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My Advocare 24-day Cleanse experience
on July 31, 2013
What started out as a fairly effective cleanse ended in a severe physical reaction.
The initial 10-day herbal cleanse phase wasn't bad. As other reviewers have stated, you can replace the majority of the Advocare products in their cleanse plan with cheaper, more commonly-available alternatives. In my case, I had decent energy, felt like my body was back to dealing with waste effectively due to the fiber drink, and the Spark seemed like it was providing a reasonable replacement for my usual daily cup of joe. I was a little concerned when reading the Spark ingredients list and saw the significant amount of niacin (300% RDA), as the product is advertised as providing mental focus, clarity, and energy (a la those infernal niacin-packed 5 hour energy shots), but not having any frame of reference and no ill effects, I went on to phase 2 - the MNS phase. Total weight lost during the herbal cleanse phase was around 10-12lbs, predominantly water weight.
This is where the wheels came off. Within 48 hours of starting the MNS C phase (a series of pill supplements packed with yes, you guessed it, another 250% RDA of niacin), I started experiencing itching and irritation on my back, chest, and especially neck. The morning following the onset of these symptoms, my neck was swelling with retained water, and the itchy areas progressed into a hot, red rash. Standing in sunlight, it felt like the affected areas were severely sunburned. The rash proceeded to spread into my armpits, behind my ears, and up to the bottom of my chin. Pain level maybe a 5 or 6, discomfort level was a solid 9. Ibuprofen was largely ineffective in managing the discomfort.
At this point, I stopped taking anything related to the cleanse, and further increased my water intake; the symptoms remained static. Made an appointment with my doctor, and upon being seen, his take was pretty definitive. Cleanses like this are largely crap, the amount of niacin they're packing in are toxic, etc. The old adage about checking with your physician before commencing a program like this - naturally, I heartily recommend that via hindsight. When asked why I didn't experience the rash/reaction symptoms for the first 10 days, he said it takes the body approximately that long to formulate an immune system response, and when phase 2 kicked in with its niacin increase 10+ days into the cleanse, a reaction would have been unavoidable. I'll point out that in my 4 decades on this planet, I've never had an allergic reaction to anything like this.
So, bottom line:
I'm out the couple hundred clams to buy into this program.
One lost day of work seeing the doc, getting prednisone prescriptions.
5+ days spent as a rash-covered swollen-necked mutant (today is day 6, the prednisone is starting to alleviate some of the affected areas).
An Advocare rep telling me 'bummer, I've never heard of anyone having a reaction like that'. A simple Google search with the terms "advocare rash" reveals a significant number of pretty similar horror stories.
While you may not have an identical or even similar reaction, take from my experience that there are risks inherent to any radically-increased niacin dietary plan, and do yourself the solid of checking with a health care professional before beginning.
If you want to cleanse, adjust your diet and exercise, up the fiber to get the mail moving, buy your own omega 3s, and let your liver do the job it was designed to do. Lesson learned for me.
I contacted Advocare to see what refund options were available under their 100% satisfaction guarantee. While their Customer Service team was unable to assist, they referred me to Distributor Support (even though I purchased the products from their retail site, and did not become a distributor <?>); that team provided me with an RMA number and a prepaid shipping label for the return of the remaining products. I shipped in the remainder of what I had left, and after a couple weeks of processing, a full refund appeared in my checking account. Their CS/Distributor Support representatives were polite, politically apologetic, and processed things without any hassle.
While my 1-star review of their product stands, their service/support staff deserve high marks and recognition for cleanly resolving a really negative experience with their products.