The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) is warning its advertisers not to advertise the Herbex Ultraslim product range. This comes after a doctor made a compelling argument that has found that there is no scientific evidence supporting claims that the product will prevent belly fat, increase metabolism or balance blood sugar levels.

The ruling comes after a complaint was laid by Doctor Harris Steinman against television and website advertising for Herbex Ultraslim, in reference to a specific commercial that he believes made unsubstantiated claims.

The commercial, which appeared on M-Net during Carte Blanche, made the following claims:

– Herbex ultraslim a weight-loss evolution

– South Africa’s number 1 slimming brand

– 25 years refining the science of weight loss

– Balances blood sugar

– Preventing belly fat

– Aids digestion to improve Gut Health

– Increases metabolism to burn fat faster

– With triple the action

– 24 hour weight loss

The website further claims that this product line “works on your body around the clock to increase your metabolism, so that your body burns more calories and fat.”

It also claims to “prevent blood sugar spikes and dips, so that your body makes and stores less fat, and uses fat for energy instead of storing it so it is less likely to store unwanted fat around your belly and organs.”

Finally, the website reads that the Ultraslim range helps to “activate and clear a sluggish digestion to move waste through your digestive tract more efficiently, a vital function to ensure that all bodily systems are working optimally.”

D M Fialkov Attorneys, acting on behalf of Herbex, submitted that the advertiser is not a member of the ARB and as such the ARB does not have jurisdiction over it. It is therefore not obliged to, and will not, deal with the complaint.

The ARB’s Memorandum of Incorporation stipulates that if you are not a member and do not submit to the jurisdiction of the ARB, the ARB will still consider and rule on your advertising for the guidance of its members only. This ruling will be binding only on ARB members and on broadcasters in terms of the Electronic Communications Act.

Steinman argues that the product is a natural product, and as such needs to have proven efficacy within the natural paradigm. He submitted that The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (one of the most comprehensive and reliable natural medicine resources available) found no evidence to support four of the claims for the combination of the ingredients present in this product, or for the individual ingredients, to support the central claims being made for this product.

Herbex claims that green tea, ginger root, cayenne pepper and Siberian ginseng in their products are primarily responsible for weight loss and prevention of, or loss of belly fat.

“There is no unequivocal evidence to support that these ingredients individually, or in combination, to support the claims being made,” argues Steinman. “For example, focussing on green tea alone, the evidence to support the claims is unfounded and very significantly, for research assessing far greater dosages of green tea.”

He further says that there is a lack of robust evidence to support the claims for Cayenne pepper in affecting fat burning or weight-loss.

In terms of the products digestive qualities, Steinman says Haritaki Fruit powder  and  Amla fruit powder, also known as Indian gooseberry, have not effectively been found to improve health.

“There’s a lack of clinical trials supporting the claims that haritaki can improve your health. So far, most of the evidence for haritaki’s health effects comes from preliminary, animal-based research and laboratory studies.

“Indian gooseberry is most commonly used for high cholesterol, abnormal levels of cholesterol or blood fats (dyslipidemia), and persistent heartburn. It is also used for diarrhoea, nausea, and cancer, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses,” he added.

Given the lack of substantiation, the Directorate has no choice but to find that the claims listed above is in breach of Clause 4.1 of Section II, which states that before advertising is published, advertisers must hold in their possession documentary evidence to support all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation.

In conclusion, the ARB has advised its members and broadcasters not to air advertising from the Advertiser for Herbex Ultraslim that contain all of the above unsubstantiated claims.

This is the same response delivered in 2018, when Steinman lodged a complaint against Herbex’s claims about their Fat Burn for Men product. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the commercial was misleading and that their members were not to accept advertising for the specific product.

Picture: Facebook / Herbex Health SA

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