Freelife is a health and wellness multilevel marketing company best known for its Himalayan goji berry products. It’s been around since 1995, and as of 2016 it was planning to merge with the anti-aging and health company Sorvana, another MLM.
Though the company still sings the praises of its goji berry juice, the company and its products have come under fire for making misstatements about the health benefits of their goji berry juice, or lack thereof.
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A 2009 lawsuit criticized the company for insinuating that goji berry juice could fight cancer, treat depression, extend your lifespan, and help you lose weight.
The lawsuit was eventually settled before going to trial, and Freelife resolved to make changes to its marketing literature.
The company has also had some bad publicity surrounding one of its most prominent members, Earl Mindel.
While he authored the best-selling Vitamin Bible and partnered with Freelife to sell goji berry juice, Mindel was later found to have misrepresented his academic qualifications.
The company no longer associates itself with Mindel, though it does still focus on goji berry products.
When it comes to name recognition, Freelife has been trending downward since mid-2013. Search engine traffic for the company has been flat for years, and shows no signs of recuperating.
Goji berries, on the other hand, show more promise as a topic of public interest. Search engine traffic has shown two healthy spikes in the last few years, and interest is steady at about half of peak search traffic volumes.
Freelife has three flagship products: GoChi, TAI60, and TAIGreens. GoChi and TAI60 are goji berry-based beverages for wellness and weight loss, respectively, while TAIGreens is a powdered superfood supplement.
GoChi is the company’s mainstay, and it’s been around for quite a while. The product consists of Himalayan goji juice, alongside white grape juice, red grape juice, pomegranate juice, and natural flavoring agents. These extras are likely included for sweetness, color, and flavor.
Since the lawsuit against GoChi’s more tangible health benefit claims, the marketing literature from Freelife has focused on more subjective measurements like fatigue, mood, mental acuity, and so on.
The company cites a scientific study they published in 2008 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The study demonstrated that, among a group of 34 volunteers, a 14-day regimen of GoChi juice resulted in increased subjective feelings of well-being and gastrointestinal health.
However, this study was roundly criticized by independent scientists. Both of the authors, and all of the subjects, were employees of FreeLife, and there were serious flaws in the study’s design: there were no objective measurements of biological function, just a questionnaire issued to the subjects that asked them to rate how they were feeling.
Other research by independent sources has identified some potentially promising properties of goji juice, though.
A 2014 review article by a cohort of researchers in China and Florida evaluated some of the basic biological functions of the polysaccharides in goji berries. The scientists concluded that there is a plausible biological basis for using these compounds to lower blood lipids and fight inflammation.
However, this is all based on studies on individual cells under a microscope or in a Petri dish. Having an effect inside the human body is something totally different.
To date, there are no high-quality independent, peer-reviewed and controlled studies on the effects of goji berry juice in humans.
TAI60, FreeLife’s weight loss drink, consists of a combination of weight loss supplements, appetite suppressants, and goji berry juice.
The non-goji ingredients include phenylalanine and N-acetyl-L-tyrosine, two amino acid derivatives that FreeLife claims are appetite suppressants, as well as white, green, and black tea extracts.
Phenylalanine and N-acetyl-L-tyrosine have little evidence for their efficacy as appetite suppressants. There is no evidence for N-acetyl-L-tyrosine, and the research that has been done on phenylalanine actually shows that a meal that does not have phenylalanine in it produces lower post-meal hunger.
On the flip side, the tea extracts do appear to have some utility as a weight loss aid. Green tea extract is well-known in the weight loss world as a metabolism booster, and this effect is augmented by caffeine, as reported by a 2005 study in the journal Obesity.
Finally, TAIGreens is a pretty standard “green drink” that consists of powdered isolates from 26 superfoods. There is some evidence that green drink supplements can increase antioxidant and vitamin levels in the blood, but this research is not specific to FreeLife’s products.
With the recent merger of Sorvana and FreeLife, the starter kit is purchased through Sorvana for $39.95. From here, the requirements to remain active (and thus eligible to get paid) are a lot more strict than other MLMs. You need to move 90 personal volume per month, and 60 of this volume must come from preferred customers (i.e. not you).
First orders from new customers can earn you a 20-35% bonus based on the volume of the order, and you can earn commissions from the first two levels of downline customers or distributors at the first rank.
These commission rates are pretty poor, though: only 2-3%. The level depth you can earn commissions on increases over time, but you need three separate legs and a large amount of monthly group volume (distributed about evenly among your legs) to ever move up.
Given this difficult structure, it should be no surprise that 74% of all members of FreeLife earn no income, and of those who do, the majority earn between $400 and $600 per year.
Given the history of FreeLife, and some definite changes in the near future for the company now that is merging with Sorvana, it’s a good time to hold off on joining this MLM.
The compensation structure is disappointing, and the few products they sell aren’t very impressive. They don’t have a great record with the public, either.
Bottom line is, if you’re set on going the MLM route, this one’s not terrible, but probably not the best, either.
If you’re doing it for the money, there are better ways to kill your day job. You might like our coaching because it shows you the good life without peddling overpriced products to your family and friends.