Sunday, 15 May 2011

Suilven Centre's Hayfever Remedy

It's already been a day marked by
unwise decisions. Here is another prurient example.

I get occasional unsolicited emails from the quacks, often starting with the words "I might be making a big mistake bringing myself to your attention..."

Not such a big mistake at all, in fact. Most sceptics are very approachable and not at all carniverous.

One clinic who did make a mistake bringing themselves to my attention, though, are the Suilven Centre, an alternative medicine clinic in Orkney.

Actually, it's not the unsubstantiated claims which got my attention, but the theatrical marketing. Here's a screenshot of my spam filter.

Suilven's advert makes every effort to effect the appearance of a genuine comment on a serious public health issue before effortlessly turning on the sales pitch for an unrelated product.

"I would like to thank you all for the above comments on these "Tibetan Monk's [sic] rings". I received the leaflet this morning and decided to look them up and found all your comments. I suffer from rheumatic pain and also severe tinnitus and the supposed "magic ring" was meant to cure this. There is no know [sic] cure for tinnitus. For those of you who are suffering please look up your local Holistic Centre and you will find such therapies as reflexology, acupuncture and reiki. I live in Orkney and the Holistic Centre there practices [sic] all these and the therapists really care for people in such pain. Should you wish for sympathy and understanding the website is"

Red rags, bulls, and all that. ASA complaint follows!

"The website makes two claims for acupuncture which I suspect are misleading.

The site uses Flash technology to conceal URL addresses, so it's not possible to supply a correct URL address. The page in question can be reached by going to , clicking on the "Therapies" tab, then on "For more information on the therapies listed below, click here".

An identical page is available on the hosting company's site. The address is

1. "Did you know there is more research to back up acupuncture and how it works than many of our traditional medical techniques?"

I'd like to challenge whether the claim "there is more research to back up acupuncture" is misleading, because I think it gives the impression that there is a great deal of evidence to support the efficacy of acupuncture.

From what I understand, there are only a few mildly positive clinical trials available, which deal with only a handful of conditions (such as lower back pain).

2. "[Acupuncture] is great for helping to stop hayfever..."

I'd like to challenge whether this claim can be substantiated. From what I understand, hayfever is not one of the conditions for which rigorous clinical evidence exists.

I've made some screenshots of the relevant pages, which are available at:

I can confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or with the alternative medicine industry in general."

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