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Product: Health & Beauty (Alternative Therapies)
Advertiser: Brenda Ward Acupuncture
Medium: Online - Social Media
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.10, 11.1, 11.37
The advertisement posted by the advertisers to Naas Noticeboard on Facebook stated the following:
“Cupping? A great way to increase lymphatic drainage, ease muscle tension and increase the flow of fresh blood to an area of the body experiencing pain. At the beginning stages of a flu or cold, cupping draws the pathogen to the surface where the bodys immune system can expel it more easily. If its good enough for the Olympian athlete [NAME] and [NAME] its good enough for you!”
The complainant considered the advertisement made specific medical claims for a non-medical procedure, in particular regarding colds and flu and drawing the pathogen to the surface where the body’s immune system could expel it more easily.
The advertisers said that their intention was never to mislead but to outline how this ancient treatment of cupping could benefit health.
They said that Cupping, (or dry cupping practiced by the advertisers), formed part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, (TCM), dating back more than 2,000 years and was contained within the classics. They said that one such classic was the Su Sen Liang Fang medical classic, indicating the uses of cupping to move stagnation in the body (i.e. relaxing muscles and increasing blood flow to the area) and removal of interior pathogens.
The advertisers said that, as it was an ancient Eastern method of treatment it was difficult to put it to the test in a Western ‘Evidence Based Medicine’ style. They said that, for starters, Randomised Double Blind Control Trials, (RDBCT), the gold standard of clinical trials, required a placebo arm, and that a placebo arm could not be carried out with cupping as it was quite obvious to the patients who were physically feeling the suction cups on their body, that they were not the control group. They said that, similarly, not only would the patient know they were receiving the trial treatment but so would the therapist, therefore it could not be blinded for either party.
The advertisers provided a number of weblinks on cupping with an accompanying narrative references content of each article, as follows:
Weblink no 1: An article/editorial on the history of Chinese Medicine Cupping. (1)
Weblink no 2: Articles on cupping therapy. (2)
Weblink no 3: The review outlines various tools and techniques of cupping therapy. Conclusion was that detailed studies regarding the cupping therapy mechanisms, supported by well-designed scientific studies, would help in the safe and effective application of the cupping therapies. (3)
Weblink no 4: An article on nccaom.org on the science of cupping. (4)
Weblink no 5: Homepage of British Cupping Society with links to various articles. (5)
The advertisers said that as cupping was a type of massage, and massage was a procedure which was accepted to help drain the lymphatic system of toxins, they included the following article:
Weblink no 6: A systematic review providing manual therapy clinicians with pertinent information regarding progression of MLDTs as well as to critique the evidence for efficacy of this method in sports medicine. (6)
In closing, the advertisers said that the complainant had an issue with their use of “a medical claim for a non medical procedure”. They said that if all alternative therapists were to comply with this then they would not be allowed to advertise Acupuncture for Infertility for example, and said this was a very well accepted practise for this medical condition.
They said that their advertisement was meant to educate the audience as to how the Chinese explain the mechanism behind this treatment, and would never wished to mislead or engage in false advertising. They said their interest lay solely in helping people with their health.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that some of the material submitted was editorial material and did not consider that this editorial material constituted substantiation for the purposes of Section 11.1 the Code.
The Committee noted the studies that had been submitted and did not consider that the studies had substantiated the specific claim that cupping “draws the pathogen to the surface when the body’s immune system could expel it more easily”.
In the circumstances they considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.10 and 11.1 of the Code.
The advertising must not reappear in its current form.