When you don’t have the answer — stonewall & bully. NeriumGate, part 1.

Mahatma Ghandi  famously said, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” If that’s the case, then we seem to be on the verge of victory in our quest to get answers to key questions about Nerium AD.

As regular readers know, our mission at BFT includes shedding light into the mode of action of many cosmeceutical active ingredients, as this information may reveal activation of cellular pathways that are anything but anti-aging over the long term, or simply just don’t add up. We have had occasion to question many such actives on the basis of data, available science, and reasoned logic. In some cases, an illuminating debate has followed. Sometimes companies have offered additional data or logical insights in to their products, which have allowed us to come to new and favorable conclusions regarding their products.

Several of BFT’s recent blog posts have featured some concerns and questions about NeriumAD’s effect on healthy skin cells (not blood borne systemic toxicity) with long-term use. We at BFT have repeatedly:

  • Invited Nerium to provide information that would answer key questions about why a class of chemicals (cardiac glycoside extracts of nerium oleander), well known to cause cellular oxidative stress, and to kill cancer cells, would provide anti-aging benefit when applied topically.
  • Invited them to have any of their scientists write or call, and
  • Have promised to share with our readers Nerium’s perspective on any of these questions, in a spirit of fairness and because we are not averse to having diverse opinions appear on these pages. In fact, we encourage it.

Instead, Nerium International has shown contempt not just for the ideas we express, but for our very existence.

On October 16, 2012, Nerium showed their true colors by posting an article titled Deceptive bloggers are challenging the safety of NeriumAD with false and misleading statements on its Facebook page. Some observations:

  • Nowhere in their article do they identify any of the statements they deem to be false, or supply any refutations of same.
  • What you will find, instead, is a series of declarative statements about “these bloggers”.  Ad hominem attacks. Containing statements that are untrue.
  • The article then (again) expounds on Nerium product safety (based on toxicology tests and brief clinical trial) — statements that are oft repeated in this blog and that we have never challenged.  A smokescreen?
  • What is lacking, of course, is any reference to the legitimate questions that we do ask and have never been offered an answer, or even been offered the opportunity to talk with anyone who could discuss it expertly with us.

Their e-mail blast and FB article post also makes good on the threats alluded to in a Nerium broadcast conference call during the week prior, in which Nerium targeted us by inference, in coarse street language no less, and expressed an unabashed delight in planning to distribute information that would cause much anticipated reputational damage.  As to what to think of a corporation whose upper management delights in doing such things gleefully to real people , rather than being saddened by them –we leave that to you readers to ponder.

As of this writing, Nerium has not responded to our questions. We know they hear them, because a number of you loyal readers keep telling us what is going on at Nerium, what management is saying in public meetings, the names they call us (yes, we have heard them all), the “drama” we seem to incite.

Instead of addressing our questions (which should be quite simple to answer), they have done two things:

  • First, they try to obfuscate the issue (blow smoke, if you will) by bloviating repeatedly about safety studies which were never the question in the first place. We have said over and over we believe the results of those acute systemic toxicity studies. You only have to read the posts and comments to know how many times we have affirmed that, over and over again, in these pages.
  • Second, they have engaged in a concerted effort to “kill the messenger.” metaphorically speaking. In other words, silence us (which they in fact stated was their motive). In order to divert attention from the issues we raise, they have chosen to attack us, as individuals. Is this fair play?

To this we say, simply, “Shame on you.”

In past commentary, we have openly condemned the use of ad hominem attacks in scientific discourse. Ad hominems are a way to create a smoke screen, by focusing on some (typically irrelevant) quality of your opponent in order to discredit their opinion.  Such tactics are considered logical fallacies in debate terms.

In fact, we have not published (we edited out) many comments that attack Nerium management by name, submitted by readers who have been exposed to Nerium the MLM.  We have adhered to a higher standard on these pages. Personal attacks and name calling are not allowed. Sadly, not everyone seems to agree with these principles. The management of Nerium seems to want to make us the issue instead of the questions we raise. They set BFT up as a classical “straw man” (and I suppose by extension, anyone who disagrees with them, or questions them, or their science or business model) focusing on us, instead of the ideas we discuss.  

Readers, we refuse to be dragged down to this level of discourse. While we may be personally attacked, accused of being unqualified to render an opinion, or even wrongly accused of violating some imagined statute by blogging about science, we will stand fast on our opinions, based on the facts and data in published peer-reviewed scientific literature.  And we are not going to be bullied or intimidated by baseless attacks dotted with factual errors.

Just like politicians, business people like to talk about tactics. Tactics can be successful or unsuccessful, and can be based on high-minded or low-minded principles. Tactics can be categorized in a way that tells you something about the philosophical and moral underpinnings of those using such tactics. Emblematic of this is the term “Watergate tactics.” It encompasses a set of tactics employed by President Nixon’s White House during the Watergate Scandal. For those of you too young to remember Watergate, here is a great resource:  http://www.maryferrell.org/wiki/index.php/Watergate

One of the most insidious “Watergate tactics” was the “White House Enemies List.” It seems President Nixon and/or his staff were always on the lookout for troublemakers


(those who opposed his policies, or questioned his actions and decisions, especially journalists), and they seemed intent on making sure they were discredited, marginalized, or punished in some way. In some cases (according to reports of the day), he used the enormous power of his office to do so in an unsavory and illegal manner. Like having the IRS do impromptu investigations on perceived enemies. Truly an abuse of power, money, and office.

We have never tried to hide our distaste for MLMs because of the statistically high number of people who get hurt. But we believe we are witnessing here something that says less about MLMs, and more about the character of Nerium as a single instantiation of an MLM. We at BFT are fond of neologisms. Our newest is “Neriumgate.”

Like most scientists, the docs at BFT are interested in scientific facts, theories, and hypotheses. We don’t have an exclusive on the truth — we are just interested in pursuing it, wherever it leads us. We value free speech, but we also practice restraint in how we express our ideas. We ask a lot of questions, but we don’t yell “fire!” in theaters as a prank. We don’t practice character assassination. We certainly don’t emulate Nixon’s White House.

Let me remind all here that BFT is an independent blog with no ads, no income, and no profits. We donate our time as a public service. It’s not a thing, or an entity, it’s just us docs, regular guys with wives and kids and grandkids,  who continue to pursue medical research and spend time here with you readers, because we love the science and care about people it affects.

Nerium Management Addresses the Assembled Troops About #@*%^@ Jerk Bloggers

We don’t like seeing people get hurt, or victimized, or abused. We especially don’t like bullies. For that reason, we will persist in investigating and discussing skin science and therapeutics, wherever that takes us.  We are not so easily silenced. We are confident that the truth will win out in the end, and that no amount of money can alter it nor suppress it.

We once again invite Nerium International, and all Neriumites, to join us in our quest for truth.  Perhaps we could start by agreeing to condemn together any tactics that even remotely call to mind “politics of personal destruction”.  Such do not have a place in debates about science. This is about ideas, not personalities.

In all of us there is a “small, still voice” that informs us whether our thoughts and actions are right or wrong.  Are we treating our family, friends, neighbors with compassion, or with contempt ? Are we motivated  by a desire to benefit our fellow man, or just ourselves?  The docs at BFT advocate that we all listen to this voice.  And that we all let honor and dignity be our guiding principles.



  1. JT says:

    I had my doubts before about the Nerium management team, but this really is over the top. How incredibly childish and short sighted they are. This not a company, its a kindergarten. Where are the grown ups? These are the people i am going to trust in for my financial future?

  2. narnia says:

    This makes me mad. I don’t care if Nerium AD is a miracle potion (which I doubt sincerely). Their behavior is beyond despicable. Where is Woodward and Bernstein when you really need them? I vote for impeachment. Hang in there, docs.

  3. G. Hardy says:

    Live and Learn as my Mom always quoted…..boy was I blind. I became a Brand Partner with Nerium in April by the encouragement of a life long (40 plus years) friend who I trusted. I was coached to get sign up three more people so I could build my business and make a good income. My husband became a Brand Partner and also two of my dear friends who were unemployed and took out loans to start this wonderful money making opportunity of MLM.

    To make a long story, longer, after a few months, we all found this was not a product that would be easy to sell due to the high price. I personally had many customers/friends who had problems with breaking out and rashes when they did their 7 day test.

    When a friend who signed up to do the business returned her “success pack”, which cost $500.00 dollars for a refund, Nerium only refunded her $77.00 dollars due to her returned bottles (5) being the old formula. Nerium supposedly changed there ingredients in mid July to be gluten free!!!
    My husband sent his success pack back for a refund of $500.00 dollars, only to receive $177.00. Nerium’s contract states that you have one year to return your success for a refund, less 10% restocking charges.

    This company had one thing in mind and that’s to make money…..they do not care if they rip people off. There customer service department is beyond professional and this product truthfully does not work.

    Sadly, I’ve lost a dear friend who drank the kool aid and it’s sad because she is brainwashed by her new found guru “XXXXX”

    I’m thankful that BFT is standing ground and moving forward on what really is the truth behind this product and why are they being so secretive about the product ingredients and studies?

    I’ve learned a hard lesson and will never fall into such a trap again. $1000.00 dollars is a lot of money for my family to lose…and for my friends….I will pay them back someday. I’m sick of this whole horrible experience.

    • JP says:

      This is almost always the case in any MLM and one of the reasons they get such a bad rap. People get in, realize that they will actually have to work to make money and then throw in the towel.

      • drjohn says:

        So, the attitude of Nerium the MLM is that we should view the Hardys as lazy, shiftless folks who just give up when work is required. Of course, you don’t know them at all, do you? But by simply inventing a rule that says anybody who quits is lazy, that gets the MLM off the hook. The problem is, according to extensive research over many decades, that is a big fat fib. But then facts and statistics are only to be used if they are helpful to recruit more honest hard working folks like the Hardys into nerium. I see things differently. I see them as victims of the MLM steamroller. Grist for the mill. Chew them up and toss them out. They served their purpose for a time, we got their money, time to churn again and find more folks needing a supplementary income to make ends meet.

        I only hope that one day you will be convicted of the errors in your own thinking, and that your grow a heart toward people like the Hardys. Go back and read your own words. Ponder who you are.

        • JP says:

          Your idea of an MLM and the idea shared by most people is the exact reason why most people in MLMs don’t make it. You don’t simply sell products to the people you know. Anyone who takes that approach is doomed. You have to take it to the next level and that is what most people don’t realize.
          Furthermore, we are all adults and need to hold ourselves accountable for what we do. Whether it is snake oil, getting into a particular market at the wrong time or loaning money to the wrong person. When it is all said and done, the decisions WE have made have been made by us. You loss was nothing more than you making a bad decision and getting into something you clearly did not understand.

          For the record, regardless of where your products are sold, if the consumer is looking to fill the same need it IS the same market. Since I’m on that point, I have seen Nerium in med-spas and salons, possibly snapping up some of your market share. As a matter of fact, the only reason I know of the product is because they sell it at the med-spa my wife frequents. I honestly don’t care if your death to Nerium campaign fails or not. I find the manner in which you go about downing your product’s top competitors both entertaining and humurous. Which product is next on your hit list? Do have any products that you recommend?

          I suppose if we had a hit list (we don’t – we respond to readers inquiries) we might want nerium to stay at the top because it hurts the most people and because the company uses the most egregiously smarmy tactics to stonewall truth, and to silence critics. We recommend any products with actives that have scientific validity based on 1) a mechanism of action that makes sense in terms of the therapeutic claims, and does not violate laws of chemistry and physics, 2) some data from which to make solid inferences about long term safety and efficacy (does good not harm), e.g.. do not contribute to dermal inflammaging over time, and 3) is marketed in a way that dignifies the field of dermal therapeutics, not makes a mockery of it by relying on abusive practices and pyramids where so many people end up hurt financially and in their relationships. We like peer reviewed data, but are not even all that strict if everything else adds up. Such ingredients include retinols, carnosine, Vits. C, D, E, isoflavones, coQ10, kinetin, reputable peptides like GHK, a number of advanced biologicals, rational mixes of growth factors and cytokines, almost any anti-oxidant, lots of different sunscreens, telomerase-based therapeutics … the list is very extensive. Companies that meet the criteria consistently are ones like SkinMedica and Dermatologica.

          • drjohn says:

            Our friend JP gets lathered up when he imagines that our mission here has anything to do with our company’s goals (our day jobs). I refer back to the pair-o-docs page to counter that notion. And it remains true that Dr George and myself have never made a dime from this blog, or even in this industry. We really are invested in the truth. I wonder if JP can say the same? Perhaps he really is a crusader for the honor and glory of MLM’s, not just another nerium BP?

      • Wanting a sample says:

        If this is such a great product, why don’t you all give out samples of it?? I’d love to try some, but can’t find a sample of it anywhere??!! Where do you get it? Even department stores give out samples, because their products work. Why not this one?



        • drjohn says:

          Some Brand Partners will give you a free one in hopes you will end up under them on the pyramid. I just bid $1.00 (free shipping) for a months supply on Ebay. An almost free sample. These prices must really bug the BP’s.

    • drjohn says:

      Ms. Hardy, your story is a moving one. Sadly, not an uncommon one. Financial hardship at the worst time, strained friendships, families stressed. It makes me sick that they treat you this way. I have been reading through the very complete and well researched work of Dr Jon Taylor (http://mlm-thetruth.com) The e-book by the way is free, about 400 pages of good information. Here is something to know – you are not alone.

      Approximately 99.6% of MLM participants lose money – spending more on company purchases and minimal operating expenses than they receive in commissions from the company. Based on statistics from the Direct Selling Association, the chief MLM lobbying organization, aggregate losses (which the DSA calls “sales”) suffered by tens of millions of victims exceed tens of billions of dollars a year in the U.S., with far greater losses worldwide. MLMs often plunder vulnerable populations overseas. Some MLM participants lose more than money. Divorces, rifts among extended families, and even addiction to MLM can result from excessive commitment to MLM – which can become a lifestyle. “MLM junkies” – who have internalized its “easy money” appeal – may find it difficult to work again in a normal work setting.

      I realize that knowing all this doesn’t change the damage done to you and your family. But one thing you can do, that may help you find a purpose in all this, is to warn others. Which you have already started to do with your excellent comments here. There is an image that always comes to mind when I think of this. During the Normandy Beach invasion of WWII, soldiers who were mortally wounded by mines were observed to crawl as best they could through the mine fields in order to detonate more mines with what remained of their body, attempting to spare their fellow soldiers a similar fate. Maybe that is a bit dramatic, but I think you can see the point. I think if all the ex-neriumites, or ex-MLMer’s of all stripes, were to band together and speak with one voice, we might see others spared the wounds you have had to endure.

      Thanks you so much for sharing your story. Please keep in touch with us, come back often, let us know how you are doing.

    • Teri from Virginia says:

      Thank you for posting this detailed comment. I have a ‘friend’ that wants me to get into it, too. I will not. This is a get-rich-quick scheme and the people at the top are the ones making the money. (As always!!)

      I appreciate it, and hopefully, other people will read these articles, and comments before getting ripped off…

      Thanks again


  4. G. Hardy says:

    To JP: I’ve worked hard my entire life and have taken pride in any profession/job. To assume that I threw in the towel so to speak is not for you to judge. The issues with MLM in my case is based on their hidden agenda. Not stating in our initial kit that if the formula changed, we would not receive a refund. No, that refund was to be guaranteed within one year from the time we signed up.
    Thank you Dr. John for your support, it’s one of those lessons in life that at my age I should have known better, but again this was presented to me from a long time friend whom I trusted. Unfortunately, as I see it, her only goal in life is to be wealthy, at any expense. I’m not willing to lose friends and family for a hefty bank account, people are far more important to me and my husband.

  5. DavidH says:


    I’m the Mr. Hardy in this equation. We have lost a lot of money. I had said to our “up-line” that I’d stop. However, I am in total agreement with my wife. The entire Nerium response is a bogus tissue of lies. The sales pitch involved telling us that the product cured scaring, acne, and a variety of other skin issues. I know that Nerium leadership has published info telling their sales staff not to say such things (wink, wink).

    I worked in sales for a major life insurance company for a year. I had to market a product and deal face to face with clients. Despite my failure as a salesman (I cold called 200 calls a day trying to drum up business {the most horrible experience I’ve ever had}), this company provided benefits through the birth of our son. And, yes they were shameless in their sales strategies, but they never obfuscated the product we were selling. We were held to federal, state, and local standards. Agents who lied or fabricated about the products we sold were terminated instantaneously.

    So here we are six months into this mess. I’m not anticipating any further compensation from Nerium Bio{who’s its}.

    I will encourage the Doctors to continue forward. Sally forth. I grew up the son of a lawyer. They won’t win if they are wrong. I remember the sage words of my departed dad, “If they weren’t lying, they wouldn’t be fighting so much.” {a parsed ripoff of Shakespeare}.

    I’m sorry JP that you believe what you believe. According to you I and my wife are lazy slugs who don’t know how to unlock the “golden key.” I teach inner city kids 180 days a year (why don’t you try my job). I have a masters degree, a reading credential, and an administrative credential. Oh yeah, I’m a lazy bum. I’ve been in public education for 20 years. I’m hoping that I can teach my student enough sense to never fall for a MLM scheme.

    In closing, I’m going to see to it that out of my meager public servant income that my friends are compensated that I’m going to repay them out of my own pocket. I’m betting that Nerium and the MLM cohorts would never think of compensating them for their unwillingness to follow the “Slight Edge” and making all the money they could by following a program to kill their personal relationships with all their friends and family. It’s only money, right JP.

  6. G. Hardy says:

    I’ve had some time to read through older post on this blog and found another BP that returned her “success kit” as we did and do not see a follow up on her return. I’m curious to know how much Nerium refunded her on the $500.00 or $1,000.00 dollar box of “gold”….

    For those who will be returning your products/kit, my suggestion is not to….they will not refund you the 90% as promised in your contract.
    My husband and I returned our kit, complete with the “new formula” and untouched books, etc., only to receive less tan $150.00 back.
    Another BP, whom signed up with me, returned her $500.00 dollar box, only to receive $77.58 back.

    From the looks of the internet, you will have much better chances of your return investment by listing your products on Amazon or Ebay.
    If we had only known this, we would have done the same.

    Nerium makes you jump through many hoops to even get authorization sending back your products, then they take you to the cleaners on the amount of your return…excuses after excuses which fall nowhere in the original contract.

    Good Luck to all….

  7. In hiding says:

    First off thanks to the docs for sharing their years of expertise with us. I consider myself a fairly leaned person (MBA, just accepted to a tier 1 law school). Sad to say, peer pressure marketing worked on me.I bought the $500 success kit. Thankfully I saw the light before I gave this MLM the chance to ruin my professional & career contacts. I really feel like these people are vultures willing to exploitany weakness for financial gain. In my case, my neighbor “shared” the product with me and sold me on brand partnership knowing that I was struggling with moving across country, new baby..she pushed (and I fell for) Nerium as a social & professional void filler. She, afterall, set her own hours, got a company paid Lexus & was having a blast reconnecting with friends.

    The turn off for me is the junk science behind the product and how anxious my uplink was for me to upload my contact list. In thier words, “we’ve struggled to penetrate the Santa Cruz/Monterey market!”. I cancelled before uploading my contacts that would become available to my upline to exploit upon my termination! I just received a refund of $76 for my initial bottle & $533 for my untouched success kit. It took 3 weeks and went smoothly. Just sharing my experience and thanking everyone (except for those turkeys at Nerium) for their contributions to this enlightening & relationship saving discussion.

  8. Josie says:

    I’ve been following Docs’ blog the past 2 months. A good friend is a Brand Partner who has been totally seduced by the Nerium cult. Initially, I tried the product to support her. I did not like what it did to my skin – drying and itchy. Then reading the research and the lies of MDAndersin involvement motivated my bidding adieu to that touted magical blue bottle. I suggested that she read the info on this site. NO, she told me; she has the truth. I’ve observed her face over the past 2 months and, honestly, see no transformative changes. Her red capillaries are still there without make-up, but I know she covers them well when presenting what Nerium will do for your face!

    Folks in difficult financial situations can be easily conned by the slick salesmanship and marketing techniques from Nerium’s bully pulpit management team. They are using people for their personal financial profit, and the hooks to keep the Stepford clones in line come in the form of IPads and Lexus give-a-ways.

    Keep up the great investigative and scientific work, Docs. Truth and justice are needed!

  9. Victoria says:

    Just to let you all know if you go to their Facebook page and try to ask a question regarding its claims, they will remove it. Any negative comments about products are also removed. Sure sign of a scam

    • Pcaskinaddict says:

      So true! I paid $1000 to be a “partner” and asked a question about it being sold on eBay for $60 and my question was deleted in mere seconds! Looks like I threw $1000 out the window!!!

  10. Jeffrie Ann says:

    Hi there,

    I just saw this new post on a skin care forum for estheticians. There is quite the heated debate. Docs, Any comments or clarification?

    “An excellent and enlightening response from a recent meeting held with the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology (NACCT) correcting fallacious information being disseminated via the internet. An excerpt: “Since you are aware of Dr. Newman’s and ST&T’s research, I will start with commentary pertaining to toxic plants, where one panelist (a director from one of the Poison Control Centers, who has studied the
    National Poison Control Center database of all reports from plant-based poison incidents) commented specifically about Nerium oleander. He shared that the term “oleander” needs to be put in a generic term. There is Nerium oleander (used in NeriumAD), which is often mistaken for a different plant called Thevetia
    peruviana (referred to as yellow oleander), This yellow-flowered plant is responsible fora large number of toxic reports and is often confused as oleander in a generic sense. So when you hear “Nerium oleander,”you may confuse it with a plant which has a much more poisonous, toxic reputation, when it actually is not poisonous. This toxicologist’s word of advice was to not believe everything you read on the Internet relating to plants, particularly relating to Nerium oleander.” He went on to describe various carcinogens and toxins found in tomatoes, potatos, almonds, rhubarb, etc.

    Regardless of whether we choose to introduce Nerium to our clients, I would expect most estheticians to have a professional interest in the facts versus the myths concerning this (or any) product ingredient”

    And the next comment…

    “Ok, now I’m getting a headache from confusion.
    Oleander is toxic according to this link I posted earlier from The Cancer Society… I’m honestly confused because The Cancer Society is reputable.

    Again, I read Oleander (all parts) are toxic from this link Suzanne Hall posted earlier:

    Then Suzanne speaks to the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology……that says “There is Nerium oleander (used in NeriumAD), which is often mistaken for a different plant called Thevetia peruviana (referred to as yellow oleander), This yellow-flowered plant is responsible for a large number of toxic reports and is often confused as oleander in a generic sense. So when you hear “Nerium oleander,”you may confuse it with a plant which has a much more poisonous, toxic reputation, when it actually is not poisonous.”

    Some questions….
    Only the yellow flowered Oleander is toxic?
    There is a Nerium Oleander that is safe?
    Does this mean the Nerium chemists made a safe Oleander?

    One last question…..
    Suzanne you wrote…..”This toxicologist’s word of advice was to not believe everything you read on the Internet relating to plants”
    But Suzanne, you posted that link from the internet about oleander?
    Should we believe it?

    I’m really trying to understand this whole Oleander issue.
    However, I’m going to just avoid using anything with Oleander of any kind in any product!!”

    I have a headache too. And one note… the first post comes from an esthetician who is selling and using it.

    So what do you think about this?

    • drjohn says:

      Hi Jeffrie Ann, I can understand the confusion. Let me try to shed some light on your basic questions. I think we need to do a whole post on this.

      Let’s start with this statement – “This yellow-flowered plant is responsible fora large number of toxic reports and is often confused as oleander in a generic sense. So when you hear “Nerium oleander,”you may confuse it with a plant which has a much more poisonous, toxic reputation, when it actually is not poisonous“. This last bit is entirely untrue. Who said that? Nerium oleander is poisonous by all commonly used definitions of the term. There are two oleanders, cousins in the same family (N, Oleander, and T. Peruviana), but they contain the precise same toxins – a class of chemicals referred to as cardiac glycosides. As far as I am aware, there are no studies showing that Nerium oleander contains less of these chemicals than yellow oleander. There may be more deaths due to yellow oleander, but that could be because it grown more in parts of the world where folk medicine practitioners prescribe it (cultural differences, not chemical ones). Anyway, there is lots of evidence that Neriium oleander is capable of killing humans, so that “not poisonous:” statement is just plain wrong. I’ll stick some references in at the end. So, that answers your question – is only the yellow one toxic? NO. BOTH ARE.

      Next question- is there a Nerium oleander that is safe? The answer to that lies in dosing. Every poison has a dose at which it begins to cause problems but you don;t know it (sub-clinical, we call it) then a higher dose at which you may experience mild symptoms, all the way up to a dose which causes major organ dysfunction, or death. So, one answer is IF YOU GIVE A SMALL ENOUGH DOSE, IT IS SAFE. By that I mean safe from system toxicity & death. That just makes sense. Now, nerium oleander extracts (oleandriin) have been studied for their use against cancer. This is the excellent work of Dr Newman and many others. he has shown that oleandrin works as a cellular poison by shutting down protein production in cells, messing up the sodium-potassium ATPase system (critical to survival) and causing cells to die. And it seems that some cancers are more susceptible to this than normal cells. It has been tried in some cancers with some success. Now, all of this is about giving oleandrin by mouth or injection. None of this is about what happens when you put on skin. When you do, it raises an entirely different set of questions. One is, is it absorbed into the general circulation to act systemically (where it could e.g. cause heart problems, as a “poison”. The second question is – whether or not it gets absorbed in any quantity, what does it do to skin cells? The reason to ask that is because we know from all that work by Dr Newman in cancer that it does things like raise free radicals (reactive oxygen species) inside cells – slows growth through cell cycle arrest – and kills some of the cells. Is there evidence it does the same thing in normal cells as in cancer cells? YES. Oh, and is there evidence that if you applied oleandrin (or an oleander plant) to akin, might some of that get absorbed? YES. Enough to cause poisoning? YES at least in the case of yellow oleander (but again, remember, its the same cardiac glycosides in both species).

      OK, now lets get specific here. The product out there whose key ingredient is a cardiac glycoside extract of the oleander plant – is it poisonous? NOT in the systemic sense, if we can believe the company’s (non-peer-reviewed) report where they found no cardiac glycosides in the blood of people putting nerium on their skin. Why is that, since we know it can be absorbed? The dose is too low. It would have to be higher to get absorbed in any significant amount. Now, is there another toxicity we might worry about other than the acute, system variety? YES. What about the skin itself? How is it that you put a substance on skin known to cause increased ROS cause cell cycle arrest, and kill cells be good for skin? This is the question we have been asking for many months , with no answer. We keep hearing about this or that refutation BUT ALL BASED ON SYSTEMIC TOXICITY which is not our concern here. We think about mechanisms of action – how an active will help skin to reverse signs of aging and prevent further damage. Cardiac glycosides by their very nature are pro-aging – they set in motion the sames cascade of cellular events that UV light does. It sounds like a chemical sunburn – which has propensity to damage DNA. This is that slow, sub-clinical chronic smoldering inflammatory environment that we all associate with inflammaging. So, is nerium good for skin, or even safe for skin? NOT as far as we can tell. Not unless you believe in the (completely discredited) theories of homeopathy, where folk practitioners give small doses of poisons to create a cure. We saw how well that worked with oleander applied to skin rashes –> oleander poisoning.

      I hope this helps your headache. If not, please ask more questions. I’ll add some references to this shortly. And you can always invite me to your esthetician discussion board if you want to get a spirited debate going!

  11. A Fellow Truth Seeker says:

    So the connection between Dr. Newman’s research showing that oleandrin works as a cellular poison and then jumping to how this “NEA-8 extract” can be good for healthy skin cells is very blurry and confusing to me. There are some missing links of information that are needed to bridge this gap. This has nothing to do with systemic (blood) toxicity — which Nerium likes to focus on.

    AND, if Nerium can point to scientific reports that support that Nerium is safe in terms of systemic toxicity (and not be afraid of the FDA when doing that), then WHY CAN’T Nerium point to scientific reports that support that Nerium is safe in terms of skin cells (i.e., inflammatory environment or anti-inflammatory environment)?

    Nerium keeps repeating the party line of (or some variation of):
    “Because we are a cosmetic line we are not allowed to make claims on changes to the cellular structure to the skin. We know from our clinical trials that the unique ingredient NEA-8 acts fast to help reduce the appearance of many skin issues including wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation, redness, and problem skin. It is doing this through supporting the skins own rejuvenation process.”

    Perhaps the doctors here at BFT can help the Nerium Executive Team avoid FDA warnings by providing some examples of the type of information they can cite that won’t get them into trouble with the FDA as a cosmetic line? After all, they must be new at this and might appreciate the help? ;-)

    • drjohn says:

      Well first off, as I understand it, the FDA guidelines do not extend to scientific discussions which are separate from product sales efforts. So, one good way for them to disseminate information within the guidelines would be to bring the information here (where obviously they don’t sell products). We will publish any account they provide, verbatim. The FDA is not in the business of stifling science. Read this excerpt: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) work together under a long-standing liaison agreement governing the division of responsibilities between the two agencies. The FDA has primary responsibility for claims on product labeling, including packaging, inserts, and other promotional materials distributed at the point of sale. The FTC has primary responsibility for claims in advertising, including print and broadcast ads, infomercials, catalogs, and similar direct marketing materials. Marketing on the Internet is subject to regulation in the same fashion as promotions through any other media. In other words, as long as they are not using it to market products, they can talk about the science without reservation, just not “at the point of sale. The difference is clear. Safe haven = right here.

      Of course, I’m sure they know all this already. It is perpetually amusing that they don’t seem to know what a claim is or isn’t. Or so it seems, anyway. Can’t the fastest growing MLM in history (according to them) afford to hire a regulatory consultant for an hour?

      As to the reason they continue to ignore our requests for any clarifying information on skin cell effects, I would have to speculate that maybe they just don’t have an answer. They never looked? Maybe they thought the whole “it came out of MD Anderson” (now proven to be a myth) story would be cool, give it an air of legitimacy. I don’t think they even figured out “hmmm, I wonder if anyone will ask why a cancer killing drug is good for skin”? T

      here is an abundance of information available, from MD Anderson and other fine labs around the world, about the way oleandrin affects cells. It is quite well understood. Nobody starts human clinical trials of anti-cancer therapies without understanding the mechanism of action. Problem is, the well known effects of these naturally occurring chemicals fits rather well with the knowledge that they are poisons at a celluar level. They interfere with the sodium -potassium pump, a very important life sustaining thing for cells. Heart cells are extremely dependent on this pump to maintain a normal heartbeat, which is the reason why death from oleander poisoning is often cardiac in origin (heart attack). Skin cells also are dependent on a sodium-potassium pump. Poisoning skin cell’s metabolic machinery disrupts normal function and targets the cell for destruction) apoptosis, a sort of cell suicide.

      Most skin damage traces back to damage from free radicals (reactive oxygen species, or ROS) inside skin cells. This is how solar rays and environmental stresses cause skin to age. The goal in anti-aging is reducing oxidative stress, and reversing the process of aging through regeneration. Throughout Dr. Newman’s oleandrin work we find reference to the increase of reactive oxygen species inside cells. Cells are slowed down and killed. There is not a smidgen of evidence to date, in this extensive oleandrin literature, that it causes cells to regenerate. None that I can find. Which is good news when you are fighting cancer — you don’t want to do anything that would cause cancer cells to regenerate – that would be pro-cancer, not anti-cancer.

      One way to look at this – a chemical cannot be anti-cancer and pro-regeneration (anti-aging) at the same time, under the commonly accepted constructs of cell biology. In fact, one theory holds that aging itself is a defense against cancer (and by extension the converse would be true). Life is a delicate balance between regeneration and proliferation, healthy restorative growth and the runaway growth of cancer.

      Which leaves us where we started. An abundance of literature about how oleandrin works, and none of it suggests any benefit to skin. Unless you want to invoke something like “damage cause the skin’s defensive functions to kick in”. The (unproven) hormetic principle, which really is a reinvention of homeopathy. The problem here is that the hypotheses about hormetic action of toxic phytochemicals suggests increases in metabolic pathways and proteins that we already know from Dr Newman’s work are decreased. Plus, and theory of hormesis requires that you apply the chemical then stop for weeks to months to let the adaptive responses occur. In a simple minded way, that is sort of how peels work. Or laser for that matter. But the difference here would be – they tell you to out it on every day. No chance to adapt. It would be like putting an acid peel on your face every day. What would that look like after a while? Chronic inflammation. There is a big difference between intermittent and continuous stresses. Smaller but continuous stress are what we already get daily from UV rays. They are pro-aging, not anti-aging. Short of invoking unscientific theories like homeopathy we don’t have a clue as to how this could be helpful to skin.

      But perhaps it is there in such low quantities it has practically no biologic effect. Perhaps any benefit seen is due the aloe ingredient. That would make sense since aloe has emollient & anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also very cheap, at maybe 1/100 the cost of Nerium AD (ballpark estimate).

      To summarize my impressions:
      1. “we are not allowed to make claims” may just be an excuse. They could disseminate data if they had any, and were so inclined.
      2. IF not a systemic toxin because too small a dose for absorption does not mean that it is not a toxin to skin cells when applied there directly
      3. Any confusion you are experiencing is the sign of an inquiring mind (you are indeed discerning).
      4. The only conjecture that seems to fit the known facts about oleandrin is that there is so little of it in the product that it isn’t harmful. Too small a dose for biologic action.
      5. It is also reasonable therefore to speculate (following from the logic above) that aloe is the actual active ingredient because there is too little oleandrin in there to do anything to cells. We don’t know if this is true, but its the best explanation we have given what is known and what is not known.

      • A Fellow Truth Seeker says:

        Thank you SO MUCH for that detailed response.
        I understand the issue better now.

        SO…….IF aloe IS the actual main active ingredient (and it IS listed first on their product, which means it’s the most abundant ingredient, correct?), then it really shouldn’t cost as much as it does in the first place?! Or, can Nerium claim that their other ingredients and “proprietary blends” are super special?

        And IF aloe is the actual main active ingredient, then could we assume that the product does NOT cause inflammation at the cellular level? But at that point, perhaps just putting pure aloe on your face every night would yield the same results?

        • drjohn says:

          No. Abundance does not equal potency. Water is often first on a label because it is the most abundant, but is an inert ingredient. I wouldn’t pay much attention to label position for this argument. But IF the speculation is correct that there is is so little actual oleandrin (cardiac glycosides) in the product that it won’t be a source of skin cell toxicity, it doesn’t matter. In fact, the extraction process munges it all together anyway. They extract the cardiac glycosides using aloe. They don’t really even need to differentiate the two on a label.

          Aloe vera has been claimed to have all the benefits claimed for Nerium AD. Here is an excerpt from this paper Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation. Radava R. Korać and Kapil M. Pharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jul-Dec; 5(10): 164–173.

          Aloe vera or Aloe barbadensis has been scientifically proven for all forms of burn, be it radiation, thermal, or solar. It has also been demonstrated that it has a prophylactic effect if used before, during, and after these skin damaging events. Clearly, the plant is mainly used for its soothing and cooling effect; however, the plant is useless if used at less than 50% and it is recommended that it is used at 100% to be sure of any beneficial effect. The polysaccharides, mannose-6-phosphate, and complex anthraquinones all contribute synergistically to the benefits of this material.[30] The natural chemical constituents of Aloe vera can be categorized in the following main areas: Amino acids, anthraquinones, enzymes, lignin, minerals, mono- and polysaccharides, salicylic acid, saponins, sterols, and vitamins. Aloe vera not only improved fibroblast cell structure, but also accelerated the collagen production process. Aloe vera is a uniquely effective moisturizer and healing agent for the skin (both human and animal).

          While all this is true, it is also true that the moisturizing effects of aloe vera wear off very quickly, and many people complain their skin feels dryer overall. We have heard the same thing from some of you about nerium ad. Also, as a stimulant of fibroblasts, aloe is weak compared to many other substances. So, its a good botanical, but not a wonder drug. The great thing about aloe vera is that it is cheap and abundant. About 32 cents an ounce. Compare to Nerium ad at $110 per ounce. Big difference! Especially if the active ingredient is the same.

          The other question was “could we assume that the product does NOT cause inflammation at the cellular level”? The answer is perhaps, IF we are correct in our hypothetical speculation that the oleander extracts are not there in a high enough concentration to act as we know they do act on cells. Now, there may be a nerium “expert” who agrees with us. One of the toxicology guys they hired for this latest safety PR effort says (I am paraphrasing) that there is not enough cardiac glycosides in the product to cause a biological effect.. I think he may be on to something.

          • Martha says:

            I know i’m a little late to the discussion. I just attended my first Nerium party and have been researching since then. I saw ST&T Research referred to in the film pretty extensively. Has anyone ever heard of ST&T Research before? Other than connected with Nerium, I mean. There is one listed as being in San Francisco, but honestly, if it is the same business, it looks really questionable. Has anyone bothered to go visit to see if it is real?

  12. Jeffrie Ann says:

    LinkedIn members who are not estheticians were able to comment but their posts were removed due the sales pitch nature of the posts (yes, pitching Nerium).

  13. Jeffrie Ann says:

    PS: I posted your reply to my comment and a link back here on the discussion board. Hope that’s OK :-|

  14. Traci says:

    Is Nerium a member of the DSA? Is so, the DSA has a policy that all companies must follow for returning unused products. http://www.dsa.org/ethics/code/#inventory.

  15. Paleomama says:

    I have been researching Nerium due to a friend trying to sign me up as a Brand Partner. I appreciate the info and comments on this site. She and I have been going back and forth on the safety of the product. She sent me a copy of a toxicology memo that sounds the same as one quoted in the above comments, where there is an attempt to differentiate between the poisonous oleander and Nerium oleander. Out of fairness to my friend, whom I greatly respect, I’m continuing research elsewhere. Out of curiosity, I pulled up the Wikipedia for Nerium oleander. They cite several studies stating that topical application of the extract has been studied and found to be safe. The info appears to be legitimate and I would love to hear thoughts on this. Thanks!!

    • drjohn says:

      Anybody can edit a wiki. They can be notorious inaccurate for that reason. This is what has happened here – Nerium “interests” (check out the recorded URL’s of the change authors) have altered the wiki to suit their party line story. If you have time to spend at it, you can actually go in and look at change logs. It didn’t used to say what it says now. These are recent updates. Notice that the references to studies are internal studies sponsored by Nerium, never published in a peer-reviewed journal, which actually puts this is a questionable category even by wiki standards. What is even more obvious is the expunging (or maybe just plain ignoring) of those studies that mention nerium oleander poisoning. To get an idea how voluminous they are, click here to do a quick pubmed (National Institutes of Health ) search on nerium toxicity (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=nerium%20toxicity). Here are 55 papers that didn’t make it into the wiki, despite being mainly published in peer-reviewed academic journals (a higher standard than commercial interest internal documents). You may also want to read some other reputable sites on the subject of nerium oleander toxicity. Here are a few:

      livestrong http://www.livestrong.com/article/395483-nerium-oleander-toxicity/
      New York Times http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/poison/oleander/overview.html
      Inchem http://www.inchem.org/documents/pims/plant/pim366.htm
      eHow http://www.ehow.com/info_7753722_toxic-oleander-humans.html
      wiki answers http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_touching_a_white_oleander_plant_deadly

      Here is a statement in the wiki that begs to be challanged: “There does not appear to be any toxicity associated with exposure of a Nerium oleander extract to the skin.” and “there is no toxicity or deaths reported from topical administration or contact with Nerium oleander or specific products derived from them.

      One prodct derived from nerium oleander is the poison itself present in both common oleander and yellow oleander … a group of chemicals called cardiac glycosides. There is no evidence of which I am aware that they are less concentrated in nerium oleander leaves, stems or seeds than the yellow flowered cousin.

      Can oleandrin (cardiac glycosides) be absorbed through skin and cause problems? Here is a peer-reviewed study of four cases of persons experiencing non-fatal toxic reactions (heart problems) after applying oleander topically as a folk remedy for rashes and skin lesions.

      Note the title of the paper. The conclusion of the authors is that it is not fiction at all.

      J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2009 Jan-Apr; 2(1): 43–45.
      Cutaneous absorption of Oleander: Fact or fiction
      S Senthilkumaran, S Saravanakumar, and P Thirumalaikolundusubramanian


      Cardiac conduction disorders following oral ingestion of Oleander plant materials were documented earlier. Transcutaneous absorption of yellow oleander (Thevetia peruviana) leaf extract applied over non intact skin (raw wound) resulting in reversible cardiac conduction disorder observed in four healthy males who were free from any other systemic or electrolyte or metabolic disorders or exposure to pesticide or toxins is reported for the first time. Their hematological, biochemical, clinical, and echocardiogram status were within normal limits and free of any abnormalities. One among the four, presented for weakness and breathlessness (class II). He had bradycardia with Mobitz II block and hypotension without any other demonstrable localizing signs. The other three were identified in the community and without any symptoms. However, their ECG revealed bradycardia with Mobitz I block in two and complete heart block in the other. All of the four recovered well without any untoward events. Hence, it is suggested that physicians and practitioners have to elicit history and route of administration of unconventional therapy, whenever they are confronted with clinical challenges and during medical emergencies before embarking final decision.

      When the BFT docs get some time, we will do our own edits to improve the accuracy of the nerium oleander wiki. Should be interesting.

      Dr George explains above the BFT position about the releveance of these systemic toxicity studies. We are willing to accept an hypothesis that speculates there is so little actual oleandrin in the final product that whatever is absorbed would not be enough to be detectable. But the question remains what about the skin itself? They don’t answer that in any studies, in the wiki (or anywhere). Many studies show it to be a skin irritant, oxidative stressor, and killer of cells.

  16. Drgeorge says:

    This has been addressed multiple times at BFT. The toxicology studies cited thus far looked at systemic levels of oleandrin, the cardiac glycoside found in Nerium. As you mentioned, non-toxic levels were observed. BFT has no issue with those conclusions. Our issue has been and remains whether or not actives studied and proved to have cytotoxic effect on certain types of cells in the laboratory (in vitro) can be applied daily to normal skin cells without long term deleterious effect. To our knowledge, this has not been looked at by anyone, or at least published. We ask our readers to discern the difference between these two concepts. One is apples, the other is oranges. We expect Neriumites to continue to talk about the same systemic toxicology studies over and over. That is the mantra of the company and the party line of the brand partners posting. Which is fine, but just doesn’t answer our question.

    • Paleomama says:

      Thank you both for your responses. I had not initially picked up on the distinction being made between systemic and skin cell toxicity. I appreciate your detailed explanations. And I noted that the wiki changes dealing with topical use were added by ST&T…

  17. Anon says:

    One has to admire the instantaneous and draconian policing of Nerium’s Facebook page – they must have watchdogs 24/7 just in case someone might be a non-kool aid drinker. A close friend posted a derogatory comment based on his personal experience with Nerium, received one “like” within a minute and one minute after that both his post and the post of the person who had “liked” his comment were – poof!! – blasted into electronic smitherines. Two minutes. I wonder if they ever do it even faster. That’s pretty impressive but not very open minded. Thought control masquerading as open dialogue. Talk about damage control and corporate paranoia.

  18. C.S. says:

    I use straight up coconut oil as my moisturizer. Its organic and pure. Is there anything bad about this?

  19. Martha says:

    Dr. John, I think you guys are too trusting. Always follow Nerium’s claims back to the alleged source. I checked the online program for the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology’s meeting in 2012. Nerium claims to have had some input either in the presentation or review of the product. I could not find anything related to Nerium or related material. Can you?

  20. Chad says:

    Has Nerium still not contacted you guys or offered answers to your questions?

  21. Saddened says:

    I have a family member who drank the Kool-Aid and is peddling it to friends who I fear will suffer long-term damage from the unknown long-term effects from these cell altering toxins. Too many are dazzled by the distraction of easy money, free products, fee iPads, and free cars to look into the science beyond what the Company “tells them” the science is. It reminds me of the Phen-Fen craze except that wasn’t MLM but a host of medical practitioners who got caught up in that. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    Rather than attacking Nerium on Facebook, I chose to post on my own page an explanation of the skincare products I use if anyone was interested in an alternative product that has been sold globally to millions since 1979 without a single BBB complaint! I have used it myself for 20 years and have glowing skin and very minimal fine lines as a result, at the age of 45. I’ve used it for 20 years without selling it because the value is there for me to pay for it without peddling it!! The proof is in the pudding, as they say! They claim to have 92% customer retention and I don’t have any reason to doubt it, I will be a lifelong product user.

    Unfortunately, my enthusiasm of a competing product brought out the bully in my family member (maybe it’s a company mentality?), a heated debate ensued and apparently I have been cast aside forever for daring to encourage people to do their own research and maybe wait for long term results before they jump on the Nerium train!

    I’m not a huge fan of government regulation, but when cancer treatment pharmaceuticals that haven’t been approved by the FDA for their intended use is being sold to millions as skincare products… something should be done!

    • Caguilar says:

      out of curiosity, what skin care product do you use that works so well for you?

    • Elena O says:

      Hi Drs of BFT, not sure if you are going to allow this reply but I can only try :)

      Obviously, I found your blog because I am researching Nerium. I wasn’t approached by anyone but rather was trying to find a good product for my 40 something year old face and stumbled onto a BP website. I went to the Nerium site and flipped through it thinking I found the magic to all my skins delimmas. I was so excited, went back to the BP site contacted her and told her I wanted to order the product. To give her credit she was not pushy at all in trying to convince me to become a BP. Once my excitement wore off my practical side kicked in. Then started my research. I went back to Neriums website, looking for that scientific research that says what it actually does to the skin. Couldn’t find it and up went the red flag.

      So glad I found your blog. After reading everything I really don’t thing enough information has been released on what it actually does to the skin for my piece of mind. I’m gonna return the bottle without even trying it.

      This very long story is just to ask if it’s ok if I inquire of this poster – Saddened- what product she uses. Because that is really why I found Nerium in the first place. My face is getting old and would like to find a good product to help it out. Help a vain girl out? :)

      Saddened, what product are you using?!! Thanks

    • Gracie says:

      I am curious to know what product you are using. Will you share your “secret”?

  22. Curious says:

    Where is the conclusion to this story? This was so heated, how did this thread get dropped?

  23. Dr. Zip says:

    I am concerned that a close friend of mine has gone over the edge with this stuff. I am a physician (EM) and have seen the very real outcomes of people who have used pseudo-scientific therapies instead of evidenced based medical treatments for a whole list of maladies, especially in the skin care arena. My attempts at discussing the “scientific” background of this product with my friends have been met with animosity and disdain. I have cared for each of them, their children, and their other friends when faced with real life medical emergencies. They’ve always trusted my medical opinion. This MLM kool aide must be very, very powerful stuff. One just returned from a “convention” in Las Vegas, even more determined to enroll our other friends as brand partners. This is dangerous stuff on many, many levels.

  24. Anne says:

    I just found this blog as I was researching Nerium. My sis-in-law(s) have just gotten into it, and I am scientifically skeptical. I see a pyramid scheme, a market that will saturate more quickly than they realize, and a product that scares me. I am wondering how I can tell them what I see…

  25. DJ says:

    Dr. John, I have someone trying to get me into this and I voiced my concerns about safety. They just had their big conference and the big news is they now are the only patent approved antioxidant. I believe the patent is just for the extraction method. Anyways, I presented in my own words some of the questions you have put out for Nerium to reply to. The person has told me that my questions were forwarded to corporate for them to answer… we’ll see how that goes. In the mean time, the rep sent me a link to their 17 page safety info packet. I noticed on page 2 the first video is neriumadsafety.com done in October 2012. Does this info answer any of the questions? I think this is what their corporate will refer to if and when they reply to it. Let me know what you think of it so I can be ready for their reply. Thanks, DJ

    • drjohn says:

      You are correct – the patent is only an extraction method for cardiac glycosides from oleander plants. It does not deal with efficacy or safety of that extract at all. Which makes the claim that it is the “the only patent approved antioxidant” not just false, but downright silly. Patents do not prove (and certainly don’t approve) anything. They only confer rights to control economic benefit. You can patent useless or whacky things, as long as somebody else hasn’t tried to patent the same useless whacky thing ahead of you. And, of course, lots of antioxidants have been patented (as actual use patents, not mere extraction methods).

      So, the basic question remains. How can a drug, well known to cause massive oxidative stress (as published in peer-reviewed science journals by Dr. Newman) now suddenly be an antioxidant? Aren’t these two things opposites? One of many well documented studies:
      Oleandrin-mediated oxidative stress in human melanoma cells
      Robert A. Newman Peiying Yang Walter N. Hittelman et. al.
      Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Univ. Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
      Journal of Experimental Therapeutics and Oncology Vol. 5 2006

      See if you can get that question answered – and if you do please let us know and we will gladly publish it here.

      • DJ says:

        Well Drjohn, just an update to my last post… I was told on July 29th that someone from corporate was going to call me specifically to answer the questions I sent them (your early questions in my own words), but I haven’t heard anything yet. If I do, I’ll ask them how something that produces massive oxidative stress can now be an anti-oxidant and see what they say. Did the safety video I mentioned in my first post satisfy any of your questions or concerns you earlier poste? If they do call me, I’m sure they will ask me if I watched that yet… Thanks for the follow-up so I can be better prepared!! DJ

        • drjohn says:

          All of the “safety” arguments so far presented do not remotely address the question we (and now you) have asked. Let us know if they come up with something new instead of the same old smokescreen.

        • DJ says:

          Drjohn, I was contacted by a higher-up Nerium rep as promised to go over my safety questions I raised. He stated the Nerium AD active is a modified version of the active in Anvirzel. He stated that there haven’t been any published clinical studies regarding the safety of Nerium… they have studied the cosmetic effects to the skin for the last 5 years and there have been no side effects noticed during this. When I brought up the safety concerns voiced on cancer.org and WebMD.com, he stated the amount used is very small compared to the amounts that are referenced with their concerns. He said with their research, there is no evidence that any oleander gets into the bloodstream. I said I understood that the epidermal layer doesn’t let it into the bloodstream, but what are the long term effects from applying it to the skin? He reiterated the extremely low amount used and report of no side effects from the many thousands that have been using the product. He cited Dr. Newman’s studies, and I asked how his studies found an oxidative effect while Nerium touts an antioxidant effect. He stated that Dr. Newman was targeting damaged cells with high doses and the anti oxidative effect were produced with normal cells and low doses. That was most of our conversation. The person trying to get my wife to do Nerium also sent us pics from her actual clients (and herself), not the corporate pics and the results were pretty amazing. I don’t trust the corporate photos with todays photoshop abilities. What do you think of their responses to my questions? Thank you, DJ.

          • drjohn says:

            DJ, the answer you received defies traditional constructs of cellular physiology. Clearly you were not talking to a scientist. It is well established that oleandrin and similar cardiac glycosides are sodium-potassium pump inhibitors, and that they also inhibit synthesis of key proteins. This mechanism is what destroys cells. They don;t have to be damaged – normal cells can be poisoned as well. Telling you that there is too little of it in there to do any damage begs the questions – so how then does it work? What about the purported benefits? How do you turn something that causes oxidative stress into an antioxidant that reverses skin aging by lowering the dose? Where is the evidence for that water into wine level miracle? Wouldn’t that logic also imply the optimal antioxidant effect would occur when you just eliminate it altogether from the product? And if they are saying there is just so little of it in there in the first place, doesn’t it make you wonder why they bother to put any at all in there? What’s the point? Where’s the benefit? Perhaps the miniscule quantity they now confess to is just there as a marketing gimmick? They have failed once again to answer the question about long term effects of oxidative stress on the skin. Remember Dr. Perricone’s early work on inflammation as being the real reason for skin aging? Nowadays we call it inflamm’aging. Let’s ask Dr. George to weigh in on this as well.

  26. Fred says:

    I know several people in Nerium that have earned cars and have made some serious cash. What I find so odd is that these are very serious spiritual people that have spent decades meditating and seeking God. They are all very good people and not flaky at all yet I am stunned that they are involved in this con of Nerium. The bullshit “research;” the MLM marketing where 90% of the sales come from people who sign-up to rep the company; the pseudo-spiritual “rah-rah” sessions. I can’t believe they have fallen for this crap. It a face cream. And perhaps not a very good one at that. Their new religion is Nerium. It is pathetic. What will they do in three years, if even that long, when the pyramid scam comes to and end as Nerium burns out the poor suckers who can’t make a dime because they are so far down the “downline?”

  27. Dr John and Gerorge,

    Great website! I am hounded by a co worker, and the more I research and the more I listen to him talk, just further confirms the lies and thinly veiled truths that the Nerium wizards have so finely crafted. I have never seen a company so control the message! And while it has been made clear that there is the potential for a conflict of interest on your part, your arguments against Nerium and its method to market are fact based and absolutely logical. I patiently await Nerium’s rebuttal.

    I also marvel at the kool-aid drinkers and their compensation package. The company offer them nothing tangible to speak of. When the bottom falls out, and people get tired of finding people to peddle to people who need people to sell….(thats how it goes right?), when that happens, are they paid a commission on the actual product the sell, over time? I was told “no” by a brand partner. They get a one time commission on product consumption. They are incentivised by getting people to get people to get people to….It just defies common logic. He had no real interest in just selling me the product when I told him I wasn’t interested in becoming a Partner. But that kind of makes sense, they get long term commission on product, no stock, nada, nothing. Its strictly about bring in people who will fork out $1000 to feed the beast. When the bottom falls out, you’re left with a $700 Lexus payment…not much more

    Keep fighting the good fight!


  28. Networking Pro says:

    Hello Friends, I have been full time in the circus called network marketing for 8 years and was one of those “success” stories. In beginning of my 3rd year in this industry, I was making $50,000 a month. But I worked my tail off, spent thousands of dollars of personal coaching to learn the skills I was lacking. I was and still am in Nerium but at the moment am not an active distributor. Here is what a professional can tell you about this industry. Most people will never make a dime. That’s just the way it is. The people at the top who you see on stage with the $50,000 & $100,000 checks are given sweetheart deals to join a company. I know because I get them in every company I join because of my track record for success. As for Nerium, does the product work. Are you going to join as a Brand Partner at the $500 or $1000 level and make your money back, slim chance in hell. More likely you will lose close friends and family members when you continue to hound them to join the biz. MLM, and I hate to say it because there are many great companies out there, really becomes very much like a cult, and it’s unfortunate that so many friendships have been ruined due to the vision that the leaders tries to instill in the new distributors who can’t even spell MLM, and yet they think they will be making $10,000 a month in 2 years. Not a chance. But I will say that there are those lucky you, and I mean very few who happen to get lucky due to hard work, right place at right time, who manage to build a large organization. Jeff Olson is an AMAZING self development author and I have read his book “The Slight Edge” many times. God Bless everyone and I wish all you a wonderful life full of good health & happiness.

    • drjohn says:

      Networking pro …your e-mail address includes God’s blessing, and which you again offer in your comment? Do you really think that God is in any way pleased when His people are being scammed into losing money so that a few at the top of the pyramid can become wealthy? These are real people, and they have real suffering. We have heard from widows losing their homes because of this stuff. As I recall, The New Testament is very clear in commanding that widows and orphans (the vulnerable) be cared for, not exploited for financial gain. Praising Nerium the MLM while invoking God’s blessing strikes me as the pinnacle of hypocrisy. Seek first the kingdom of God, not your own self-serving, self enriching fiefdom atop the money pyramid. Seek God’s favor upon yourself first. Instead of re-reading “Slight Edge” over and over, try reading the bible, and perhaps pay particular attention to concepts such as sin, repentance, and receiving forgiveness and a new heart. A regenerate heart is not fooled by the lure of the treasures of the world. God is awesome, amazing, worthy to be praised. Jeff Olson is something else entirely.

  29. Science_nurse says:

    I am a nurse and I put on a protective gown and double glove EVERY SINGLE TIME I handle cytotoxic drugs to PROTECT myself from exposure. For the life of me I can NOT understand how anyone would intentionally put a KNOWN cytotoxic agent on their face. The thought of it horrifies me! Obviously, cytotoxic drugs have a place in medicine, such as treating cancer, but they also have extremely harmful effects if used inappropriately (and even when used appropriately- i.e. side effects of chemotherapy) or handled incorrectly (for example, accidental exposure to skin/ tissues/ mucus membranes)- this alone SHOULD be enough for anyone to realize that purposefully applying a known cytotoxic to your skin is asinine!

    I believe the big disconnect for those who don’t even think twice about applying such an agent to their face, is a lack of scientific knowledge AND when they go in search of this information they are overloaded with half-truths or worthless “studies” made available by Nerium, that may look official, at least to someone who knows very little about science/ scientific studies/ evidence-based practice.

    To corroborate my theory, I direct you to a point made in the comments above: “How is it that you put a substance on skin known to cause increased ROS cell cycle arrest, and kill cells be good for skin? This is the question we have been asking for many months, with no answer. We keep hearing about this or that refutation BUT ALL BASED ON SYSTEMIC TOXICITY which is not our concern here.” Seems only those with a science background are able to recognize that their “studies” have nothing to do with the question at hand- HOW IS NERIUM SAFE TO APPLY TO THE SKIN WHEN IT HAS A KNOWN CYTOTOXIC AGENT IN IT???!!! As another commenter pointed out, this question…”has nothing to do with systemic (blood) toxicity — which Nerium likes to focus on.” That’s great that it is not absorbed systemically, THANK GOODNESS, but they continue to blatantly ignore the fact that their “science” doesn’t make sense, nor will they answer a simple question to clear up the confusion. Shady. Shady. Shady.

    Unfortunately, several of my friends/family have got mixed up in this scam recently and I tried directing them to scientific evidence that conflicts with Nerium’s claims. The response I got was this: “I was hesitant at first, but I am comfortable now that I read the toxicology reports and studies”. Guess where they found the information they referenced?!?!?! Just take a wild guess….none other than Nerium! The whole thing disgusts me….everything about it!

  30. drgeorge says:

    Science nurse, thank you for you sagacious post. You hit the nail on the head. I realize you have more science background that many readers, but it seems quite apparent that the question about safety drjohn and I posted so many months ago, still eludes many of the readers who chastise us, or worse. Interestingly, and not surprising, many are brand partners. How do you explain the physicians who are peddling Nerium? Baffles BFT, unless it’s simply all about $$$$.

  31. drjohn says:

    Nan, we appreciate your passionate opinions, but we did have to do a little editing on the heat of your rhetoric. You are right – we need to hold some other feet to the fire – those strangely passive/absent scientists.

  32. donna says:

    I truly hate MLMs — but I saw a minor change on my own face when using this. one spot (above my nose) changed when using this … everything else on my face remained the same. nerium documentation says (if you search through their documentation enough) that it will not cause “structural” changes to the skin… i’m thinking anti-inflammatory properties… the rest is the anti-oxitant properties of the aloe and vitamin e, maybe… but I did find this:

    Medicinal Importance:
    The leaves and the flowers are cardiotonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, anticancer, antibacterial [6], anti
    fungal [7] and expectorant. A decoction of the leaves has been applied externally in the treatment
    of scabies and to reduce swellings. This is a very poisonous plant, containing a powerful cardiac
    toxin and should only be used with extreme caution. The root is powerfully resolvent, is used in
    the form of plasters and is applied to tumors because of its poisonous nature it is only used
    externally. It is beaten into a paste with water and applied to lesion and ulcers on the penis. [8].
    Bark is bitter and is used as cathartic, febrifuge and intermittent fever. Plants have an extensive
    root system and are often used to stabilize soil in warmer areas. Oil prepared from the root bark
    is used in the treatment of leprosy and skin diseases of a scaly nature. Seeds are Poisonous,
    abortifacient and alternative. They used as purgative in dropsy and rheumatism. The whole plant
    is said to have anticancer properties [9].
    Nerium oleander has also been used in the treatment of cancer [10] the flowers, leaves, leaf juice
    or latex, bark and roots have been used against corns, warts, cancerous ulcers, carcinoma,
    ulcerating or hard tumors.

    from the journal of chemical and pharmaceutical research.
    sorry – i’m not a biochem major… so a significant portion of this is lost on me….


    so maybe it works people who have wrinkles due to swelling? and the other people with “problem skin” could be seeing benefits if their problems are due to one of the above-mentioned conditions (or a similar one) — I was thinking like severe acne… it might reduce the redness… like I said, i’m not a biochem major, tho. it would NOT work on redness due to broken capillaries… like one of the initial posters said… and yes, a fair number of people are just plain allergic to this stuff.

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