Under the heading “Respiratory Disorders” Salt Therapy Ireland offered a detailed description for asthma. This included key points in relation to the disease and the outlook for asthma sufferers. One of the points made by them included the following information:
“You can take an active role in managing your asthma. For successful, thorough, and ongoing treatment, build strong partnerships with your doctor, health care providers and our respiratory nurse at Salt Therapy Ireland.”
The advertisers then posed the question:
“How Can Salt Room Therapy Help?
Halotherapy is a drug-free, natural treatment that eases coughing, congestion, breathing difficulties, and other symptoms associated with these conditions. When you sit in the salt room, the controlled temperature, humidity and concentration of salt particles provides the optimal environment for healing. The mineral salt particles you inhale accelerate mucous clearance, purify the lungs, and reduce bronchial inflammation. Salt room therapy is often used as a preventative measure to combat the recurrence of asthma attacks. Inhaling the salt micro particles widens your airways and promotes healing in the bronchial tubes. Your breathing will improve and you will notice a difference.”
The complainant said that the benefits of salt room therapy as outlined by the advertisers were unproven and he therefore queried the validity of the claims.
The advertisers said they had tried to make their advertising as clear as possible and to help them achieve this, medical terms had been broken down into laymen’s terms. They said that the claims which they made were taken from documents provided to them by the manufacturer and supplier of the salt machines. The advertisers also forwarded four studies one of which related to asthma and abstracts of nine other studies
The Secretariat asked the advertisers to identify, in the documents provided, where the relevant substantiation for the claims made in their advertising were located. They reminded them that the onus was on them, as the advertisers, to outline the relevance of the evidence provided to the advertised claim.
The advertisers did not provide any further information in the matter.
Studies forwarded by advertiser:
1.Sodium chloride Increases the Ciliary Transportability of Cystic Fibrosis and Bronchiectasis Sputum on the Mucus-depleted Bovine Traches.
2.Inhalation of hypertonic saline aerosol enhances mucociliary clearance in asthmatic and healthy subjects.
3.A Controlled Trial of Long-Term Inhaled Hypertonic Saline in patients with Cystic Fibrosis.
4.Hypersaline nasal irrigation in children with symptomatic seasonal allergic rhinitis.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They noted that the advertisers’ website had clearly advised consumers of the importance of their doctor’s role in managing their asthma. In relation to the efficacy claims for salt therapy they expressed concern at the advertisers’ failure to outline adequate substation for the claims made in their advertising. They reminded them that there was an onus on all advertisers to demonstrate that their advertising was in conformity with the Code. In the circumstance the Committee upheld the complaint under Sections 2.7 and 8.1 of the Code.
The advertisement must not run in its current form again.