Duchy Originals Pork Pies

Prince Charles is being labeled a quack in today’s news. And not a moment too soon. The BBC report that “Prince Charles has been accused of exploiting the public in times of hardship by launching what a leading scientist calls a “dodgy” detox mix.”

Dodgy Originals, as now they will become known, is selling three herbal tinctures. Two of them, echinachea and hypericum, are the first herbal preparations to be licensed by the MHRA under the new traditional herbal medicines scheme. This is a highly controversial scheme that means that the MHRA has abdicated its responsibility to license medicine that has proven efficacy.

Under this scheme, all you have to do to seek official approval to sell a herbal remedy is to show that it has been used ‘traditionally’ within the EU. Traditional, in this case, could be as little as fifteen years use – so, if a herbal product was being sold and making claims about the same time as Wet Wet Wet were singing ‘Love is all around’ then that will do for the regulator who is tasked with protecting the public from dodgy quacks. One would have thought that ‘Traditional’ had more to do with Morris Dancers, blood letting and leaches than Blur and Oasis.

On top of this, we know that Prince Charles has written lots of letters to the MHRA and meetings have been held at Clarence house before these new directives came in. We are not allowed to know the contents of those letters, but the place is beginning to smell of rodents.

Despite not having to show any evidence for efficacy, The Prince and his chums have been making claims that they do. His quack lobby group, the Foundation for Integrated Health say, “Licensed herbal medicines are required to demonstrate safety, quality and efficacy and be accompanied by the necessary information for safe usage.”

The MHRA have had to already stamp on Duchy Originals for making claims. Apparently, they have slapped the wrists of Dodgy Originals and Nelsons (the homeopathic fake pill manufacturers who bottle the herbal guff for the Prince) already,

A member of the public complained to the MHRA about the advertising of Duchy
Herbals Echina-Relief Tincture and Duchy Herbals Hyperi-Lift Tincture which
appeared on the Duchy Originals website from 24 January 2009. The complainant
alleged that the advertising suggested that the products had been assessed for
efficacy and was therefore misleading. The MHRA upheld the complaint.

Nelsons, the registration holder, on behalf of Duchy Originals agreed that they
would amend their advertising and remove claims of efficacy from their website
and all future advertising. Following delays in implementing the changes,
Nelsons provided additional training to Duchy Originals staff on the legislative

Duchy Originals strike back at the reports that they are cheap mountebanks and quacks

Andrew Baker, the head of Duchy Originals, said the tincture “is not – and has
never been described as – a medicine, remedy or cure for any disease.

Well, this looks to me to be rather misleading. I sign up for all sorts of email news from quack companies. On the day the tinctures were launched, I got an email advert from Duchy proclaiming:

Happy New Year!

The festivities are over and January has got off to a crisp and frosty start. If you haven’t managed to escape the winter sniffles, look no further than our new Echina-Relief Tincture, which offers natural relief from cold and flu symptoms.

Featured Product

This week were celebrating the launch of our brand new Herbal Tinctures range. Our Echinacea, Hypericum and Detox Tinctures provide alternative and natural ways of treating common ailments such as colds, low moods and digestive discomfort. Find them exclusively in Boots and, from February, in Waitrose.

Does this look like they are making no claims for their tinctures to be “a medicine, remedy or cure for any disease”?

That advert is now in the hands of the Advertising Standards Authority who are asking Dodgy Originals to substantiate their claims. I will keep you informed.
The situation appears to be quite remarkable. Not only has Prince Charles set up Ofquack, the new laughable ‘regulator’ for alternative medicine, appears to have lobbied the MHRA during a critical period of policy change, but is also now hawking dodgy quack products.
Voltaire once said, “Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing”. Medicine, may have moved on a little since the 18th Century. Our ruling masters appear not to have moved an inch.


There goes my knighthood: ASA Upholds my complaint against Duchy Originals

16 Comments on Duchy Originals Pork Pies

  1. Delighted to see you mention “Love is all around”, LCN,as it gives me another excuse to plug my Alternative Version of this splendid tune.

    PS It goes without saying Wet Wet Wet’s version wasn’t a patch on the Troggs’ original.

  2. You point out that the Foundation for Integrated Health are telling people that “Licensed herbal medicines are required to demonstrate safety, quality and efficacy and be accompanied by the necessary information for safe usage.”

    I’ve e-mailed FIH to ask them which licencing regime(s) they’re referring to, because they obviously can’t be meaning the Traditional Herbal Medicines Registration Scheme.

    Incidentally, they also say
    “From 30 April 2011, manufactured herbal medicines placed on the UK market are required…”
    What’s the 2011 requirement: is this a date in existing regulations by which all products must be registered, or the date at which some other new regulation comes into force?

  3. Rob said, “Incidentally, they also say
    “From 30 April 2011, manufactured herbal medicines placed on the UK market are required…”
    What’s the 2011 requirement: is this a date in existing regulations by which all products must be registered, or the date at which some other new regulation comes into force?”

    It’s the date at which they have to be registered under the current scheme. See this page:


    Also the document Guidance for Retailers, Wholesalers, Importers and Manufacturers on Registering Herbal Medicine under the THMR Scheme linked from it.

  4. I started reading “Trick Or Treatment” last night and pissed myself laughing at the dedication to His (self-)Righteous Homeopath Prince Charlatan.

    Gimpy – ohh if only. I am appalled at the fact that I could be a “subject” of this halfwit. I want to be a citizen so forget about 1649 and bring on Madame Guillotine. For once in my life (and I really mean this) “long live the queen”.

    Dr Aust – You are a shameless plugger of your mash-ups. You would have a great career in quack marketing. AND you are giving your age away with reference to the Troggs.

    Good post Andy. Just finished Counterknowledge and nice to see people like you and DC getting a namecheck. Is Dr Aust doing your marketing ?

  5. I wrote to the FIH:
    The “Registration of herbal medicines” page on the FIH website says that “Licensed herbal medicines are required to demonstrate safety, quality and efficacy” then goes on to mention products registered under the Traditional Herbal Medicines Registration Scheme.
    According to the MHRA the Traditional Herbal Medicines Registration Scheme includes no requirement to demonstrate efficacy. Which requirement(s) under which licencing regime(s) are FIH referring to on
    that webpage under which licenced herbal medicines must demonstrate efficacy?

    Kate Smith of the FIH has replied:
    “I think you’ve read the page a bit hastily, it’s really quite clear. As we say, Licensed herbal medicines = proof of efficacy; registered herbal medicines = safety, quality, traditional usage. Come back to me if you’re still confused.”

    It’s really quite clear: the page is about registered herbal medicines, they mention licensed ones, list registered ones, and have a bit at the bottom about the difference between licensed and registered ones, the requirements for which are wholly different. This is very clear and leaves no room for confusion.

  6. Johh H.
    And why can’t Dr.Aust to turn an honest penny in quack marketing? 😉
    Or is he worse than other skeptics?
    DC works in Ofquack.
    Ernst is a professor of CAM.
    What an example for good Dr. Aust! 😉

  7. Generally I long proposed to replace all quacks by us! 🙂 They are so incompetent that they understand nothing even in their own business! I’m sure we could cope with their business more better than them…. 😉 Down with them!

  8. Le Canard Noir quotes FIH as saying:

    << "Licensed herbal medicines are required to demonstrate safety, quality and efficacy and be accompanied by the necessary information for safe usage." >>

    This is an accurate account of MHRA rules. Traditional herbal preparations, by contrast, do not have to show efficacy. You can compare our statements with those of the MHRA here:


  9. Le Canard Noir,

    I think you need to clear up the confusion in your article between registered and licenced herbal products.


  10. I contacted Waitrose, as they are understood to be one of the stockists of these tinctures. And their response was:

    “Duchy Herbals Detox Tincture is traded as a food supplement and in accordance with all of the relevant sections of both UK and European food laws. It is a natural aid to digestion and supports the body’s natural elimination processes.”

    So that’s all right then, but surely that’s a good description of the properties of water!

    You could be forgiven for thinking that John Lewis / Waitrose had higher standards. After all:

    “Our Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2008 sets out our policies and principles and summarises our recent work in managing our environmental impact. We also report on our work with local communities and with our suppliers, where we are continuously working towards improving product quality and safety as well as ensuring rigorous ethical standards are upheld.”

    “suppliers….rigorous ethical standards” !!!!!!!

  11. Given the choice whether I want to die at age 60 from heart problems or at age 80 from side-effects of heart medication… I know what I’d choose.

    Alt-quack defenders are always quick to harp on the horrible death toll of modern medicine, but usually forget the benefits.

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