Thursday, 28 October 2010

Harmony Cone Ear Candles - already illegal in the US


Harmony Cone Ear Candles are banned in the USA - partly because they are so dangerous - but mostly because its manufacturers and marketers keep breaking the law.


Luckily for "Doc Harmony", the fake doctor pictured below, our very own Bodytox Ltd - regular guests on this blog - are more than willing to flog them on this side of the pond.

(Image credit)

Now when I say fake, I'm talking about "Doctor" Gillian McKeith fake.

You see, both Gillian and "Doc Harmony" are graduates of the unaccredited, and now defunct, Clayton College of Natural Health.

Gillian has been ordered to stop using the title "doctor" in her marketing promotions. I suspect "Doc Harmony" will soon have to stop, too.

But the bogus claim is the least worrying thing from Bodytox's flyer (available here and here).


The promotion contains a thoroughly irresponsible suggestion that inserting burning hot wax into someone's ear is "simple", and to prove it, provides a step-by-step guide.

Just as recklessly, Bodytox suggest that ear infections can be treated with their bullshit candles. (Most doctors would, I think, recommend an immediate course of antibiotics.)

Let's see what Bodyquacks have to say for themselves, shall we? ASA complaint follows!

"I write to complain about a leaflet picked up at the CamExpo exhibition in London on 24th October this year.

The flyer, for Bodytox Ltd, promotes "Harmony Cone Ear Candles".

I suspect that the flyer may be in breach of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code). I can provide the original flyer by post, if necessary.

1. The ASA Council has in the past ruled against health claims made for ear candles (for example, complaint ref 120878, in which I was the complainant.)

2. In February this year, the USA's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sale of Harmony Cone Ear Candles [1].

3. Under Section 12.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate any of the following claims, and under Section 3.1 I challenge whether the claims are misleading:

(i) "Harmony Cone Ear Candles are the safest...ear candles on the market"
(ii) "Harmony Cone Ear Candles are the ...most effective ear candles on the market"
(iii) "Harmony Cone Ear Candles...support the body's own natural defenses [sic]"
(iv) "Harmony Cone Ear Candles...help with allergies, headaches, cold & flu, congestion, sore throat, ear infections and sinus infection"
(v) "Ear candling has been an ancient practice through the ages"
(vi) "...ear candle therapy is a rewarding...remedy"
(vii) The advertisers have "establish[ed] the truth" about the "safe...use" of "Harmony Cone Ear Candles"
(viii) "Harmony Cone Ear Candles" induce "the body into a relaxed state"
(ix) "...This encourages the lymphatic system, sinuses, and eustachian tubes to function and support the body's natural defenses [sic]"
(x) "Current worldwide research indicates that ear candles function as an energetic modality comparable to the field or reflexology and acupuncture. These modalities encourage healing as the body shifts from a sympathetic to a parasympathetic state with the autonomic nervous system (ANS)"
(xi) This "shift in the ANS encourages the proper function and balance of the ear"

4. (i) The leaflet describes the use of ear candles as "simple", providing instructions and a short list of things that "you need".

(ii) Under Section 1.3, I challenge whether the leaflet's exhortation to the general public that inserting a column of boiling hot wax into someone's ear is "simple" is irresponsible.

5. Under Section 12.2, I challenge whether the leaflet's claim that "Harmony Cone Ear Candles...help with...ear infections" may discourage essential treatment.

6. (i) The leaflet describes the apparent designer of Harmony Cone Ear Candles, "Doc Harmony", who achieved "highest honours upon gaining her Doctorate in Natural Health from Clayton College of Natural Health".

(ii) The College is a non-accredited institution. For this reason, the ASA has apparently instructed another graduate of the college, "Dr" Gillian McKeith, to stop using the title in her marketing materials [2].

(iii) Therefore, under Section 3.1 I challenge whether the description of "Doc Harmony" as a PhD graduate is misleading.

(iv) Under Section 3.1, I challenge whether the description of the "Doc Harmony branded products" as being "trusted" by retailers "throughout America" is misleading, given that the advertised product has been banned from sale there.

7. I confirm I have no connections with the advertiser. I confirm I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser.

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm202182.htm
[2] http://www.badscience.net/2007/02/ms-gillian-mckeith-banned-from-calling-herself-a-doctor/
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