Friday, 4 March 2011
Helios Homeopathy - reanimating the dead
Helios Homoeopathy provide a convenient mail-order service for fans of concentrated sugar pills masquerading as medicine.
A few months ago I complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about their misleading leaflets.
Today I had a quick read of their website. Among the large range of homeopathic products it promotes, I came upon the following astonishing claim:
'Carbo veg. - No. 1 Remedy for resuscitation. "The homeopathic corpse reviver". This remedy has saved many lives. Symptoms at their most extreme are complete state of collapse due to oxygen starvation. Body (even breath) is cold. May appear limp, pale or blue. Less severe cases have extreme sluggishness.'
That's right, folks. Homeopathy can BRING BACK PEOPLE FROM THE DEAD!
I can't imagine how the advertisers might go about substantiating that particular claim, but I'd love to see them try. ASA complaint follows!
'I'm writing to complain about the marketing claims I read today (4th March 2011, at 2pm) on the website www.helios.co.uk
The site promotes Helios Homeopathy Ltd, of 89-97 Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2QR.
The pages in question are too big for a screenshot, so I've used a mirroring website. The ASA online complaints form doesn't accept HTML files yet, but I have saved a copy and can send them to you, if necessary.
1. The site makes a number of claims for specific homeopathic remedies. I'd like to challenge whether the following claims can be substantiated, whether the claims are misleading, and whether the phrase 'No. 1 Remedy' is misleading. I'd also like to challenge whether the claims contain information not found on the products' labels. In the case of 'Carbo veg', I'd like to challenge whether the claim is irresponsible and may discourage emergency treatment for a life-threatening condition.
'Helios homeopathic remedies'
mirrored at http://www.freezepage.com/1299248272PGHOBMQCSI
(i) 'Calendula - No. 1 Remedy for healing wounds... Very useful first-aid remedy for cuts; superficial burns or scalds; ulcers; scalp wounds; after teeth extraction or childbirth. It stimulates formation of healthy scar tissue...'
(ii) 'Carbo veg. - No. 1 Remedy for resuscitation. "The homeopathic corpse reviver". This remedy has saved many lives. Symptoms at their most extreme are complete state of collapse due to oxygen starvation. Body (even breath) is cold. May appear limp, pale or blue. Less severe cases have extreme sluggishness.'
(iii) 'China - No 1 Remedy for de-hydration..."
(iv) 'Drosera - No. 1 Remedy for whooping cough... Excellent (whooping) cough remedy...'
(v) 'Hepar sulph. - No. 1 Remedy for painful, infected wounds...'
(vi) 'Hypericum - No. 1 Remedy for injury to nerves. Useful first aid treatment for lacerated wounds [from] sharp instruments or any injury to nerve-rich areas... Reputed anti-tetanus properties...'
(vii) 'Ledum - No. 1 Remedy for puncture wounds and black eyes. Like Hypericum has reputed anti-tetanus properties. Use to treat deep wounds... and bites from both animals and insects'
(viii) 'Mag phos. - Known as the homeopathic aspirin. Very effective if crushed in warm water and sipped...'
(ix) 'Pulsatilla - No. 1 Remedy for childhood ear infections...'
(x) 'Silicea - No.1 Remedy for forcing out splinters, etc. In first aid treatment excellent for forcing foreign bodies out...'
2. The site promotes some 'homeopathic remedy kits', claiming that 'you can now take all the benefits of our potent and effective remedies with you, wherever you go'. I'd like to challenge whether Helios can substantiate their claim that the homeopathic products are 'potent' and 'effective'.
'The Right kit for every occasion'
mirrored at http://www.freezepage.com/1299248333XEXKFUJIME
3. On the page promoting the advertiser's range of homeopathy products for pets, the advertiser makes some more claims. I'd like to challenge whether they are misleading and can be substantiated.
'Homeopathic for Pets'
mirrored at http://www.freezepage.com/1299248375RGZCTUJUJX
(i) 'Animals respond well to homeopathy'
(ii) '...prescribing [the correct homeopathic product] for minor ailments and injuries is straightforward'
4. On the same page, in the section labelled 'HELP HOMEOPATHIC VETS', a number of claims are made about homeopathy being 'under attack by many highly organised sceptics'.
5. This section appears exactly two lines under the sentence 'With an A-Z of complaints which can be treated holistically using Homoeopathy, Acupressure, Bach Flowers, Aromatherapy, and much more. £27.50', and a clickable link labelled 'Buy'.
6. The claims in the 'HELP HOMEOPATHIC VETS' section are immediately adjacent to clickable links to 'Buy' the advertiser's products, so I'd like to challenge whether the following claims are misleading:
(i) Given the scientific concensus on the efficacy of homeopathy, the word 'misinformed' in the sentence 'Doctors and vets are continually being misinformed that homeopathy "does not work" and is merely a placebo'
(ii) Given that animals can probably respond to cues from their human handlers, the claim that animals cannot respond to placebo treatments
(iii) Given that anecdotal evidence is normally not acceptable to CAP, the claims that 'Those of you who use homeopathy for your animals and have had successful treatment from your homeopathic vet know that a positive outcome is evidence that homeopathy works' and 'if it can be used in animals, it cannot be a sham treatment as the sceptics claim'
(iv) The indirect claims that 'homeopathy [is an] effective form of medicine' and 'They are campaigning to show how effective homeopathy really is'