Manaki Wellbeing Livingsocial Website Advertisement
Meeting 7 December 2011
Complainant: M. Edmonds
Advertisement: Manaki Wellbeing
Complaint: The website advertisement for Manaki Wellbeing appeared on the Living Social website (http://www.livingsocial). It had a picture of Auckland in the background and a picture of a woman with her face to the sun. The accompanying text stated, in part:
Hour-Long Body Detox and Oxygen Wellbeing
The Detox Biocleanse involves plunging your tired feet into a warm foot bath. A special field enhancer unit ionizes the water, charging your cells as the blood passes through your feet and stimulating the body's natural cleansing processes."
Complainant, M. Edmonds, said:
This advertisement makes unproven and incorrect claims about its treatments. Specifically the suggestion that "A special field enhancer unit ionises the water, charging your cells as the blood passes through your feet and stimulating the body's natural cleansing processes" is scientifically absurd. Ionised water cannot "charge cells."
The Chairman ruled that the following provisions were relevant:
Therapeutic Services Advertising Code
Principle 3 - Advertisements should not by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim mislead or deceive or be likely to mislead or deceive consumers, abuse the trust of or exploit the lack of knowledge of consumers, exploit the superstitious or without justifiable reason play on fear.
Guideline 3(a) - Therapeutic claims should be factual and able to be proved.
The Advertiser, Manaki Wellbeing, said:
There has been a difference of opinion as to what ionisation can do. Like any scientific matter, this poses problems for people to understand the process of ionisation and how it can impart energy to the cell. People with chemistry degrees will understand the process and know how the energy from ionisation can impart energy to the cell therefore helping cellular function to improve. We do not believe we have breached any therapeutic claim at this time.
Here is a conclusion of ionisation in a more exact form:
Electrolysis of water breaks the water molecule into H- and OH+. Some of those ions can recombine, but they are being produced at a rate which allows many of the negative ions to be absorbed through the skin by the process of osmosis. This is proven because bodily fluids do register as more alkaline after people use these units. These negative ions are, by definition, alkaline. Once in the body, they do negate free radicals and positive ions, which are acidic, by donating the extra electron that they carry. When they make it to the cellular level, they are used in the mitochondria to produce ATP, which is required for energy to carry out cellular activity. So, the ions help provide the energy for cells to perform their intended functions. One of the cells' intended functions is to eliminate waste. Many people who are sick are very acidic. Cancer requires an acidic environment to survive. By negating much of the acidity and creating a more neutral pH, the ions help to create a more healthy terrain within the body.
The companies in this industry do not have the money to spend for your double blinded, peer reviewed studies that pharmaceutical companies can easily afford. However, many studies were conducted on ionized air and its benefits, mainly by Russian and Israeli scientists in the 60's and 70's. The Russian Olympic teams had air ionizers in their Olympic quarters. Israeli scientists did studies using ionized air to treat seasonal depression. Their studies showed that air ionization helped with the depression tremendously. Seratonin levels were changed when patients were exposed to the ionization. There have been studies on the external application of ionized water on burns and other wounds. The studies showed that the ionized water definately accelerated the healing, usually by at least 50%.
The footbath supplements negative ions in a more efficient way than air ionization or bathing. By using the feet, we can ionize a small body of water and create a high concentration of ions, which makes for easier transfer by osmosis. Also, most people use the unit for 20-30 minutes, which is plenty of time for all of the blood in the body to make a complete circuit and be exposed to the ionization.
The Complaints Board carefully read all correspondence in relation to the complaint, and viewed a copy of the website advertisement. It noted that, in the Complainant's view, the advertisement made incorrect and unsubstantiated claims about the effect of ionised water on the body.
The Chairman directed the Complaints Board to consider the complaint with reference to Principles 3 and Guideline 3(a) of the Therapeutic Services Advertising Code. Accordingly, the task before the Complaints Board was to determine whether the advertisement would be likely to mislead the consumers, thereby breaching Principle 3, while Guideline 3(a) required the Complaints Board to assess whether any therapeutic claims made in the advertisement were factual and able to be proved.
The Complaints Board noted that the Advertiser had supplied an article from a magazine about the efficacy of air ionisers and also some abstracts of various studies. While the Complaints Board said that a magazine article did not constitute an academic study, it also noted that none of the abstracts cited the authors of the studies, the year they were published, where to find the full articles, or the journals in which the articles were published and, as such, the Complaints Board said there was no way to authenticate the studies provided.
In the absence of any adequate substantiation provided by the Advertiser coupled with the level of claims being made, the Complaints Board considered that the advertisement was misleading, and the claims in the advertisement had not been proved to its satisfaction.
Therefore for these reasons, the Complaints Board was unanimous in the view that the advertisement was in breach of Principle 3, and Guideline 3(a) of the Therapeutic Services Advertising Code.
Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled to uphold the complaint.
Finally, the Complaints Board noted that the Therapeutic Advertising Pre-Vetting Service (TAPS) was a user-pays service available to all advertisers making therapeutic claims to help minimise the risk of breaching the ASA Codes of Practice as well as other industry codes and relevant legislation. Information about TAPS is available at http://www.anza.co.nz. It was recommended that therapeutic advertisements use the TAPS process to help with code compliance.
Decision: Complaint Upheld