Leanor herbal slimming drops has been marketed as an effective weight loss product for some years. In 2004, I complained to the ASA that there was insufficient proof to confirm that the claims are valid, and indeed, that the dosage of each ingredient was ridiculously low to have any effect at all.
The company asked Dr Jacques Rossouw to examine the claims for the product, and he concluded that "[A]lthough a clinical trial has not beep conducted on the effects of the Leanor Herbal Slimming Concentrate on weight loss, I am of the opinion that the individual ingredients will instill such activity."
However, Prof Roy Jobson, who I asked to evaluate the claims as my "independent credible expert" agreed with my arguments and I requested arbitration.
In the arbitration by Prof. Marc Blockman from the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Cape Town, he concluded as we did (arbitration result), that the claims for this product are not substantiated.
The essence of our arguments were:
1. Insufficient evidence in support of claims for weight-loss of the individual ingredients, and,
2. Individual ingredients used in incredibly low dosages to have any effect.
For example, if studies show that one requires 250 mg of aspirin to alleviate a headache, can one then claim that 10 mg will have the same or a similar effect?
Evidence in support for claims of weight-loss
We refer to the highly credible Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD) which has the following to say regarding the individual ingredients:
“Effectiveness: Insufficient reliable evidence to rate”
“Effectiveness: Not used for weight loss.”
“Effectiveness: Not used for weight-loss.”
Garcinia cambogia (active ingredient is hydroxycitric acid)
“Effectiveness: Possibly Ineffective. Obesity. Taking garcinia fruit rind extract orally doesn't seem to help decrease weight, satiety, fat oxidation, or energy expenditure in obese people.
“Effectiveness: There is insufficient reliable information available about the effectiveness of goldenrod.” Not used for weight-loss
“Orally, dandelion is used for loss of appetite . . " and "Effectiveness: Nil for weight-loss"
“Orally, used for . . . , loss of appetite . . " and "Effectiveness: Not used for weight-loss."
The composition of LeanOr Herbal Drops are listed in two tables below, first for constituents that are purported to have an effect on weight-loss per se, and in a second table for “ancillary actions”.
The dosage for adults is “10 drops 3 times per day in a little water” but as 15-16 drops = 1 cc = 1 ml, the daily dosages have been calculated.
Of the 7 “active” constituents, only two are purported to possibly have efficacy in weight loss. These are Green tea and Cambogia. Taking LeanOr will supply a total daily dose of:
* from Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database
It is very clear from the above table that the level of major weight-loss components in LeanOr is insignificant according to the suggested daily dose. There is no evidence in the Complementary Medicine literature to indicate that the low dosages used in LeanOr are appropriate.
I also argued (among other):
"Dr Rossouw also misrepresents the other studies to support his substantiation for LeanOr. For example, he uses the study by Nagao and co-workers which used “daily consumption of tea containing 690 mg catechins for 12 wk reduced body fat” but neglects to point out that this is approximately 20x the dose of LeanOr’s insignificant dose of 32.1 mg, (of which approximately one third is caffeine and not catechins).
Similarly, the study by Tsuchida et al, which used catechins of 588 mg per day for 12 weeks is also around 20x the dose supplied by LeanOr."
"Dr Rossouw writes that “all the herbs in the formulation are know for their effects on weight control/digestion/metabolism/water retention”, and “… will have a synergistic effect, thus assisting in slimming, weight loss or control of appetite”. [My emphasis]
In the first instance, the efficacy of these constituents has been questioned by the authoritative Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Even if the efficacy of the LeanOr constituents were not in doubt, a damning and critical aspect of Dr Rossouw’s evaluation, is that the LeanOr formulation uses much smaller doses of the constituents (with the exception of Goldenrod and possibly Dandelion)"
* from Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database
According to the Natural Database, there are some herbal interactions, but certainly not between any of these constituents in the LeanOr formulation, hence the “synergistic effect” is pure guesswork.
Contrary to Dr Rossouw’s assertion that LeanOr assists “in slimming, weight loss or control of appetite” and “… effective appetite control in a drop”, three constituents (ginseng, dandelion and ginger) are reported to in fact increase appetite (if used in an appropriate dose of course). [My emphasis]
So now you, the reader, have all the facts at your disposal. What do you think?