Long story short, Protandim is a patented blend of five natural ingredients. It's Peer-reviewed, see PubMed.gov. (search bar "protandim") The patented blend makes it about 18 times more effective than the individual ingredients. It is sold as a supplement to reduce "oxidative stress" (basically your bodies total stress from free-radicals). It does this by nrf2 activation within the cell. http://www.nrf2.com/
Yes, many things are nrf2 activators or synergisers, but at 18x the normal strength, Protandim provides more "punch" per unit consumed. (peer-reviewed & patented) A number of major universities have been researching nrf2 activation for a number medical problems. Some are using Protandim specifically, others are not. Search PubMed.gov for "protandim+medical condition" and see the Peer-reviewed postings.
As far as MLM, the company nearly went bankrupt trying to sell retail. They chose to go to MLM 4 years ago because the public simply has no idea what nrf2 is or does. MLM offers a better chance to get the word out. The company is traded on Nasdaq (LFVN).
These links are to a study comparing Protandim to other products, the kicker is near the end. Note who paid for the study..http://www.nrf2.com/multiple-sclerosis- ... protandim/http://registration.akm.ch/einsicht.php
Hope this helps.