Such a pretty tincture

I’ve been remembering the tinctures – the tiny little tinctures that Prince Charles used to sell for £10 the 50 ml bottle. He doesn’t sell them any more because the regulators told him to stop pretending they had medicinal value.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint over the online advertising, for a range of organic products, including Duchy Herbals Echina-Relief Tincture and Duchy Herbals Hyperi-Lift Tincture saying the product had no “scientifically proven benefits for treating colds and low moods”.

The advert for the products, which are sold for £10 for 50ml in some Boots and Waitrose stores, claimed “If you haven’t managed to escape the winter sniffles, look no further than our new Echina-Relief Tincture, which offers natural relief from cold and flu symptoms … Our Echinacea, Hypericum and Detox Tinctures provide alternative and natural ways of treating common ailments such as colds, low moods and digestive discomfort …”.

The regulator found that the Duchy Originals advert breached the code in four areas including substantiation, truthfulness and medicinal claims.

The ASA ruling said: “We noted that it was intended that the Detox Tincture was presented as a food supplement that could help eliminate toxins and aid digestion. We considered however that the claim that it could “treat … digestive discomfort” implied that Detox Tincture had scientifically proven benefits. Because we had seen no evidence for the efficacy of Detox Tincture, we concluded that the ad was misleading”.

The watchdog said the advertisement must not appear again in its current form.

There’s no such thing as “detox” except for addictions. Those things labeled “detox” in the health food stores might as well be labeled “bullshit.” It sounds helpful though, so people buy it.


  1. RJW says

    @1 martin cohen,

    Yes, indeed, monarchy and homeopathy have much in common, they’re both unnecessary, expensive, an insult to intelligence and a complete pain in the arse.

  2. Blanche Quizno says

    My brother-in-law is an oncologist. I was talking with him once about these fasts and “cleanses” that seem to be popular among a certain woo-leaning set. They claim that it “removes toxins.” I was calling bullshit.

    What my b-i-l told me was that, with regard to fasting, it’s been well studied in cancer patients. So often, they waste. Chemotherapy makes them ill and they don’t eat. So there are all these people, involuntarily fasting in a hospital setting where it would be very easy to detect anything that was flushing out of their systems, since they were already monitoring and testing their bodily fluids. So what did they find?

    Nothing. Just normal eliminations, just as anytime. No toxins, no malignant cells, no heavy metals were being shed through the eliminations. Nothing at all out of the ordinary. Fasting has no effect on what’s already in your body; the same with these “cleanses.” Nothing’s “flushing” out except their money. It’s just gullible people being taken in by charlatans. Like we see so often in so many different contexts.

  3. Katydid says

    The only benefit a “cleanse” gives is that forbids alcohol and highly-processed foods. So, instead of having a 700-calorie mocha-chocha-frou-frou-latte and a donut for breakfast, the person doing the cleanse is drinking hot vinegar (or whatever the cleanse demands). Instead of going to Happy Hour and binge-drinking, the person stays home and has a cup of clear broth (or whatever the cleanse demands). Nobody needs junk food and alcohol in their diet, and sensible people can just stop ingesting that stuff while still eating a balanced diet. However, when the “cleanse” is over, most people just go back to the non-optimal foods anyway.

  4. Trebuchet says

    What makes me sad about this story is that in the UK, they have done something about this, while here in the USA there’s no Advertising Standards Authority and the FAA’s hands are tied by law from regulating useless health products like herbals and homeopathy.

  5. johnthedrunkard says

    I THINK one can legitimately ‘detox’ from heavy metal poisoning? Certainly the Chelation Therapy quacks love to extrapolate from that notion.

  6. Kevin Kehres says

    @5 Trebuchet

    Actually, the Federal Trade Commission does have authority with regard to false advertisements.

    The FDA is indeed prohibited from regulating the supplements industry. But that doesn’t mean the industry can make false claims in advertising.

    HOWEVER, what you’ll hear in the advertisements is that Product X “supports heart health” or whatever. It’s a meaningless claim with zero actual scientific value. Which is why they use the term to skirt the laws. You can actually make a drinking game of it…every time you hear the word “supports”, take a drink and add that product to the list of worthless things you can avoid buying.

    A while back, when the major study on lack of benefits of multivitamins came out, an ad appeared on TV for a little while. The middle-aged guy said something to the effect that he was “proud” that his brand of vitamin was the one used in the major clinical study. Never mind the fact that the study itself showed that multivitamins were useless — that little fact never came out.

    The smart marketing people and lawyers and lobbyists in the supplements industry work to the very, very, very, very edge. And there is not enough caveat among the emptores to make a difference. But that doesn’t mean there are no laws at all.

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