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Product: Health & Beauty
Advertiser: The Skin Herbalist
Medium: Social Media (Regional press Facebook) / Internet (Advertisers’ website)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, 11.4
The Facebook post referred to the following:
“STRICTLY BY APPOINTMENT ONLY CALL NUMBERS BELOW
OPEN DAY OFFER FULL BODY CHECK €50 PP (Usual price €180) Free Re-Check”
The post provided the name of the venue, date and time where the checks were to be conducted and outlined the tests being provided as follows:
“Electrodermal Energy screening may help to detect imbalances such as
• Organ Weakness e.g. Heart, Lungs, Bowels, Kidneys, Digestive system etc.
• Food Intolerances
• Nutritional deficiencies & much more.”
The advertisers’ landline and mobile telephone numbers were provided alongside their website address:
Another Facebook post featured a photograph of the herbalist alongside another individual wearing a white coat. The post referred to the fact that
“A full health screening with the Supertronic device which is used throughout Europe in many doctors’ and herbalists’ practices would usually cost €180 but at the (herbalist’s name), open day, those in attendance can receive a one-on-one full health screening for only €50”.
An image of the Supertronic device featured with an individual conducting the test on a person’s fingers, the text accompanying the image read:
“The full health screening with the Supertronic involves a probe which tests the acupuncture and meridian points in the fingers and both hands. The test is non-invasive, and the client feels absolutely nothing. The test takes on average 30 minutes and is available for everyone except children under the age of eight.
The results may then reveal if there are any energy imbalances in the digestive system, cardiovascular system, the immune system, neurological system etc. The screening may help to detect and treat illnesses such as allergies, organ weakness, food intolerance and nutritional deficiencies. The test may also show energy imbalances in the heart, lungs, digestive system, kidneys and bowels. The results from the screening may pinpoint where the imbalances lie and are interpreted by various scores. If I find any imbalances, I will advise the client to visit their GP for further examination”.
The post then referred to the name of the professor which the herbalist received his tutelage from and stated that:
“A number of health issues that were highlighted by the tests proved to be 100% accurate and due to the effectiveness of the testing I (the herbalist) decided I wanted to learn more and trained with the professor for over three years and subsequently became completely proficient.”
Under the heading “Supertronic Diagnostics” the following information was provided:
“One of the definitions of health is the balance of energy in the body. Any deviation could, over time, cause health problems that we are initially entirely unaware of. When a disease is latent, however, it can reliably be identified by a device that works on the principle of EAV (Electroacupuncture according to Voll (1) ) Energy’s Consultants use Supertronic to measure the energy in the body. This is an electronic device which, by measuring the electrical resistance of the skin at precisely defined acupuncture points, detects the current energy state of an organ meridian, or of the organ or its tissue directly. In layman’s terms, it examines how autonomous centres in the brain and the spinal cord control the various organs and their tissues. In addition, it can test the suitability of bioinformatics for a particular person.
By measuring points on the hands and feet and then analysing their values, it can quite accurately determine the source of any problems. It is possible to determine the type of stress, which enzymatic systems are not working at 100% or whether there is a malabsorption disorder in the small intestine and detect infectious conditions. This is not a medical diagnosis…”
Under the headline “Conditions Helped” the advertisers provided the following information:
“Qualified herbalists are trained in both medical and plant sciences. A herbalist will not simply treat the symptoms or conditions, they are trained to search out the root cause of the problem and discover what imbalances are preventing the body from healing itself. … As a medical herbalist you make herbal medicines for people with a wide range of acute and chronic conditions. Each person is unique and there for (sic) each remedy is different and specific to the person being treated, qualified herbalists are trained to safely use herbal remedies alongside prescription medication and to avoid potential adverse interactions.”
“Complaints seen by herbalists include
Respiratory – cough; colds and flu; sinusitis; hay fever; tonsillitis; bronchitis; bronchiectasis.
Digestive – indigestion; hyperacidity; irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); stomach ulcer; inflammatory bowel disease; diarrhoea; haemorrhoids; flatulence; food sensitivities.
Urinary – infections such as cystitis, urethritis; prostatitis; benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH); bladder discomfort.
Musculo-Skeletal – arthritis; rheumatism; gout.
Skin – eczema; acne; psoriasis; dermatitis; skin healing issues.
Immune – chronic or recurrent infections.
Circulatory System – Anaemia, Chilblains, Bruising, Low blood Pressure, Nose Bleed, High Cholesterol, Poor Circulation, Varicose Veins, Haemorrhoids, Heavy Tired Feet.
Specific Ailments of the urinary and reproductive system (Female) – Hot Flushes, Libido low, menopausal problems, heavy periods, painful periods, PMS, thrush, incontinence, cystitis and urethritis.
Other Conditions Helped – Abcess (sic), Anaemia, Swollen Ankles, Asthma, Bad Breath, Back Pain, Bed Wetting, Belching, Boils, Bronchitis, Bruises, Burns, Cellulite, Chapped Hands, Chilblains, High Cholesterol , Colds, Colic, Constipation, Cough, Cystitis, Dandruff, Earache, Flatulence, Flu, Fluid Retention, Swollen Glands, Glue Ear, Hay Fever, Hangover, Headache, Hives, Indigestion, Inflammation, Insect Bites and Stings, Insomnia, Laryngitis, Memory & Concentration Problems, Migraine, Mouth Ulcers, Nausea, Nosebleeds, Oral Thrush, Panic Attack, Period Pains, Psoriasis, Allergic Rhinitis, Dry Skin, Oily Skin, Sore Throat, Sunburn, Teething Problems, Toothache, Travel sickness, Warts.”
The advertisement also indicated that
“if a healthy person has themselves measured at least once every six months, they need not be worried about dangerous chronic illnesses”.
(1) Dr. Voll author of this method, found out that the electrical resistance of the skin in the places of acupuncture points is much lower, therefore, there is a higher conductivity of energy.
Two complaints were received about the advertising.
Complaint Issue 1
A complainant referred to the “Conditions Helped” page on the advertisers’ website. The complainant said that claims were made about the treatment to various ailments and they challenged whether there was any evidence to substantiate the claims.
Another complainant challenged whether there was any evidence to support the claim “The full health screening with the Supertronic involves a probe which tests the acupuncture and meridian points in the fingers of both hands.”
Complaint Issue 2
One complainant referred to the claim for the Supertronic Device, that “When a disease is latent, however, it can reliably be identified by a device that works on the principle of EAV (Electroacupuncture according to Voll). Energy’s consultants use Supertronic to measure energy in the body.” The complainant contended that the device was a meter of electrical resistance and therefore considered that the claim was misleading.
Another complainant considered that the following claims had no basis in reality and challenged whether there was any evidence to support them, “The results may then reveal if there are any energy imbalances in the digestive system, cardiovascular system, the immune system, neurological system, etc. The screening may help to detect and treat illnesses such as allergies, organ weakness, food intolerances, and nutritional deficiencies.” and “The test may also show energy imbalances the heart, lungs, digestive system, kidneys, and bowels. The results from the screening may pinpoint where the imbalances lie and are interpreted by various scores.”
Complaint Issue 3
The complainant considered that the claim “A number of health issues that were highlighted by the tests proved to be 100 percent accurate” had no basis in reality and challenged whether there was any evidence to support it.
Complaint Issue 4
The ASAI Executive expressed concern that the advertisement had indicated that if a healthy person had themselves measured at least once every six months, they need not be worried about dangerous chronic illnesses and raised their concern with the advertisers.
Complaint Issue 1
The advertisers said that their medical herbalist had been in practice for 23 years. They said they had been extremely careful and had used the word ‘may’ in relation to finding imbalances. They said they did not believe that they had made any medical claims and had used the word ‘helped’ when referring to the various conditions listed.
Complaint Issue 2
They said the Supertronic device was registered using proper European Legislation. It was an electro acupuncture machine which tested the acupuncture points in the fingers. While holding a probe the client’s results, in this particular case energy balances and energy imbalances appear on the user’s screen known as a galvaniser. The results are then collated by scores and colours.
They said that acupuncture was used by therapists, medical doctors, medical consultants and registered nutritionists all over the world. Therefore, the precedent has been set because acupuncture is recognised and used by the medical profession and alternative medicine practitioners with regards to balancing the body where there is energy imbalances in the various systems of the body, for example, the digestive system. They said that as the precedent was already there that this statement should be allowed in relation to the efficacy of the Supertronic device.
The advertisers said that in future to make things clearer, however, they would refer to the Supertronic machine as being an ‘auxiliary medical electronic device.’
They said they would remove the word ‘health’ and also include a medical disclaimer.
Complaint Issue 3
The advertisers said that the claims made in relation to the 100% accuracy of the test related to the experience of their own herbalist and the results had been completely accurate in relation to his past and present health conditions. He had been tested by the professor involved in his teaching.
Complaint Issue 4
In relation to the concerns raised by the Executive, the advertisers said they had removed the reference to the fact that if a healthy person had themselves measured with the Supertronic device at least every six months they need not be worried about dangerous or chronic illness.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers’ response. They noted the advertisers’ willingness to amend their advertising.
Complaint Issues 1, 2 and 3 – Complaints Upheld
The Committee noted that claims about health products and treatments should be backed by substantiation. Where relevant, this should include the results of robust and reputable trials on human subjects, of sufficient rigour, design and execution as to warrant general acceptance of the results.
The Committee noted that the advertising claims had included the word ‘may’. Nevertheless, they considered that while the use of the word ‘may’ implied a conditionality, i.e. that the product may not work in all cases, such claims should be substantiated.
The Committee noted that no evidence had been provided to substantiate the claims in the advertising and in the circumstances considered that the advertising in relation to complaint issues 1, 2 and 3 was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 4.10 and 11.1 of the Code.
Complaint Issue 4 – Complaint Upheld
While accepting that the claim had been removed, the Committee, noted that substantiation had not been provided for the claim and in the circumstances upheld the complaint under Sections 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.
The advertising must not reappear in its current form.