Monday, 28 June 2010

*Ayushya Ltd - Ayurvedic Annoyance


This is Qurban Hussain, the Lib Dem candidate for Luton South in last month's general election.

Qurban ran his campaign out of an office at 351 Dunstable Road, Luton. (I live in a neighbouring constituency and don't belong to any political party).

Today's ASA complaint is about a company called Ayushya Ltd.

UPDATE, 25 Aug: ASA advise me that the advertisers have agreed to withdraw the advert and not to repeat the claims it makes.


The company specialises in Ayurvedic medicine, a herbal medicine tradition from India. (According to the Quackwatch website, it's not a "tradition" at all, but the product of the Maharashi Yogi's verdant imagination.)

Ayushya's shopfront window makes a number of pseudoscientific claims - my favourite is that Ayurveda can treat diabetes - but my letter to the ASA concerns a recent newspaper advert.

The advert unwisely claims you can "LOSE 2 INCHES in just 2 WEEKS!" with Ayurvedic massage which, by the way, is also "Guaranteed to stop hair loss in just 2 months!"


By the way, Ayushya Ltd operates out of premises at... 351 Dunstable Road, Luton!

I don't know whether Qurban and Ayushya are connected - I rather hope not, given Qurban's good reputation as a local councillor. A firm of accountants also operate out of the same address.

Still, the tenuous connection enlivens an otherwise straightforward ASA complaint.


"I write to complain about an advert which appears in the "Luton Herald and Post" newspaper (Thursday, June 24, p41).

The advert, for Ayushya Ltd, promotes Ayurvedic Massage.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of four sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code. I can provide an original copy of the advert by post, if required.

1. Ayurvedic Medicine is a system of traditional herbal medicine, originating in India, which commonly incorporates both yoga and massage.

2. Clinical evidence for the efficacy of ayurvedic treatments is thin on the ground, and generally of poor quality. For example, a 2007 Cochrane Review, "Ayurvedic medicine for schizophrenia", concludes [1]:

"Ayurvedic medication may have some effects for treatment of schizophrenia, but has been evaluated only in a few small pioneering trials."

The 2010 paper, "Herbal medicines for asthma: a systematic review" [2], concluded:

"No definitive evidence for any of the herbal preparations [including a number of ayurvedic herbal medicines] emerged. Considering the popularity of herbal medicine with asthma patients, there is urgent need for stringently designed clinically relevant randomised clinical trials for herbal preparations in the treatment of asthma."

3. The ASA Council has in the past upheld a complaint concerning an advert for ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for a number of conditions [3]. (The advertisers in that case were not Ayushya Ltd.)

3. (i) I have found two studies discussing ayurvedic medicine and weight loss. The first study [4] suggests:

"Hence, diets based on Ayurvedic constitution may prove useful in promoting weight loss. Though these promising findings support traditional Indian Ayurvedic scriptures, more closely controlled trials are needed to substantiate these findings."

(ii) The second study [5], an RCT, reports:

"A significant weight loss was observed in drug therapy groups when compared with the placebo."

(iii) The positive results of these two studies, both published in India, do not appear to have been replicated by anybody else.

4. I have been unable to find any clinical evidence for the efficacy of ayurvedic medicine in preventing hair loss.

5. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove the following claim, and I challenge whether the claim is backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of clinical trials conducted on people:

(i) Ayurvedic massage is "guaranteed to stop hair loss in just 2 months"

6. Under Sections 3.1 and 51.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove the following claim, and I challenge whether the claim made for the effectiveness of the product is backed if appropriate by rigorous trials on people:

(i) Ayurvedic massage can make you "LOSE 2 INCHES in just 2 WEEKS!"

7. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advertiser's claim that they are able to offer "FREE medical advice" is misleading.

8. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or the magazine. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine.

Footnotes:

[1] Agarwal V, Abhijnhan A, Raviraj P. Ayurvedic medicine for schizophrenia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD006867. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006867 http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab006867.html

[2] Huntley A, Ernst E. Herbal medicines for asthma: a systematic review. Thorax 2000;55:925-929 doi:10.1136/thorax.55.11.925 http://thorax.bmj.com/content/55/11/925.abstract

[3] http://www.asa.org.uk/Complaints-and-ASA-action/Adjudications/2009/7/Kerala-Ayurvedic-Health-Clinic/TF_ADJ_46582.aspx

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19161047

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2278549
"

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