Sunday, 14 May 2017

Homeopathy and Autism - Ireland - Part Two

The previous post outlined the legislation and regulations that limit the marketing claims that Irish lay homeopaths can make as well as highlighting issues regarding competence. It may be helpful to read this post that explains the various therapies used by UK lay homeopaths in their "treatment" of ASD.

As per what could be considered the "name and shame" post on UK lay homeopaths marketing "treatment", the fault not lies not so much with the individuals but rather a regulatory system that seems not to be functioning. The problem with regulation that is notionally non-permissive and a regulator that behaves in a permissive way is that the regulator can change its behaviour, especially if it put under scrutiny.

Irish Homeopaths who make claims about Autism
This is not an exhaustive list. 

Carmel O'Keeffe claims to be a CEASE therapist and whilst does not link to the CEASE therapy website makes many claims for it. O'Keeffe repeats the debunked theories of ASD causation and applies them more widely and also offers phone or Skype consultation. The testimonials page is problematic.

SinĂ©ad Hurley claims to be a CEASE therapist and does link to the CEASE therapy website. Hurley makes metntion of Gardasil which is of concern in the current Irish climate. Bogus claims are made about all manner of issues. Something else of concern is placenta encapsulation. Whilst it may make some queasy, properly done it should pose no health risks but it also offers no health benefits. The idea that homeopathic placenta remedies offer any benefit is dubious to say the least. It is not clear what Irish legislation has to say about ingestion of placental products but it is unlikely to be permissive.

Carolina Manthei claims to be a CEASE therapist but does not link to the CEASE therapy website.

Paula Seth seems to run a clinic with her husband Gideon who is an osteopath. Seth has a MSc in Homeopathy from the University of Central Lancashire. This is a rarity. She also has qualifications in psychotherapy and has an interest in eating disorders. Seth claims to be a CEASE therapist and links to the CEASE therapy website. Her page on CEASE makes a number of claims that can not be substantiated as well as linking to dubious research and publications.

Geraldine Walsh offers Reiki and Shamanic therapy in addition to homeopathy. To be fair, the website feels, in some ways, very New Age/Pagan especially this. Walsh claims to offer CEASE therapy but does not link to the CEASE therapy website.

Maura Duignan offers CEASE therapy and links to the CEASE therapy website.

Elisabeth Cussen offers CEASE therapy and links to the CEASE therapy website. Cussen also lists the diseases that homeopathy can "help" with. There are items on fertility and cancer "support" that are also worrying. Cussen also suggests that homeopathy can treat erectile dysfunction.

Clare Adams claims to be a CEASE therapist but does not link to the CEASE therapy website.

Kelly CS Johnson offers telephone consultations but much more alarmingly offers homeoprophylaxis. The Irish Society of Homeopaths (ISoH) do not seem to have a position on vaccination. It is clear that Johnson is anti-vaccination and has been seen to promote the VAXXED film in various places.

Sinead Prendergast claims to be a CEASE therapist but does not link to the CEASE therapy website. The claim to treat ASD is clearly made.

Niki Taylor and Sarah Jane Hewitt both claim to be CEASE therapists. Hewitt offers Skype and telephone consultation.

Eileen Scullion claims to be a CEASE therapist but does not link to the CEASE therapy website.

The ISoH should probably consider issuing a position statement on vaccination. Most would regard advising parents not to vaccinate as unethical and that would also apply to providing unbalanced information.

In light of the landmark ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI), the ISoH would be well advised to issue marketing guidance to members. The ruling has caught the attention of the media and it is possible that some will be inspired to make more complaints to the ASAI.

The ASAI recently ruled about promotion by Almond Homeopathy that appeared on Facebook. Whilst the offending text/link may have been removed, it is clear that the Facebook page is in multiple breach of ASAI regulations and Irish consumer protection law. The original complaint was -
The complainant objected to the claim that the advertiser could alleviate the symptoms of Autism. The complainant noted that the blog linked to from the post contained a case history of a patient but there was no mention of the advertiser being authorised to do so. The complainant considered that the advertiser was not professionally qualified to treat such a condition.
Whilst making a very specific complaint does allow the ASAI to easily adjudicate, it does not ensure overall compliance. The response by the advertiser is interesting in some ways -
The advertiser stated that she was a qualified homeopath and was registered with the Irish Society of Homeopaths. 
She said that she did not diagnose conditions, nor did she claim to do so as this was not what she was trained to do. She said that people come to her with a set of symptoms and she uses the symptoms to determine what remedy may help them best. She said that she treats the person not their condition or disease and that she did not claim to be able to cure anything or anyone. She said that she used previous cases to illustrate what symptoms and struggles can be helped. 
In regards to the cases on her blog, she said that she has permission for every one she shares and that she changes the name for each case. Finally she said that when advertising on Facebook she sets the target audience to over 18’s and she does not advertise to young people.
These could be taken as "weasel words". "set of symptoms" vs "treats the person" for one thing. Claims of improvement? The ASAI's conclusion was - 
Complaint Upheld 
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee, whilst noting the advertisers’ comments that she was a qualified and licensed homeopath and that she was registered with the Irish Society of Homeopaths, were aware from a previous case (26082) that the Department of Health had confirmed that there was no statutory regulation of complementary therapists. 
The Committee also noted the advertiser’s response that she was ‘treating’ the person and not the condition, however, they considered that the wording of her post and the heading of the blog post would give readers the impression that she could treat the symptoms of Autism. 
In the light of the above the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 11.1, 11.9 and 11.10 of the Code. 
ACTION REQUIRED: The advertising must not reappear in its current format again.
Unfortunately, there is still much content that could be understood as giving the impression of treating ASD.

The identity of the complainant is unknown. Which is not a problem but it would be interesting to know if the complainant also contacted the ISoH. In theory, complaints should be made first to the ISoH before the ASAI.  

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