Is it now illegal to have a reiki website in the UK?

Do you believe that reiki works?

Do you have proof?

I would not be surprised if you’ve had that debate with friends and family in the past. Today, however, the debate takes a whole new turn in the UK. The Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA) started to regulate the claims made by websites and digital adverts this year. Up until today their page of non-complying advertisers had been blank; today there are four new entries and three of them are alternative or complimentory health.

There’s Life Healthcare who sell a cream from a website that claims it can help with joint pain and arthritis. The ASA are worried about the lack of evidence to support this claim. The ASA are worried that people may mistake the cream as medicine.

There are also Allan Sweeney and Samantha Pearce who both offer reiki.

Samantha’s claims include;

“Reiki healing can help with stress relief, sinusitis, menstrual problems, M.E. eczema, arthritis, menopausal problems, back pain, depression and insomnia.”

Allan Sweeney’s International Reiki Healing & Training Centre made even stronger claims. The ASA wrote;

The adjudication stated that the claims to treat cancer, ADHD, back pain, migraine, depression, anger, low energy, sleeplessness, ADD, sadness, bereavement, tinnitus and sciatica should be removed from marketing communications on the website and advised that efficacy claims for Reiki should not be made without robust evidence to substantiate them.

There are two things worth noting.

Firstly, the online remit of the ASA does make room for websites to discuss their beliefs, talk about ideas and support causes. The assumption is that these sites moved beyond discussion and to retail.

Secondly, these three companies have been given time by the ASA to discuss their sites, provide research or even make changes. To end up in the list of companies ignoring the rules all three have stuck to their guns.

So, is it against the law to have a reiki website in the UK? No, absolutely not.

Reiki experts are still able to sell their trade and describe their skills. They just have to be careful to accurately describe what they offer people and manage expectations on what reiki can achieve. The ASA tends to react to consumer complaints and it is likely that people complained about Life Healthcare, Samantha Pearce amd Allan Sweeney.

It’s also worth noting that the ASA is not a legal authority. They can’t force you to change your website. However, when the ASA become very concerned about something they can bring in the Office of Fair Trading and the OFT does carry the weight of the law.

In Pure Spirit

What do you think? Has the ASA acted fairly in naming these “non-complying advertisers”? Should reiki experts be able to claim and attribute anything to reiki?

Photo credit: Christopher Soghoian.


the sooner we get rid of these reiki quacks the better


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