ASA rules against Herbalveda's 'traditional medicine' health claims

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

Herbalveda has said it was acceptable to call garlic medicinal because it has traditionally been used for that purpose
Herbalveda has said it was acceptable to call garlic medicinal because it has traditionally been used for that purpose

Related tags: Nutrition

Health claims made by supplement retailer Herbalveda for Himalayan garlic, bitter apricot kernels and gudmar leaves are unsubstantiated and must be removed, says the UK Advertising Standards Agency (ASA).

The claims appeared on the webpages for three Herbalveda products: Single Seed Himalayan Garlic, Himalayan Bitter Apricot Kernels (Prunus armeniaca​) and Gudmar Leaves (Gymnema Sylvestris​).

Herbalveda said that garlic was a traditional remedy and it was therefore acceptable to call it medicinal because it had been used for medicinal purposes.

The ASA ruled that the advert must not appear in its current form, and Herbalveda has changed the wording of the adverts following the complaint.

Good Thinking

The challenge was made by the association Good Thinking, whose stated goal was to “encourage curiosity and promote rational thinking​” and “highlight quackery”.

Good Thinking questioned whether the health claims made by all three products were in breach of the code. It also questioned whether Herbalveda’s claim that honey infused with Himalayan kernels and garlic transformed it into “a medicated honey, good for Coughs, Cold, & Flu”​ could be substantiated.

Other challenged claims appearing on Herbalveda’s website included: "Gudmar is a very useful herb for patients suffering from diabetes. The meaning of Gud is Jaggery, sugar and mar means to kill or destroy. It is used to destroy sugar hence useful in diabetes​" and "Himalayan Garlic has Anti-Viral, Anti Bacterial & Anti Microbial properties".

Complaint upheld

According to the ASA: “Herbalveda should have been in a position to provide evidence in support of those claims. In the absence of robust documentary evidence (…) we considered the claims had not been substantiated and that the ad breached the Code.”

ASA also considered Herbalveda’s claim that Himalayan apricot kernels contained high levels of vitamin B17 compared to other apricot kernels to be an unsubstantiated comparative nutrition claim.

In compliance with European Commission regulation on Nutrition and Health Claims made on Foods, only authorised health claims which appeared on the EU register may be used in adverts promoting foods. The EC defines health claims as being either stated, suggested or having an implied relationship between health and a specific food or ingredient. 

Since 2010, over 2000 botanical health claims have been 'on hold' as the Commission reconsiders the scientific criteria for their authorisation.

Related topics: Regulation & Policy

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1 comment

politics, propaganda and education

Posted by mithayaj,

this seems no different from the politics that cannabis faces for it's medicinal properties.

I find it strange that the ASA considers the claims of garlic to have healing properties, unsubstantiated.... especially when, during the world wars, garlic was used (by the British) precisely for it's healing properties.

i have seen how the 'news' considers coconut oil bad, at one moment, and a cure all, in another. But to notice the link with the sale and 'benefits' of palm oil... it's hard not to see the politics, the finances and the marketing linked with the control of the steering of our habits to choose consumption of one item and not the other. (Vit. B-17 included)

if someone trusts articles like this, the ASA, the EC, the FDA or bodies that have been deceptive to our interests, then the 'education' we receive through their authority, feels nothing more than propaganda for corporate gain.

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