Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Dr Lucy Vickers - colic miracle worker


Chiropractors who claim to treat colic used to be a dime a dozen.


These days they're an endangered species - at least in the UK - but a few brave souls continue to wave the flag for this quack therapy for which, in the case of colic, there still isn't a jot of evidence.


The blurry photo above is Dr Lucy Vickers (or maybe Alison Vickers).

Lucy (or Alison) works out the Hale Clinic in London, from where she claims she can treat colic, whiplash and repetitive strain injury (among other things).

The Clinic advertises just about every quack therapy I've ever heard of, but if this complaint to the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) is successful, they might have to rethink their marketing a little.

"Dear Sir/Madam,

I write to make a formal complaint about Lucy Vickers, aka Alison Vickers, a GCC-registered Chiropractor (Reg. no. 01247) who is employed by the Hale Clinic in Marylebone, London.

The essence of my complaint is that two websites advertising the services of Ms Vickers may be in breach of the GCC's Code of Practice (2005) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code.

1. Ms Vickers advertises her services on at least two websites. The first, www.halemusculoskeletal.com, forms a part of the Hale Clinic's own group of websites. This website gives Ms Vickers name as "Lucy Vickers"; I will proceed under the assumption this is the same person as Alison Vickers, who according to the GCC's register, is the only registered chiropractor working at the Hale Clinic.

2. The first website contains [1] the following text:

"Common ailments that chiropractic treatment can effectively treat are: Neck pain Back pain Frozen shoulder Hip problems Knee pain Tennis elbow Foot and ankle pain Painful periods Repetitive strain injury (RSI) Arm pain/pins and needles Headaches/Migraine Sciatica Infantile colic Sports injuries Whiplash"

3. The second website, www.chiropractorcentrallondon.co.uk, is registered [2] to Ms Vickers personally.

4. The second website contains [3] the following text:

"Do you suffer from: # Neck pain # Back pain # Frozen shoulder # Hip problems # Knee pain # Tennis elbow # Foot and ankle pain # Painful periods # Repetitive strain injury (RSI) # Arm pain/pins and needles # Headaches/Migraine # Sciatica # Sports injuries # Whiplash ... In fact pain anywhere is the bodys [sic] way of telling you there is something wrong. Most aches and pains are due to structural problems that can be helped....Chiropractic may well be the answer!"

5. The GCC's "Code of Practice (2005)", Section C1.6, states:

"[Chiropractors] may publicise their practices or permit another person to do so consistent with the law and the guidance issued by the Advertising Standards Authority. If chiropractors, or others on their behalf, do publicise, the information used must be factual and verifiable. The information must not be misleading or inaccurate in any way. It must not, in any way, abuse the trust of members of the public nor exploit their lack of experience or knowledge about either health or chiropractic matters..."

6. The ASA's CAP Code, Section 7.1, states:

"No marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise."

7. Section 6.1 states:

"Marketers should not exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers."

8. 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."

9. 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... Substantiation will be assessed by the ASA on the basis of the available scientific knowledge."

10. CAP's Copy Advice website [4] lists a number of conditions to which it accepts chiropractors may refer. However, a number of conditions which Ms Vickers claims to treat are not on that list. Specifically, they are:

(i) Period pains
(ii) Repetitive strain injury
(iii) Headaches
(iv) Sciatica
(v) Infantile colic
(vi) Whiplash

12. The 2010 "Bronfort Report" [5], commissioned by the GCC to "provide a succinct but comprehensive summary of the scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of manual treatment for the management of a variety of musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions", deals with the above conditions thus:

(i) Period pains: "Moderate quality evidence that spinal manipulation is no more effective than sham manipulation in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea [period pains]"
(ii) Repetitive strain injury: not mentioned
(iii) Headaches: "Inconclusive evidence in a favorable direction regarding mobilization for post-traumatic headache"
(iv) Sciatica: "Inconclusive evidence"
(v) Infantile colic "Moderate quality evidence that spinal manipulation is no more effective than sham spinal manipulation for the treatment of infantile colic"
(vi) Whiplash: "Moderate quality evidence that mobilization [physiotherapy] combined with exercise is effective for acute whiplash associated disorders", but spinal manipulation is only mentioned with regards to non-specific neck pain (a separate condition)


13. I complain that Ms Vickers may be in breach of the ASA's CAP Code, Sections 3.1, 6.1, 7.1 and 50.1, in that:

(i) given the ASA's Copy Advice website and the Bronfort Report, Ms Vickers is unlikely to hold sufficient documentary evidence to support her claim that she can treat period pains, repetitive strain injury, headaches, sciatica, infantile colic and whiplash with chiropractic (3.1 & 50.1),

(ii) Ms Vickers may be misleading consumers by claiming to treat period pains, repetitive strain injury, headaches, sciatica, infantile colic and whiplash with chiropractic (7.1),

(iii) Ms Vickers may be exploiting the "credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers" by claiming to treat period pains, repetitive strain injury, headaches, sciatica, infantile colic and whiplash with chiropractic (6.1).

14. As a a consequence, I further complain that Ms Vickers may be in breach of the GCC's Code of Practice, Section C1.6.

15. If, in fact, Lucy Vickers and Alison Vickers are two different people, then my complaint of paragraphs 13 and 14 does not apply; instead I would complain that Lucy Vickers is performing chiropractic treatments on patients without being registered with the GCC.

16. Since I have never met Ms Vickers, I waive my right, under the Investigating Committee Rules (2000), to make a statement of evidence. I do not consider the additional costs the GCC would incur, were I to consult their solicitor, would contribute any evidence of value to my complaint.

Yours faithfully,

Footnotes:
[1] http://halemusculoskeletal.com/9/Chiropractic.html
[2] http://webwhois.nic.uk/cgi-bin/whois.cgi?query=chiropractorcentrallondon.co.uk&WHOIS+Submit.x=39&WHOIS+Submit.y=4
[3] http://www.chiropractorcentrallondon.co.uk/
[4] http://copyadvice.co.uk/Ad-Advice/Advice-Online-Database/Therapies-Chiropractic.aspx
[5] http://www.chiroandosteo.com/content/pdf/1746-1340-18-3.pdf
"

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
"

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Back to Back Chiropractic Clinic: "Specialists" in RSI


Every week when I flick through the Luton News I come across a smug Back to Back Chiropractic Clinic advert, insolently staring back at me.

UPDATE, 22nd September: The advertiser has agreed to withdraw their claim to treat RSI, and therefore the complaint has been marked as "informally resolved".

UPDATE, 22nd June: As well as complaining to the ASA, I've also submitted a complaint to the General Chiropractic Council (scroll to the bottom). Just for the lulz, you understand.

The Clinic's chiropractors, by the way, are members of the BCA, which stands for...


Earlier this week I realised that Chiropractors may not be allowed to claim they can "treat" Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

(The 2010 Brontfort Report, commissioned by the General Chiropractic Council, makes no mention of it, and neither does the ASA's Copy Advice service.)


Sounds like a test case for the ASA, then, because the Back to Back clinic claim to be "specialists" in "treatment and diagnosis" of RSI!

"I write to complain about an advert which appears in the "Luton News" newspaper (June 16 2010, p32).

The advert, for the Back to Back Chiropractic Clinic (Luton), promotes chiropractic treatments for Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of one section 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. This complaint is not related to my April 2010 complaint against the same advertisers, which I believe is still under your consideration.

2. The advert which is the subject of this complaint claims the Back to Back Clinic are "Specialists [in] treatment & Diagnosis of: ...Repetitive strain (injury)"

3. I can find little evidence attesting to the efficacy of chiropractic in treating RSI. A 2001 systematic review [1] stated (in its abstract):

"Various conservative treatment options for repetitive strain injury are widely used, despite questionable evidence of their effectiveness... With the use of a "best-evidence synthesis", no strong evidence was found for the effectiveness of any of the treatment options. There is limited evidence that ...spinal manipulation combined with soft tissue therapy are effective in providing symptom relief or improving activities of daily living... In conclusion, little is known about the effectiveness of conservative treatment options for repetitive strain injury. To establish strong evidence, more high-quality trials are needed."

4. The 2010 "Brontfort Report" [2], commissioned by the General Chiropractic Council to "provide a succinct but comprehensive summary of the scientific
evidence regarding the effectiveness of manual treatment for the management of a variety of musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions", does not refer to any spinal manipulation treatments for RSI.

5. CAP's Copy Advice website [3] lists a number of conditions to which it accepts chiropractors may refer, but RSI is not among them.

6. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove the following claims, and I challenge whether the claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of clinical trials conducted on people:

(i) The Back to Back Chiropractic Clinic are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of RSI
(ii) The Back to Back Chiropractic Clinic are able to treat RSI

7. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the newspaper or the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the newspaper.

Footnotes:
[1] Konijnenberg HS, de Wilde NS, Gerritsen AA, van Tulder MW, de Vet HC, "Conservative treatment for repetitive strain injury", MW, de Vet HC.
Scand J Work Environ Health. 2001 Oct;27(5):299-310. Review.PMID: 11712610
[2] http://www.chiroandosteo.com/content/pdf/1746-1340-18-3.pdf
[3] http://copyadvice.co.uk/Ad-Advice/Advice-Online-Database/Therapies-Chiropractic.aspx
"

Here is my GCC complaint about the same two adverts.

"Dear Sir/Madam,

I write to make a formal complaint about advertisements promoting the "Back to Back Chiropractic Clinic" (Luton).

The essence of my complaint is that the advertisements may breach the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) Code of Practice (2005) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code.

1. The Back to Back Chiropractic Clinic (268 Crawley Green Road, Luton LU2 0SJ) employs two GCC registered chiropractors, David Leu (reg. no. 00503) and Paula Garcia (reg. no. 02516).

2. My complaint concerns two adverts. The first ("Advert 1") has been running weekly in local newspapers for several months. I enclose two copies of this advert. The first was taken from the "Luton News" newspaper of Wednesday, June 16 2010. For comparison, I have included a copy of an (identical) advert taken from the Luton News of March 31 2010.

3. The second ("Advert 2") appeared just once - in the Luton News on Wednesday, April 14 2010 - as part of "Chiropractic Awareness Week".

4. Advert 1 includes the following text:
"Specialists [in] treatment & Diagnosis of: ...Repetitive strain (injury)"

5. The GCC's "Code of Practice (2005)", Section C1.6, states:

"[Chiropractors] may publicise their practices or permit another person to do so consistent with the law and the guidance issued by the Advertising Standards Authority. If chiropractors, or others on their behalf, do publicise, the information used must be factual and verifiable. The information must not be misleading or inaccurate in any way. It must not, in any way, abuse the trust of members of the public nor exploit their lack of experience or knowledge about either health or chiropractic matters..."

6. The ASA's CAP Code, Section 7.1, states:

"No marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise."

7. Section 6.1 states:

"Marketers should not exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers."

8. 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."

9. 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... Substantiation will be assessed by the ASA on the basis of the available scientific knowledge."

10. CAP's Copy Advice website [1] lists a number of conditions to which it accepts chiropractors may refer. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is not among them.

11. I can find little clinical evidence attesting to the efficacy of chiropractic in treating RSI. A 2001 systematic review [2] stated (in its abstract):

"Various conservative treatment options for repetitive strain injury are widely used, despite questionable evidence of their effectiveness... With the use of a "best-evidence synthesis", no strong evidence was found for the effectiveness of any of the treatment options. There is limited evidence that ...spinal manipulation combined with soft tissue therapy are effective in providing symptom relief or improving activities of daily living... In conclusion, little is known about the effectiveness of conservative treatment options for repetitive strain injury. To establish strong evidence, more high-quality trials are needed."

12. The 2010 "Bronfort Report" [3], commissioned by the GCC to "provide a succinct but comprehensive summary of the scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of manual treatment for the management of a variety of musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions", does not refer to any spinal manipulation treatments for RSI.

13. I complain that Advert 1 may be in breach of the ASA's CAP Code, Sections 3.1, 6.1, 7.1 and 50.1, in that:

(i) given the Bronfort Report and the other sources I have referenced, the advertisers are unlikely to hold sufficient documentary evidence to support their claim of a chiropractic treatment for RSI (3.1 & 50.1),

(ii) the advertisers may be misleading consumers by claiming to treat RSI with chiropractic (7.1),

(iii) the advertisers may be exploiting the "credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers" by claiming to treat RSI with chiropractic (6.1).

14. As a a consequence, I further complain that Advert 1 may be in breach of the GCC's Code of Practice, Section C1.6.

15. The GCC's Code of Practice, Section C1.9, states:

"[chiropractors] must not make claims to being a specialist or an expert in a field of chiropractic although chiropractors may indicate that their practice is wholly or mainly devoted to particular types of care."

16. Advert 1 contains the following text:

"Specialists [in] treatment & Diagnosis of: ...Repetitive strain (injury)"

17. Therefore I complain that Advert 1 may be in breach of the GCC's Code of Practice, Section C1.9.

18. Advert 2 contains the following text:

"Chiropractic focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the nervous system, joints, bones and muscles and the effects that these disorders have on your health. It is a hands on [sic] treatment using specific techniques to improve the function of the joints in the body. This helps to alleviate pain, reduce muscle spasm, improve movement and encourage the efficiency of the nervous system and the bodys [sic] ability to heal itself..."

19. CAP's Copy Advice website lists a number of conditions to which it accepts chiropractors may refer. Neither "encourag[ing] the efficiency of the nervous system" nor "encourag[ing]...the bodys [sic] ability to heal itself" are among them.

20. I can find no clinical evidence attesting to the efficacy of chiropractic in "encourag[ing] the efficiency of the nervous system". Similarly, I can find no clinical evidence attesting to the efficacy of chiropractic in "encourag[ing]...the bodys [sic] ability to heal itself".

21. The 2010 Bronfort Report does not refer to any spinal manipulation treatments for "encourag[ing] the efficiency of the nervous system". (The nervous system is mentioned indirectly in discussions of nocturnal enuresis and vertigo.)

22. Likewise, the Bronfort Report does not refer to any spinal manipulation treatments for "encourag[ing] the bodys [sic] ability to heal itself".

23. I complain that Advert 2 may be in breach of the ASA's CAP Code, Sections 3.1, 6.1, 7.1 and 50.1, in that:

(i) given the Bronfort Report and the other sources I have referenced, the advertisers are unlikely to hold sufficient documentary evidence to support their claim that chiropractic can encourage the nervous system and the body's ability to heal itself (3.1 & 50.1),

(ii) the advertisers may be misleading consumers by claiming chiropractic treatments have these effects (7.1),

(iii) the advertisers may be exploiting the "credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers" by claiming chiropractic treatments have these effects (6.1).

24. As a a consequence, I further complain that Advert 2 may be in breach of the GCC's Code of Practice, Section C1.6.

25. I enclose copies of the three advertisements to which I have referred. I can provide the original advertisements, if you deem it necessary.

Yours faithfully,

Footnotes:

[1] http://copyadvice.co.uk/Ad-Advice/Advice-Online-Database/Therapies-Chiropractic.aspx

[2] Konijnenberg HS, de Wilde NS, Gerritsen AA, van Tulder MW, de Vet HC, "Conservative treatment for repetitive strain injury", Scand J Work Environ Health. 2001 Oct;27(5):299-310. Review. PMID: 11712610
[3] http://www.chiroandosteo.com/content/pdf/1746-1340-18-3.pdf
"

Jason Pike's magic salt rituals


Have you ever wanted to win £1411? Author Jason Pike c
an help you out!


Jason's advert boasts that "salt rites" have all kinds of magical effects, such as influencing games of chance, protecting against other people's bad thoughts and quelling violent children.

This American advert from 2001, apparently promoting the same book, is a real hoot.

I imagine that Jason forgot to conduct a "salt rite" against my "thoughts and actions", and as a result, here comes a complaint to the ASA!

"I write to complain about an advert which appears in Nexus Magazine (June-July 2010, Vol 17, No 4, p64).

The advert, for "Jason Pike", promotes a book extolling the virtues of "salt magic rites".

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of three 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. The advert promotes a publication which details how the following feats can be achieved:

(i) Salt rites "[bring] Money - Influence Another Person's Thoughts & Actions - ...Protect Against Physical Injury - Salt Rite[s can help] To Get A Job"
(ii) "...sprinkling salt outside your front door could keep an unwanted person away"
(iii) Salt should be "sprinkle[d]...on important documents; on lottery coupons!"

2. Testimonials presented by the advert imply:

(i) Salt rites can cause multiple wins on the Pools
(ii) Salt rites can affect the behaviour of violent children
(iii) Salt rites can lead to other financial rewards ("I won £1411")
(iv) Salt rites can cause "money has come into [someone's] home in different ways" in sufficient quantities to have "paid off...debts"

3. Under Section 57.4 (q) of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advert "exploit[s] cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck", and under Section 2.2, I challenge whether the advert has been "prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society".

4. Under Section 3.3, I challenge whether the advert "exaggerate[s] the value, accuracy, scientific validity or practical usefulness of the product".

5. 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."

*"Professor" Brian Peskin, cancer expert


A liar. A fraudster. A dangerous conman. A quack. A convicted criminal.

It's not often I can use those words against one of my complainees. So, let me introduce you to "Professor" Brian Peskin!

UPDATE, 27 Oct: The ASA Council has today upheld my complaint in full


The "Professor" is the author of a book, "The Hidden Story of Cancer", advertised in this month's Nexus Magazine by the irresponsible bookshop The Nutri Centre.

The book's tagline is "Find Out Why Cancer has Physicians on the Run and How a Simple Plan Based on New Science Can Prevent It".

Since I can't rip out his throat with my bare teeth, I'll settle for mentioning Peskin's 2003 conviction for multiple acts of fraud.

Oh, and he's not a "Professor", either, and he never has been. ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about an advert which appears in Nexus Magazine (June-July 2010, Vol 17, No 4, p10).

The advert, for "The Nutri Centre", promotes a book by "Professor" Brian Peskin, "The Hidden Story of Cancer".

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. The advert features the book's front cover, with the text:

"Earth-Shattering and Historically Significant..."

"THE HIDDEN STORY OF CANCER"

"Find Out Why Cancer has Physicians on the Run and How a Simple Plan Based on New Science Can Prevent It"

2. In addition, the advert contains the text:

" 'This is one of the most important books you could ever read if you want to understand and prevent cancer...' - Reviewed in Nexus 2006"

"Professor Brian Peskin's books is available from The Nutri Centre Bookshop along with more than 150 books on alternative treatments for cancer."

3. Brian Peskin is not a "Professor" at any university.

4. In January 2003, the District Court of Harris County, Texas issued a permanent injunction ordering Peskin and his company to pay $100,000 to the State of Texas and to refrain from making certain claims [1]. Among other things, the injunction ordered that Peskin must refrain from:

(i) "Advertising or labeling any food product or drug which makes any express or implied claims that such product will ...(4) reduce the risk of breast, prostate and other cancers..."

(ii) "Representing, expressly or by implication, in any advertising of any product, that Defendant Brian Scott Peskin is a 'scientist,' 'Professor,' or 'Doctor,' or that Brian Scott Peskin is the 'holder of the Emeritus Life-Systems Engineering Chair, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Texas Southern University' "

5. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advert misleadingly claims that Brian Peskin is a Professor.

6. Under Section 3.3 and in relation to the book's claim to prevent cancer, I challenge whether the advert "exaggerate[s] the value, accuracy, scientific validity or practical usefulness of the product".

7. Under Section 6.1, I challenge whether the advert "exploit[s] the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers".

8. Under Section 2.2, I challenge whether the advert has been "prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society".

9. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine or the alternative health and publishing industries. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine.

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.quackwatch.org/11Ind/Peskin/complaint.html
"

Leo Angart - throw away your glasses!


Leo A
ngart is a Danish charlatan - sorry, I meant to say, "entrepeneur" - whose latest book, "Improve Your Eyesight Naturally", promises you'll be able to "THROW AWAY YOUR GLASSES!"


The advert claims Angart's methods will help sufferers of "short sightedness, long sightedness, astigmatism, lazy eye, strabismus and more" will "[get] results quickly".

In my opinion, the advert's claims are grossly exaggerated, since this kind of "vision training" has been repeatedly debunked over the years.

(Angart's methods seem to be similar to yet another century-old quack therapy, The Bates Method.)


ASA complaint follows, and I hope they throw away the key, etc.

"I write to complain about an advert which appeared in the "Alternatives" brochure (Spring/Summer 2010 Programme, p20).

The advert, for Leo Angart, promotes his book, "Improve Your Eyesight Naturally".

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

1. The "Alternatives" brochure is produced by Alternatives Ltd (www.alternatives.org.uk), and promotes a series of talks and workshops held at St James's Church, Piccadilly, London. In addition to events listings, it carries a number of adverts.

2. The advert in question makes the following claims:

(i) Leo Angart is a "world renowned [sic] vision re-trainer" who can explain "how to achieve clear vision naturally"
(ii) The book details "simple exercises you can do at home or at work [to] get results quickly"
(iii) The book's "simple exercises" are suitable "for short sightedness, long sightedness, astigmatism, lazy eye, strabismus and more"
(iv) The "simple exercises" are so effective, that consumers will be able to "throw away their glasses".

3. While researching this complaint, I examined a number of websites which advertise Leo Angart's products. I was not able to find citations of relevant clinical studies on any of them. A search on PubMed also failed to provide any relevant citations.

4. A 2008 report by the College of Optometrists, "A critical evaluation of the evidence supporting the practice of behavioural vision therapy" [1], may be useful in this context. It concluded:

"There is a continued paucity of controlled trials in the literature to support behavioural optometry approaches [including vision therapies]. Although there are areas where the available evidence is consistent with claims made by behavioural optometrists...a large majority of behavioural management approaches are not evidence-based, and thus cannot be advocated."

5. Under Section 3.3 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the claims for the content of the advertised book "exaggerate the value, accuracy, scientific validity or practical usefulness of the product".

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

Footnotes:
[1] Barrett BT. A critical evaluation of the evidence supporting the practice of behavioural vision therapy. Ophthalmic & Physiologic Optics 29: 4–25, 2009. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19154276
"

A2Z Ozone's MLM Lotion


Reg the "Wellness/Oxygen practicioner" - aka New Horizons, aka A2Z Ozone UK - got himself on the ASA's main adjudications page this week after the ASA Council upheld my previous complaint.


Following a general policy of "give no mercy, for ye shall receive none", here's another ASA complaint about his latest advert!

"I write to complain about an advert which appears in Nexus Magazine (June-July 2010, Vol 17, No 4, p24).

The advert, for A2Z Ozone UK aka New Horizons promotes various health products.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of two 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. I have named A2Z Ozone UK aka New Horizons as the advertiser, although they are not mentioned in the advert, as they share the same phone number used in an earlier Nexus Magazine advert, about which my complaint has recently been upheld [1].

2. This complaint concerns the claims made for "MSM Lotion for beautiful skin and healthy joints" and "Colon/Liver Cleanse 60 cap[sule]s".

3. MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is a sulphur-based compound which was popularised as a dietary supplement in the book "The Miracle of MSM - The Natural Solutions for Pain" by Dr. Stanley W. Jacob [2]. It is reportedly available as a lotion manufactured by "Scientific Biologics, Inc" [3].

4. I have been unable to find any clinical trials attesting to MSM's efficacy in producing "beautiful skin".

5. I have been unable to find any clinical trials attesting to MSM's efficacy in producing "healthy joints". A single pilot study [4] has investigated MSM's effects on osteoarthritis.

6. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate the claim that their MSM Lotion causes "beautiful skin and healthy joints".

7. The advert contains no identifying information about the "Colon/Liver Cleanse" capsules.

8. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate the claim that their "Colon/Liver Cleanse" capsules can cleanse the colon and cleanse the liver.

9. 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] http://www.asa.org.uk/Complaints-and-ASA-action/Adjudications/2010/6/A2Z-Ozone-UK/TF_ADJ_48603.aspx
[2] Berkley Trade, 1999, ISBN 978-0425172650
[3] http://arthritis-alternative.com/detail/MSM%20Lotion.cfm
[4] Kim LS, Axelrod LJ, Howard P, Buratovich N, Waters RF. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2006;14(3):286–94. PMID 1630992. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16309928
"

*Jan Cisek, the Feng Shui expert


Everyone has heard of Feng Shui, although only the most dedicated woos (and sceptics) know how to pronounce it.


Astonishingly, the ASA have never adjudicated on a Feng Shui complaint.

UPDATE, 25 Aug: And they still haven't! They ASA has been in touch to say the advertisers have "given us their assurance that they will remove the challenged claims that feng shui can 'help buy and sell property', 'boost your business' or 'clear geopathic stress and negative energies'"


This is the handsome chap I have chosen to be the - ummm, "pioneer".


Jan Cisek reckons his Feng Shui superstitions "can help boost your business...sell property...clear geopathic stress and negative energies".

I'm not convinced I'd be able to sell my home quicker with such a stench of bullshit hanging in the air, but then again, what do I know? ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about an advert which appeared in the "Alternatives" brochure (Spring/Summer 2010 Programme, p17).

The advert, for Jan Cisek, promotes his Feng Shui consultancy.

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

1. The "Alternatives" brochure is produced by Alternatives Ltd (www.alternatives.org.uk), and promotes a series of talks and workshops held at St James's Church, Piccadilly, London. In addition to events listings, it carries a number of adverts.

2. Under Section 3.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove the following claims:

(i) Mr Cisek's Feng Shui practice "can help...sell property"
(ii) Mr Cisek's Feng Shui practice "can help...boost your business"
(iii) Mr Cisek's Feng Shui practice "can help...clear geopathic stress and negative energies"

3. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or the brochure. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the brochure."

Indiumease (part 2) - the devil's in the detail


Today's second follow-up complaint concerns the Healthy Approach Company whose adverts in Nexus Magazine promote two bullshit food supplements, Indiumease and Organica Silica (pictured).



The advert in its previous incarnation was even more objectionable than the current one - still, I reckon there's a good chance the current one also breaches the advertising CAP Codes.

ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about an advert which appears in Nexus Magazine (June-July 2010, Vol 17, No 4, p69).

The advert, for healthy-approach.co.uk, promotes the supplements "Indiumease" and "Organica Silica".

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. In February 2010 I submitted a complaint about a very similar advert from the same company. In March, the ASA wrote to advise me:

"We've already investigated and upheld complaints about this issue and I'm concerned to hear that advertising like this continues. I've therefore passed the case to our Compliance team, which will follow it up."

2. Because the Compliance Team does not correspond with complainants, I am not aware if the advert which is the subject of this complaint has been prepared with consideration to Compliance Team's advice, or the advice of the ASA's Copy Advice service. I will proceed under the tentative assumption that is has not.

3. The advert describes Indiumease as a "Liquid mineral [which] normalises gland mineral absorption".

4. (i) I have been unable to find any mention of clinical evidence for the efficacy of Indiumease in PubMed or elsewhere.

(ii) The advertiser's website mentions some research conducted on mice by Schroeder, Balassa et al in the 1960s. I cannot find a published paper by these authors which corresponds to the advertiser's description (on their own website) of the research.

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

(i) Indiumease "raises mineral uptake"
(ii) Indiumease "has been shown to normalise gland function by increasing mineral absorption, which helps anti-ageing recovery and may normalise the thyroid, pancreas and other glands"
(iii) Indiumease "makes indium absorbable for the first time"

6. The advert claims that the "Organica Silica" product can "help dispel joint aches & pains".

7. (i) I have been unable to find any mention of clinical evidence for the efficacy of Organica Silica in PubMed or elsewhere.

(ii) The advertiser's website mentions "tests made by Professor Jean Cahn, Chairman of SIR International Institute..."

(iii) If the tests described on the website do indeed exist, they do not appear to have been published in any medical journal; I can find no reference to them.

8. (i) The advert contains the following text:

"Silica is one of the essential minerals we all need, but the amount in the body diminishes with age. The organic form is a component of living tissue, and plays a vital part in general human health through cellular regeneration. Testimonies and medical evidence show that it can support and protect joint cartilage, for example easing knee stiffness and pain, counter vascular wall damage and strengthen bones through calcium absorption and keep skin youthful. One litre bottle £29.20 + p&p."

(ii) The text is a plausible description of the biological properties of silica (i.e. silicon dioxide, or "sand".) However, the advert does not clarify if these are also properties of the "Organica Silica" product.

9. 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) Organic Silica "help[s] dispel joint aches & pains"

10. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advertiser misleadingly describes the properties of silica (silicon oxide) as if they were the properties of the product "Organica Silica", and under Section 6.1 I challenge whether this conflation "exploit[s] the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers".

11. 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."

Betterware (part 2) - more magnetic mayhem


I've recently found myself complaining about the same old companies again and again.


This attractive item is from the latest Betterware catalogue (available here and here).


My previous ASA complaint challenged a "Magnetic Therapy Bracelet". This one challenges the claims Betterware make about their magnetic wrist, knee and back supports.

"I write to complain about three items advertised in the Betterware catalogue (Issue 5/10, p52-53).

The items contain magnets which, the catalogue claims, may have therapeutic benefits.

I suspect that the catalogue 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 catalogue by post, if required.

1. In April 2010, I submitted a complaint about a similar, but different, item in an earlier Betterware catalogue. The item is not advertised in the Betterware Catalogue which is the subject of this complaint.

2. A 2008 systematic review of magnetic therapy[1] found no evidence of an effect on pain relief, with the possible exception of
sufferers of osteoarthritis:

"Overall, the data suggested no significant effects of static magnets for pain relief relative to non-magnetic placebo. Peripheral joint osteoarthritis was the one condition for which the evidence appeared encouraging. For all other conditions, there was no convincing evidence to suggest that static magnets might be effective for pain relief."

3. A 2009 study[2], focusing on magnetic therapy and osteoarthritis, found no evidence for its efficacy:

"Our results indicate that magnetic and copper bracelets are generally ineffective for managing pain, stiffness and physical function in osteoarthritis. Reported therapeutic benefits are most likely attributable to non-specific placebo effects. However such devices have no major adverse effects and may provide hope."

4. The ASA council has in the past upheld complaints about magnetic therapy products [3][4][5].

5. On page 52 of the catalogue, a "Magnetic Back Support" is advertised. On page 53, a "Magnetic wrist support" and a "Magnetic Knee Support" are advertised.

6. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove the following claims, and I challenge whether the claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people:

(i) In the "Magnetic Back Support", the claim that "Magnets in the lumbar and spinal areas may also help ease pain"
(ii) In the "Magnetic Knee Support", the claim that "This...knee support contains magnets, which may help ease pain"

7. The Gauss is the CGS unit for magnetic fields. A typical fridge magnet has a magnetic field of 50 Gauss.

8. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the statement that the "Magnetic wrist support" has a "Magnetic strength [that] equals 50 gauss" misleadingly implies that magnets have therapeutic benefits and that stronger magnets have greater therapeutic benefits than weaker ones.

9. For the same reason, under Section 6.1 I challenge whether the statement that the "Magnetic wrist support" has a "Magnetic strength [that] equals 50 gauss" is likely to "exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers".

10. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or with the home-delivery and alternative medicine industries in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser.

Footnotes:
[1] http://beta.medicinescomplete.com/journals/fact/current/fact1301a05t01.htm
[2] http://www.journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/yctim/article/S0965-2299%2809%2900056-9/abstract
[3] http://www.asa.org.uk/Complaints-and-ASA-action/Adjudications/2008/5/John-Lewis-Partnership-plc/TF_ADJ_44475.aspx
[4] http://www.asa.org.uk/Complaints-and-ASA-action/Adjudications/2009/8/Easylife-Group-Ltd/TF_ADJ_46827.aspx
[5] http://www.asa.org.uk/Complaints-and-ASA-action/Adjudications/2009/8/Kingstown-Associates-Ltd/TF_ADJ_46697.aspx
"

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Randy Charach, weight loss hypnotist


Hypnosis CDs are all the rage, and on both sides of the pond.



This one was recorded by Randy Charach, and the advert make the implausible claim that weight loss can be achieved "Without Exercise!"

Can the advertisers substantiate this claim? My money is on "no", but let's wait and see. ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about an advert which appeared in "Healthy Magazine" (May/June 2010, Issue 78, p152), usually sold in branches of Holland and Barrett.

The advert, for Helpyourhealth.co.uk / Randy Charach, promotes a hypnosis weight-loss system provided on CD. (The advert has a yellow background, and is entitled "Ladies LOOK and feel GREAT this SUMMER".)

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of three sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code.

1. A number of studies, of variable quality, are available on the subject of hypnosis and weight loss. A 2005 Cochrane review [1] summarised the situation thus:

"There was not enough evidence to reach a conclusion about other psychological forms of therapy, such as...hypnotherapy, however the evidence that is available suggests that these therapies may also be successful in improving weight loss."

2. The advertiser claims that consumers can "Lose those unwanted inches...Without Exercise! Lose the pounds while sitting or lying down using the power of your own mind."

3. The advert clarifies that the advertised product is a CD recorded by the "Hypnotist to Hollywood Stars Randy Charach".

4. 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) Consumers can achieve weight loss, without exercise, by listening to the CD.

5. Under Section 51.8, I challenge whether the advertiser gives prominence to the role of diet.

6. 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] Shaw KA, O'Rourke P, Del Mar C, Kenardy J. Psychological interventions for overweight or obesity. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD003818. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003818.pub2 ('Summary' section)
"

SkinKlear, the magical skin cream from Intramed


Intramed Ltd - the company who already have an amazing assortment of ASA rulings under their belt - are back for more.



This is SkinKlear, a cream which claims to magically remove all kinds of skin blemishes - and "in just 14-42 days"!

I'm sure that Intramed are proud of their fine record, and I'm only too happy to help them out by submitting yet another ASA complaint.

"I write to complain about an advert which appeared in "Healthy Magazine" (May/June 2010, Issue 78), usually sold in branches of Holland and Barrett.

The advert, for Intramed Ltd, promotes "SkinKlear", a skin cream.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of two sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code.

1. I have been unable to find any clinical evidence for the efficacy of "SkinKlear" on the PubMed website or elsewhere.

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

(i) SkinKlear can "fade away skin blotches in days, and keep them away!"

(ii) "Unlike temporary cover-ups that merely hide skin blotches and discolorations, SkinKlear fades them away! Your skin will return to its original flawless even tone and natural colour. The special formula gives your skin a soft, glamorous and alluring glow making you look beautiful and years younger. Clear up unsightly blemishes on your face, hands, arms, neck, cleavage - in fact, anywhere!"

(iii) "Whatever your complexion and skin shade, whatever your age, whatever your condition your skin is in, SkinKlear will work for you! Use daily, and watch those dark spots fade and fade until you don't see them at all! See your skin look younger, softer and more alluring than you ever thought possible. Watch ugly tell-tale age spots fade, fade away! Your skin will have such an even tone, that you'll want to wear those daring outfits again!"

(iv) SkinKlear contains "TWICE the active ingredient" than a previously available SkinKlear product

(v) "SkinKlear fades away Freckles, Skin Discolorations, Liver Spots, Age Spots, Other Blotches in just 14-42 days! Guaranteed..."

3. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser."

Michael Cohen - "NHS Approved"


Here is my second complaint about Michael Cohen, one of the few men in the world who can wave his arms around theatrically for an hour without having his arms drop off.

(Image credit - scan of the flyer)

A flyer (available here and here) advertises his Bioenergy Healing Clinic - which is, apparently, "NHS Approved"!

Well, actually not. As far as I understand, Michael is not "NHS Approved" at all.

Actually, it's the NHS Directory of Complementary and Alternative Practitioners who approve of Magical Michael. The directory is administered by something called the NHS Trusts Association and, as this Guardian article helpfully clarifies, they are nothing to do with the NHS.

ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about a flyer I picked up at the "Mind, Body & Spirit" festival, in London, in May this year.

The flyer, for Michael Cohen, promotes "Bioenergy Healing".

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

1. In April 2010 I submitted a separate complaint about Michael Cohen. Regarding a magazine advert, I challenged whether:

(i) Joanne Cohen and Michael Cohen can "[treat] DIFFICULT and DEBILITATING symptoms" using their "technique"
(ii) The technique can "access the bioelectromagnetic field to rewire the brain and physical body"
(iii) The technique can be used in "Distance...Treatment"

2. My current complaint is confined to those claims which were not addressed by my previous complaint, which I understand is still under your consideration.

3. (i) In the flyer, Michael Cohen claims he is "an acknowledged international expert in the field of Bioenergy Healing".

(ii) I have been unable to find any mention of Michael Cohen's expertise in any scientific or medical journal.

(iii) Under Section 7.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether Michael Cohen's claim to be an "acknowledged international expert" is misleading.

4. The flyer is marked with a logo which states "NHS Approved".

4. The flyer is marked with a second logo which states "THE NHS DIRECTORY OF COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE PRACTITIONERS Approved".

5. The "NHS Directory of Complementary and Alternative Practicioners" is maintained by the NHS Trusts Association (NHSTA) [1].

6. A 2007 article in The Guardian [2] describes the activities of the NHSTA. According to the article,

"...the Department of Health, which has launched an inquiry into the NHSTA as a result of questions raised by the Guardian, says it does not represent the NHS or the Department of Health in any way."

7. Regarding the logo which states "NHS Approved", under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the flyer:

(i) Misleadingly claims that Michael Cohen and the "Bioenergy Healing Clinic" have been "approved" by the NHS
(ii) Misleadingly conflates approval of the "NHS Directory of Complementary Alternative Practicioners" with approval by the NHS

8. Regarding the logo which states "THE NHS DIRECTORY OF COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE PRACTITIONERS Approved", under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the flyer:

(i) Misleadingly implies that the Department of Health have "approved" Michael Cohen and the "Bioenergy Healing Clinic"
(ii) Misleadingly implies that the NHS has "approved" Michael Cohen and the "Bioenergy Healing Clinic"
(iii) Misleadingly implies that any of the NHS Trusts associated with the NHSTA's activities have "approved" Michael Cohen and the "Bioenergy Healing Clinic"
(iv) Misleadingly implies that the broad claims of efficacy made by Michael Cohen for his "Bioenergy Healing" are accepted by mainstream medicine

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

(i) The "Raphayad Bioenergy Healing technique" is "proven and successful"
(ii) Bioenergy Healing can "increase your body's ability to repair & heal itself"
(iii) Bioenergy Healing is effective against "hyper-sensitivities, fatigue and intolerances"
(iv) Bioenergy Healing can "overcome...stress & depression"
(v) Bioenergy Healing is a "proven hands-on/off technique that can access your body's energy circuitry system in order to affect the functioning of your cells - their ability to repair..."

10. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser.

Footnotes:

[1] NHSTA Update, November 2007, downloaded from http://www.nhsta.org.uk/About.htm
[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/dec/14/health.nhs
"

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

*'Jyorei' - Japanese Spiritual Healing


One of the odder sights at this year's Mind, Body, Wallet festival in London was a slightly comical form of "Japanese Spiritual Healing" called Jyorei.


UPDATE, 1 Sep: The ASA have written to me. They say the advertisers have "given [them] an assurance that they will amend their leaflet to remove all the contested claims, including 'clearing blockages and cleansing away of toxins', 'a natural healing process', 'the immune system becomes strengthened, which increases the body's ability to recover from physical illness' and 'physical and emotional problems may be relieved or sometimes cured'..."


Shinji Shumei-kai UK is a registered charity which offers the healing - in return for a donation, of course. I wonder how the money is spent?

The
Charity Commission can't tell me, unfortunately, because Shinji Shumei-kai's accounts are (as of today) 136 days overdue.

I was pleased to take home one of the charity's flyers (available here and here). The flyers boast that, by using Jyorei, "Physical...problems may be relieved or sometimes cured completely".

Oddly, I can find no clinical evidence for these claims. ASA complaint follows.


I write to complain about a flyer I picked up at the "Mind, Body & Spirit" festival, in London, in May this year.

The flyer, for Shinji Shumei-kai Uk, promotes "Jyorei", a form of "Japanese Spiritual Healing".

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

1. Shinji Shumeikai Uk is a registered charity (no. 1051493) with a history of failing to submit its accounts on time [1].

2. "Jyorei" is a form of spiritual healing developed in the 1930s[2], not to be confused with the Japanese social health insurance system of the 19th Century.

3. I have been unable to find any clinical evidence for the efficacy of "Jyorei" spiritual healing on the PubMed website or elsewhere.

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

(i) The practice of Jyorei causes "Divine Light" to flow through the body, thus "cleansing away toxins"
(ii) "Jyorei also promotes a natural healing process...The immune system becomes strengthened, which increases the body's ability to recover from physical illnesses"
(iii) By using Jyorei, "Physical...problems may be relieved or sometimes cured completely"
(iv) Jyorei is a form of "powerful...healing"

5. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser.

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/SHOWCHARITY/RegisterOfCharities/CharityWithoutPartB.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=1051493&SubsidiaryNumber=0
[2] http://www.shumei.org/jyorei/jyorei_00.html
"

*Innersound - intriguing the Prince of Wales


Qi is the mysterious life-force beloved of oriental quackery, and Innersound is a company trying to make a few quid promoting it.


If you think you recognise the handsome devil pictured here, who (according to the website) is "intrigued by Innersound Qi Treatment", you're right - it's none other than His Royal Highness the Dimwit of Wales!

UPDATE, 25 Aug: ASA write to confirm the advertisers have "agreed to remove the references to medical conditions from their leaflet".


According to their flyer (available here and here), "Chunsoo Qi Treatment is given by Qi Masters who press energy points on the body whilst using a natural breathing technique to transmit energy."

This miraculous therapy "can help your...Anxiety, Depression, Digestive Disorders, Fatigue, Insomnia, Migraine, Muscular Tension, Pain, PMT, RSI, Sports Injuries, Stress and many more."

Quite an impressive list! I hope they have the dox to prove it. ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about a flyer I picked up at the "Mind, Body & Spirit" festival, in London, in May this year.

The flyer, for Innersound, promotes the "Qi Treatment" of healing.

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

1. "Qi" (or "Chi") is the traditional Chinese vitalist concept of a life force.

2. There is no reliable scientific evidence that shows Qi actually exists. Edzard Ernst, professor or Complementary Medicine at Exeter University, has written:

“Concepts such as the qi of Chinese traditional medicine are myths which enjoy the same status as religious faiths. Believers cling to the myth despite the evidence, reinterpret the myth to suit the evidence, or lie about the evidence to support the myth.” [1]

3. The flyer makes various claims about the efficacy of "Qi Treatment", in which "Qi Masters...press energy points on the body whilst using a natural breathing technique to transmit energy..."

4. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove the following claims, and I challenge whether the claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people:

(i) Qi Treatment can "help" with "Depression"
(ii) Qi Treatment can "help" with "Digestive Disorders"
(iii) Qi Treatment can "help" with "Insomnia"
(iv) Qi Treatment can "help" with "Migraine[s]"
(v) Qi Treatment can "help" with "P[re]-M[enstrual] T[ension]"
(vi) Qi Treatment can "help" with "R[epetitive] S[train] I[njury]"
(vii) Qi Treatment can "help" with "Sports Injuries"

5. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser.

Footnotes:
[1] Ernst, "Healing, Hype, or Harm?: A Critical Analysis of Complementary or Alternative Medicine" (pub. 2008), ISBN 978-1845401184. Quoted on http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=375
"

Theta Miracles treat cancer, asthma, ME...


Here's another bullshit healing company, Theta Miracles.

The brains of the outfit appears to be Jill Miller (pictured below).



Their flyer (available here and here) is carefully worded - instead of claiming to "cure" cancer or "treat" depression, Jill mischievously says:

"The popular areas that our clients want to work with are: Health issues - including cancer, high blood pressure, asthma, allergies, hormonal [sic], back pain, low energy levels, ME, depression, addictions, weight loss..."

The wording isn't going to stop me complaining about them - again, and again, and again, if necessary.
ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about a flyer I picked up at the "Mind, Body & Spirit" festival, in London, in May this year.

The flyer, for www.thetamiracles.co.uk, promotes "Theta Healing".

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

1. "Theta Healing" is a proprietary form of hands-on healing developed in America by Vianna Stibal in the 1990s[1].

2. (i) I have been unable to find any clinical evidence for the efficacy of "Theta Healing" on the PubMed website or elsewhere.

(ii) Some evidence exists for the efficacy of hands-on healing therapies in general. For example, a 2003 Cochrane Review, "Therapeutic touch for healing acute wounds", stated:

"REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: There is insufficient evidence that [Therapeutic Touch] promotes healing of acute wounds." [2]

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

(i) "You can create miracle healing in your life with the system of Theta Healing"
(ii) With Theta Healing, "miracle healing and changes can and do happen"
(iii) Theta Healing "can" help with "cancer, high blood pressure, asthma, allergies, hormonal back pain, low energy levels, ME, depression, addictions, weight loss"
(iv) Theta Healing "can" help with "bereavment...abuse, fears and phobias"
(v) Theta Healing "can" help with "Lack of money..."

4. (i) In the "Learning Theta Healing" section, the flyer claims that by taking the "Basic Course", people can "learn how to": "Co-create [with some kind of Deity] physical healings...", "Change genes and DNA", "Activate the Anti-aging gene" and "Activate all DNA strands".

(ii) Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove that trained Theta Healers can perform any of these feats, and I challenge whether the claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people.

(iii) Under Section 6.1, I challenge whether the flyer "exploit[s] the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers" by suggesting that trained Theta Healers can perform any of these feats.

(iv) Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the flyer misleadingly implies that trained Theta Healers are capable of performing any of these feats.

5. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser.

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.thetahealing.com/about-thetahealing/thetahealing-origin.html
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14583953
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