they are undesirable. There’s a whole plethora of them too, not just one. And that’s just one thing about it.

  7. @Banjor When William mentioned that this commercial is shown regularly on MSNBC where he lives (CA), it did occur to me that the same was probably the case for MSNBC all over the country, including the NY/NJ area. However, I never watch MSNBC; therefore, obviously, I’ve never seen it there. I do watch other cable stations (all non-news) but have never seen this product hawked on any of them despite the fact that these stations have lots of commercials for prescription drugs as well as various supplements.

    Roz in NJ/NYC

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