Zija sells nutritional products using a business model similar to illegal pyramid schemes. The products are based on the moringa tree (Moringa oleifera), which has been used in traditional medicine for centuries.
Zija's compensation plan is designed to reward recruiting, not selling products to end customers. The products are overpriced, and the consultants that sign up to the business opportunity are forced to buy a significant amount of product each month to stay qualified. In fact, most of the product price is a fee to participate in the scheme.
To defend the extreme prices the company has to make substantial claims about the alleged health benefits of their products. However, the marketing language is vague, like "improvements in digestion, vision, mental clarity, overall well-being, plus a reduction in symptoms associated with fatigue, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and aging." But in the training sessions the distributors are urged to use personal anecdotes about which illnesses and diseases the Zija products have cured them or other people of. There is no good scientific documentation of any claim that the moringa products could cure or prevent any disease.
Zija has experienced success among religious groups as Mormons and Amish, and the company has been criticized for promoting their products as an alternative to conventional cancer therapy for the young Amish girl Sarah Hershberger. Kenneth Brailsford is also a respected Mormon. In 1988 he was fined $100,000 by NASD for illegal stock manipulating.
One of the reasons that Zija has grown for recently is that it succeeded in attracting a lot of the members from Fortune High-Tech Marketing when it was closed by SEC in 2013 for operating an illegal pyramid scheme. The founder of FHTM, Paul Orberson, was denied any involvement with any network marketing company for five years, but by using his wife's identity he managed to rebuild a big network in Zija before he died of kidney cancer.