Experts have lashed out at Prince Charles of the UK for launching a range of detox products. He has been accused of promoting quackery and exploiting people in times of financial hardship.
Duchy Originals, the company set up by Charles, Prince of Wales in 1990, came out with three new detox products in January last. They all carry a royal price tag of 10 pounds.
While the Detox Tincture, made of artichoke and dandelion, is supposed to "help eliminate toxins and aid digestion", Echina-Relief can be "used to relieve symptoms of the common cold and influenza type infections."
The third product boasts of St John''s Wort extract "to relieve the symptoms of slightly low mood and mild anxiety."
The decision to launch these products reflects The Prince of Wales''s passion for integrated healthcare, the Andrew Baker, Duchy Originals''s chief executive, had said then and added that the Duchy Herbals range of herbal remedies would encourage more people to adopt such an integrated approach to their health.
The Prince of Wales always dabbles in environmental issues and has a penchant for alternative medicine. The Dutchy Originals itself is known for its upmarket organic biscuits, sausages and marmalade.
But at the time of the launch of the detox products, Alice Tuff, at the charity Sense About Science, denounced the move: "It's incredible that the Prince of Wales" company is launching a "detox" product just days after scientists have exposed such products as making empty and misleading claims."
It was this trust that had produced a report seeking to debunk claims made about detox.
Its researchers reviewed a series of products, from bottled water to face scrub, and found the detox assertions to be overwhelmingly meaningless.
Now Edzard Ernst, the UK's first professor of complementary medicine, has joined the chorus of criticism.
He said Prince Charles and his advisers appeared to be deliberately ignoring science, preferring ''to rely on 'make-believe' and superstition.''
He added: ''Prince Charles thus financially exploits a gullible public in a time of financial hardship.''
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.
''There is no ''quackery'', no ''make believe'' and no ''superstition'' in any of the Duchy Originals herbal tinctures. We find it unfortunate that Professor Ernst should chase sensationalist headlines in this way rather than concentrating on accuracy and objectivity.''
Professor Ernst said the suggestion that such products remove toxins from the body was ''implausible, unproven and dangerous''.
Nothing would, of course, be easier than to demonstrate that detox products work. All one needed to do is to take a few blood samples from volunteers and test whether this or that toxin is eliminated from the body faster than normal,'' he said.
''But where are the studies that demonstrate efficacy? They do not exist, and the reason is simple: these products have no real detoxification effects.''
Tom Wells, who was part of the team that carried out the research for Sense About Science, was even more strident. He declared, ''It seems outrageous for companies to be making money selling meaningless products but for the heir to the throne to be doing so, at Ģ10 a pop, is even more inappropriate helped carry out the original research.
''We'd like to see an end to detox products on the British high street, starting with Prince Charles' detox tincture.''