Dodgy Glycobiology Claims From Mannatech

[BPSDB]The perfectly genuine science of glycobiology – which studies how complex carbohydrates promote cellular communication – has been hijacked by another medical scam, it would appear:

Over on Bad Science I found a link to this.

The item starts off:

Dear Reader,

Chances are that if you’re reading this letter, it’s because you often feel tired and your health is not at its optimum.

This would appear to be aimed at the chronically ill or those for whom current science has little to offer, such as sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome. People who are likely to be desperate, in other words.

The writer, ‘Mannatech Independant Associate’ Judy Hayman, continues:

I genuinely believe I may have the answer to your problems.

Oh, what a surprise! I bet you never saw that one coming. She then woffles on about glyconutrients without really explaining what they are. So I turned to google and found that most of the links seemed in someway connected with a company called Mannatech (of whom more anon) who sell glyconutrient supplements.

Even some of the links that were not obvious sales pitches still seem to be scientifically suspect. Take this for example:

Of the four major classes of biomolecules – proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates – carbohydrates are the most complex …

While it is true that carbohydrates can be very complex, I would dispute that they are the most complex – proteins are very complex, being made up of amino acids which are themselves not particularly simple molecules. As for nucleic acids – DNA is a nucleic acid and is a pretty complex molecule what with the double helix and everything.

Anyway, Ms Hayman concludes with the usual anonymous testimonials and

So please, ring or e-mail me now. It’ll cost you nothing but the price of a call. But I might just be able to change your life for the better

Actually, it will cost you a whole lot more – the manufacturers don’t give the stuff away so you are likely to be paying £50+ per month.

It looks suspiciously like Ms Hayman is a Mannatech sales associate. Part of Mannatech’s modus operandi seems to be to let their associates make the really outlandish claims so that they can get around truth in advertising legislation. They do however still claim their products are based on glycobiology. This abc news story quotes two blycobiologists who say that Mannatech’s claims go way beyond the science. Doctor Hudson Freeze of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, Calfornia is quoted as saying:

There are authentic, scientific studies that have looked at people drinking these kinds of materials and it doesn’t really do anything except increase flatulence.

Dr. Ronald Schnaar from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine is quoted as saying that

…except for a mere handful of people with a congenital deficit, virtually every person on earth produces enough of these sugars on his/her own. “All of the sugar building blocks that we need in our body are made from
the most common foods we eat,” he says.

He also says that there is little or no proof that these sugars, if swallowed, can be absorbed and broken down by the human body.

Over in the U.S. it would appear that Mannatech has come to the attention of law enforcement officials:

The Texas Attorney General … has characterized Mannatech as perpetuating “… illegal marketing schemes that prey upon the sick and unsuspecting,” and their marketing approach as an “… elaborate scheme to defraud innocent consumers ….” Relevant to this marketing approach, the Texas Attorney General’s lawsuit also names Mannatech-associated “MannaRelief Ministries” as a codefendant, noting that the organization is a “… marketing tool …to promote Mannatech’s products” and “… perpetuate Mannatech’s illegal scheme.” Faith leads many to Mannatech, and that faith, combined with desperation and lack of tools to judge the claims of the company and its associates, can be a powerful basis for glyconutrient sales.

Ms Hayman’s faux personal letter is simply a front for a dodgy health product with no evidence behind it being sold to the sick and desperate by illegal means. Nice.


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2 Responses to “Dodgy Glycobiology Claims From Mannatech”

  1. Tweets that mention Dodgy Glycobiology Claims From Mannatech « Letting Off Steam -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by badscienceblogs and Jo Brodie, Alan Henness. Alan Henness said: RT @badscienceblogs: Dodgy Glycobiology Claims From Manntech […]

  2. Barbie Says:

    Bless you! My father is a doctor and he’s become obsessed with this product. It’s a multi-level marketing cult. I appreciate any scientific refutation of their product.

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