Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

This section should be read in conjunction with the entry on Health: Therapies (General)

CAP understand that the Bowen Technique uses pressure to mobilise soft tissue.

What claims are likely to be acceptable?

CAP accepts that marketers can make claims about relieving stress or anxiety and helping relaxation.

In August 2012, the ASA investigated claims that the technique could increase flexibility and improve movement. Although it rejected some claims, the ASA accepted that the Bowen technique could improve flexibility, in the short term, of hamstring muscles in healthy, fit adults aged 18-50 years with no musculoskeletal symptoms. (The Bowen Consultancy, 22 August 2012).

What claims are likely to be problematic?

The ASA and CAP have yet to see convincing evidence that the technique can improve flexibility in individuals in the long term or can help with those with musculoskeletal symptoms. As such, this type of claim would need to be supported by robust clinical evidence (rule 12.1).

In 2012, the ASA ruled on an ad that made claims that the Bowen technique could help with conditions such as back-ache and neck pain, knee problems, sports injuries, RSI, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow and respiratory ailments. Conditions such as chronic fatigue, hay fever, headaches, kidney problems, infant colic and ailments requiring lymphatic drainage. In that case, the ASA ruled that the submitted evidence was not sufficiently robust to support the treatment claims (Howard Bult, 8 February 2012).

What about conditions for which medical supervision should be sought?

Advertising claims to treat conditions for which medical supervision should be sought are likely to be considered to discourage essential medical treatment, unless the treatment is carried out under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional (Rule 12.2).

Guidance on substantiation for health, beauty and slimming claims.

Guidance on the reference to medical conditions in ads for health, beauty and slimming products.


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