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 Craniosacral Therapy?

CAP understands that Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is based on the principle that by feeling the intrinsic flow of the craniosacral rhythm, the therapist can help relieve any restrictions in the flow of cerebral spinal fluid around the body which may be causing ill health.

What claims are likely to be acceptable?

Marketers may refer to the relaxing, non-invasive nature of the therapy, improving the sense of well-being and referencing the gentle touch of the therapist. Impressionistic and sensory claims such as “encourages a sense of well-being” are also likely to be acceptable.

What claims are likely to be problematic?

To date, neither the ASA nor CAP has seen evidence that CST can improve health or that it can treat or alleviate medical conditions or their associated symptoms. Such claims are therefore unlikely to be acceptable unless the marketer holds a robust body of evidence (12.1).

In 2011, the ASA investigated claims on a marketers website which stated that CST could be used to treat “acute and chronic pain, postural imbalances, injuries and strains, whiplash and sciatica; stress, insomnia, depression, anxiety and trauma; low energy and M.E., recurrent infections, digestive problems; migraines and headaches, menstrual disorders, cystitis, fertility issues; dental and TMJ problems, sinusitis, tonsillitis, ear infections and glue ear; asthma, hyperactivity, autism, epilepsy and learning difficulties; babies’ colic, feeding problems, poor sleep, restlessness and failure to thrive...” . Although it acknowledged that it was the advertiser’s view that consumers interested in CST would interpret treatment claims as subjective claims from a complementary health paradigm, the ASA considered such claims were likely to be viewed by consumers as objective treatment claims and as such, needed to be supported by robust clinical evidence. In the absence of robust evidence, the ASA therefore concluded that the claims had not been substantiated and were therefore misleading (Being in Stillness, 2 November 2011).

What about 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 by a suitably qualified health professional (12.2)

In 2010 the ASA investigated claims that CST could treat conditions including “arthritis, asthma, autism, bronchitis, cerebral palsy, impotence, infertility and stroke”. The ASA considered that because the CST treatment of those conditions was not being carried out under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional, the ad could discourage readers from seeking essential treatment for serious medical conditions from a qualified medical practitioner (Craniosacral Therapy Association, 8 September 2010).

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

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