Summary of council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both were Upheld.
A website and leaflet for Body Resonance, seen on 2 October 2018:
a. The website bodyresonance.co.uk, included on its home page a subheading “Helping with…” with text underneath that stated “This is a holistic approach, rather than just targeting a symptom, our aim is not to supress or mask a symptom but remove the cause. Bioresonance can help diagnose and relieve many painful and debilitating conditions”. Underneath that were six picture boxes with text underneath each which stated respectively “Allergies”, “Weight loss”, “Skin Conditions”, “Serious Illness”, “Intestinal Disorders” and “Parasites". Under the category “Allergies”, the following conditions were included: itching, rash, stomach pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, itchy eyes, sneezing to asthma attacks and allergic shock. Under the category “Skin Conditions” the following conditions were included: neurodermatitis and chronic eczema. Under the category “Intestinal Disorders” the following conditions were stated: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Under the category “Parasites” the following condition was stated: Lyme Disease. Another section of the website “Testimonials” included claims from clients. One testimonial stated “The Bio Resonance machine diagnosed me with a severe Candida overgrowth in my gut, amongst a few other things! I was advised to change my diet completely after the machine picked up a few food intolerances. I had treatment sessions with the machine to invert the overgrowth and boost my immunity allowing my body to return to a healed, healthy state”. Another stated “Thank you so much, an underlying heart condition picked up after months getting nowhere with Doctors! Banged me on Blood Pressure medication without finding the cause, with your help I’m now in the system with a cardiologist now listening to me”. At the bottom of the web page under the subheading “Downloads” was a link to “Brochure”. The document, under the subheading “Treatment”, stated “Bio resonance is used for treating conditions such as fatigue, allergies, digestive disorders, insomnia, pain due to arthritis, fibromyalgia, asthma, hay fever and many more. It is particularly successful for treatment and diagnosis of Lyme disease”.
b. On the front of the leaflet, at the top, it stated “Tired of feeling ill?” Beneath that, text stated “The Body Resonance clinic looks at the possible causes for your health issues using our state of the art Bicom Body Scanner. Bio Resonance is a non-invasive gentle therapy that targets the root cause of your condition and helps to rebuild a weakened immune system. The scanner moves through each organ in the body detecting and referring diagnostic information using frequencies emitted by every single cell. These are matched with stored data to allow and assist diagnosis. We can help conditions such as: Allergies, Arthritis, Skin conditions such as Eczema, Smoking addictions, Lyme disease, Digestive and bowel complaints, Fibromyalgia/ Fatigue, Lack of sleep, Hayfever, And so much more …”. Text on the other side of the leaflet stated “Our Bicom Body scanner reads the bodys [sic] electromagnetic frequencies and identifies any harmful pathogens. The scanner can be seen working in front of you as we explain what possible problems are present. We then treat any harmful pathogens that could lead to future illness along with any other complaints you identified to us prior to treatment”.
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the ads discouraged essential treatment for Crohn’s disease, underlying heart conditions, allergic shock, ulcerative colitis, asthma, arthritis and smoking addictions for which medical supervision should be sought; and
2. the claims that Bioresonance could treat and/or diagnose neurodermatitis, chronic eczema, candida, diarrhoea, Lyme disease, digestive and bowel complaints, fibromyalgia/fatigue, hayfever, insomnia and lack of sleep were misleading and could be substantiated.
1. Wayne Hardwick t/a Body Resonance said there was a medically trained person who worked on the clinic, but as they offered a holistic therapy, that person was not required.
2. Body Resonance said that Bioresonance had been successfully used as a treatment for more than 50 years and that it did not require medically certified staff to treat patients. They said all of the research and trials of Bioresonance treatment had been carried out by the machine manufacturer “REGUMED BICOM” in Germany.
Body Resonance provided a review, assessed by one scientist, of 14 Bioresonance studies which included summaries of each study and a score of their quality. They also provided a paper that included five other studies.
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 of or treatment for such conditions unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment was conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. The ads featured the conditions Crohn’s disease, underlying heart conditions, allergic shock, ulcerative colitis, asthma, arthritis and smoking addictions. We considered those conditions were ones where medical supervision should be sought, and therefore advice, diagnosis or treatment needed to be conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified medical professional.
We noted that we had not seen evidence that Bioresonance was provided under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. We considered that in absence of such a professional it could therefore discourage essential medical treatment. For those reasons, we therefore concluded that the claims breached the Code.
On that point ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
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 of or treatment for such conditions unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment is conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. Accurate and responsible general information about such conditions may, however, be offered (see rule 12.11).
Health professionals will be deemed suitably qualified only if they can provide suitable credentials, for example, evidence of: relevant professional expertise or qualifications; systems for regular review of members' skills and competencies and suitable professional indemnity insurance covering all services provided; accreditation by a professional or regulatory body that has systems for dealing with complaints and taking disciplinary action and has registration based on minimum standards for training and qualifications. (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
We considered consumers would understand from ads (a) and (b) that Bioresonance could treat or diagnose neurodermatitis, chronic eczema, candida, diarrhoea, Lyme disease, digestive and bowel complaints, fibromyalgia/fatigue, hayfever, insomnia and lack of sleep. We therefore considered that a suitable body of evidence would be required to support each of the claims.
We considered the paper which briefly reviewed 14 studies, did not appear to have been peer-reviewed and lacked sufficient, if any, detail regarding the methodology, statistical significance or analysis of results that we expected of a robust clinical trial or academic review. Many of the studies in the document were also unrelated to conditions listed in the ad. We therefore considered that it was insufficient to substantiate any of the ads’ claims.
The second paper included five studies about Bioresonance; however, four of the studies were non-human studies and the one human study did not address any of the conditions in the ads. We therefore concluded, in the absence of sufficient evidence, that the claims that Bioresonance could treat those listed health conditions were misleading.
On that point ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation.
Objective claims must be backed by evidence, if relevant consisting of trials conducted on people. Substantiation will be assessed on the basis of the available scientific knowledge.
Medicinal or medical claims and indications may be made for a medicinal product that is licensed by the MHRA, VMD or under the auspices of the EMA, or for a CE-marked medical device. A medicinal claim is a claim that a product or its constituent(s) can be used with a view to making a medical diagnosis or can treat or prevent disease, including an injury, ailment or adverse condition, whether of body or mind, in human beings.
Secondary medicinal claims made for cosmetic products as defined in the appropriate European legislation must be backed by evidence. These are limited to any preventative action of the product and may not include claims to treat disease. (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
We told Wayne Hardwick t/a Body Resonance not to claim or imply that Bioresonance could treat conditions unless they held adequate evidence to demonstrate that was the case. We also told them not to reference conditions for which medical supervision was necessary.