In the wake of ExpoWest, the rise of Ayurveda has become increasingly apparent.  For those who may be unfamiliar, Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of medicine that combines a variety of lifestyle practices, the use of plants and herbs as medicinal treatment, in addition to diet and exercise.  While well-known and accepted in India, Ayurveda is relatively new to the U.S. market but growing quickly.  As the market has grown, advertising claims that certain ingredients or products have ties to Ayurvedic medicine have also proliferated.

The FTC’s guidance, Dietary Supplements: An Advertising Guide for Industry, speaks to “traditional use” claims, suggesting that marketers should look closely at consumer perception of the claims and the degree of supporting evidence that the claims likely convey.  In addition, it is important to avoid implications that such products have been evaluated for efficacy if that is not the case.  The Guidance notes that “[a]s consumer awareness of and experience with ‘traditional use’ supplements evolve, the extent and type of qualification necessary is also likely to change.”

The FTC has not been very active in enforcement relative to “traditional use” claims historically.  However, given recent FTC enforcement trends toward looking closely at product and claim substantiation, we anticipate that the agency takes a conservative view of whether a claim based in traditional use could be properly substantiated.  Companies marketing in this space will want to be sure to consider the full body of available substantiation to determine whether the “competent and reliable” scientific evidence standard can be met.