Advertising Standards Authority Adjudication
15 August 2001
The International Reiki and Healing Centre
10 Beach Houses
Objection to a brochure and exhibition leaflet that offered training courses in Reiki, a method of healing using spiritual and life-force energies. They claimed "Learn REIKI with the Honorary President and HIGHLY HONOURED TEACHER OF TWO JAPANESE REIKI ORGANISATIONS. REIKI MASTER SENSEI DR ALLAN SWEENEY Phd (AM) ... was greatly honoured by being invited to be the Honorary President Of Japan's Reiki Oneness World Network." In a box titled "HEALING MASTERSHIP TRAINING 3" the advertisement claimed "HEALING MASTERSHIP! CURES! Eg most bad emotions of past cured within 15 mins. Learn Japanese ho & how to heal depression, cancer, emotions, ME, migraine ... schizophrenia, bones, auric knots, lost spirits, asthma ...". The complainant objected:
- to the reference to cures in conjunction with cancer; and
- that the use of the word "Dr" implied Allan Sweeney had medical training
The Authority challenged:
- the reference to serious conditions; and
- the efficacy of the treatment.
Codes section: 3.1, 7.1, 50.1, 50.3
The advertisers explained that they taught spiritual healing, meditation, psi-healing, therapeutic touch, visualisation and other healing methods.
1. Complaint upheld
The advertisers said that, because cancer was a life-threatening illness, they had compiled much evidence to support their claim. They said they adhered to the Cancer Act and had not meant to imply that Reiki could cure cancer. The advertisers supplied anecdotal evidence of one cancer sufferer's response to healing and extracts of studies from books and the Internet. The Authority considered that the use of the word "cure" in the heading implied that the conditions listed underneath it, including cancer, could be cured. It was concerned that the advertisement implied Reiki could cure cancer. The Authority asked the advertisers to delete references to cancer from future advertisements and suggested that the advertisers take legal advice about the Cancer Act before placing similar advertisements.
2. Complaint upheld
The advertisers said Allan Sweeney was a Doctor of Philosophy in Alternative Medicine and provided a certificate that showed he had completed a course in that subject from the Indian Board of Alternative Medicines. The Authority was concerned that, in the context of the advertisement, the use of the title "Dr" implied that Allan Sweeney was medically trained. It understood that the course had been completed in a year and considered that it neither represented a doctorate, a course that typically took 3 years to complete, nor was related to medical training. The Authority asked the advertisers to delete the claim from future advertisements.
The advertisers believed their advertisement did not claim to cure the serious conditions listed. They said they worked alongside doctors and would not recommend that sufferers of serious medical conditions should depend solely on Reiki to treat their condition. The advertisers, nevertheless, provided anecdotal evidence of their patients' experiences, a video of a television appearance, documents on the history of Reiki, documents from their Reiki practice, information about the doctor-healer network and extracts of studies from books and the Internet including medical professional articles and studies carried out in doctors' surgeries. They believed the evidence showed Reiki could heal the conditions listed. The Authority noted the code of practice written by the advertisers emphasised the importance of working with doctors. It was concerned, however, that the advertisers had referred to depression, cancer, ME and schizophrenia and considered that the use of the word "cure" in the heading implied that the conditions listed underneath it could be cured. It asked the advertisers to delete claims referring to serious conditions from future advertisements.
The advertisers provided evidence of anecdotal experiences and excerpts of studies from books and the Internet. They believed the evidence showed Reiki could heal the medical problems listed in the advertisement. The Authority considered that the evidence was insufficient to support the efficacy of the treatment. It asked the advertisers to amend their future advertisements with the help of the Committee of Advertising Practice Copy Advice team.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)
Advertising Standards Authority,
Mid City Place, 71 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6QT, United Kingdom
This article was posted on April 12, 2009.