Saturday, 13 November 2010

ShenLong Chinese Medical Centre


On my way to
Milton Keynes Sceptics in the Pub last week, I just had time to pop into a local Chinese Medicine shop.



Shenlong Chinese Medical Centre
of Bedford offer a wide range of therapies, almost none of which are of any proven benefit.

The shops' flyer (available here and here) makes some outrageous claims about the efficacy (and, indeed, safety) of acupuncture, ear candles, cupping therapy and allergy tests.

Hoping to leave no stone unturned, Shenlong boast they can "help" with

"...eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, vitiligo, other skin complaints, acne, herpes, mycosis, hair loss, arthritis, back pain, lumbargo, stiff neck, stroke[s], sciatica, rheumatism, neuralgia, frozen shoulder, hemiplegia, sprains, anxiety, depression, panic attack, stress, insomnia, fatigue, hay fever, sinus infection, earaches, ringing in ears, sore throat, dizziness, migraine, asthma, palpitations, indigestion, constipation, colitis, colds, flu, high blood pressure, ulcers, gastritis, diarrhoea, heartburn, IBS, myalgic encephalomyelitis, irregular periods, the menopause, pre-menstrual syndrome, impotence, infertility, hot flushes, bedwetting, Men's Problem [sic]..."

If you're asking my opinion, anyone who spends money in this den of quackery needs their head examined. ASA complaint follows!

"I write to complain about a leaflet I picked up outside the premises of the "Shenlong Chinese Medical Centre" in Bedford, on 11th November. (The leaflet was in a plastic holder on the outside window of the shop).

The leaflet promotes the Centre's medical services.

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

1. The UK's leading authority on complementary medicine, Professor Edzard Ernst, has recently written about the difficulties of assessing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) [1]:

"Conclusion: TCM is difficult to evaluate. Some elements may be effective for some conditions, while other elements (e.g. cupping) are unlikely to offer any benefit above placebo. Many aspects of TCM are potentially harmful."

(ii) About reflexology, Ernst writes "The notion that reflexology can be used to diagnose health problems has been disproved and there is no convincing evidence that it is effective for any condition." [2]

(iii) About ear candles, Ernst writes "Ear candles are based on the absurd idea that this method removes ear wax or toxins from the body; it is not supported by any evidence." [3]

(iv) The ASA Council have previously upheld a complaint about claims made for ear candling (complaint ref 120878), in which I was the complainant.

(v) The dangers of using unregulated TCM therapies were recently highlighted by the case of Ying "Susan" Wu of Essex, who had "pleaded guilty to selling a banned substance to a woman who went on to develop kidney failure and cancer." [4]

2. Under Sections 12.1 and 13.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate any of the following claims:

(i) Acupuncture "works by stimulating the body's healing responses or immune systems" along "channels in the body" which are "stimulated by the insertion of thin, fine needles", a fact which has been "systematically refined and verified by modern research methods"

(ii) Ear Candles "[help] to revitalize [sic] the acupuncture points, stimulate the blood circulation and to free clogged pores", and is a "method for resolving problems of ear hygiene safely and naturally"

(iii) Reflexology practitioners can "help clear disease" by "[applying] controlled pressure with thumbs or fingers to specific areas of the feet"

(iv) Cupping Therapy "promotes the free flow of Qi and blood in the channels [of the body]"

(v) The advertisers are able to "test your level of allergy to... 400 items" by examining "a piece of your hair"

(vi) The advertisers' "Beauty Therapy with TCM" is able to "treat effectively Dermatitis, Follieulitis, Chloasma, Rosacea, Acne, Warts, etc" and "regenerat [sic] the skin"

(vii) The advertisers' "new method for weight loss" can "speed up [the] metabolic process, consume fatty tissue and... help lose weight effectively."

(viii) Acupuncture can help to "give up smoking"

(ix) TCM is "safe"

(x) A TCM doctor can find out about "the condition of your internal organs" by "examining your tongue and wrist pulses [sic]"

(xi) By using TCM, people can be "helped with" eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, vitiligo, "other skin complaints", acne, herpes, mycosis, hair loss, arthritis, back pain, lumbargo, "stiff neck", stroke[s], sciatica, rheumatism, neuralgia, "frozen shoulder", hemiplegia, sprains, anxiety, depression, panic attack, stress, insomnia, fatigue, hay fever, sinus infection, earaches, "ringing in ears", sore throat, dizziness, migraine, asthma, palpitations, indigestion, constipation, colitis, colds, flu, high blood pressure, ulcers, gastritis, diarrhoea, heartburn, IBS, myalgic encephalomyelitis, irregular periods, the menopause, pre-menstrual syndrome, impotence, infertility, hot flushes, bedwetting, "Men's Problem [sic]".

3. I confirm I have no connections with the advertisers. I confirm I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertisers.

Footnotes:

[1] Simon Singh, Edzard Ernst, "Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial", American edition 2008, p328
[2] Ibid., p323
[3] Ibid., p309
[4] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8520171.stm
"

The Federation of Holistic Therapists


The Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) is a trade association for quacks.

Their website boasts of celebrating "over 45 years of setting professional standards".


Half a dozen of their promotional leaflets recently fell into my hands. They feature popular quack therapies like ear candling, Indian head massage and reflexology.

Happily, the leaflets contain little that is objectionable.

For the most part, they concentrate on what customers can expect during a session. Better still, all of the leaflets contain sensible advice like "rest" and "drink water" and "speak to your doctor".


And yet, alas
, even the most noble-minded of quacks can't resist the lure of daft claims about "flushing out toxins", "strengthening the immune system" and "improving circulation".

Three ASA complaints follow, the first of which concerns the FHT Ear Candling leaflet (available here and here)

"I write to complain about a leaflet I picked up at a "Health Fair" at Luton Central Library on 3rd November this year.

The leaflet, for the Federation of Holistic Therapists (Hampshire) / Ultimate Health Therapeutics (Luton), promotes ear candling therapies.

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

1. The ASA Council have previously upheld a complaint about claims made for ear candling (complaint ref 120878), in which I was the complainant.

2. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claim that the "benefits of ear candling... may include... the softening and loosening of compacted earwax... relief from sinus problems, headaches and snoring... easing pressure problems following flying and diving... temporary relief from tinnitus... reduced irritation of the ear canal... ear fluid circulation..."

3. I confirm I have no connections with the advertisers. I confirm I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertisers."

FHT Indian Head Massage leaflet (available here and here)

"I write to complain about a leaflet I picked up at a "Health Fair" at Luton Central Library on 3rd November this year.

The leaflet, for the Federation of Holistic Therapists (Hampshire) / Ultimate Health Therapeutics (Luton), promotes "Indian Head Massage".

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

1. The UK's leading authority on complementary medicine, Professor Edzard Ernst, has recently written about "detox" therapies [1]:

"Detox, as used in alternative medicine, is based on ill-conceived ideas about human physiology, metabolism, toxicology etc. There is no evidence that it does any good and some treatments...can be harmful. The only substance that is being removed from a patient is usually money."

2. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claim that the "benefits of Indian Head Massage include... more efficient removal of impurities and toxins..."

3. I confirm I have no connections with the advertisers. I confirm I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertisers.

Footnotes:

[1] Simon Singh, Edzard Ernst, "Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial", American edition 2008, p308"

FHT Reflexology leaflet (available here and here)

"I write to complain about a leaflet I picked up at a "Health Fair" at Luton Central Library on 3rd November this year.

The leaflet, for the Federation of Holistic Therapists (Hampshire) / Ultimate Health Therapeutics (Luton), promotes reflexology.

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

1. The UK's leading authority on complementary medicine, Professor Edzard Ernst, has recently written about the evidence base for reflexology [1]:

"Conclusion - The notion that reflexology can be used to diagnose health problems has been disproved and there is no convincing evidence that it is effective for any condition. Reflexology is expensive, and it offers nothing more than could be achieved from a simple, relaxing foot massage."

2. Ernst has also written about "detox" treatments [2]:

"Detox, as used in alternative medicine, is based on ill-conceived ideas about human physiology, metabolism, toxicology etc. There is no evidence that it does any good and some treatments...can be harmful. The only substance that is being removed from a patient is usually money."

3. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claim that the "benefits of reflexology... include... improved circulation... more efficient removal of impurities and toxins... a stronger immune system..."

3. I confirm I have no connections with the advertisers. I confirm I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertisers.

Footnotes:

[1] Simon Singh, Edzard Ernst, "Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial", American edition 2008, p323
[2] Ibid., p308
"

Nuga Best's Star Trek-style woo


This fabulous piece of kit, which looks like it has been injudiciously removed from the set of Star Trek, is actually a CE-certified medical device from Korea.


The chap attempting to climb onto it is none other than that famous veteran of science fiction movies, errr... Ronnie Corbett!


Nuga Best are the manufacturers of the Nuga Best NM-5000 pictured above, a couch with a bewildering array of pseudoscientific gadgets built in.

Among the most impressive components is the "LF Weight Control Pad", whose

"...use during a night's sleep can produce the same effect as running 20~30km..."

What's more, the "Special Nano Ceramic" is "known to burn up to 1000 calories" and has "miraculous healing properties".

Are any of these claims actually true? A Nobel Prize awaits if they are, and while you're waiting for the phone call from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, here's an ASA complaint!

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

The leaflet, for Nuga Best, promotes the Nuga Best NM-5000 device.

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

1. The "Nuga Best NM-5000" is a CE-certified (according to the leaflet) couch with a number of in-built "gadgets" for which the leaflet makes therapeutic claims.

2. The claims made for two of the gadgets are of concern.

3. The leaflet promotes the "LF Weight Control Pad" with the following text:

"Regain Your Self-Confidence with LF Weight Control Pad of [sic] NM-5000... Fat Burn: When combined with a controlled diet, excessive fat can be decomposed without the yo-yo [diet] effects... Passive exercise: Nuga Weight Control is a muscle activating system using Low Frequency Therapy and can be used while sleeping. ts [sic] use during a night's sleep can produce the same effect as running 20~30km..."

4. The leaflet promotes the "Special Nano Ceramic" with the following text:

"Specially developed using 4 unique stones; Tourmaline, Germanium, Volcanic Rock, Elvan Rock. Tourmamium abundantly emits Far Infrared Rays and Anions naturally, Providing its miraculous healing properties... Fat burn: FIR increases enzime [sic] activity, metabolism and body temperature. Breaking down cellulite[,] trapped water and fat cells. 1 hour of FIR therapy is known to burn upto [sic] 1000 calories... FIR and Anions improves [sic] cardiovascular system..."

5. Under Sections 12.1 and 13.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate any of the following claims:

(i) The LFT Weight Control Pad can "decompose" "excessive fat"
(ii) The LFT Weight Control Pad can "produce the same effect as running 20~30km"
(iii) The Special Nano Ceramic has "miraculous healing properties"
(iv) The Special Nano Ceramic can burn fat, increase enzyme activity and break down cellulite
(v) "1 hour of FIR therapy is known to burn [up to] 1000 calories"
(vi) FIR therapy "improves [the] cardiovascular system"

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

Gabriele Gad - buy one, get woo free!


Gabriele Gad offers an unusual combination of therapies in her "Three in One" package.


Included in the deal are counselling, some homeopathic nonsense described as "flower essences", and something called "Biodynamic massage".


If by some chance you're not familiar with "Biodynamic Massage", you'll be fascinated to learn that

"Unexpressed emotion can settle down in the body as tension, creating energy blockages and leading to illness. These blockages can be dissolved with certain massage techniques... A stethoscope on the stomach can give an acoustic feedback from within and direct the therapist to where the energy is blocked and to [sic] what is needed to release it."

Can Gabriele's buy one, get two free offer "help you with... asthma... arthritis... repetitive strain injury..."?

ASA complaint follows!
(Flyer available here)

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

The leaflet, for Gabriele Gad, promotes a "Three in One Therapy" for a number of named medical problems.

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

1. The leaflet offers a "Three in One Therapy", which consists of "Biodynamic massage", "Counselling" and "homeopathic remedies".

2. The "Biodynamic massage" is described thus:

"Unexpressed emotion can settle down in the body as tension, creating energy blockages and leading to illness. These blockages can be dissolved with certain massage techniques... A stethoscope on the stomach can give an acoustic feedback from within and direct the therapist to where the energy is blocked and to [sic] what is needed to release it."

3. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate her claim that the "Three in One Therapy" can "help you with" an "illness" such as "asthma", "arthritis" and "repetitive strain injury".

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

The Dorn Method Centre promote bogus treatments


Unless you have spent time living in Germany, you probably won't have heard of the Dorn Method.


Still, you'll probably be familiar with the idea that misalignments in the spine are responsible for all sorts of nasty medical problems - chiropractors have been spreading the same misleading claims for over a hundred years.


The Dorn Method Centre have produced a handy leaflet (available here and here) introducing their therapy, which they describe as "safe and very effective" and "a very effective treatment with a proven record of success".

The leaflet begins plausibly enough with a description of gentle massage and movement exercises as a way to combat back pain and bad posture.

When we reach the final page, though, the Dorn Method is exposed as high quackery in all its shameless glory.

For, you see, "Spinal Misalignments" are not just connected with lower back pain, headaches and sciatica, but also:

"Headaches, migraines, high blood pressure, dizziness, paralysis due to irregular circulation in [the] brain, chronic tiredness, sinus problems, eye trouble, ear pain, deafness, neuralgia, pain in facial nerves, spots, acne, tinnitus, toothache, bad teeth, plaque, bleeding gums, constant colds, loss of hearing, chapped lips, adenoids, catarrh, laryngitis, hoarseness, sore throat, colds, tonsillitis, stiff neck, upper arm pain, whooping cough, croup, goiter, diseases of the thyroid gland, colds, bursitis in the shoulder or elbow, depression, fear, shoulder pain, neck cramp, lower arm/hand pain, ligament inflammation, furry feelings in fingers, heart trouble, disruption in rhythm, fear, chest pains, bronchitis, influenza, pneumonia, pleurisy, coughing, breathing difficulties, asthma, gallbladder problems, gall stones, jaundice, one sided [sic] headaches (from gallbladder meridian), liver disruption, low blood pressure, anemia [sic], fatigue, shingles, circulatory weakness, arthritis, stomach and digestive problems, heartburn, diabetes, duodenal ulcers, stomach complaints, hiccups, possible vitamin deficiency, feeling weak, spleen problems, weak immune system, allergies, nettle rash, kidney problems, salt can not escape, chalked-up arteries, chronic tiredness, skin disease incl[uding] acne, spots, eczema, boils, raw skin, psoriasis, problems with the small intestine, wind, rheumatism, disruption in growth, infertility, erectile dysfunction, disruption in circulation within intestine, constipation, diarrhea [sic], appendix problems, stomach cramp, hyper acidity, varicose vains, pregnancy problems, menstruation pain, menopause problems, bladder pain, knee aches - often together with the bladder, impotence, bed-wetting, sciatica, lumbago, prostrate trouble, painful or too frequent urination, circulation problems in leg and feet, cold feet, cramps in the calves, swelling of feet and legs, sciatica, abdominal problems, chronic constipation, pain in legs and feet, hemorrhoids [sic], itching of the anus, pain on sitting..."

It would be easy to accuse the Dorn Method Centre of happily promoting bogus treatments for which there is not a jot of evidence.

So, I will.

The Dorn Method Centre are happily promoting bogus treatments for which there is not a jot of evidence
(except possibly for tinnitus, for which a single clinical study exists - I haven't been able to read the study in full yet).

While I await a libel writ, here's my ASA complaint!

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

The leaflet, for The Dorn Method Centre, promotes a spinal adjustment therapy. I can provide the original leaflet by post, if necessary.

1. The "Dorn Method" is a therapy developed in the 1970s by Dieter Dorn. The leaflet describes it the therapy thus:

"What is The Dorn Method? Dorn is a gentle, safe and very effective treatment designed to help alleviate the cause of Back and Joint Pain in people of all ages. It is used to correct misalignments of the spine and other joints, treating many common health problems including - Back pain - Neck pain - Headaches and migraines - Joint problems such as Hip, Knee, Shoulder, Elbow, Ankle, Jaw - Leg length difference - Sciatica..."

2. The leaflet continues:

"Dorn has its origins in South Germany and has been used very successfully now for more than 35 years. It consists of a range of well proven exercises and techniques which help joints and vertebrae slip back into their natural positions without 'clicking' or 'crunching'... An imbalance in the hip caused for example by a difference in leg length, can force the spine to sit twisted on an uneven foundation. In this situation forces acting on the body... can pull vertebrae more easily out of place... This can lead not only to Back pain, but also problems elsewhere such as headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and even psychological problems such as eating disorders..."

3. The leaflet summarises the "Benefits of The Dorn Method" as "A very effective treatment with a proven record of success - Helps alleviate the cause of Back and Joint Pain and many other common health problems..."

4. (i) Despite the leaflet's protestations, only one clinical study appears to have ever been conducted on the Dorn Method [1]. It examined the effects of the therapy on tinnitus.

(ii) I was not able to find a copy of the complete study, but from its abstract, there is no indication that the study was randomised, double-blinded or even controlled.

(iii) Despite these possible shortcomings, the study's abstract concludes:

"These results suggest that Dorn therapy must be an integral part of any tinnitus therapy."

5. Under Section 12.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their assertion that the Dorn Method is a "very effective treatment with a proven record of success" in "many... common health problems" such as "[lower] back pain", "sciatica", "headaches" and "eating disorders".

6. Under Section 3.1, I challenge whether the advertiser's claim that "Headaches, migraines, high blood pressure, dizziness, paralysis due to irregular circulation in [the] brain, chronic tiredness, sinus problems, eye trouble, ear pain, deafness, neuralgia, pain in facial nerves, spots, acne, tinnitus, toothache, bad teeth, plaque, bleeding gums, constant colds, loss of hearing, chapped lips, adenoids, catarrh, laryngitis, hoarseness, sore throat, colds, tonsillitis, stiff neck, upper arm pain, whooping cough, croup, goiter, diseases of the thyroid gland, colds, bursitis in the shoulder or elbow, depression, fear, shoulder pain, neck cramp, lower arm/hand pain, ligament inflammation, furry feelings in fingers, heart trouble, disruption in rhythm, fear, chest pains, bronchitis, influenza, pneumonia, pleurisy, coughing, breathing difficulties, asthma, gallbladder problems, gall stones, jaundice, one sided [sic] headaches (from gallbladder meridian), liver disruption, low blood pressure, anemia [sic], fatigue, shingles, circulatory weakness, arthritis, stomach and digestive problems, heartburn, diabetes, duodenal ulcers, stomach complaints, hiccups, possible vitamin deficiency, feeling weak, spleen problems, weak immune system, allergies, nettle rash, kidney problems, salt can not escape, chalked-up arteries, chronic tiredness, skin disease incl[uding] acne, spots, eczema, boils, raw skin, psoriasis, problems with the small intestine, wind, rheumatism, disruption in growth, infertility, erectile dysfunction, disruption in circulation within intestine, constipation, diarrhea [sic], appendix problems, stomach cramp, hyper acidity, varicose vains, pregnancy problems, menstruation pain, menopause problems, bladder pain, knee aches - often together with the bladder, impotence, bed-wetting, sciatica, lumbago, prostrate trouble, painful or too frequent urination, circulation problems in leg and feet, cold feet, cramps in the calves, swelling of feet and legs, sciatica, abdominal problems, chronic constipation, pain in legs and feet, hemorrhoids [sic], itching of the anus, pain on sitting" are connected with "spinal misalignments" is misleading.

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.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15106291?dopt=AbstractPlus
"

The College of Naturopathic Medicine (again)


Here's another installment in my
continuing series of complaints against the College of Naturopathic Medicine.

When they aren't busy defending the galaxy from the clutches of the evil
Lord Xenu, the College offer courses in a number of bullshit complementary therapies.


About reflexology, the college writes:

"Reflexology...helps to restore natural balance of the body resulting in an improved sense of health and well being [sic]. Energy, mood, circulation and immunity can also be enhanced. This relaxing treatment benefits many health conditions such as: stress, anxiety, insomnia, muscular pain, headaches, migraines, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances e.g. PMS, menopause, and more..."

The college's booklet (available here, here, here and here) goes on to expound on the benefits of Applied Kinesiology - a subject with which my complaints have already dealt.

Can the college substantiate any of their claims? Or will they simply refer me back to p3678 of L Ron Hubbard's official memoirs (volume ninety-four)?

ASA complaint follows!


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

The booklet, for the College of Naturopathic Medicine, promotes courses in a number of complementary therapies.

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

1. Page 3 of the booklet contains the following text:

"Reflexology...helps to restore natural balance of the body resulting in an improved sense of health and well being [sic]. Energy, mood, circulation and immunity can also be enhanced. This relaxing treatment benefits many health conditions such as: stress, anxiety, insomnia, muscular pain, headaches, migraines, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances e.g. PMS, menopause, and more..."

2. The UK's leading authority on complementary medicine, Professor Edzard Ernst, has recently written about the evidence base for reflexology [1]:

"Conclusion - The notion that reflexology can be used to diagnose health problems has been disproved and there is no convincing evidence that it is effective for any condition. Reflexology is expensive, and it offers nothing more than could be achieved from a simple, relaxing foot massage."

3. Therefore, under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claims that reflexology can treat "stress, anxiety, insomnia, muscular pain, headaches, migraines, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances e.g. PMS, menopause, and more" and that reflexology can enhance "circulation and immunity".

4. Page 6 of the booklet contains the following text:

"What is Kinesiology? Kinesiology uses muscles testing to identify imbalances within the body, so removes the need for guess-work in treating a client, friends and family... Kinesiology... produces results quickly."

5. The booklet continues:

"You will learn - how to accurately test 22 muscles and, by testing these muscles, gain information about the organs and systems of the body... how to identify foods/nutrients which will enhance a person's health... some extremely powerful techniques to help achieve goals, help with dyslexia, resolve fears and phobias, relieve breast congestion... how to identify imbalances in the body which lead to back and neck pain and how to treat them... how to identify food/chemical sensitivities in your clients or friends and family - an invaluable way to help them feel better almost immediately..."

6. (i) The therapy promoted by the leaflet is more usually known as "Applied Kinesiology", an invention of the American George Goodheart in 1964.

(ii) It is not to be confused with Kinesiology, a more mainstream (and regulated) medical discipline prevalent in the USA and Canada.

7. The first scientific paper on the ideomotor effect - a phenomenon in which a subject makes unconscious movements in response to certain ideas or stimuli - was published one hundred and twelve years before the invention of Applied Kinesiology [2].

8. I have found no clinical studies lending support to the booklet's contention that Applied Kinesiology can diagnose or treat medical conditions, but a great number which refute them, for example:

(i) Kenny JJ, Clemens R, Forsythe KD. Applied kinesiology unreliable for assessing nutrient status. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 88:698-704, 1988.

(ii) Triano JJ. Muscle strength testing as a diagnostic screen for supplemental nutrition therapy: a blind study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 5:179-182, 1982

(iii) Haas M and others. Muscle testing response to provocative vertebral challenge and spinal manipulation: a randomized controlled trial of construct validity. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 17:141-148, 1994.

(iv) Applied kinesiology - Double-blind pilot study. Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry 45:321-323, 1981.

(v) Ludtke R and others. Test-retest-reliability and validity of the kinesiology muscle test. Complementary Therapy in Medicine 9:141-145, 2001.

(vi) Hyman R. The mischief-making of ideomotor action. by ideomotor action. The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, Fall-Winter issue, 1999.

9. Therefore, under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claim that any of the named conditions can be diagnosed, or treated, with kinesiology.

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

Footnotes:

[1] Simon Singh, Edzard Ernst, "Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial", American edition 2008, p323
[2] http://www.sgipt.org/medppp/psymot/carp1852.htm
"

The Water Ionizer Company


The nifty little device pictured below passes a small electric current through your tap water before you drink it.

Presumably to justify the asking price of £1,339.50, the Water Ionizer Company of Chipping Ongar, Essex have filled their advertising with the most preposterous twaddle imaginable.


To keep my complaint under 50,000 characters I had to concentrate on just one of the firm's leaflets (available here and here).

The leaflet describes some of the "Health benefits" users of the Ionizer can expect, which I reprint here in full.

  • Improved indigestion and relief from disorders such as IBS & indigestion
  • Reduction in bone aches & conditions such as osteoporosis & arthritis
  • Improved skin condition and relief from ailments such as eczema & acne. This is helped through [sic] external use of acidic water and internal use by [sic] drinking the water
  • Reduced out breaks [sic] of Psoriasis as well as hastened healing times
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved overall skin condition as well as a reduction in the aging process
  • Allergy relief including hay fever [sic]
  • Destruction of fungal infections such as athlete's foot when alkaline water is drunk & acidic [sic] applied externally
  • Prevention of all degenerative disease
  • Relief of all acidic conditions such as Gout & stones
  • Reduced infections from bacteria & viruses
  • Plus the added benefits of relief and prevention from many other ailments and illnesses
If that's not convincing enough, the leaflet posits a series of testimonials which suggest the Ionizer can treat

"...arthritis... leukaemia... low immune system[s]... sarcoidosis... kidney and liver problems... Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)... mould allerg[ies]... "flush[ing] out" the kidneys of detoxified material... slow[ing] down the aging process... hydrophobia... dehydration..."

With so many health benefits, it's a wonder that the NHS bothers to employ doctors at all!

Another explanation, of course, is that not a single one of the company's extraordinary claims are true. ASA complaint follows!

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

The leaflet, for The Water Ionizer Company, promotes a water filtration/electrolysis device.

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

1. The leaflet describes the "Water Ionizer [sic]" thus:

"The Water Ionizer produces healthy water for 21st century lifestyle. The Ionizer produces antioxidants & detox benefits to help undo the damage through over indulgence [sic] & lack of sleep. It separates your normal kitchen tap water into an Ionized [sic] alkaline water & an acidic cleansing water."

2. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate any of the following claims:

(i) The product's alkaline water "is a powerful and effective antioxidant, and can minimise the accumulation of cancerous or damaged cells by decreasing the amount of free radicals in the body..."

(ii) The product's alkaline water can "Detox" the body, namely by "help[ing] balance the body's overly acidic state, destroying the optimum environment for diseases to thrive"


(iii) The product controls the "Signs of Ageing" by supplying "more effective hydration to every part of the body, especially the brain"


(iv) The product "enables the body to absorb medication, vitamins and minerals more efficiently"


(v) The product's acidic water "is proven to destroy over 99% of bacteria...Infections, burns, or any fungal disease can be reduced...", "smoothes the skin...reduces the signs of ageing" and "makes [hair] shinier and more manageable"


(vi) The product can "remove bacteria" from "vegetables, fruit and meats", and also "provides armour [to plants] to fight off disease and insects"


(vii) The product's "health benefits" include "relief... of IBS", "reduction in...osteoporosis and arthritis", "relief from...eczema and acne", "reduced outbreaks of Psoriasis", "lowered blood pressure", "reduction in the ageing process", "allergy relief including hay fever", "destruction of fungal infections such as athlete's foot", "prevention of all degenerative disease", "relief of...gout and [kidney] stones", "reduced infections from bacteria and viruses", "prevention [of] many other ailments and illnesses".


3. The leaflet contains a number of testimonials. Under Section 3.47, I challenge whether the many health claims they contain (such as the claim of a 75% success rate in the treatment of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, the claim that tap water "just sits and pools [in the stomach] like a stagnant pond", and the claim of a cure for Sarcoidosis) are misleading.

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

Friday, 12 November 2010

Toks Beverley Coker - Crazy Name, Crazy Gal!


Toks Beverley Coker - that's her real name, apparently - offers a number of complementary therapies.



By the way, if any of you are looking for some reflexology, Taoist massage, distance healing or "Starlight Spiritual Counselling", there's an unused £10 gift voucher sitting on my desk.

First come, first served!

Bev's flyer (available here and here) is a real gem. Not for the preposterous pseudoscientific nonsense it contains, mind you:

"Reflexology... eliminates toxins, helps with digestive problems... stimulates the body's natural healing process, strengthening all body systems..."

Nor because of this:

"Swedish Therapeutic Massage... clears toxins, improves concentration...soothes cancer and HIV patients..."

Or even this:

"Distant & Absent Healing... Channelling of healing energy to someone in another place e.g. home, hospital, country..."

What truly pushes the flyer into my personal top ten is the sight of Bev doing some sort of Egyptian fertility dance in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza.


I've included my ASA complaint here. A separate complaint to the Egyptian Tourist Board will have to wait for another day.

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

The leaflet, for Toks Beverley Coker, promotes a number of complementary therapies that she offers.

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

1. Under Section 12.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate any of the following claims:

(i) "Reflexology... Dates back to 2330BC in ancient Egypt"
(ii) Reflexology "relieves depression and PMT"
(iii) Reflexology "eliminates toxins, helps with digestive problems... stimulates the body's natural healing process, strengthening all body systems."
(iv) Indian Head Massage "stimulates...hair growth"
(v) Swedish Therapeutic Massage "clears toxins, improves concentration...soothes cancer and HIV patients..."
(vi) "Taoist Massage / Chi Nei Tsang" can "release...toxins held in knots and twists in the abdomen" and is "Good for treating digestive problems, constipation and diarrhoea".
(vii) Thai Massage can "encourage detoxification"
(viii) The advertiser is able to heal "someone in another place e.g. home, hospital, country" using her "Distant & Absent Healing"

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

Metabolics Ltd - Colon Cleansers


Metabolics Ltd are offering a marvellous nutritional supplement called "Bright Eyes".

To my great disappointment, the main ingredient did not turn out to be chopped rabbit eyeballs.


The subject of this ASA complaint is not the product pictured above, but a supplement called Colon Cleanse which, we are assured,

"...detoxifies the bowel..."

As I have reminded the ASA on about a million different occasions, detox treatments do not work.

In case their memory is fading, here's yet another ASA complaint! (Flyer available here and here)


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

The leaflet, for Metabolics Ltd, promotes a number of nutritional supplements.

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

1. The UK's leading authority on complementary medicine, Professor Edzard Ernst, has recently written about "detox" therapies [1]:

"Detox, as used in alternative medicine, is based on ill-conceived ideas about human physiology, metabolism, toxicology etc. There is no evidence that it does any good and some treatments...can be harmful. The only substance that is being removed from a patient is usually money."

2. Therefore, under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claim that the "COLON CLEANSE" product can "detoxify the bowel".

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

Footnotes:

[1] Simon Singh, Edzard Ernst, "Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial", American edition 2008, p308
"

Jill Swyers, Raw Food Fan


Jill Swyers
is the name. Not Sawyers - that would be an error - and certainly not Sewers.

Jill is a "Hippocrates Health Educator & Culinary Consultant". Alas, the qualification doesn't appear to have been approved by the father of medicine himself.


Jill's flyer (available here and here) promotes a new diet which can help you to

"Reclaim your Health and Change your Life!"

How? Well, Jill thinks her diet programme can "aid in the treatment of a variety of conditions", not least

"...arthritis... candida... chronic fatigue [syndrome]... asthma... eczema... weight loss... weight gain... cancer... colitis... diabetes..."

The diet consists of a "selection of... natural, organic raw produce". In other words, it's a raw food diet.

No one doubts that a healthy, balanced diet is good for you, but speaking frankly, I doubt that cutting out the cheeseburgers is a plausible treatment for asthma.

ASA complaint follows!

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

The leaflet, for Jill Swyers, promotes a "Programme" of raw food consumption, which she claims can "aid in the treatment" of "cancer".

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

1. The UK's leading authority on complementary medicine, Professor Edzard Ernst, has recently written about "detox" therapies [1]:

"Detox, as used in alternative medicine, is based on ill-conceived ideas about human physiology, metabolism, toxicology etc. There is no evidence that it does any good and some treatments...can be harmful. The only substance that is being removed from a patient is usually money."

2. Under Section 3.7 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate any of the following claims, and under Section 3.1 I challenge whether they are misleading:

(i) "A lifestyle based on [eating] raw...foods as prescribed by the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, USA, is a great way to detox and cleanse the body, promote energy, improve one's life and weight loss/gain, and combat a wide range of dis-eases and dis-orders."

(ii) "The wonderful thing about Living/Raw Foods is that the physical body undergoes a cleansing process, during which impurities and toxins are eliminated..."

3. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claim that the advertised "Programme" can "aid in the treatment of a variety of conditions", namely:

(i) Arthritis
(ii) Candida
(iii) Stress
(iv) Chronic Fatigue [syndrome]
(v) Asthma
(vi) Eczema
(vii) Weight loss/gain problems
(viii) Cancer
(ix) Colitis
(x) Diabetes

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

Footnotes:

[1] Simon Singh, Edzard Ernst, "Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial", American edition 2008, p308"

The Healing Trust's Magical Fingers


Here are two ASA complaints about the Healing Trust - officially the NFSH Charitable Trust Ltd - a registered charity that promote some kind of magical finger therapy.


(Image credit - scan of the first flyer)

For those of you who can't find the time to read the full text of my missives, here's the general thrust of their arguments:

  • Hands-on healing can cure all sorts of medical problems - sort of!
  • Hands-on healing is supported by oodles of scientific evidence - more or less!
  • Hands-on healing is becoming part of mainstream medicine - probably!
  • Hands-on healing is officially recognised by the NHS - only kidding, LOL!
  • Anyone can be a Hands-on Healer - oh, and by the way, we're now offering courses in it!

ASA complaints follow!


Flyer #1 (available
here and here) and insert (available here and here)

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

The leaflet, for The Healing Trust, promotes hands-on healing.

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

1. The Healing Trust, aka the NFSH Charitable Trust Ltd, is a registered charity.

2. The leaflet is titled "What is Spiritual Healing?", and its insert is titled "Healer Membership for Nurses and Medical Professionals".

3. The leaflet itself describes the "healing" technique thus:

"WHAT HAPPENS DURING A HEALING SESSION? Healers work with their hands at a short distance from your body, or sometimes with a light touch... WHAT CAN HEALING DO FOR ME? Healing can be helpful with a wide range of conditions, sometimes to a remarkable degree..."

4. The insert promotes a course for "Nurses and Medical Professionals":

"Healing is a form of complementary therapy which transfers natural universal energy, through the practitioner to the recipient. With a body of scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness, healing not only makes a positive difference to people's experience of illness, but also in dealing with the challenges of life in general... Increasing numbers of our Healer Members are working in GP surgeries, hospital wards, hospices and cancer centres, with medical staff themselves increasingly recognizing [sic] the benefits that healing training can bring, to both work and personal life contexts. Some healers hold remunerated positions within the NHS."

5. I have been unable to identify a single rigorous clinical trial that attests to the efficacy of any form of hands-on healing.

6. Therefore, under Section 12.1 I challenge whether the following claims can be substantiated, and under Section 3.1 I challenge whether they are misleading:

(i) "[Hands-on] Healing can be helpful with a wide range of conditions, sometimes to a remarkable degree..."
(ii) "[Hands-on] Healing... transfers natural universal energy, through the practitioner to the recipient."
(iii) There is a "body of scientific evidence supporting" the "effectiveness" of hands-on healing.

7. Under Section 3.1, I challenge whether the claims that hands-on healing enjoys widespread acceptance in mainstream medicine (namely "GP surgeries, hospital wards, hospices and cancer centres") is misleading.

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

Flyer #2 (available here and here)

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

The leaflet, for The Healing Trust, promotes hands-on healing, for which it makes a number of specific health claims (such as rapid healing of broken bones).

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

1. The Healing Trust, aka the NFSH Charitable Trust Ltd, is a registered charity.

2. The leaflet itself describes the "healing" technique thus:

"WHAT HAPPENS DURING A HEALING SESSION? Healers begin each session with their hands on the recipient's shoulders for a few moments, which enables them to attune to the energetic process. Healers then work with hands at a short distance from the body, or sometimes... by light touch..."

3. The leaflet continues:

"ARE PEOPLE JUST IMAGINING THAT HEALING WORKS? It has been suggested many times that the positive effects of healing can simply be attributed to what is generally referred to as the 'Placebo Effect' - because someone believes that they'll get better, then they do.

"Positive attitudes are of course essential for any level of recovery, but there does seem to be more at work than this. People can often experience profound emotional, spiritual and physical benefits regardless of their expectations or belief in the treatment.

"There have been a number of random [sic] controlled scientific trials with plants and seedlings, where healing energy has been shown to produce marked improvement in growth rates. Results of this sort can clearly not be attributed to the Placebo Effect..."

4. The leaflet does not identify any of the "random [sic] controlled scientific trials" the advertisers claim demonstrate the efficacy of hands-on healing.

5. Therefore, under Section 12.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate any of the claims I quote in paragraph 3 by identifying the rigorous clinical trials that show hands-on healing produces health benefits in humans and plants that cannot be attributed to placebo.

6. (i) The leaflet continues:

"The NHS officially recognises a number of complementary therapies including [hands-on] Healing."

(ii) The UK body which "recognises" health treatments was, at the time I picked up the leaflet, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) - and not the National Health Service.

(iii) After a search of NICE's website (www.nice.org.uk), I could find no evidence that NICE "recognise" any form of hands-on healing.

(iv) Therefore, under Section 3.1 I challenge whether the claim is misleading.

7. (i) The leaflet continues:

"...clinicians are increasingly recognising that [hands-on healing] can have a role to play in aiding recovery... Healing is increasingly seen as a complement to mainstream medical practice..."

(ii) Under Section 3.1, I challenge whether the advertiser's claim that hands-on healing enjoys widespread acceptance in mainstream medicine is misleading.

8. The leaflet makes a number of specific claims for hands-on healing. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claims that hands-on healing can "make a significant difference" to "the speed and extent of recovery from serious illness or major surgery...wounds and broken bones can heal more quickly...post [sic] and pre-operative pain and stress are moderated...the side effects of radio and chemotherapy can be radically reduced..."

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

The Really Healthy Company's Detox Dilemma

.
The Really Healthy Company sounds like something created by one of those witless Windsors.


The Company's flyer (available here and here) promotes AlphaClear, which is apparently a "Detox & Energizing Solution":

"...a new liquid zeolite supplement formulated for powerful detoxification, protection from oxidative stress, and energizing [sic] the metabolism. In other words, AlphaClear helps us feel GREAT!"

In case you're not yet impressed, here are the technical specifications.

"The two primary ingredients in AlphaClear are a detoxifying volcanic mineral called zeolite and a strong antioxidant called Alpha-lipoic acid. Together, these two natural substances help to free our cells from some of the toxins and excess oxidation tha prevents them functioning normally."

Pull the other one, old bean! ASA complaint follows.

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

The leaflet, for the Really Healthy Company, promotes "AlphaClear", a nutritional supplement.

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

1. The flyer describes the advertised product thus:

"AlphaClear is a new liquid zeolite supplement formulated for powerful detoxification, protection from oxidative stress, and energizing [sic] the metabolism. In other words, AlphaClear helps us feel GREAT!

"The two primary ingredients in AlphaClear are a detoxifying volcanic mineral called zeolite and a strong antioxidant called Alpha-lipoic acid. Together, these two natural substances help to free our cells from some of the toxins and excess oxidation tha prevents them functioning normally."

2. The UK's leading authority on complementary medicine, Professor Edzard Ernst, has recently written about "detox" therapies [1]:

"Detox, as used in alternative medicine, is based on ill-conceived ideas about human physiology, metabolism, toxicology etc. There is no evidence that it does any good and some treatments...can be harmful. The only substance that is being removed from a patient is usually money."

3. Under Section 15 of the CAP Code, I challenge the following claims the advertiser makes for the product:

(i) AlphaClear can detoxify the body
(ii) AlphaClear can protect against "oxidative stress"
(iii) AlphaClear "helps removes heavy metals and other toxins from the body safely and efficiently"
(iv) AlphaClear, because of its "potent antioxidant", can "[neutralise] free radicals in both fatty and watery parts of [the body's] cells"
(v) AlphaClear "supports stronger immune system function"
(vi) AlphaClear "energizes [sic] sluggish metabolisms"

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

Footnotes:

[1] Simon Singh, Edzard Ernst, "Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial", American edition 2008, p308
"

Acupressure Mats Uk - painful reading


I've complained about these so-called "acupressure mats" before.



This new flyer (available here and here) seems to be from a different advertiser.

However, it's the same product promoted with the same bullshit claims, not least that the mats "can help with":

"...sciatica... chronic aches... slipped discs... migraines... depression... fibromyalgia... lumbago... whiplash..."

ASA complaint follows!

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

The leaflet, for Acupressure Mats UK, promotes the product of the same name. The advertisers claim the product can "help" with a number of serious medical conditions.

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

1. This complaint is further to my complaint, concerning the same product but probably different advertisers, in April 2010.

2. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claims that the "Acupressure Mat may help with":

(i) Sciatica
(ii) Chronic aches
(iii) Slipped discs
(iv) Migraines
(v) Depression
(vi) Fibromyalgia
(vii) Low or high blood pressure
(viii) Lumbago
(ix) Whiplash

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

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Mass Libel Reform Blog – Fight for Free Speech!


This week is the first anniversary of the report
Free Speech is Not for Sale, which highlighted the oppressive nature of English libel law.

In short, the law is extremely hostile to writers, while being unreasonably friendly towards powerful corporations and individuals who want to silence critics.


The English libel law is particularly dangerous for bloggers, who are generally not backed by publishers, and who can end up being sued in London regardless of where the blog was posted. The internet allows bloggers to reach a global audience, but it also allows the High Court in London to have a global reach.

You can read more about the peculiar and grossly unfair nature of English libel law at the website of the Libel Reform Campaign. You will see that the campaign is not calling for the removal of libel law, but for a libel law that is fair and which would allow writers a reasonable opportunity to express their opinion and then defend it.

The good news is that the British Government has made a commitment to draft a bill that will reform libel, but it is essential that bloggers and their readers send a strong signal to politicians so that they follow through on this promise. You can do this by joining me and over 50,000 others who have signed the libel reform petition.

Remember, you can sign the petition whatever your nationality and wherever you live. Indeed, signatories from overseas remind British politicians that the English libel law is out of step with the rest of the free world.

If you have already signed the petition, then please encourage friends, family and colleagues to sign up. Moreover, if you have your own blog, you can join hundreds of other bloggers by posting this blog on your own site. There is a real chance that bloggers could help change the most censorious libel law in the democratic world.

We must speak out to defend free speech. Please sign the petition for libel reform.


Monday, 1 November 2010

Helios Homeopathy


It's easy to compose a response to most homeopathy adverts.

All that's needed is to click on some random past complaint, choose a paragraph or two, and type CTRL+C CTRL+V.


Helios Homoeopathy specialise in placebo sugar pills. They sell the expensive sweets to unsuspecting idiots from their "pharmacy" in Covent Garden.

Helios Homoeopathy's advert (available here) boldly claims that

"...the healing qualities of homoeopathy are equally effective in the treatment of all creatures great and small, both domestic and wild? ...Animals respond well to homoeopathy and prescribing for minor ailments and injuries is straightforward... With the expertise of a qualified homoeopathic vet, homoeopathy can often bring results where conventional medicine has failed, even if the most difficult cases."

The claims would be funny if they weren't so dangerously misleading. ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about an advert appearing in "Health and Homeopathy" magazine, September 2010 issue, back page. The magazine was mailed to me last week by the British Homeopathy Association as part of a promotional pack.

The advert, for Helios Homoeopathy, promotes homeopathic products for the treatment of animals.

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

1. (i) I am unaware of any rigorous RCT that has ever demonstrated the efficacy of homeopathy in either humans or animals.

(ii) A 2005 meta-analysis published in the Lancet [1] discussed the quality of the available research:

"110 homoeopathy trials and 110 matched conventional-medicine trials were analysed...21 homoeopathy trials (19%) and nine (8%) conventional-medicine trials were of higher quality. In both groups, smaller trials and those of lower quality showed more beneficial treatment effects than larger and higher-quality trials..."

(iii) The meta-analysis concluded:

"Biases are present in placebo-controlled trials of both homoeopathy and conventional medicine. When account was taken for these biases in the analysis, there was weak evidence for a specific effect of homoeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions. This finding is compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are placebo effects."

(iv) In response to this meta-analysis, "the Lancet ran an editorial entitled 'The End of Homeopathy' in which they argued that 'doctors need to be bold and honest with their patients about homeopathy's lack of benefit'". [2]

(v) Earlier meta-analyses such as the 2002 study by Ernst [3] reached comparable conclusions.

(vi) Rigorous clinical trials of homeopathy in animals have likewise shown no effect beyond placebo [4] [5].

2. Under Section 3.1, I challenge whether the following claim misleadingly implies that homeopathy is of proven efficacy:

(i) "We all know the benefits that Homoeopathy can bring to people throughout every stage of their lives..."

3. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate any of the following claims:

(i) "...did you know that the natural healing qualities of homoeopathy are equally effective in the treatment of all creatures great and small, both domestic and wild?"

(ii) "Animals respond well to homoeopathy..."

(iii) "...and prescribing [homeopathy] for minor ailments and injuries is straightforward..."

(iv) "With the expertise of a qualified homoeopathic vet, homoeopathy can often bring results where conventional medicine has failed, even in the most difficult cases."

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

Footnotes:

[1] Shang, A et al., "Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy", Lancet 2005; 366:726-32

[2] Singh, Ernst, "Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial", First American Edition 2008, p137

[3] Ernst, E., "A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy', Br J Clin Pharmacol 2002; 54:577-82.

[4] de Verdier K, Ohagen P, Alenius S. No Effect of a Homeopathic Preparation on Neonatal Calf Diarrhoea in a Randomised Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Acta Vet Scand. 2003; 44(2): 97–101. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1831551/

[5] Holmes MA, Cockcroft PD, Booth CE, Heath MF. Controlled clinical trial of the effect of a homoeopathic nosode on the somatic cell counts in the milk of clinically normal dairy cows. Vet Rec. 2005 Apr 30;156(18):565-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15866899
"

Fasting on Chinese Nutrition


I've just put in two new ASA complaints about a valiant bastion of resistance against the evil galactic warlord Xenu, namely, the College of Naturopathic Medicine.



Leading a special fasting programme is Zoƫ Palmer-Wright, the beaming beauty pictured above (flyer available here and here).

Apart from the rather obvious effect of "weight loss", Zoe promises us her drastic weight-loss regime will

"...deeply cleanse your body tissues of wastes and toxins leaving you rejuvenated and energised!"

Hot on the heals of that bullshit claim is a flyer for something called Chinese Nutrition (available here and here).

For all you doubters out there, the college reassures us that

"Chinese Nutrition can be used to assist a wide range of diseases and conditions, such as digestive problems, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhoea, food allergies, weight problems, low energy, skin conditions, hormonal imbalance, and mental problems such as depression and anxiety..."

Can the College substantiate any of these far-fetched claims? Or are all they too busy working towards their OTVIII? ASA complaints follow!

Fasting Week flyer

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

The flyer, for the College of Naturopathic Medicine, promotes a "Fasting Week".

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. The flyer is titled:

"Fasting Week: Detox your body! - A lighter, brighter, healthier you in one week"

2. The flyer continues:

"Join our guided juice/broth fasting programme which will deeply cleanse your body tissues of wastes and toxins leaving you rejuvenated and energised!"

3. The UK's leading authority on complementary medicine, Professor Edzard Ernst, has recently written about "detox" therapies [1]:

"Detox, as used in alternative medicine, is based on ill-conceived ideas about human physiology, metabolism, toxicology etc. There is no evidence that it does any good and some treatments...can be harmful. The only substance that is being removed from a patient is usually money."

4. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate any of the following claims:

(i). Fasting can "Detox your body!"

(ii) The "guided juice/broth fasting programme" will "deeply cleanse your body tissues of wastes and toxins leaving you rejuvenated and energised!"

5. The flyer makes a number of claims for the health benefits of fasting. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate their claim that fasting - for example, as practised in the flyer's "one week" programme - can produce the following benefits:

(i) "Feeling energised"
(ii) "Clearer and more radiant skin"
(iii) "Bright eyes"
(iv) "Better digestion"
(v) "Mental clarity and focus"
(vi) "Strengthened immunity"
(vii) "Help with specific health conditions", namely "skin problems, digestive disorders, allergies and fertility issues"

6. (i) One of the named "benefits of fasting" is, needless to say, "Weight loss". The advertised "fasting week" takes place in combination with a "guided juice/broth...programme".

(ii) Under Section 13.5, I challenge whether the advertiser has shown the "programme" is "nutritionally well-balanced (except for producing a deficit of energy)".

(iii) Under Section 13.7, I challenge whether the advert encourages users to take medical advice before embarking on the "programme".

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

Footnotes:

[1] Simon Singh, Edzard Ernst, "Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial", American edition 2008, p308"

Chinese Nutrition flyer

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

The leaflet, for the College of Naturopathic Medicine, promotes a postgraduate course in "Chinese Nutrition".

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

1. The leaflet begins:

"Why study Chinese nutrition? In Ancient China nutrition was considered the primary medicine of choice: treatments such as acupuncture were tried only if the nutritional approach proved insufficient. In contrast to the Western view of foods, the Chinese philosophy encompasses the energetics of foods to provide a truly holistic treatment for internal diseases of all kinds."

2. The leaflet continues:

"The benefits of Chinese nutrition - Chinese Nutrition can be used to assist a wide range of diseases and conditions, such as digestive problems, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhoea, food allergies, weight problems, low energy, skin conditions, hormonal imbalance, and mental problems such as depression and anxiety..."

3. The "Course Details" introduces two new "conditions" for which "Chinese Nutrition" offers a "treatment":

"...myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), fibromyalgia..."

4. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claim that "Chinese Nutrition" can treat any of the following conditions:

(i) "Digestive problems"
(ii) "Irritable Bowel Syndrome"
(iii) "Constipation"
(iv) "Diarrhoea"
(v) "Food allergies"
(vi) "Weight problems"
(vii) "Low energy"
(viii) "Skin conditions"
(ix) "Hormonal imbalance"
(x) "Depression"

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