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Posted by Roushan Martens, Jul 19 2006 5:10PM

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Help wanted with replying to cynic!

Hello there, I’m hoping that some of you could offer me some advice on the following situation. I work 2-4 days per month at the Scottish Executive in Edinburgh, on a freelance basis, offering therapies to members of staff.
I received an email from the Head of Corporate Responsibility at the Scottish Executive today, regarding emails he had received from a member of the executive, questioning the descriptions I had given of two of the therapies I offer: Hopi Ear Candling and Emotional Freedom Technique. He has asked ‘for [my] assistance in responding to [the questioner]’.
The emails – and you will see that the questioner is possibly not an advocate of complementary therapies – are as follows (they include quotes of the information I have submitted to be placed on the intranet at the Scottish Executive for those who wish to make appointments):

1) Subject: Hopi Ear Candles
I am interested to note that burning candles in your ear can:
"This simple and effective therapy can assist in cases of
o sinusitis & nasal rhinitis o excessive wax build-up o headaches and migraines o colds and flu o tinnitus o allergies including hay fever o Glue ear and the prevention of grommets o snoring o hearing impairment o reduction of ear pressure prior to flying or diving o stress ”
As you have published this unqualified claim on the SE intranet, I assume it is evidence-based. I would therefore be grateful if you could provide me with references for the referred publications which back up these claims.

2) Subject: Emotional freedom technique
I was fascinated to read on the SE intranet that:
"Energy is present in every living thing, and its easy flow through our bodies ensures our systems are healthy and in balance. If there is a blockage in the flow of that energy, due to injury, stress, or a variety of other factors, the body is out of balance, and prone to illness, pain and disturbance. EFT can release these blockages, to restore a person's wellbeing. It works using points along the body's meridians, as with acupuncture, but stimulates the points by tapping or holding them, rather than using needles. Using the technique allows blocked energy to melt away rapidly and gently."
Needless to say, I was alarmed to discover that there are energy flows in the body which can be blocked and that this leads to illness. I was also fascinated to hear that the emotional freedom technique 'allows 'blocked energy to melt away rapidly and gently' as this appears to suggest that the First Law of Thermodynamics is fundamentally wrong.
I would be grateful if you could send me the references in the scientific literature that document and report these remarkable discoveries.
If any of you know of any useful references I could provide, or simply have a standard response to cynics such as this gentleman which you would like to share with me, I’d be very grateful.

Roushan Martens.

Jane Smith
Jul 20 2006 11:16AM
Not really quite sure about this, sounds to me like it's someone who doesn't approve and wants to get it stopped! Can't come up with any witty put down I'm afraid except to ask them to justify their own job!

Anyway, I can't help with the EFT, but you could try contacting Linda Stokes or Sue Mansel about the ear candles at
Not sure if they will have academic references like this person seems to want but they might be able to supply you with case studies.

Also try The Prince's Foundation for Intergrated Heath - Maybe they'll be impressed by the royal connection. Or perhaps you could ask the foundation for a response?

Good luck.


Roushan Martens
Jul 20 2006 12:13PM
Thanks, that was great. Linda was really helpful, and put me on to someone who can send me research by email. I've also contacted the AMT (why didn't I think of that!). Your help is very much appreciated!
Rona Gray
Jul 21 2006 4:12PM
Similar to jane I thin k the person is not going to be easily convinced.
I think there are 2 ways about this....provide evidence...chances are the person will find something to dispute...this happens in physics too!
OR be careful what you put in promo material...i am always wary of staing that any treatment (whether massage or paracetamol!) WILL do something....a lot of what we do is open to interpretation and most people who seek treatments will be open to varying degrees of this. I feel happier saying treatment "is helpful with... or can help, may help etc...may sound woolly but there are a lot of variables.....I think people are even more cynical with things mentioning energies or things less concrete...poss the best evidence is to be able to have I have x no of clients who have expereinced improvement etc. Dont know if this is helpful to anyone!!?
Rona Gray
Edith Maskell
Dec 8 2006 9:16AM

Apologies for the late response. Just trawling through the Forums this morning and came across this one. Appreciate it's a bit late now for the issue you had at the time. Hope you found the evidence from the research you did.

For the future and for the record though, can I suggest that you go to the Advertising Standards Agency website and check them out? It gives a list of claims that you can not make - specifically, you must not state that any CAM treatment deals with, even help,medical condition. Simply because there is little or no (what is formally acceptable)evidence other than acecdotal that our treatmemnts or products we use, are effective. The gentleman who has asked questions may well be a cynic but if he was to make a formal complaint to the ASA about your advertising material, they could easily build a case against you which becomes very public (your details and the case, plastered across their website) and not
a nice situation to be in. I follow their website on a weekly basis and there is a definite increase in cases brought against complementary therapists in the last 12 months. They are extremely bullish in their attitude and it only takes one person to make a complaint, for them to bring a case against you, so please be very careful what statements or claims you make in your promotional material. And in a corporate situation where you would have worked very hard to get your foot in the door, you would not want to leave any question marks over anyone's head because once they get twitchy they will not take any chances? And a case like that would lose any possible opportunities of getting in to any other companies.

We know these things work but ..... pharmaceutical companies pay millions of pounds for licences to make claims for their drugs in relation to medical conditions.... and have to jump through hoops to get the evidence. Thre are no such licences for CAM therarapies or products. We know the evidence for drugs is sometimes questionable. We also know that what we do is causing no harm but until we can prove it and provide the cynics with the evidence, we need to keep our heads down and dare I suggest, our mouths shut or at least limit what we say when it comes to benefits! We are also under the spotlight at the moment with regulation looming and regulation is about "protection of the public",so we must be seen to be ethical in what claims we make for our work.

This is exactly why John and I have been asking practitioners who we know are doing great work out there to get involved in research studies and keep us informed so that we can support in publicising it. With so many multi disciplined members, we are in an ideal position to build that body of evidence that CAM does work and that the practioners are ethical and professional and doing no harm, the sooner we can hold our heads up high, dismiss the cynics and be recognised, valued and taken seriously for our good work. Hope this helps.

Kind regards
Edith Maskell
Chair : Complementary Therapists Association

Angela Rawlins
Jan 17 2007 7:28PM
Hi Edith

I've just seen this concern. Is it possible that CThA could put some guidelines and an example for advertising in one of the next magazine issues.

Angela Rawlins
Edith Maskell
Jan 17 2007 7:49PM

If you go to the ASA website you will see all the restrictions and general advice about advertising in the health industry - far too many for me to list here. I have written articles but I understand it was decided not to publish as deemed to be too long. If you would like to read it for yourself, my email address is on my webpage. Please contact me privately and I will be happy to forward to you.

With kind regards

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