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Health: Homeopathy

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 Health: Therapies (General)

CAP position on Homeopathy

CAP understands that this discipline works on the principle of treating like with like, with the active ingredient often diluted heavily in water. The ASA and CAP have yet to be provided with robust evidence to show that remedies lacking in pharmacologically active molecules can produce clinical effects.

Do not make claims to treat medical conditions unless medically qualified and/or without robust evidence of efficacy

Some homeopaths may be medically qualified and therefore regulated by the General Medical Council. Those who are medically qualified may make claims about treating conditions but would need to make clear that efficacy is due only to conventional treatments unless they hold robust clinical evidence to support claims of efficacy for individual homeopathic treatments.

Those practitioners who are not medically qualified should not refer to serious medical conditions (Steve Scrutton Homeopathy, 18 September 2013; Society of Homeopaths, 3 July 2013; Dr Batras Positive Health Clinic (UK) Ltd, 27 April 2011).

However, where practitioners are registered with a body that has appropriate accreditation in place, such as that provided by the Professional Standards Authority Voluntary Register Scheme, it seems likely that the ASA will consider such credentials to be appropriate evidence of suitable qualification for the purposes of CAP Code rule 12.2.  This does not absolve marketers of their obligation to hold robust evidence to support efficacy claims.

In July 2007 the General Media Panel considered the application of rule 12.3. It concluded that complementary and alternative therapy practitioners offering significant or invasive treatments should encourage consumers to take independent medical advice before committing themselves to the treatment.

Use broad claims about homeopathy.

Claims describing a therapy session such as “Homeopathy is a holistic approach” and “practitioners work closely with their clients” are likely to be acceptable, as are more general statements that some clients consider homeopathy to be comforting, calming or soothing. Claims describing the popularity of homeopathy are also likely to be acceptable so long as they can be supported by evidence (Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century, 3 July 2013).

The Guidance for Advertisers of Homeopathic Services gives further examples of claims about homeopathy that are likely to be acceptable.

Avoid direct or implied efficacy claims in testimonials

If a testimonial includes direct or indirect efficacy claims, then this will be subject to the same rules as any other claim. In other words, where efficacy has not been established, a testimonial should not be used to imply that it has. Patient testimonials alone are unlikely to substantiate objective claims about the efficacy of a product or therapy.

See ‘Medicines: Homeopathic Medicines’.

Updated 25 April 2016

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