Date: 11 June 2014
Media: Internet (on own site)
Sector: Health and beauty
Number of complaints: 1
Complaint Ref: A14-258024
Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A website for a complementary therapy practitioner, www.happyhomeopathy.co.uk, featured a page entitled “Don’t Sweat It – Menopause relief”. Text on this page stated “The menopause is a natural process, so treat it naturally! Menopause relief package. This package is designed to support women in pre, peri and post-menopausal stages. The focus is on using natural remedies, in particular homeopathic remedies and flower essences to help detox and support your body and provide relief during the menopause. You may also be recommended herbs and supplements to be taken alongside, all individually prescribed. Ideal for those suffering with: Night sweats, Hot or cold flushes, Loss of libido, Vaginal dryness, Mood swings, Tiredness & exhaustion, Low mood, irritability, depression, anxiety”.
Text on a page entitled “Hormonal Harmony Package” stated “Are your hormones driving you mad? This package is designed to support women with hormonal problems. The focus is on using natural remedies, in particular homeopathic remedies and flower essences to help detox and support your body. You may also be recommended herbs and supplements to be taken alongside, all individually prescribed. Ideal for those suffering with: PMT/PMS, Side-effects of the Pill, Irregular/heavy periods, Acne or other skin problems, Loss of libido, Candida, Mood swings, Tiredness & exhaustion, Low mood, irritability, anxiety”.
1. The complainant challenged whether the efficacy claims for the packages were misleading and could be substantiated.
2. The ASA challenged whether the claims that the packages could treat depression and menopausal symptoms discouraged essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. Happy Homeopathy did not provide us with any evidence to substantiate the efficacy claims.
2. Happy Homeopathy said they believed their terms and conditions made it clear that any advice they provided should not have been taken as a substitute for seeking professional medical advice or treatment. They explained that text within their terms and conditions stated “The information and advice provided by the Happy Homeopathy website should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment, especially if you know you have a specific health complaint, or have symptoms that have not yet been investigated and diagnosed. The Happy Homeopathy website advises that you find a GP who is sympathetic to the usefulness of natural medicine, and ensure that you have a thorough and accurate diagnosis before you make your informed choice of treatment options. Patients using any services provided by Happy Homeopathy will remain under the overall clinical responsibility of their General Practitioner or Medical Doctor throughout the homeopathic treatment. Responsibility for adjusting or withdrawing prescribed medical drugs lies solely with the patient and the prescriber of those drugs”.
Happy Homeopathy stated that they had amended the ad. They said they had replaced the word “treat” with “relieve” with reference to the symptoms they claimed their menopausal packages could assist with. Happy Homeopathy also said that to avoid doubt they had removed the word “depression” from the list of symptoms they claimed their menopause packages could assist with. However, we did not consider that these amendments had addressed the issues of complaint.
The ASA received no evidence that Happy Homeopathy could treat sufferers of night sweats, hot or cold flushes, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, mood swings, tiredness & exhaustion, low mood, irritability, depression, anxiety, PMT or PMS, side-effects of the Pill, irregular or heavy periods, acne or other skin problems or Candida. Because we had received no evidence that Happy Homeopathy could treat these conditions, we concluded that the claims had not been substantiated.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
We considered that depression and menopausal symptoms were conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. While we noted that Happy Homeopathy’s terms and conditions clearly stated that the site was not intended to be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment, we considered this disclaimer directly contrasted with the claims in the main text of the site, which stated that the packages on offer could help treat depression and menopausal symptoms. We therefore concluded the disclaimers contradicted rather than clarified the main text of the website. We noted that the menopausal relief package claimed to treat both depression and menopausal symptoms and could be booked directly from Happy Homeopathy’s website. Happy Homeopathy had not demonstrated that any treatment would be carried out by a suitably qualified health professional. Because the treatment would not be conducted under medical supervision and Happy Homeopathy claimed to be able to treat depression and menopausal symptoms, we considered the website discouraged essential treatment for these conditions.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 12.2 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
We told Happy Homeopathy not to claim they could treat sufferers of night sweats, hot or cold flushes, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, mood swings, tiredness or exhaustion, low mood, irritability, depression, anxiety, PMT or PMS, side-effects of the Pill, irregular or heavy periods, acne or other skin problems or Candida. We also told them to remove the claims that they could treat depression and menopausal symptoms.
This page was posted on July 07, 2015.