Advertising Standards Authority
Adjudication on Allan Sweeney

Date: 20 July 2011


Allan Sweeney t/a The Allan Sweeney International Reiki Healing & Training Centre
5 Beach Houses
Margate
Kent
CT9 5AL

Media: Internet (on own site)
Sector: Health and beauty

Number of complaints: 11
Complaint Ref: A11-156258

Ad

Claims that appeared on 29 March 2011 on reiki-healing.com stated under the sub heading THERAPY AND LEARNING "Heaven-by-the-Sea offers complementary therapies that complement doctors. In GP's surgeries, 71% of chronic patients the doctor could not help were helped by the complementary therapist! So there is a good chance one of our wide range of therapies may also help you! Therapies can be received as a patient or studied as a student. Effective therapies offered include for cancer, ADHD, back pain, migraine, depression, anger, low energy, sleeplessness, ADD, sadness, bereavement, tinnitus and sciatica ..."

Issue

1. The complainant challenged whether the efficacy claims for reiki healing were misleading and could be substantiated.

2. The ASA challenged whether the website discouraged essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.

CAP Code (Edition 12)
1.7 12.1 12.2 3.1 3.7

Response

The Allan Sweeney International Reiki Healing & Training Centre (the ASIRHC) did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.

Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA was concerned by the ASIRHC's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.

We noted the ASIRHC did not provide robust scientific evidence that substantiated its claims that reiki was an effective therapy for cancer, ADHD, back pain, migraine, depression, anger, low energy, sleeplessness, ADD, sadness, bereavement, tinnitus and sciatica. Because we had not seen any such evidence, and we were not aware of any such evidence that would allow Reiki practitioners to make claims that went beyond referring to spiritual or emotional healing, we concluded that the claims were misleading.

The claim breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.7 (Unreasonable delay), 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health related products and beauty products).

2. Upheld

We considered the claim "Effective therapies offered include for cancer, ADHD, back pain, migraine, depression, anger, low energy, sleeplessness, ADD, sadness, bereavement, tinnitus and sciatica..." suggested that reiki was a treatment for those conditions. We considered that cancer, ADHD, depression and ADD were conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. We considered that the claim could discourage patients from seeking essential treatment for those conditions and we therefore concluded that the claim breached the Code.

The claim breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 12.2 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

Action

The website must not appear again in its current form. We told ASIRHC to remove the claim "Effective therapies offered include for cancer, ADHD, back pain, migraine, depression, anger, low energy, sleeplessness, ADD, sadness, bereavement, tinnitus and sciatica..." and not to make efficacy claims for reiki unless they held robust evidence to substantiate them. We referred the matter to CAP's Compliance team.

This article was posted on November 3, 2011.

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