Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
The Facebook page for Nirasha Ramlugan featured a post, dated 24 February 2021, with the caption “This makes me very emotional! Healing is possible. Don’t ever stop believing that you can accomplish anything in life. May [sic] sure that the words we tell ourself [sic] are always positive and constructive. From infertility to conception using Rapid transformational therapy #rttworks and #clinicalhypnotherapy #thesmilingguru #justsimplychange #pregnancy #infertility #maleinfertilitytreatment #conception”. The post included an image with the title “From Infertility to Conception” followed by a testimonial which stated “My partner and I were trying to start a family for 5 ½ years. It was just not happening. I have a problem with PCOS since my teens and my partner had abnormal shaped sperms. So becoming pregnant seemed impossible. It knocked our confidence seeing all our friends starting their families. Although we were very happy for them, we also were sad for us. Nirasha worked with both my partner and I [sic]. We both had our own problems that were affecting our bodies. The RTT session was incredible. She gave us audios to listen to, which was calming but powerful. We listened to it for 4 months, together with tweaking the foods we ate. She also included daily acupressure massages on my hands. We found the letter burning and slashing emotional ties to our younger self an emotional release. I am now 18 weeks pregnant and we are so happy. We still can’t believe it. We feel blessed and grateful to Nirasha for her expertise and therapy. Nakhita & Ray (London)”.
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the ad discouraged essential treatment for a condition for which medical supervision should be sought, namely infertility; and
2. the implied claim that Rapid Transformational Therapy was effective in treating infertility was misleading and could be substantiated.
1. Just Simply Change Ltd t/a Nirasha Ramlugan said she was a PhD student in Integrative and Natural Medicine. She had a diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy and was a Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) practitioner, neuro-linguistic programming & hypnosis master practitioner and reiki master.
She said that she did not discourage anyone from seeking essential treatment for conditions which medical supervision should be sought. She said that she did not offer advice on or diagnose illness, and advised her clients to adhere to medication and advice from their medical professional, and that her therapy was complementary to medical treatment. She provided text from her website and client questionnaire that informed consumers that her therapy was not a replacement for the advice and treatment they received from their medical professional.
She said the Facebook post was a testimonial and not an advert, and that the post was taken out of context as more information was available on her website and social media platforms.
2. She said she used other tools, including clinical hypnotherapy, nutrition, and yoga, alongside RTT to help clients. She said the claim was supported by testimonials.
The CAP Code stated that marketers must not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. For example, they must not offer specific advice on, diagnosis or treatment for such conditions unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment was conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified medical professional.
The ad included several references to infertility, including details of both female and male fertility issues. The ASA considered that was a condition for which medical supervision should be sought. References to infertility were included in both the testimonial and the text accompanying it. We noted that testimonials, when used in marketing communications such as an advertiser’s own social media page, were ads and therefore must comply with the Code.Because Just Simply Change had not supplied evidence that showed that her RTT therapy sessions were conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified medical professional, we concluded that the ad discouraged essential treatment for a condition for which medical supervision should be sought and therefore breached the Code.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 12.2 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
The ad stated “… Healing is possible … From infertility to conception using Rapid transformational therapy #rttworks and #clinicalhypnotherapy #thesmilingguru #justsimplychange #pregnancy #infertility #maleinfertilitytreatment #conception” alongside an image of a testimonial that was titled “From Infertility to Conception”. The testimonial described a couple’s experience of RTT with Nirasha Ramlugan and their journey to getting pregnant after several years of trying to do so. We considered consumers would understand the ad to mean that RTT could treat infertility. We therefore expected to see robust scientific evidence that RTT was a successful treatment for infertility. Testimonials alone were not sufficient to substantiate the claim. Because we had not seen any robust scientific evidence to support the claim that RTT could treat infertility, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
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).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Just Simply Change Ltd t/a Nirasha Ramlugan to ensure that her future ads did not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment was conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. We also told her to not state or imply, including by the use of testimonials, that Rapid Transformational Therapy could treat infertility, unless she held robust scientific evidence.