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ASA Adjudication on InHarmony with Nature

InHarmony with Nature

Toddley Barn
Rednal
West Felton
Oswestry
Shropshire
Shropshire

Date:

16 January 2013

Media:

Internet (on own site)

Sector:

Health and beauty

Number of complaints:

1

Complaint Ref:

A12-202043

Background

Summary of Council decision:

Three issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.

Ad

A website for memon products, www.inharmonywithnature.co.uk, was headed "Re-Nature your Life". Further text stated "Learned and created from nature, memon technology has been designed to comprehensively harmonize and re-nature you, your family, your environment, food and water from the harmful effects of: Mobile phones, Bluetooth and DECT Wireless phones … WiFi and computer technology ... Televisions, lights and household electrical appliances ... Mobile phone masts and high voltage power lines ... Geopathic stress (water veins, curry grids ...) ... Pathogenic informations caused by synthetic chemicals ... Driving you [sic] car ... Plus many more" and "In the modern day, the natural environments and water that our bodies thrive in, and from, have steadily changed. The presence of technologies and synthetics in our homes and lives are growing unnatural stresses. They cultivate deviations, sometimes severely so, from the nourishing natural elements and spaces our bodies have evolved to be in harmonious balance with. Now used by over 60,000 people worldwide in the home through to industry and agriculture, the memon® memonizer family's 30+ year research and development provides a thorough, comprehensive and natural solution to restore your environment and water back to nature. Designed for all living situations, the memonizer family removes the harmful effects of technology, geopathic stress as well as food and water based pathogenic information's and resolving air pollution and restoring environmental balance. This is achieved while at the same time allowing you to use technologies, like your mobile phone, computer or electricity normally, as if such interferences were not present at all".

A "How memon Works" web page was headed "The working principle behind a memon device" and explained the principle behind the devices. A "memon Products" web page was headed "memon Environmental memonizer Instruments" and linked to the various products available, which included "memonizerCOMBI", "memonizerWATER", "memonizerFOOD", "memonizerCAR" and "memonizerMOBILE". A "Research & Testing" web page was headed "memon Environmental Transformer Research" and linked to various studies.

Issue

The complainant challenged whether the following claims could be substantiated:

1. the various risks and harmful effects referred to;

2. that the products could mitigate the risks and harmful effects referred to; and

3. the scientific principles behind the devices.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

InHarmony with Nature said they had spent a great deal of time ensuring the information on their website was true, relevant and easy to understand, but the concepts behind the devices could be confusing. They said memon technology was based on work carried out by an engineer over 30 years ago who considered the human body worked best when in natural surroundings, and that when the body was taken away from the natural environment it could be overloaded with stresses and struggle to cope. The aim of their products was to reintroduce a natural environment into modern surroundings. They believed that varying levels of electromagnetic interferences and airborne pollution affected normal biological functioning and well-being.

1. InHarmony with Nature said a wealth of studies had been carried out into the negative impact on human health of electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure. They said these studies showed how EMF radiating technologies, such as mobile phones, Bluetooth, household electricity and computers, clearly generated a harmful impact on human biology. They said the risks of EMF exposure were well researched and documented, and were both genuine and serious. They provided various articles and studies to support the claims including; a World Health Organization (WHO) statement on EMF hypersensitivity; a study of the effect of electromagnetic radiation on heart rate and rhythms; a study on mobile phone use and brain tumours; and a study on how mobile phone radiation affected the blood brain barrier in rats. They also provided articles and papers regarding geopathic stress. They said they would be happy to list these references on their website. In relation to "pathogenic informations caused by synthetic chemicals" InHarmony with Nature explained they were not referring to harm caused by the chemicals themselves and referred to research into the concept of water memory.

2. InHarmony with Nature said the main function of the memon devices was to address the issue of "pathogenic informations" from environmental interferences from sources such as technology, water or food, and that the memon's approach to harmful effects was based on the inventor's view of them. They supplied a number of tests and clinical trials they said showed how biological function and well-being changed as a result of the removal of these “pathogenic informations”. They believed their products substantially improved biological health. They supplied a controlled test using memonizerCAR in which the effect on blood cells was observed and a similar test involving racing car drivers and measures of their stress levels, as well as papers relating to "rouleaux formation" in blood. They also supplied the following: a clinical trial of human hormone responses to the installation of memonizerCOMBI; a presentation on respirable dust; a study on the effectiveness of memon technology on three neuro-stress parameters; a study on the health and longevity of hens on farms that used memonizerWATER and memonizerCOMBI; blood analysis on the effects of a mobile phone with and without the use of memonizerMOBILE; a report on water crystallisation before and after memon technology was used; a report on a method for determining water quality; a test that showed the mineral softening effect of memon technology; a study on how airborne pollutants were affected by memonizerCOMBI and a study of the effect of memonizer technology on three parameters in humans. They believed the test results showed memon technology was effective in the way described. InHarmony with Nature also provided a number of testimonials from practitioners and clients.

3. InHarmony with Nature said the memon devices were designed to create an environment in which we live and work that was natural. They were designed under the principle that human biology works healthily and well in the natural light part of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS). They said that "quantum informations" were inherent in electromagnetic radiation, and the inventor of the product had realised that some of these were pathogenic to human biology. Their products were designed to remove these “harmful informations” from frequencies outside the natural light part of the EMS, and did so using a mirror and cancellation system and by addressing the imbalance of polarisation. Two devices were also designed to counter the levels of particle pollution. They said the principles of operation used in the devices were well known in current wave physics and were supported by test results. They said the website included a Research & Testing section so that visitors could see the direct results of memon technology.

Assessment

1. Upheld

The website referred to "harmful effects" from various sources, including mobile phones, Bluetooth, WiFi, TVs, mobile phone masts, geopathic stress and synthetic chemicals. InHarmony with Nature had supplied evidence in relation to the possible harmful effects of some of these sources. The WHO fact sheet on EMF hypersensitivity acknowledged that a number of individuals had reported a variety of health problems that they themselves believed related to EMF exposure. However, it stated that the majority of studies indicated that these individuals could not detect EMF exposure any more accurately than those not suffering these symptoms. It also stated it had been suggested that other environmental effects such as 'flicker' from lights and poor ergonomic design could account for some symptoms, as well as some indications the symptoms could be due to pre-existing psychiatric conditions or stress reactions to worrying about the effects of EMF. They concluded that although the symptoms were certainly real there was no scientific basis to link them to EMF exposure.

The study on the effect of electromagnetic radiation on heart rate and rhythms had been published in a journal, although it was not clear if it had been peer reviewed, and was double blinded and controlled. The study was carried out on a small number of individuals, a large proportion of whom self-identified as electrically sensitive, and it did not comment on whether the results were statistically significant. The monograph in which the study was published was sponsored by an electromagnetic safety organisation. The ASA did not consider that the study was sufficiently robust to support the claims of harm made in the ad, and also noted that it contradicted the WHO conclusions on EMF sensitivity.

The study on mobile phone use and brain tumours had been published in an international peer reviewed journal. The objective was to examine the associations of brain tumours with radio frequency fields from mobile phones. It concluded there were suggestions of an increased risk of one kind of brain tumour in long-term mobile phone users with high radio frequency exposure and of similar, but much smaller, increases in the risk of another kind of brain tumour. However, the study explicitly stated that the uncertainty of the results required that they were replicated before they could be considered real. For this reason we did not consider the study sufficient to support the claims made in the ad in relation to the harmful effects of mobile phones.

The study on the effect of radio frequency EMF on the blood–brain barrier had been published in a journal, but related to rats only. We did not consider one study relating to rats only was sufficient to support claims made in the ad in relation to the harmful effects of mobile phone use on humans.

InHarmony with Nature had also supplied the abstract of a study on a potential association between low frequency EMFs and DNA damage. The study concluded that the induced DNA damage aroused concern about the environmental threshold limit value for EMF exposure. However, the study was carried out in vitro only, and we did not consider that this one study was sufficient to support claims that electromagnetic fields could have harmful effects.

One of the studies on geopathic stress had been published in a peer reviewed journal and assessed a new technique to detect geopathic stress, which was described as "energy emitted by the earth at a specific location on the surface, which affects the normal human body function". However, the study did not look at harm. Another article provided summaries of various trials and surveys on geopathic stress that referred to it correlating with cancer, cot death, psychological stress and other effects. A third article examined geopathic stress zones and their influence on humans, although it was unclear if this had been published in a peer reviewed journal. The article included a double-blind controlled study using a measure of stress and stated the results were statistically significant (the study was also provided separately in full). However, the measure used related to the human energy field rather than demonstrable harm and the geopathic zone used had been identified by dowsers. The article also acknowledged that the scientific knowledge on geopathic stress had mainly involved the use of complementary medical methods rather than peer reviewed statistically sound methods. A further study supplied examined the body voltage of participants. The study did not appear to be double blinded, the geopathic stress zones were again identified by dowsing and we had not seen evidence that the "body voltage" changes measured correlated with harm. A further paper discussed geopathic zones and "oncological diseases" and said that various studies had suggested links between geopathic zones and infant mortality rates, cancer and various other diseases. It was unclear if the paper had been published in a peer reviewed journal and the only references were to papers by the same author. Another paper discussed the influence of "the earth's field anomalies on the living systems", but it was unclear if it had been published in a peer reviewed journal. It included a calculation of the gravitational force caused by a gravity anomaly and graphs showing the "dowser effect". However, it did not measure harm. We did not consider that the evidence supplied demonstrated that the concept of geopathic stress was generally accepted by the scientific community, or was sufficiently robust to support the claim that geopathic stress could cause harmful effects.

In relation to "pathogenic informations caused by synthetic chemicals" the advertiser had quoted from research into water memory that stated that even after treatment, water contaminated with harmful substances continued to display certain electromagnetic frequencies which could be attributed to those harmful substances. However, we were not provided with the studies in full and none appeared to measure actual harm. We did not consider the evidence was sufficient to support the claim that "pathogenic informations caused by synthetic chemicals" could cause harmful effects.

The website stated that their products had been designed to remove the harmful effects of various sources. InHarmony with Nature had supplied us with evidence in relation to EMFs in general and in relation to mobile phones specifically. In relation to mobile phones only we acknowledged there was some opinion within the scientific community that there was a possibility they may cause harm to some users, but that without qualification the claim in the ad was misleading. We did not consider the evidence they had supplied was sufficient to support the claim that EMF exposure in general, "geopathic stress" or "pathogenic informations caused by synthetic chemicals" had harmful effects. We concluded the claims were misleading and had not been substantiated.

On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.13 (Exaggeration).

2. Upheld

The two studies into memon technology in cars related to a small number of subjects, did not appear to have been double blinded or adequately controlled, and did not refer to the statistical significance of the results, which related to oxidative stress and "rouleaux formation" in the blood (which we understood was a non-specific indicator of disease) only. The study on the impact of memon technology on hormone levels was conducted on 40 subjects, but did not appear to have been double-blinded or controlled. The presentation on respirable dust appeared to have been prepared by a company to promote memon technology. The study on the effectiveness of memon technology on three neuro-stress parameters was not double-blinded or controlled. The study on hens related to hens only, and so we did not consider it relevant to the claims made on the website. The reports on the effect of memon technology on water referred to water storing "feelings and consciousness". The study on airborne pollutants did not look at harm. We were only provided with a one-page summary of the study into three biological parameters, which was not double-blinded or controlled. None of the reports or studies had been published in scientific journals or subject to peer review, which we considered was the most robust form of evidence for claims, particularly those relating to health. Client and professional testimonials had been provided but we did not consider them sufficient to support a breakthrough claim. We did not consider the evidence supplied by InHarmony with Nature was scientifically robust, or that they had demonstrated it was likely to be generally accepted by the scientific community. We concluded the claims that their products could mitigate the risks and harmful effects referred to had not been substantiated.

On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health related products and beauty products).

3. Upheld

InHarmony with Nature believed the scientific principles behind their products were well known to current wave physics and were supported by test results. However, we had not seen evidence that the scientific principles referred to on their website – that electromagnetic radiation from modern technology and various other sources was harmful to humans and could be cancelled out by their products – would be generally accepted by the scientific community. We considered that the principles were an inherent part of the marketing of their products and were presented as scientific fact, and therefore concluded that the claims had not been substantiated.

On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told InHarmony with Nature not to make claims about the harmful effects of EMF exposure or other sources unless they could be substantiated with sufficiently robust evidence. We also told them not to make the claims that their products could have an effect, including health benefits, unless they could be substantiated by sufficiently robust evidence that would be generally accepted by the scientific community.

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