The BBC has reinstated an episode of Dragons’ Den after concerns were raised over an entrepreneur’s claim that ‘ear seeds’ could help recovery from a debilitating health condition.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) campaigners said businesswoman Giselle Boxer made “unfounded claims” in the BBC business show about her Acu Seeds product.
The product is described as a “DIY needle-free ear acupuncture for anxiety, migraines, hormonal issues, insomnia, weight loss and more”.
Ms Boxer’s pitch to the Dragons, which was featured in series 21 last week, produced a historic moment for the show as all six put in an offer for her product but she decided to go with entrepreneur and podcaster Steven Bartlett.
Diagnosed with ME at age 26
During the program, Sheffield-based Ms Boxer told the potential investors that she had established the product after seeking treatments when she was diagnosed with ME at the age of 26.
In the episode, which aired on January 18, Boxer said she had used “diet, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and ear seeds” to aid her recovery from ME, and had turned the latter idea into the brand Acu Seeds.
But in an open letter organised by Action for ME to the chairs of two House of Commons select committees, the charity said it was “very concerned” that the way in which her pitch was presented suggested the product was “responsible for her recovery and should therefore be considered an effective treatment”.
Its chief executive, Sonya Chowdhury, has written to BBC director-general Tim Davie to voice “concerns over the episode”.
In a statement on the BBC complaints page, the corporation said a clarification had been added to the show to make clear the seeds do not cure ME.
‘Acu Seeds not intended to cure any medical condition’
It reads: “Acu Seeds are not intended as a cure for any medical condition and advice should always be sought from a qualified healthcare provider about any health concerns.”
ME is a long-term condition with a wide range of symptoms including extreme tiredness, sleep issues and concentration problems, according to the NHS website.
It states that while there is currently no cure for the condition, there are treatments that may help manage it.
The BBC and Acu Seeds have been approached for further comment.