Immunotec is a multilevel marketing company that sells supplements focused on a special kind of protein they call Immunocal that is supposed to bolster your body’s immune system.
The company was funded by a team of three doctors who had conducted research on the biological basis behind your immune system’s functioning.
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The scientific discoveries of these doctors led them to found the company, basing its core product line around Immunocal. Since then, the company has expanded to include many of the other typical offerings of a health and wellness MLM.
The company’s public profile has been slowly but steadily rising over the past several years. According to search engine traffic, interest in Immunotec has increased about four-fold in a linear fashion since 2012, with no major spikes or declines in search traffic during that time period.
Search traffic for Immunocal, their flagship product, tracks similarly over time.
While the company offers dozens of health and nutrition supplements, there’s no denying that its standard-bearer is Immunocal.
The company claims it is a revolutionary supplement which can improve your immune system, fight oxidation, and help you gain muscle mass. What’s the secret?
Upon first inspection, the ingredients list doesn’t look very impressive. There’s just one of them, and it’s plain old whey protein isolate.
But the company claims their whey protein isolate is different—the chemical process that they use to extract it preserves some delicate amino acids that are destroyed in competitor’s brands.
Even if we grant this to be the case, how can a simple whey protein isolate boost your immune system? Immunotec cites a specific biological compound called glutathione.
This “master antioxidant” plays a major role in your body’s ability to fight oxidative damage, and is a critical piece in several biological reactions necessary for life.
One of the amino acids in whey protein, called cysteine, is a precursor for the synthesis of glutathione. Supply the body with cysteine, the logic goes, and glutathione levels should rise.
Indeed, this does seem to be the case. Scientific research from way back in 1947 demonstrated that a low dietary protein intake is associated with low glutathione levels. Additionally, direct supplementation of cysteine can raise levels of glutathione in the body, according to the same study.
Immunotec has conducted its own research to support the viability of its products, too. A study published by several of Immunotec’s top researchers in 1989 examined how mice fed a standard mouse feed fared as they got older when compared to mice fed partially with the same whey protein isolate that is in Immunotec.
The scientists found that the mice fed the whey protein isolate lived longer and healthier, and this increase in longevity and health was directly related to the mice’s glutathione levels.
A similar comparative experiment in mice fed either a diet enriched with whey protein isolate or diet enriched with casein, a similar protein isolate that is also derived from milk.
This study investigated the immune system function of the mice. The results showed that the whey protein isolate boosted immune system function to a much greater extent than the casein protein diet did, which the researchers hypothesized could lead to better long-term health. Again, this was related to glutathione levels.
So, it looks like a fairly good bet that whey protein isolate can play an important role in boosting the body’s glutathione levels and therefore overall health and well-being.
However, one core question remains: is Immunocal really any different than the other whey protein isolates on the market?
In one of the studies conducted by Immunotec’s founders, the experimental description lists the amino acid content of their preparation. The cysteine content is about 2%—much higher than casein, but pretty standard as far as whey protein isolate amino acid profiles go.
Second, couldn’t you just take cysteine directly? There are plenty of inexpensive cysteine supplements on the market.
Immunotec’s inability to answer these questions makes it tough to market a very expensive whey protein isolate when there are other equivalent options available for substantially less money.
There’s no official sign-up fee for Immunotec, but you do need to buy a “starter pack,” and none of the options are cheap. The least expensive one is $262.
After signing up and getting a starter pack, you are entitled to a 30% wholesale discount.
To start earning commissions, you need to sell 400 product volume in a single month, and to maintain this rank, you need to sell 180 product volume per month every month.
This qualifies you to a single level of commissions. The next rank requires quite a bit more product volume (2000 total and a maintenance level of 400 product volume) but enables you to recruit three levels down with a 5% commission.
This compensation plan is not very competitive, and because of that, it should be no surprise that Immunotec distributors fare pretty poorly.
According to their income disclosure statement, over 60% make no money at all. Another 23% make less than $100 per month. So already, nearly 85% of consultants make very, very little money.
It’s very tempting to call Immunotec overpriced whey protein and some mediocre supplements. They do have a lot of science behind their products, but it isn’t obvious why their product in particular is superior to any generic supplement.
In the case of Immunocal, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference in cysteine content when compared to whey protein isolates available on the open market.
Add this to the fact that the compensation plan is very unattractive, and the income opportunities look very poor, and you’ve got several good reasons to pass on this MLM.
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 products to your family and friends.