The Salt Cave aren’t letting the Advertising Standards Authority grind them down.
A ruling earlier this year was brushed off, leaving their website still peppered with dodgy health claims. Although the adjudication had led to a brackish article in the Daily Mail, the Salt Cave are now sending out eyewateringly implausible press releases in the hope of some rather more savoury press.
Seasoned quacks just love Awareness Days. If their promotional material is regurgitated in the press it’s not just great publicity, but also puts the misleading and unsubstantiated health claims beyond the reach of the ASA.
Should you wish to raise your own awareness of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), I suggest you look here. The Salt Cave’s press release for World COPD Day is here but needs to be taken with a large pinch of sodium chloride.
I give you a sprinkling of quotes to whet your appetite:
It has achieved amazing results! It has allowed COPD sufferers to ‘enjoy life again’, without the hindrance of being constantly out of breath and living in fear of picking up a cold or a chest infection.
A COPD sufferer, Clara Buffong, took part in the project and explains,
“The Salt Cave changed my life. Before I visited the Salt Cave I was on lots of antibiotics and steroids, none of which made me feel much better. I was basically confined to my house, and hated to be around people as my breathing was so noisy. However, this has now changed thanks to salt therapy. I know I will never get completely better, but the Salt Cave lets me live again and manage my illness in a way that I can enjoy my life again. When I walk out of the Salt Cave I feel high on life. I call it my heaven on earth. If salt therapy can work for me it can work for anybody, so I urge all COPD sufferers to give it a go”
Salt therapy can be used to treat: Asthma, Sinusitis, Coughs, Rhinitis, COPD, Bronchiectasis, Hay Fever, Tonsillitis, Viral Infections, Cystic Fibrosis, Eczema, Psoriasis.
The Salt Cave website boasts of over 50 press releases published in the mainstream media.
They also claim that salt therapy is an NHS approved therapy for COPD, but I was unable to find any mention of salt therapy on the NHS Choices page on treating COPD.
In their ruling on 17th April 2013, the ASA noted that the Salt Cave website featured various claims that related to the ability of salt therapy to treat asthma, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, psoriasis, respiratory diseases and tonsillitis.
They considered that those were conditions for which qualified medical supervision should be sought, and noted that the CAP Code stated that marketers must not discourage essential treatment for such conditions by offering treatment for them, unless that treatment was conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional.
They also concluded that the Salt Cave had not substantiated their claims in respect of any of the medical conditions mentioned on their website.
They concluded that the ad (which is currently online) must not appear again, told the Salt Cave to ensure that they did not discourage essential treatment for medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought, and told them to ensure that they held robust evidence to substantiate any other claims.
When questioned about this, Salt Cave manager Grace Hart told the Daily Mail:
There’s always a war between traditional doctors and alternative therapies,’ she says. ‘The medical world is like a Mafia. You can’t patent a natural thing like this, so there’s no money in it for them
She also claimed sitting near her Evaporation Tower of Polish brine can change your positive ions to negative ones, which will make you feel better.
In the city, there are a lot of positive ions — which make you feel anxious, angry and agitated.
Negative ions make you feel refreshed and fantastic.
Professor Edzard Ernst said:
I know of no good scientific evidence about this approach and see no reason why this should be any better than relaxing in any other quiet environment
Which is what I think I need to do right now. Too much salt can raise the blood pressure.