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)

What is Colon Hydrotherapy?

This therapy uses enemas or apparatus for the irrigation of the colon and is described as a treatment to aid the evacuation of waste from the large intestine. The treatment is also known as colonic irrigation.

What claims are likely to be acceptable?

The ASA has previously accepted that colon hydrotherapy can be used to relieve occasional constipation (The BodyDetox Clinic, 8 August 2007). Claims to treat chronic or serious constipation should be avoided.

What claims are likely to be a problematic?

Marketers wishing to make claims that Colon Hydrotherapy can be used to treat medical conditions are likely to be expected to demonstrate that they hold robust clinical trial evidence. Clinical trial evidence is also likely to be necessary to support claims that the therapy helps to “detox” the body.

In August 2007, the ASA upheld complaints about an ad which implied that colonic irrigation could “detoxify” the body and treat certain conditions. Because the advertiser was unable to provide robust clinical evidence to show that colonic irrigation could detoxify the body and improve bacterial balance in the bowel, the ASA concluded that those claims were not acceptable. It also concluded that evidence had not been submitted to show the therapy could relieve the symptoms of diarrhoea, bloating, haemorrhoids, I.B.S., colitis, flatulence, bad breath, body odour, headaches, fatigue, M.E., eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, acne, joint pain, P.M.T. and water retention (The Body Detox Clinic, 8 August 2007).

In 2011, the ASA investigated content on a marketer’s website which included claims that colonic irrigation could remove toxins, improve skin conditions, improve mental clarity, reduce headaches and improve weight problems. Because the advertiser had not provided evidence to substantiate those efficacy claims, the ASA ruled that they were misleading (Optimum Health UK, 19 October 2011).

More recently in 2021, the ASA upheld complaints about a website which made unsubstantiated claims that colon hydrotherapy could help with IBS (The Detox Clinic Ltd, 10 February 2021)

See: CAP Advice on Detoxing: General and CAP Guidance on Substantiation for health, beauty and slimming claims.

What about referencing conditions for which medical supervision should be sought?

Claims to offer treatment on conditions for which medical supervision should be sought are likely to be considered to discourage essential treatment unless that treatment is carried out under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional (12.2)

In 2012, the ASA concluded that an ad for a colonic irrigation clinic which referenced conditions that should have be carried out under supervision of a suitably qualified health professional, may have discouraged essential treatment (Ultra Dissolve Clinic, 7 November 2012).

See CAP Guidance on referencing medical conditions in ads for health, beauty and slimming products and services.

Is colon hydrotherapy considered to be an invasive treatment?

Marketers should be aware that the Code requires them to encourage consumers to take independent medical advice before committing themselves to significant treatments, including those that are physically invasive (12.3). CAP considers that, because colon hydrotherapy is physically invasive, marketers should advise consumers to seek independent medical advice before they commit themselves to treatment.

The Code does not specifically require that every ad for a physically invasive treatment must include this consumer advice but depending on context; the ASA may consider it necessary to include it to ensure consumers are aware of any risks associated with the treatment (Ultimate Balance Ltd, 29 September 2007).

Depending on the way in which the treatment is referenced, the ASA may consider it acceptable for the marketer to be able to demonstrate that this advice is given to consumers, prior to consent to treatment is given.

Guidance on Health Therapies and Evidence QA (Sept 2011)

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