BBC backs show after ME criticism of Dragon's Den: Aku Seeds

  • By Steven McIntosh & PA Media
  • Entertainment reporter

image caption,

Giselle Boxer presented her product, Acu Seeds, to the dragons in last week's episode

The BBC has backed the inclusion of a wellness commercial in Dragons' Den after complaints from health groups.

Campaigners for myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) complained that the product was promoting „baseless” claims that it could help the condition.

Entrepreneur Giselle said the boxer's Acu Seeds product helped her recover from ME.

The BBC said that the products featured in the program should not be seen as their endorsement.

However, the corporation said it is taking the concerns raised seriously and will not make the episode available on iPlayer while the review is done.

Acu Seeds has been contacted by BBC News for comment.

A disclaimer on the company's website states that the product is not used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

In the episode that aired on January 18, the boxer said he used „diet, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and ear seeds” to recover from ME, turning the latter idea into a brand called Acu Seeds.

An open letter organized by Action for ME to the heads of two House of Commons select committees said they were „deeply concerned” by the way his pitch was presented.

The team said comments made in the pitch suggested the product was „responsible for her recovery and should therefore be considered an effective treatment”.

According to the NHS website, ME is a long-term condition with a range of symptoms including extreme fatigue, sleep problems and concentration problems.

While there is currently no cure for the condition, it says there are treatments available to help manage it.

image caption,

After receiving six offers, he chose boxer Steven Bartlett (pictured left with Peter Jones) as his investor.

During the show, the Sheffield-based entrepreneur told potential investors that he founded the product after seeking treatment for ME when he was 26.

She said: „I was diagnosed with ME four years ago. I worked at a top advertising agency with a busy social life and exercised regularly, was mostly indoors and couldn't walk for more than five minutes without going back to bed. .

„The doctors told me I would never recover, work again or have children.

„I embarked on a personal healing journey using diet, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and ear seeds. Using this combination, I believe it helped my recovery within 12 months.”

Acu Seeds are described as „DIY needle-free ear acupuncture for anxiety, migraines, hormonal issues, insomnia, weight loss, and more.”

His pitch attracted a production offer from six different Dragons for the first time in the show's history – joining five regulars as guest investors, including footballer Gary Neville.

Among the offers available, the boxer chose Steven Bartlett to invest in his business.

After the episode aired, a joint letter signed by ME campaign groups was sent to the chair of the culture, media and sport committee, Dame Caroline Tennage, and the chair of the health and social care committee, Steve Brain.

The groups said they were concerned that because the episode aired in prime time on BBC One, the pitch would have been heard by more viewers than what they accused of being „a level of unsubstantiated claims that this kind of alternative medicine can cure me”.

image source, BBC/Arsu Dutta

image caption,

Ear seeds are tiny beads designed to stimulate the points of the ears

It added: „Unfortunately, there is currently no known effective treatment for ME. Compared to other long-term conditions, there is a distinct lack of research into this disease, which means ME is still incurable.

„As a result, we remind people to only seek medical advice from appropriately qualified healthcare professionals and to ensure that any treatment decisions are evidence-based and fully informed.”

„Broadcasters must make every effort to ensure that content is accurate and does not contain misleading or dangerous information,” the letter said.

Action for ME said on social media that it had also written to BBC Director General Tim Davey to express its concerns about the episode.

A BBC spokesman said: „Dragon's Den contains the products of the entrepreneurs and is not an endorsement of them.

„Dragon's Den shows how real businesses offer investors a window into what's going on in the business world.

„In this episode an entrepreneur shares their own, personal experience that led to the creation of a business.”

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