Friday, 5 February 2010

*Sylvie Hamilton (2) - can she "reduce" colic?

UPDATE: ASA: Complaint passed to compliance team; "we feel the [advert contains] clear breaches of the CAP code"

UPDATE, 11 Mar: Today's advert in the local paper has been substantially reworded. Perhaps Sylvie is having problems sleeping after being persuaded that her earlier claims were bullshit?

Sylvie Hamilton is a local "cranial osteopath" who has graced this blog before.

Sylvie works for Glenn Lobo & Associates in Luton. Glenn is an osteopath, but his practice also offers acupuncture.

I was hoping Sylvie would feature in an advert sooner or later. This week my wish came true. (ASA complaint follows).

"I write to complain about an advert published in the Luton "Herald and Post" newspaper on February 4th, 2010.

The advert, for Glenn Lobo and Associates, is entitled "Is your baby giving you sleepless nights? Or restless days?"

I have submitted a scan of the advert. I can provide original copy of the advert by post, if required.

I believe the advert is in breach of several sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code.

1. The Luton "Herald and Post" is a weekly free newspaper distributed in the south of Bedfordshire.

2. In the February 4th issue, on page 37, an advert appeared for Glenn Lobo and Associates, a local medical practice specialising in osteopathy and acupuncture.

3. The practice also offers a treatment called "cranial osteopathy". (The treatment is sometimes known as "craniosacral therapy" or "cranial therapy".)

4. Cranial osteopathy is a treatment which purports to manipulate the plates of the skull, and should not be confused with "mainstream" osteopathy, which focuses on gentle manipulation of the body's musculoskeletal system.

5. Dr Steve Bratman, writing for the Complementary Medical Association[1], has summarised the current scientific understanding for the treatment, which I will risk quoting in full:

"Craniosacral therapy is a very specialised technique based on the scientifically unconfirmed belief that the tissues surrouding the brain and spinal cord undergo a rhythmic pulsation. This 'cranial rhythm' is supposed to cause subtle movements of the bones of the skull. A practicioner of craniosacral therapy gently manipulates these bones in time with the rhythm (as determined by the practicioner's awareness), in order to repair 'cranial lesions'. This therapy is said to be helpful for numerous conditions ranging from headaches and sinus allergies to multiple sclerosis and asthma. However, many researchers have serious doubts that the cranial rhythm even exists."

6. The CAP Code, Section 2.1, states "All marketing communications should be legal, decent, honest and truthful."

7. The CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."

8. The CAP Code, Section 6.1, states "Marketers should not exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers."

9. The CAP Code, Section 7.1, states "No marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise."

10. The CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

11. I challenge whether any of the following claims are "truthful"; whether Glenn Lobo & Associates "hold documentary evidence to prove" them; whether they exploit the "credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of customers"; whether they "mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy..."; and whether they are "backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people":

(i) The claim that when babies "cry, get colic, don't sleep and don't feed properly" Glenn Lobo & Associates "can... reduce [the baby's] discomfort" using the only treatment the advert mentions, cranial osteopathy,

(ii) cranial osteopathy "encourages the release of tensions and stresses",

(iii) cranial osteopathy "gently ease[s] the bodies [sic] ailments",

(iv) cranial therapy can assist in reducing the stress of a difficult birth, for either mother or baby,

(v) cranial therapy can reduce colic,

(vi) cranial therapy can reduce sleeplessness,

(vii) cranial therapy can reduce feeding problems,

(viii) cranial therapy can reduce restlessness,

(ix) cranial osteopathy has fantastic results on pain associated with arthritis,

(x) cranial osteopathy (not "mainstream" osteopathy) has fantastic results on back pain,

(xi) cranial osteopathy has fantastic results on pain associated with headaches,

(xii) cranial osteopathy has fantastic results on pain associated with migraines.

12. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, with the Herald and Post newspaper, or with the publishing industry or the complimentary medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the newspaper.

13. I confirm that I am happy to be identified as the complainant.


[1] "Complementary and Alternative Health: The Scientific Verdict on What Really Works", Collins 2007 (p682)"

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