ASA Adjudication on Ultimate Balance Ltd
Ultimate Balance Ltd
38a High Street
26 September 2007
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
A regional press ad, for Colon Hydrotherapy, stated "Constipated? Bloated? IBS? These symptoms respond well to colon hydrotherapy: Aching joints, Acne, Allergies, Asthma, Arthritis, Body Odour, Candida, Cold hands & feet, Constipation, Depression, Food Cravings, Frequent colds, Gas or Bloating, Haemorrhoids, Headaches, IBS, Inability to loose weight, Insomnia, Irritability, Lower Back Pain, Menstrual problems, Persistent tiredness, Poor concentration, Skin Rashes …".
1. Bracknell Forest Trading Standards department challenged whether colon hydrotherapy had an effect on the ailments listed.
2. The ASA challenged the failure of the ad to encourage consumers to take independent medical advice before undergoing a physically invasive treatment.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
1. Ultimate Balance said they were a very well-respected clinic that employed only trained practitioners and used the highest standard equipment to ensure safety and hygiene. They pointed out that they were fully insured and members of the Complementary Medical Association, The British Complementary Medical Association and the International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy (I-ACT). Ultimate Balance said the wording of their ad was not intended to make medicinal claims, whether direct or implied. They asserted that it was difficult for a single clinic or practitioner to supply clinical trials because of the prohibitive cost, but they submitted an article which they believed showed that colon hydrotherapy was proven to be an effective medical service.
2. They explained that their therapist was certified by I-ACT at instructor level and that she had already satisfied I-ACT's requirements at foundation, intermediate and advanced levels. They pointed out that the training involved both theory and extensive practical training carried out by an I-ACT certified instructor. They explained that the only part of the process that was physically invasive was the insertion of the speculum, a thin plastic tube, approximately three inches into the anal canal to provide connections to the water and waste tubes.
The ASA noted the article supplied was from the Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine, by Morten Walker DPM. We noted in the article various medical or naturopathic doctors had described specific cases which they believed had been helped by colonic hydrotherapy, such as chronic constipation, IBS and bloating. We also noted many of the symptoms listed in the ad were quoted by Arthur Brawer MD, a rheumatologist, as disease indications that responded well to colon hydrotherapy. We understood that colonic hydrotherapy was similar to an enema and, as such, would evacuate the bowel and relieve constipation. We therefore accepted that colonic hydrotherapy could be used to relieve occasional constipation, but were concerned that the reference to using colon hydrotherapy to treat arthritis and menstrual problems could discourage consumers from seeking essential treatment for serious or prolonged conditions. We considered that the substantiation submitted, being mostly anecdotal in nature, was not robust enough to justify the claim to alleviate symptoms of the other ailments listed. Because of that, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness), 50.1 and 50.3 (Health & beauty products and therapies - General).
We noted Ultimate Balance's therapists were certified by I-ACT, an organisation based in the United States of America. We acknowledged that Ultimate Balance had provided full details about colon hydrotherapy and the training of their staff, but we nevertheless considered that, because the therapy was physically invasive, the ad breached the Code by not encouraging consumers to seek independent medical advice prior to commitment to the procedure.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clause 50.6 (Health & beauty products and therapies - General).
We told Ultimate Balance not to repeat the ad in its current form and advised them to seek help from the CAP Copy Advice team in amending it.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)