Herbal Hogwash


Revivo tea is a dietary supplement consisting of a range of herbs.  It is marketed worldwide, but intensively so in South Africa, where HIV and AIDS are endemic.  On their websites Revivo made several expansive claims:

  • “we have developed Revivo based on extensive research into effective herbs for HIV, as well as the ancient wisdom of Chinese Herbal Medicine, which has been treating HIV and AIDS successfully even before HIV and AIDS was recognised”;
  • “it is the culmination of only the best methods of herbal supplementation for HIV and the ingredients of the formula acting synergistically have proved itself to be better than any of the herbs taken individually”;
  • “…herbs in Revivo are designed to stop this hidden heat and replenish what is already consumed, that is why so many people are benefitting from using Revivo, irrespective of what stage of HIV they are in”;
  • “…upon contact 5 of the herbs almost completely destroyed the virus and 6 others had significant activity against the virus.”

Reading these claims, one cannot escape the conclusion that what is being claimed is that Revivo tea is a treatment for HIV and AIDS.

Making misleading or unsubstantiated claims is illegal in South Africa, as well as in many other jurisdictions.  A complaint was laid with the South African Advertising Standards Authority, stating that the claims made on behalf of Revivo were both unsubstantiated and misleading.  The ASA upheld the complaint and ordered that the websites be taken down.

But is this enough?  Revivo are still permitted to market their product, and are doing so through their own in-house website, with the offending claims removed.  The new website explicitly denies that Revivo is a cure or treatment for HIV. But the impression that their product is an effective treatment for AIDS still lingers, even though the offending websites are no longer accessible.  Surely it would be better at the very least to order Revivo to withdraw their product from the market?  If they wish to continue marketing it, they should be forced to rebrand it entirely, so there would be no perceived connection between the new product and Revivo.  Perhaps a substantial fine should be levied as well, as a disincentive to others who may think of cashing in on the misfortune of others.

Sophisticated Westerners are often taken in by this kind of advertising, despite such obvious red flags as misspellings, apparent ignorance of the convention for rendering biological names (Zizyphus jojoba given as Zizyphus Jojoba), the appeal to the superiority of “ancient Chinese wisdom” (why should ancient wisdom be superior to modern wisdom, or Chinese wisdom superior to, say, Eskimo wisdom).  Most of the Africans suffering from HIV infection are not sophisticated.  They are poor, inadequately educated, and desperate enough to believe anything, to clutch at any straw that may give them hope.  Even if Revivo does no harm in itself, gullible people may believe that by taking it they are treating their condition and they will not seek out efficacious conventional treatments such as anti-retroviral drugs, which are obtainable free of charge through government clinics.

For laws to be effective they must be effectively enforced.  This sort of misrepresentation is not harmless and should be countered by real penalties that will be a deterrent to other snake oil salesmen who may be tempted by the lure of a quick buck at the expense of the weak and uninformed.

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Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

17 Responses to Herbal Hogwash

  1. Hi, even before the ruling of the ASA we have been clear that Revivo is not a treatment or cure for HIV or AIDS. This was printed on the product label long before a complaint was made to the ASA. We do accept that our website content was not accurate and in contravention of certain advertising codes and have now corrected these in order to comply.

    Unlike yourself we do not have a stereotype of the African people as per your statement: “Most of the Africans suffering from HIV infection are not sophisticated. They are poor, inadequately educated, and desperate enough to believe anything”. We rather believe that they are sophisticated, many of them are well educated and many are not poor either and even if they are it does not mean they will “believe anything”. In fact most of the individuals who are using Revivo as a supplement are very well educated, working in good positions and quite sophisticated, they have not been misled into using Revivo but rather use it based on its merits which they understand and we have also clearly conveyed to them that it is a complement not an alternative to conventional therapy. Many use it in conjunction with ARV’s and they have never been advised to stop their ARV’s in favor of Revivo. There are also many individuals who are not HIV+ who use Revivo and find that it has improved their general health tremendously.

    Irrespective of the above we have never had the intention of exploiting the people you regard as gullible, poor and stupid, instead we have made available a supplement that many are finding is an asset to the improvement of their general health. We respect the ruling of the ASA and have every intention of complying with it. We however will continue to make Revivo available to all those intelligent and sophisticated individuals, African or non-African who want it as an aid to improving their general health.

    Revivo Spokesperson

  2. Mark says:

    “We do accept that our website content was not accurate…”

    So the lies were just a consequence of old-fashioned incompetence and were not intended to deceive? Some might believe you, I certainly don’t.

    “Unlike yourself we do not have a stereotype of the African people…”

    I am an African, I live in Africa and I’m quite sure I know more about the African people than you.

    “Irrespective of the above we have never had the intention of exploiting the people you regard as gullible, poor and stupid…”

    If you set up straw man arguments people will probably regard you as stupid, not the person with whom you are debating. Read what I actually said. Your intentions are, in any case, crystal clear. You are snake oil salesmen peddling a concoction of extremely dubious value by unethical means. I stand by my assertion that your products should be taken off the market.

  3. I hope so.
    signature: danazol 200mg

  4. NamFe Man says:

    I am a South African, born and bred, and I have read the latest website under discussion.
    My garden service person is HIV positive, and, believe it or not, he is niether sophysticated nor well educated.

    I stand fully behind Mark on all his points, bar none.

    There is no doubt in my mind this revivo tea is being pushed as a cure for HIV/AIDS with nothing more than materialistic greed as the motivation.

    Where else would you pay so much for a simple herbal tea, exploiting the gullible desperate and needy is all it is, and if not actively engaging in large scale mansluaghter, it is tantamount to murder.

    How many people will die believing this mumbo jumbo, and not be going to a medical centre for proper treatment because of it?

    Please do not forget African culture combined with lack of adequate education makes them lean this way as it is, so no vast amount of presuading is required to get them to believe this money making scam.

  5. […] where to start critisising it.  There is the same ignorance of how to render biological names that I have complained about in another context; there is the typical scare tactic followed by the ‘white knight’ in his lab coat riding to the […]

  6. Con-Tester says:

    Let me put this as gently as I possibly can. The pushers of Revivo Tea are fucking liars.

    “Dr” Feroz Osman-Latib, the main charlatan behind this unscrupulous grubbery, and his cronies have published several articles and blurbs on the Internet wherein they plainly aim to promote this product as a treatment and a cure for HIV/Aids. The more blatantly mendacious of those articles have been taken down since the ASASA ruling. Among them were:

    The Effectiveness of Revivo Herbal Tea in Treating HIV at ezinearticles.com;
    Get Revivo!!! It will cure HIV at amazines.com, and
    Revivo – A proven herbal supplement to assist in HIV also at amazines.com

    I have web archive copies of these articles.

    Moreover, the “Revivo is NOT a cure, treatment or remedy” disclaimer originally appearing at the Revivo Tea website is wholly inconsistent with the remainder of the original material and wording published there and at the Herbal Pharmacy website, for each of which I also have web archive copies. It seems quite obvious that said disclaimer was included only as a dodge meant to address the ASASA code prohibiting the advertising of HIV/Aids cures.

    In short, for the Revivo peddlers to claim now that their intentions were always noble is an unsustainable pretence, and a degenerate one at that. Coming clean, rather than this ongoing gross denial, would be so much more admirable.

  7. Willie Bohn says:

    Free love is no longer an option that we can take lightly any more so it seems there are a few alternatives to keeping it safe.Nowadays condoms no longer prevent a life threatning situation, still transmitting plenty of scary diseases.Sites on the internte provide me with a great alternatertative to fulfill my needs without the risksWith so many different websites to chose from it is hard to decide which one to go to.I as a man tend to go to the ones with the models that I enjoy.

  8. Patrick Seane Mazibane says:

    Send me list of distributors in South Africa atlist around pretoria and northwest provence coz am in Botswana even if you have one in Botswana let me know please.

  9. the one says:

    You people think africans lucky education just because you want them to belive what you believe in, man made science and why should we believe in science herbs existed long before science, ARVS are toxic and cause cancer why don’t you strongly talk about it the way you are dscrediting Revivo, are you a beneficiary for these ARVS? And every human being has a right to chose don’t chose for them and I see no reason you should even start using insults over this which strongly indicates that you have grudge against the revivo company and you are disapointed because many people are resorting to use herbs and you are unable to make more money.

    • I am African. You do have a choice: my reason for posting this was to aid people in making an informed choice. Companies such as Revivo are cynically taking advantage of your ignorance. Yes, herbs existed long before science, but that does not make them more efficacious than science-based medicine. ARVs, which you claim cause cancer (please provide a link to evidence supporting your assertion) have made HIV infection a chronic condition instead of the death sentence it used to be, but of course you are free to choose not to take them if you wish. You will get assuredly develop AIDS and be removed from the gene pool, which will strengthen the human species.

      • the one says:

        You think am ignorant when infact its you who is ignorant, long before science man used to use herbs and they used to get well within a short period of time that’s God gave medicine when science started emerging people have died in huge numbers, let Revivo alone , Revivo people keep on improving and the ans lies within the people themselves who take revivo.

  10. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied
    on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when
    you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

  11. This page definitely has all of the information I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  12. creative ways to make money

    Herbal Hogwash | Grumpy Old Man

  13. Right here is the right web site for anyone who wants to understand this topic.
    You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa).

    You certainly put a brand new spin on a topic that’s been written about for ages.
    Wonderful stuff, just great!

  14. Gloria says:

    I would like to be a revivo products distributor in Botswana

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