Un­healthy claims ex­posed

DOC­TORS AGAINST QUACK­ERY: AL­TER­NA­TIVE BRANDS’ UN­DUE CLAIMS

The Citizen (KZN) - - News - Simnikiwe Hlat­sha­neni

Com­plaint to ad­ver­tis­ing reg­u­la­tor says Im­mu­nadue’s ad claims are false, un­sci­en­tific.

De­spite the strides made in leg­is­la­tion pro­tect­ing con­sumers against bo­gus herbal mir­a­cle cures and other quack­ery, one can still find any num­ber of prod­ucts claim­ing to treat life-threat­en­ing ill­nesses.

Freely avail­able on­line and lin­ing the shelves of big-name phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal re­tail­ers, some of these health brands claim their prod­ucts cure dis­eases such as di­a­betes and heart disease.

What irks Dr Harris Stein­man, a long-time public op­po­nent of health sup­ple­ment scams, is that this in­dus­try is only get­ting big­ger and the ac­tions of its op­er­a­tors more ne­far­i­ous.

Stein­man, who ed­its quack­ery de­bunk­ing web­site CAMCheck, raised the alarm on a brand which has re­peat­edly been on his web­site, its sup­ple­ments sup­pos­edly be­ing the key to ward­ing off such ail­ments as arthri­tis.

Sup­ple­ment brand Im­mu­nadue has bumped heads with the Ad­ver­tis­ing Stan­dards Au­thor­ity – which, in 2016, ruled against a ra­dio ad­ver­tise­ment in which it made bold state­ments about health sci­ence and its prod­ucts.

The mul­ti­vi­ta­min-maker is one of the more suc­cess­ful of hun­dreds of South African com­pa­nies that jumped on the “op­ti­mal body pH level” band­wagon.

It told its au­di­ence in the 2016 com­mer­cial the op­ti­mal pH for the hu­man body was 7.2 and its pills would as­sist to achieve this state.

It also claimed a lower or higher pH made peo­ple vul­ner­a­ble to dis­eases such as cancer, arthri­tis and di­a­betes.

The com­plainant, Dr Arial Eyal, con­tended that Im­mu­nadue made false claims in the ad­vert, in­clud­ing that the prod­uct would nor­malise the body’s pH lev­els.

He said the com­pany in­cor­rectly quoted the op­ti­mal pH level and men­tioned that the prod­uct had been clin­i­cally proven, all of which was un­true and con­tra­dicted by med­i­cal jour­nals, ac­cord­ing to Eyal.

The ASA ruled that the claims made in the ad­ver­tise­ment were cur­rently un­sub­stan­ti­ated and up­held the com­plaint.

But the founder and di­rec­tor of Im­mu­nadue, Schalk Mul­der, in­sists his prod­uct is no snake oil, and swears his cus­tomers would at­test to the nu­mer­ous health ben­e­fits of his sup­ple­ments.

“If you have got clin­i­cal tri­als on the raw ma­te­rial of your prod­uct say­ing that it can help with di­a­betes, stress and so forth – and there are a lot of prod­ucts which are ex­tracted from the same ac­tive ingredient patented by all of these firms to help with di­a­betes and so forth, then ac­cord­ing to me, it’s not a false claim,” says Mul­der.

“We have clin­i­cal stud­ies that say it does work and we have been on the mar­ket for 18 years.

“We have so many tes­ti­mo­ni­als from sat­is­fied clients who say our prod­uct does work.”

Stein­man, a lauded con­sumer rights ac­tivist in the health in­dus­try, says com­pa­nies that claim their prod­ucts treat mul­ti­ple ill­nesses are largely un­scrupu­lous and mis­lead­ing in their word­ing.

Af­ter pe­rus­ing Im­mu­nadue’s claims on its web­site, Stein­man con­cluded that none of the claims made about this prod­uct’s health ben­e­fits could be true, and he added the pills could even be dan­ger­ous.

“They ap­pear to mak­ing the claims based on the in­gre­di­ents be­ing ‘herbal’ and some hav­ing ‘tra­di­tional use’, but there is no ro­bust ev­i­dence that any of these in­gre­di­ents to­gether have any of the claimed ef­fects.

“There is some pre­lim­i­nary ev­i­dence for or against some of the in­gre­di­ents, but based in cell cul­tures and not proven in hu­mans.

“One has to prove that the com­bi­na­tion of in­gre­di­ents work and that the dosages are cor­rect. Also, that they are safe.

“For ex­am­ple, African wild potato prod­ucts have been as­so­ci­ated with de­creased pro­duc­tion of blood cells and ir­reg­u­lar heartbeat.

“It may in­ter­fere with the ef­fec­tive­ness of other drugs or sup­ple­ments, such as an­tiretro­vi­ral drugs.” – simniki­[email protected]­i­zen. co.za

Pic­tures: Sup­plied

CURE-ALL? From rheuma­toid arthri­tis to di­a­betes or even de­pres­sion, there is ap­par­ently noth­ing which Im­mu­nadue can’t be used for, ac­cord­ing to the claims made on its so­cial me­dia pages.

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