This page is receiving thousands of visits from people who've received an advert for a "Tibetan" painkilling ring.
If you're reading this, you probably don't want to miss out on what seems like an amazing product, even though you have doubts. So, let me spell it out for you:
To help you decide who is telling you the truth - me, or the advertisers - let's examine the claims the advert makes.
"...Let me remind you about the result of medical tests: most types of pain can be relieved with this ring...effectiveness proven in clinical tests..."
These claims are not true. No "medical tests" have ever been conducted on the ring, as anyone can easily check for themselves. (Almost all scientific research is available online nowadays, and many medical journals include a "plain English" summary which anyone can understand.)
"Study carried out with 1200 patients suffering from Chronic Pain - the 'Luxembourg Study' "
This claim is not true. No "Luxembourg Study" exists. You won't find any reference to it in any medical journal.
"...works on 127 types of pain..."
This claim is not true. Similar devices have been tested many times before, and not one of them has been able to reduce anyone's pain. Again, the research is available for anyone to read.
"...get your young, toned legs back and keep them like this..."
This claim is not true. There's no evidence to suggest that metal rings can reverse the effects of ageing. Search the medical journals for yourself, if you want to.
"...by improving your blood circulation with digipuncture, you will very quickly and without any medicine be able to [have] good circulation [and a] better memory [which] helps you to think faster..."
This claim is not true. You won't be able to find any research on "digipuncture" because the word was invented by the advertisers in order to sell rings.
"Tibetans confirm that acupuncture carried out with this ring suppresses 127 types of pain"
This claim is not true. The Chinese authorities don't permit Tibetan Monks to conduct scientific research.
"Here are a few pictures from my travels. Look at [all the Tibetans] wearing the painkilling ring!"
This claim is not true. Thousands of genuine photos of Tibetans are available in books, magazines and newspapers. Check them yourself. You won't find any Tibetans wearing one of these rings.
"Clinical tests confirm it... the ring relieves your pain by improving your circulation. Dr Birguite"
Dr Birguite does not exist. All doctors are registered in the countries in which they work and these records are available to the public. You won't find anyone matching this "Dr Birguite" anywhere.
"The Tibetan Ring is excellent because patients can use it so easily as soon as they feel any pain - Dr Waller, Former Professor of Lyon Faculty of Medicine"
Dr Waller does not exist, as you can easily check for yourself by contacting his former employers.
"...7 days before...7 days after..."
These photographs are forgeries. Each pair of photos clearly shows two different people masquerading as one.
"...My vertigo has totally disappeared...This ring gave me great health...I avoided an operation...I lost a stone in 15 days..."
These "satisfied customers" are fictional, as are their testimonials.
"Health Solutions Laboratories"
This organisation does not exist, as you can check for yourself by trying to visit their "laboratory". The organisation behind the scam is actually Intramed, a British company with a long history of defrauding vulnerable consumers.
"30-Day Risk Free Trial With No Obligation"
If you don't like the ring, good luck getting your money back. It is gone forever.
Still not convinced? As a result of my complaint to the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the advert was banned. Their adjudication concluded:
"...we had not seen evidence that the testimonials, before and after photos or claims about the ring's provenance were genuine, nor had we seen evidence to substantiate the claims that the product could relieve pain or the symptoms of the conditions mentioned in the ad. We had also not seen evidence to substantiate the weight loss claims"
Noting that ten other adverts by the same company had already been banned, the ASA commented:
"We were also concerned that the ad appeared after IntraMed had given an assurance to [us] that they would no longer advertise in the UK..."
Instead of sending money to criminals, you should consider forwarding the advert you've received to the authorities who will be most interested to hear about it.
In the UK, you should send it to the Advertising Standards Authority. Their address is Mid City Place, 71 High Holborn, London WC1V 6QT.
In the United States, complaints should be sent to the Federal Trade Commission and to your local Better Business Bureau. Canadians should contact their state Consumer Protection Office and their local Better Business Bureau.
In Australia, complaints should be sent to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, or your State/Territory consumer protection agency. New Zealanders can complain to the NZ Advertising Standards Authority.
Below you can read details of my original complaint, submitted in October 2010. Most readers should probably skip that part and proceed to the comments at the bottom of the page.
This morning exciting news arrived with the postman - a "Tibetan Monks' Painkilling Ring".
According to the mailshot, the ring can improve all kinds of pain, including "migraine - tendinitis [sic] - pre operation [sic] - heavy legs - ear infection - vertigo - toothache" and much more besides!
Why should I believe a word of this? Well, according to the advertisers:
"Tibetans confirm that acupuncture carried out with this ring suppresses 127 types of pain"
In case that's not the rock-solid scientific proof you were hoping for, it continues:
"[The ring's] effectiveness is proven in clinical tests"
Alas, I am still struggling to believe any of the claims the advertisers make - not least because no "clinical tests" have ever been conducted on the ring. (If you don't believe me, you can search the medical journals yourself.)
In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest the production of this particular mailshot constitutes a criminal offence here in the UK.
Off to the ASA I go,then. (The leaflets can be seen here, here and here.)
"I write to complain about a mailshot I received this morning from "Health Solutions" (Ville Amphrey, St Martins, GY4 6DT). The mailshot, which contained four leaflets, promotes a "Tibetan Monks' Painkilling Ring".
I suspect that the advert may be in breach of numerous sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code.
Following the instructions on your website, I enclose the complete mailshot, including the envelope it arrived in.
My complaint is as follows.
Leaflet 1 - "CHASE AWAY YOUR PAIN"
1. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate any of the following claims:
(i) The ring "works on 127 types of pain", and its "effectiveness is proven in clinical tests" for "stomach ache - acid stomach - bad digestion - kidney problems - heavy legs - hot feet - pins and needles in the legs - varicose veins - losing weight - cellulite - heavy legs - lumbago - sciatica - joint pains - rheumatism - haemorrhoids - migraines - vertigo - tinnitus - shaking - memory problems - stress, anxiety - tachycardia - insomnia - Pre [sic] operation [pain] - Post [sic] operation [pain]"
(ii) The ring "naturally fight[s] more than 127 types of pain" including "Rheumatism - Joints - Cramps - Sciatica - Haemorrhoids - Migraines - Stomach pain..."
(iii) "The acupuncture points on the 5 fingers of your hand have an immediate and powerful action on your blood circulation"
(iv) "Clinical tests confirm" that "This ring relieves your pain by improving your circulation"
(v) With the Ring, "Oedema, heavy legs and inflammation of the joints disappear"
(vi) "This ring improves blood flow to your brain: Your migraines and vertigo disappear..."
(vii) "This ring makes all of your organs work better, by improving your circulation..."
(viii) The ring causes "your wrinkles [will] go away, your skin clears up..."
Leaflet 1 - back side
(ix) "By improving your blood circulation with digitopuncture, you will very quickly and without any medicine be able to - relieve your pain...get your young, toned legs back and keep them like this...good circulation also giving you better memory and helps you to think faster..."
(x) "Tibetans confirm that acupuncture carried out with this ring suppresses 127 types of pain"
(xi) "From the 1st hour your joints will not be as stiff"
(xii) "[A] Study carried out with 1200 patients suffering from chronic pain" showed the ring improves "Joint pain (3 hours) - Annular migraine (1h) - Aches/Tendinitis [sic] (1h) - Foot pain (3h) - Rheumatism (5h) - Oedema (24h) - Heavy legs (19h) - Varicose veins (72h-7d) - Haemorrhoids (48h) - Night cramps/Pins and Needles (1h) - Acid stomach/stomach cramps (3h) - Stomach ache/period pains (2h) - Ear infection (2h) - Vertigo (1h) - Toothache (2h) - Bags under the eyes (2h) - Tachycardia (1h) - Before an operation - to relax and calm (0.3h) - Post-operation: general pain relief (1h)"
2. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the two sets of "before and after" photos are genuine.
3. I challenge whether the testimonial labelled "Slimming - I have lost a stone in 15 days, is this normal?" is in breach of the CAP Code, Sections 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 6.1, 7.1, 14.1, 14.3, 14.4, 51.1, 51.2, 51.4, 51.8 and 51.9.
4. (i) Under Section 14.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds signed and dated proof for the remaining five testimonials used and under Section 14.4 I challenge whether the testimonials are fictitious.
(ii) Under Section 14.2, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate the claims made in the remaining five testimonials.
5. For the leaflet as a whole:
(i) Under Section 2.1, I challenge whether the leaflet is "honest and truthful"
(ii) Under Section 2.2, I challenge whether the leaflet has been "prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society"
(iii) Under Section 6.1, I challenge whether the leaflet "exploit[s] the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers", particularly vulnerable groups such as the elderly
(iv) Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the leaflet is misleading
Leaflet 2 - "Here are a few pictures from my travels"
6. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the leaflet misleadingly implies that ordinary Tibetans wear the ring, that the ring dates from 1000 B.C, and that "Today this treatment is recommended by the best British Doctors".
7. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the claims of "Doctor Waller" are misleading, under Section 14.3 I challenge whether the claims can be substantiated, and under Section 14.4 I challenge whether the testimonial is fictional.
Leaflet 3 - "The Tibet Monk's painkilling ring"
8. Under Section 3.1, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claim that "For more than 3000 years, Tibetan monks have eased their pains with this ring"
Leaflet 4 - “Risk Free – Don't suffer any longer...”
9. Since this leaflet repeats many of the claims of the first, I simply challenge whether any of the medical claims it makes can be substantiated, whether any of the “before and after” photos are genuine, and whether the testimonials are fictitious.
10. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser. "