Clicks – “Adrenal Fatigue” – ASA ruling

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Posted 11 May 2012

Professor F Bonnici (one of South Africa’s best endocrinologists) lodged a consumer complaint against a pamphlet available at the Clicks Pharmacy. The pamphlet contains information about “Adrenal Fatigue”.    Professor Bonnici submitted that the pamphlet misinforms the public about a condition that is not recognised by any health authority in the world. While there are well defined adrenal disorders, “Adrenal Fatigue” is not one of them. He added that he has encountered incidents where people insisted on consulting him in his practice as a specialist endocrinologist, based on the information conveyed in the pamphlet and the resulting self-diagnosis made. While the “treatment” recommended in the advertising is harmless, unrelated to adrenal gland function and ineffective, the fact remains that the information conveyed is untrue and potentially harmful.

Clicks submitted that it has removed all pamphlets related to this subject matter from its clinics, “without any admission of liability”.

Who else in South Africa claims that “adrenal fatigue” is a known condition? Solal, of course (among other). As CamCheck reports, Solal has some very strange conditions and “treatments” not accepted by traditional medicine.

Here are some sites advertising Solal’s Burnout:
http://www.biogenesis-antiaging.com/product_info.php?products_id=205

http://www.solaltech.com/new/shop/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=23

Solal claims: “Adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands, situated above the kidneys, become overworked or damaged, usually from long-term exposure to stress. As a result of being over-worked, they secrete reduced amounts of the adrenal hormones, the main ones being cortisol, aldosterone, pregnenolone, DHEA and adrenaline.

Sorry, this is pure pseudoscience and there is absolutely not a shred of evidence-based science to support this diagnosis.

The Mayo Clinic, one of the best known hospitals through-out the world, and a leading research facility, reports: “Taking vitamins or supplements to treat “adrenal fatigue” may do more harm than good, says Todd Nippoldt, M.D., a Mayo Clinic expert in hormone disorders affecting the adrenal glands.”  Indeed, the Mayo report is excellent and far more believable than Solal’s nonsense.

Contrast this with Dr. Craige Golding, a Solal director, and working at the Integrated Medical Centre, who supports this diagnosis. (in case not accessible, a copy here)

Dr Nippold added: “By seeking unproven tests or treatments for adrenal fatigue, you could delay the diagnosis of a real, treatable condition or take something that would impair the adrenal glands . . . .  Adrenal supplements, sold in stores or on the Internet, can suppress the amount of hormones produced by the adrenal glands.” 

 

  Clicks / Prof F Bonnici / 19924
  Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
  In the matter between:
  Prof Francois Bonnici Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
  Clicks Group Limited Respondent 

10 May 2012

http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=6079 

Professor F Bonnici lodged a consumer complaint against the respondent’s pamphlet at the Clicks Pharmacy in Regent road Sea Point.

The pamphlet advertising contains information about a condition referred to as “Adrenal Fatigue”. It explains, inter alia, “What is Adrenal Fatigue”, lists symptoms claimed to be associated with “Adrenal Fatigue” and “What Causes Adrenal Fatigue”.

COMPLAINT
In essence, the complainant submitted that the pamphlet misinforms the public about a condition that is not recognised by any health authority in the world. While there are well defined adrenal disorders, “Adrenal Fatigue” is not one of them. The complainant added that he has encountered incidents where people insisted on consulting him in his practice as a specialist endocrinologist, based on the information conveyed in the pamphlet and the resulting self-diagnosis made. While the “treatment” recommended in the advertising is harmless, unrelated to adrenal gland function and ineffective, the fact remains that the information conveyed is untrue and potentially harmful.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the complaint Clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code (Misleading claims) was taken into consideration.

RESPONSE
The respondent submitted that it has removed all pamphlets related to this subject matter from its clinics, without any admission of liability. It also elaborated on why it referred to this condition, explaining that the term was coined by Dr James Wilson.

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

The ASA has a long standing principle which holds that where an advertiser provides an unequivocal undertaking to withdraw or amend its advertising in a manner that addresses the concerns raised, the undertaking is accepted without considering the merits of the matter.

The respondent confirmed that the pamphlets related to the subject matter were removed.

As this appears to adequately address the complainant’s concerns, there is no need for the Directorate to consider the merits of the matter at this time.

The undertaking is therefore accepted on condition that the pamphlets are withdrawn in their current format within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide, and are not used again in future.

These are posts related to Clicks:

  • GNC to Strengthen Supplement Quality Controls
  • New York Attorney General targets herbal marketers
  • Clicks/GNC in the poo?
  • Clicks – “Adrenal Fatigue” – ASA ruling
  • Clicks Slim Drops Herbal Tincture: ASA ruling
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    6 Responses to Clicks – “Adrenal Fatigue” – ASA ruling

    1. Roy 14 May, 2012 at 9:55 am #

      Thanks for this Harris.

      I have a colleague with a daughter erroneously diagnosed with this condition and given – as Prof Bonnici states – “ineffective” “treatment”.

      The adrenal glands do not “get tired” – and it is only in certain pathological states where they could be said to “burn out”. But this needs a specialist endocrinologist’s care (e.g. such as from Prof Bonnici) and not those who embrace an “anti-ageing movement” or who may (deliberately or unconsciously) be part of “disease-mongering” in order to sell ineffective, possibly dangerous, products.

      A useful resource with a clear explanation can be found at: http://www.hormone.org/Public/upload/Adrenal-Fatigue-Web.pdf (Please note that the second hyperlink at the end of the article to “adrenal insufficiency” should have the “htm” replaced with “aspx” in order to access the information.)

      Why would a seemingly reputable South African “institution” like “Clicks” jeopardise the trust and confidence of the public by “promoting” something which is “not a real medical condition” and presumably selling products to “remedy” it?

    2. iluvsolal 28 June, 2012 at 4:30 am #

      It’s good to make sure that people and companies do not care about consumers / patients’ best interests are exposed, but Solal’s products are great, they changed my life and I think this apparent obsession with Solal is going a bit far.

    3. Harris 28 June, 2012 at 9:45 am #

      @Iluvsolal
      There is NO obsession with Solal – the number of postings simply reflect the fact that Solal run adverts for a wider range of products than other companies, and hence likely to be targeted for a wider range of products if consumers consider the claims to be misleading. There is no claim that all of Solal products make misleading claims nor that none are beneficial – only those making unsubstantiated claims have been highlighted.

    4. tracy 23 January, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

      I take the Solal Burnout for my Adrenal Exhaustion (as diagnosed by low cortisol and dhea levels) and it has helped me enormously, if I stop it I get more exhausted etc

    5. Katherine 7 April, 2018 at 1:17 pm #

      Good day

      Solal vitamins

      I would like to find out what is the best product to use for depression, iv been to numerous doctors and done numerous test but still same thing lead to depression I’m looking for a natural product to use, I tend to go into a deep sleep and then I don’t hear anything I’m always late for work because I don’t wake up because I can’t hear my alarms. I know depression causea that I sleep a bit more than usual. What would you recommend I’m desperately looking for a natural solution.

      • Harris 8 April, 2018 at 8:41 am #

        @Katharine
        I suggest you discuss this with your health provider. Whatever they recommend needs to be personalised to your personal profile and condition.

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