Vogel’s Multiforce Alkaline Powder – still no proof that it works

Posted 13 September 2012

The ASA previously ruled that this product’s claims made in an advertisement headed “Feeling acidic?” and stating, inter alia, “A body with a constantly raised acidic level can become ill”. It then continues to state, “A. Vogel Multiforce Alkaline Powder contains calcium, magnesium and potassium and includes Vitamin C in its whole form as an antioxidant to help protect the body against the associated damaging effects of oxidative stress caused by a high dietary acid load…”  was not substantiated and in breach of the ASA regulations, and therefore unproven and could not be made. The company supplied new substantiation from Dr Davie van Velden.

However the complainant argued that the substantiation was still insufficient and the claims for the product therefore still unproven. The ASA agreed.

A Vogel Multiforce Alkaline Powder / K Charleston / 18429
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Mr K Charleston Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
SA Natural Products (Pty) Ltd Respondent

12 Sep 2012


In A Vogel Multiforce Alkaline Powder / K Charleston / 18429 (1 March 2012) the Directorate ruled that the respondent’s claims were unsubstantiated and in breach of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code.

The advertisement was headed “Feeling acidic?” and stated, inter alia, “A body with a constantly raised acidic level can become ill”. It then continues to state, “A. Vogel Multiforce Alkaline Powder contains calcium, magnesium and potassium and includes Vitamin C in its whole form as an antioxidant to help protect the body against the associated damaging effects of oxidative stress caused by a high dietary acid load…”

The Directorate dismissed the claim “A body with a constantly raised acidic level can become ill” made in the advertisement on the basis that this was a general medical claim and not one that pertained to the product. The remaining claims disputed were however upheld. These claims were:

“… support the organs responsible for correcting imbalances”;

Deliver the relevant “… minerals in a form that is readily absorbed in the body enabling it to support its own buffering system”;

“… protect the body against the associated damaging effects of oxidative stress” as a result of its Vitamin C component; and

“supply your body with 50% of your daily requirement of these alkalising minerals”.

The Directorate found that none of the articles relied on by the respondent appear to relate to, refer to, or mention the respondent’s product. The Directorate was also unable to locate any of the disputed claims in these articles. Doctor P van Velden also failed to mention why the articles have any relevance to the respondent’s claims.

The Directorate also rejected a letter from Dr Sandi Nye, noting that it added little support for the claims and merely argued how the paradigm of Naturopathy accepts that high acidic levels can be treated by these minerals. The Directorate also noted that her verification did not mention or reference what research she had overviewed or whether these were in respect of the respondent’s product

Based on the above, the respondent was instructed to withdraw the advertisement in accordance with the findings within immediate effect and within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 5.3 of the Procedural Guide.

Clear Copy, on behalf of the respondent, filed new substantiation in an attempt to overturn the Directorate’s initial ruling, and also addressed some of the interpretive issues around the clauses in the Code relating to substantiation and specifically new substantiation. The new substantiation again included verification from Dr van Velden.

In accordance with procedure, the complainant was afforded an opportunity to comment on whether or not Dr P van Velden qualifies as an independent and credible expert on the relevant field, as required by Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code.

The complainant admitted that he did not have any knowledge of the expert and that he did not have medical training. He therefore would only comment on his perception of the expertise of the expert, based on the evidence put forward. He added that he had asked Professor Roy Jobson to assist him with comments on Dr van Velden’s credibility.

The complainant’s argument for why Dr Van Velden should not be regarded as independent primarily focussed on the fact that Dr van Velden claims to have conducted a study to prove the claims made for the product. The complainant argued that Dr van Velden’s very involvement and intention to prove the claims (as opposed to merely determining whether the product has any effect at all) negates any argument of independence, and illustrates that he was acting on behalf of the respondent.

In addition, he noted that the literature does not substantiate any of the claims and no mention is made of the claims at issue in any of the documentation relied on.

The submissions from Professor Jobson noted with regret that he does not believe in Dr van Velden’s ability to expertly assess science. This is in part due to a matter pending arbitration (SANP Bio Strath / R Jobson / 18390) in which defects in Dr van Velden’s substantiation were raised, and thus his expertise. Prof Jobson also noted instances where Dr van Velden expressed in an unequivocal manner his satisfaction that the relevant research provides proof for the claims when the actual research relied on specifically notes that more research is needed before any conclusions can be drawn. Other instances involved Dr van Velden’s verification that the claims are true for the product as used at the recommended dose when the research relied on gives no indication of dosage, or indicates a dosage different to that of the product. This negates an argument that Dr van Velden is able to expertly and appropriately evaluate the research.

Concerns were also raised about Dr van Velden’s acceptance of a 1981 study on its own as sufficient evidence, given that lifestyle factors that influence the claimed “stresses and strains of modern living” have surely changed in the past 30 years.

In light of the complaint Clause 4.1 of Section II (Substantiation) was taken into account.

The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

In any matter where substantiation is required, the Directorate effectively has two key issues to consider:

Is the expert put forth an independent and credible expert in the field to which the claims relate? and

Does the expert unequivocally confirm the claim/s made?

The latter question has become somewhat more complex over the years, as the ASA has had to scrutinise expert opinions more and more carefully in order to satisfy itself that the verification is congruent to the evidence and that the expert is not merely expecting the ASA to accept his / her opinion without applying the ASA its own mind to the evidence relied on.

Without belabouring the point, it should be note that this careful scrutiny is justified, as it has arguably resulted in a more refined process, affording the public better protection against unjustified efficacy claims. In doing this, however, the Directorate remains mindful of the fact that it is not a technical or scientific body and cannot be expected to understand, interpret, or extrapolate scientific data and information in a manner that an expert in the field would be able to. As such, the Directorate is often required to rely heavily on the opinion of such an expert, provided that it is happy to accept such an expert’s view.

The respondent took issue with the Directorate’s interpretation and application of the ruling of the Advertising Industry Tribunal in the matter Lifebouy / Dettol / 14813 (27 August 2010). Effectively, it argued that the evidence placed before the Directorate emanates from the expert, and is informed by the references and articles submitted. As such, this is not an instance where the respondent has done research and the expert is evaluating it, but rather where the expert’s opinion forms the basis of the respondent’s claim of efficacy. As such, the research relied on does not have to relate to the product specifically, because it is for the expert to apply his skill and knowledge to the information and determine whether or not certain claims would be justified.

The respondent further expressed dissatisfaction at what it perceived to be the ASA’s approach of accepting the expert, and then rejecting his opinion, noting that this borders on “delictual infringements” of its right to compete.

While the respondent’s argument is noted, the Directorate is not convinced that its request for product-specific evidence is unfounded, especially as this has been an approach adopted and applied over a substantial period of time (see Solal breast protection Formula / R Jobson / 18707 (15 February 2012) for comprehensive explanation).

The claims at issue are made in an attempt to convince a prospective customer that THIS product is beneficial for the reasons claimed and that THIS product should be chosen, purchased and used. It therefore stands to reason that the consumer is entitled to know that THIS product has been proven to do just what it claims. The communication is not that “there is some evidence to show that some of the ingredients in the product at different doses might have some beneficial effect on some people in society”, yet this is almost what was presented by the respondent.

At this point in time, the respondent’s evidence suggest, at best, that other products that are similar in some respects, have been shown to increase urinary and blood pH levels or have some benefits in terms of reducing bone resorption. To use an analogy of fuel consumption; the fact that a two-litre BMW has a fuel consumption figure of (for example) 6 litres per 100km does not mean that a two-litre Audi would achieve the same results.

The complainant also correctly noted that some of the studies relied on were done on narrowly defined parameters (such as postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or osteopenia), and often mention is made that more research is needed before the health properties of such supplements can be determined.

In addition to this, it would appear from the Directorate’s reading of the confidential study done on the actual product, that this merely confirms that the product was able to increase urinary pH.

The advertising at issue is, however, more general in nature, and largely promotes the product for anyone who “feels acidic” on the basis that this product would:

“… support the organs responsible for correcting imbalances”;

Deliver the relevant “… minerals in a form that is readily absorbed in the body enabling it to support its own buffering system”;

“… protect the body against the associated damaging effects of oxidative stress” as a result of its Vitamin C component; and

“supply your body with 50% of your daily requirement of these alkalising minerals”.

Nothing in the substantiation currently before the Directorate appears to specifically associate such claims with the respondent’s product as available on the market, and promoted in the advertising at issue. Unlike the substantiation accepted by the Directorate in SANP “Bio-Strath” / R Jobson / 18390 (16 July 2012), where the respondent’s product-specific substantiation matched the verification provided by Dr van Velden, the scientific literature currently before the Directorate does not appear to be congruent with the verification offered for the product or the claims made in the advertising.

As such, the claims at issue remain unsubstantiated in terms of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code, and the respondent is not permitted to use them at this time and in their current format.

56 comments to Vogel’s Multiforce Alkaline Powder – still no proof that it works

  • Aubrey

    all i need to know does it work for goute

    • Val

      Aubrey….. YES YES YES YES!!!!!!!!! I suffered TERRIBLY as did my son-in-laws father. Because it is natural, it does take longer than prescription drugs however, it really works as long as you are taking it. It is not something you can only take now and again. Take it EVERY day and don’t stop. You will NOT believe the difference. Regards

  • Kelly

    So is it a waste of my time taking this once a day to prevent possible rise of acidity in my body? I currently don’t have any symtoms but i believe in prevention before cure.
    Thanks, I look forward to your feedback

  • Harris

    This is exactly why the product’s claims are so misleading. Unless you have an underlying specific illness (rare), your body controls it’s acid-base PERFECTLY and one does not need to take ANYTHING to control your acid-base balance.

  • Kelly

    Thanks for your quick response,
    I agree with what you say and I would like to think that our bodies can manage and control its own but do we not need the extra support with the quality of food and water we consume? I do believe that we are in control of what we eat – so for exanple – stay away from food that is high in acidity therefore giving you body a better chance. and then there’s the matter of the acid build up in our bodies over the years – and does this not play a large part of cancer cells delveloping into the kind of cancer that is dangerous. Sorry I know i am probably going on a bit…I appreciate your in put:)

  • Harris

    The claim that “the acid build up in our bodies over the years” is a story invented by the manufacturers to get you to buy the product. In fact there is NO acid build-up – it is dealt with and balanced minute to minute by incredible normal built-in physiological processes.

  • Jack

    I can vouch for this product for gout sufferers. I’d been suffering from gout for 20 years and taking this alkaline powder along with a sugar free diet and proper hydration has almost cured my gout completely. I took it every day for 3 years and then reduced it to once or twice a week. Now If I do start to feel the beginnings of a gout attack I take a spoon of this each morning for a week or so again, but to be honest this very seldom happens, maybe only a couple of times a year if I get very dehydrated.

  • Patrick

    Hi, i’m i have started using the alkaline powder, what i want to know is, do i use cold or luke warm water, or it makes no difference?

  • Harris

    It should not make a difference to the effect

  • Zinengi

    Hi there,

    I started taking the powder two days ago, and i am suffering from something i am not sure with, i always feel cold, i spend 2 to 3 days without passing stools, i normally have a beautiful skin,but my skin is turning rough, i am loosing my completion.

    every year i check with the doctor , i don’t have high blood,no HIV,sugar, i go to the gym six days a week. i drink more than 8 glasses of water a day.
    do you think ill be better if i continue????????

  • Harris

    It is difficult to know whether your symptoms are due to the product or another medical condition happening concurrently. It is important to visit your local health practitioner and explain exactly what you have been taking and the symptoms you are experiencing.

  • Mpumi

    Hi , I’m suffering from kidneys and I have started using multiforce Alkaline Powder. Can I continue using it

  • Harris

    This depends on what is wrong with your kidneys. Please discuss this with your doctor.

  • kehilwe mogoiwa

    I am surfering with a pain in my legs, especially when i sit down.Is this Multiforce Alkaline Powder will Help? Thank you in advance.

    Dr Harris

  • Harris

    I cannot say for there are many reasons you may be experiencing pain in your legs and therefore the treatment may be different for each condition. I recommend you have this problem checked out so that you at least know what the cause is, and the the treatment can be more accurate.

  • Anita

    iv got ulcer can i use a vogel multiforce alkaline

  • Harris

    You need to speak to your doctor about the cause of your ulcer for there are many causes and the cause will influence what you can or cannot use

  • steven

    i have a bloated stomach can i use this product

  • Thuli

    Hi there,

    I’m suffering from gas in my stomach Doctors said I’ve got stomach ulcer and gave me a list of foods/drinks that I must avoid and I have been avoiding same, but this problem persist. the sharp pain on my sternum is no longer that bad. sometimes its difficult for me to pass gas. can this product help?

  • Harris

    If the problem has not gone away, then you need to have it checked for it may need stronger treatment than what you are presently getting

  • nosipho

    hi i want to know can i use multiforce if i m 5 months pregnant? I hav problem with bad body oduors.

  • Trevor

    Vogel multiforce has definitely relieved me of acidic reactions such as heartburn which used to cause extreme discomfort. Also at night I have been troubled with sharp pains in my wrists and finger joints. Since taking Vogel multiforce these symptoms have disappeared. When I stop taking miltiforce the above symptoms return.

  • Naeema Hoosen

    I know of someone that is on dialysis 2 times a week due to kidney damage, is this safe for him to take, or wat would you recommend

    • Harris

      Kidney damage usually affects regulation of not only body acid but also electrolytes. It is therefore very, very important for the person’s doctor to be fully informed on whatever the person is using, and in particular this product.

  • Naeema Hoosen

    Thank you for the quick response..
    I’ve had my gallbladder removed, my liver enzymes are elevated due to that injury, I’ve been takin ‘essentiale liver support supplements’, is there sumthn in the A. Vogal range that can help,

  • julia

    I just started to us the product from 5 September 14,because of gas problem it stay only for 2hrs after I vomit it makes me bilious can I still continue with it?

    • Harris

      It may be a coincidence or because of the product. I suggest you stop immediately for you do not know what is causing this. I do not know if you have other illnesses which does not allow you to use this product.

  • julia

    I have 5 days using the product because of GAS problem but it makes me bilious it only stay for 2hrs then after I vomit can I still continue with with it.

  • Hilda

    Hi I my doctor tested me on 29 Sept and said I have high acid level, swollen knee and high cholesterol and concluded it is gout but gave me medication. I want to know going forward can I use this Multiforce powder thing as and when required?

    • Harris

      If you have gout, then you need to avoid certain foods and use a specific product for gout. Multiforce powder is not specific for gout. If you are not getting good service from your doctor, then please look for another one who is better for you.

  • david

    Hi, I have a bad breath smell and my friend told me to use the product will it help me though to get rid of the bad breath

  • Pat

    can someone who is hiv positive use this multiforce alkaline for heartburn

  • sammy

    what really cause d bad breath coz ive been drinking lots of thngs hoping it wl end bt
    nothing helpd


    I have been suffering from sharp pains underneath my left breast which blocks me from breathing, I have been to GP’s say 3 or more, Cardio specialists 2 or more even done a number of ECG’s and some blood tests and have been to number of doctors about this mater, they all cannot diagnose what is the problem, besides giving me meds for acids and they do not seem to work. I have been to some pulmonary specialist also and He also gave me acid stuff. yes my joints pain and stomach bloats. I have been given a fiber diet for my server will this multi force assist my problem.

  • Haley

    Multiforce Alkaline powder is far a far better option for treating acidity and heartburn, in comparison to these chewable tablets. Isn’t it amazing how anything alternative is criticized by big Pharma’s minions.

    • Harris

      I suggest you read the complaint and ruling carefully. No one has argued that this product is not good for treating acidity and heartburn. The complaint was the the company claims that “[A] body with a constantly raised acidic level can become ill”. It then continues to state, “A. Vogel Multiforce Alkaline Powder contains calcium, magnesium and potassium and includes Vitamin C in its whole form as an antioxidant to help protect the body against the associated damaging effects of oxidative stress caused by a high dietary acid load…”, and that is a load of unproven rubbish.

  • melany

    hi what does the powder taste like…. just curious.

  • Asanda Unathi Akoon

    My sugar levels have been very high and I struggled to keep them low unless I go to gym regularly. Due to studies, I have limited time to go to gym so I turned to a.vogel multiforce alkaline powder.
    I have not experienced any challenges and the best part is that I experience less cravings. I used to often feel absolutely hungry before taking the powder. I’m just sharing my experience, I’m not saying it will work the same with others.

    Asanda Unathi Akoon
    Port Shepstone

  • Vuyo

    is it safe to use alkaline powder during pregnancy?

  • nonzukiso

    Hi I want to know what is exactly a Vogel help?

    • Harris

      The claim is that it ‘fixes’ your acidity. However if you are a normal person, your body looks after it’s own acid level and you do not need this

  • Busiswa

    Can I use hot or Cold water to drink Multiforce?*

  • Anon

    Hi if u suffer from GORD will the alkaline powder help?

  • Kosie

    Can this alkaline powder cause flatulence?

  • Carol

    Good day

    Can I use the Avogel Alkaline Powder to help fight Cancer cells

  • Carol

    Can I use Avogel Alkaline powder to help fight cancer cells.

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