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Therapies: Colon hydrotherapy

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 ‘Therapies, General’.

This therapy uses enemas or apparatus for the irrigation of the colon and is described as a treatment to aid the evacuation of waste from the large intestine. The treatment is also known as colonic irrigation.

In August 2007, the ASA upheld complaints about an ad that implied colonic irrigation could “detoxify” the body and treat certain conditions. Because the advertisers were able to provide only anecdotal information, not robust clinical evidence, to show that colonic irrigation could detoxify the body and improve bacterial balance in the bowel, the ASA concluded that those claims were not justified (Rule 12.1). It also concluded that, although colonic hydrotherapy could be used to relieve occasional constipation, the advertiser could not show the therapy could relieve the symptoms of: diarrhoea, bloating, haemorrhoids, I.B.S., colitis, flatulence, bad breath, body odour, headaches, fatigue, M.E., eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, acne, joint pain, P.M.T. and water retention (The Body Detox Clinic, 8 August 2007).  In 2011, the ASA investigated claims on a marketer’s website that claimed colonic irrigation was effective to remove toxins, improve skin conditions, improve mental clarity, reduce headaches and improve circulatory, immune system, inflammatory and weight problems.  As the advertiser had not provided evidence to substantiate the efficacy claims made, the ASA ruled that they were misleading (Optimum Health UK, 19 October 2011).

As far as CAP is aware, no trade or regulatory body exists for colon hydrotherapy. CAP is unaware of trial data that proves the efficacy of the treatment. Marketers are probably best advised to offer the treatment on an availability-only platform and should be aware that the Code requires them to encourage consumers to take independent medical advice before committing themselves to significant treatments, including those that are physically invasive (Rule 12.3). CAP considers that, because colon hydrotherapy is physically invasive, marketers should advise consumers to seek independent medical advice; that information does not have to be in the initial ad (Ultimate Balance Ltd, 29 September 2007).

Guidance on Health Therapies and Evidence QA (Sept 2011)

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