ASA Complaints: Niagara Healthcare

In September, I found an A4 insert in the New Zealand Herald advertising for Niagara Healthcare. A big red heading: “Arthritic Relief?” caught my attention, and when I looked a little closer I found it accompanied by some big red flags. This advertisement for a “FREE TREATMENT” that seemed like it could relieve practically any type of pain, as well as several other ailments, looked a little too good to be true, and experience has taught me that when something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

My first response to this advertisement was to look for any research I could find corroborating its claims. This took me to the Niagara Healthcare website for New Zealand. They appear to be based in Australia, and have a separate but nearly identical website for their New Zealand branch. Their website’s key benefits page, which states that “Much research has been conducted on the physical benefits of Niagara’s Cycloid Vibration Therapy since 1954”, contained a convenient list of therapeutic claims for me to look at:

  • Increase local area blood flow
  • Assist in the reduction of musculoskeletal pain
  • Increase joint mobilisation
  • Reduce excess oedema (swelling) whether the cause is vascular or lymphatic
  • Assist in the treatment of wounds where an improvement in circulation is a factor
  • Assist in the treatment of pressure ulcers where and [sic] improvement in local circulation is a factor

The only study I was able to find (searching Google Scholar and PubMed) with the keywords “Cycloid Vibration Therapy” was a small uncontrolled preliminary study of 21 patients. That is nowhere near enough to substantiate a therapeutic claim. Luckily for me, there were also 4 other studies cited on the webpage.

I was able to find the full text of what I believed may be the first study mentioned. This study appeared to use a Niagara Healthcare product, Lymphease, but it was only a pilot study with a small sample size and no control group, not a clinical trial as claimed on the website, and therefore not rigorous enough to substantiate any therapeutic claims.

Interestingly, although this was not stated on Niagara Healthcare’s website, this study was funded by “Cyprossage Pty Ltd”, which holds the patent for the product used in the study. Both Cyprossage Pty Ltd and Niagara Healthcare are divisions of CT Healthcare Pty Ltd, and they share the same director, Anthony Thompson. Even if everything else in these advertisements checked out, this would violate the ASA’s Therapeutic Products Advertising Code Part B2 R4.3:

Publication of research results in an advertisement must identify the researcher and the financial sponsor of the research.

I was only able to find citations of the second and fourth studies, and only the abstract of the third study. As far as I was able to tell, the second and fourth studies were not clinical trials, and the third study did not adequately account for the placebo effect via its “no treatment” control group. These papers were also published in 1984, 1981, and 1961 respectively. Worryingly, the Australian version of this webpage describes those same studies as “recent”, despite the majority of them having been published years before I was born. If this was Niagara Healthcare putting their best foot forward, it wasn’t very impressive.

I was also able to find that the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK upheld a complaint against Niagara Healthcare in 2005, on the basis that the therapeutic claims they were making were not adequately substantiated. It looked like the evidence behind the advertisement didn’t live up to the claims, which was particularly worrying considering that the print advertisement claimed that the products had been “Medically proven for 60 years”, and had been approved by TAPS. The Therapeutic Advertising Pre-vetting System, TAPS, is a service provided by the Association of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA) that is intended to help advertisers avoid publishing ads that violate the relevant codes and legislation.

The back of the print advertisement also contained a testimonial. I still don’t understand how a medical advertisement containing a testimonial could have been approved by TAPS, considering that the Medicines Act 1981 Section 58 subclause (1)(c)(iii) effectively prohibits all testimonials in medical advertisements:

no person shall publish, or cause or permit to be published, any medical advertisement that… directly or by implication claims, indicates, or suggests that… a medical device of the kind… advertised… has beneficially affected the health of a particular person or class of persons, whether named or unnamed, and whether real or fictitious, referred to in the advertisement

After finding how problematic these advertisements seemed to be, I laid a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority. My complaint ended up being treated as two separate complaints: one for the print advertisement and a separate one for the website advertisement. On Friday, the ASA released their decision regarding both of these complaints. They were both upheld, meaning that the ASA has told Niagara Healthcare the advertisements must be removed. As I do with all my complaints, I have set up a monitoring service so I will be notified of any changes to the web advertisement. So far, the only change is that a note that the research they cite was funded by them has been added to their Key Benefits page.

I found the advertiser’s response to my complaints quite interesting and, I think, revealing. To start with, they claim that the printed material was published incorrectly, and contained obsolete material. This seems odd to me, considering that the ad had been approved by TAPS, which requires a fee, and stating that it contained obsolete material implies that the material was once correct, but this certainly does not seem to be the case.

In attempting to substantiate their therapeutic claims, it seems the advertiser provided a clinical evaluation performed by CT Healthcare, which it called “an Australian based manufacturer”. CT Healthcare is the parent company of both Niagara Healthcare and Cyprossage (the company that funded the small trial mentioned on the Niagara website). Here’s what the ASA had to say about that:

The Complaints Board also noted the substantiation provided by the Advertiser which was a “Report Review” on “Vibration Therapy.” It said while the Advertiser provided references on the subject and the claims were of a low level, the Complaints Board were of the view that it did not provide adequate substantiation particularly because the review was not conducted independently.

The advertiser also tried to substantiate their therapeutic claims by providing the ASA with certificates from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).

[The Advertising Standards Complaints Board] was of the view that the certificates provided were not categorical evaluations of the product, but rather they confirmed registration of the products.

As well as finding that the therapeutic claims made in their advertisements were not substantiated, the complaints board said that…

The Complaints Board agreed with the Complainant that the lack of the research listed under the heading “Medical Research”, its quality and the fact that some of it had been paid for by the Advertiser was not robust enough to support the statement “much research had been conducted on physical benefits of Niagara’s Cycloid Vibration Therapy since 1954” as the overall consumer takeout of that statement would be this meant 60 years of independent peer-reviewed medical studies which was not the case.

The most interesting part of this whole thing is, I think, the way in which the advertiser tried to defend their statement that their products have been “Medically proven for 60 years”. Here is how the advertiser tried to justify this statement:

However, to provide clarification regarding the statement on the advertisement Niagara devices have been proven for 60 years, this originates from the basis that CT Healthcare has been involved in medical research relating to the product since 1952.

The complaints board responded to this by stating that the words used in the advertisement simply did not mean what the advertisers claim they meant, and therefore exploited consumers’ lack of knowledge. I think the board’s response was entirely appropriate, and consider such behaviour from a medical advertiser, whom consumers should be able to take at their word, to be utterly reprehensible.

In the end, the complaints board said that both advertisements were in breach of Principles 2 and 3, and Part B2 Requirements 4(a) and 4(b) of the Therapeutic Products Advertising Code. They also said that the website advertisement was in violation of Part B2 Requirement 4(c). Here’s a quick rundown of what those codes are (some paraphrased by me):

Principle 2
Must not be misleading and claims must be substantiated
Principle 3
Must observe a high standard of social responsibility
Part B2
Refers to advertisements for medical devices targeting consumers
Requirement 4(a)
Must not be misleading
Requirement 4(b)
Must not abuse trust or exploit lack of knowledge
Requirement 4(c)
Must not exploit the superstitious or, without justifiable reason, play on fear or cause distress.

You can read the full decision of the complaints board, including my original complaint and the advertiser’s response, on the ASA’s website:

I’ve also uploaded a scanned copy of the print advertisement that you can look at: Niagara Healthcare Herald Insert

Even though the ASA’s Advertising Code of Ethics Basic Principle 1 and its Therapeutic Products Code Principle 1 both require that “All advertisements must comply with the laws of New Zealand”, the complaints board had this to say about the testimonial in the print advertisement:

The Complaints Board noted that compliance with the laws of New Zealand under Basic Principle 1 under the Code of Ethics and Principle 1 of the Therapeutic Products Advertising Code were also raised in the complaint. While acknowledging they are part of Advertising Code, the Complaints Board agreed that whether or not the advertisements complied with the laws of New Zealand was a matter for the Courts.

I’m of two minds about this. For one, I agree that it’s appropriate for the ASA not to overstep their authority, and that the courts are the appropriate place for it to be determined whether or not the law has been breached. However, this precedent effectively makes the first principles of the majority of their codes useless, by placing them outside of their own jurisdiction.

If the complaints board is not willing to consider whether or not an advertisement is in breach of New Zealand law, then the advertising codes should be modified to emulate the relevant laws. These include sections 57 and 58 of the Medicines Act 1981, particularly section 58 subclause (1)(c)(iii), which effectively prohibits the use of testimonials in medical advertisements.

This is a step that has been taken by at least one other New Zealand body that is involved in regulating advertising. The New Zealand Chiropractors Board’s Advertising Guideline section 3(f) prohibits the use of testimonials, in accordance with the Medicines Act.

In my opinion, perhaps the most important aspect of this complaint, taking into account that it was upheld, was that the print advertisement had been approved by TAPS. Even though the complaints board found that the advertisement was full of misleading claims that weren’t backed up by the required evidence, the advertiser was able to convince TAPS to approve this ad for publishing.

Another complaint (not one of mine) about an advertisement approved by TAPS was also recently upheld on the basis that it contained unsubstantiated therapeutic claims: Complaint 13/372 against BioMag.


62 thoughts on “ASA Complaints: Niagara Healthcare

  1. Thank you so much for this very informative article. I was contacted by phone this morning in Napier by someone touting their products. When I asked where they got my phone number, was told they were “trolling” the phone book!

    1. We received an entirely unsolicited phone call this morning from Niagara healthcare asking If we suffered from arthritis or aching joints? I asked why they would ask me that question and was told they were in our area offering free services. I object to this type of phone call and it directly contradicts what their senior management claimed that they don’t cold call. Obviously they do because I have never filled out any form anywhere to do with them.

      1. Hi Lyn and Denise, thanks for your comments. I found when I was first researching Niagara Healthcare online that there seemed to be a lot of people with stories similar to yours, as well as people who had older relatives coerced into buying a product they didn’t really want that subsequently had a hard time getting their money refunded.

        I don’t know if Niagara Healthcare uses this list, but New Zealand Marketing Association has a “Do Not Call” list that you can add your details to if you don’t want to receive unsolicited phone calls like these. You can find the list here:

        The Commerce Commission also has a fact sheet for unsolicited goods and services that gives an overview of what your rights are if you ever to buy something from a cold call like this:

  2. Yes, I did find the article interesting, but I was really looking for recommendations or otherwise from people who had bought this Niagara Vibration Therapy product. If I could have some information and perhaps for what it was used for would be really great. I have had a demo. and am trying to decide if it is worth the huge cost.

    1. Hi Anita, thanks for your comment. I haven’t tried the product myself, but after writing this article I reviewed a large amount of additional evidence provided by Niagara therapy in support of their products. It was generally positive, but it was also rather weak and I have to admit I found it unconvincing. Of course that doesn’t mean it can’t help you, only that I’m not convinced that it lives up to their claims.

      To be honest, I think the best person for you to discuss this with might be your doctor. They will have your best interests at heart and should be able to give you useful information on what alternatives there might be so you can weigh your various options. I wish you the best of luck :)

      1. Thankyou, Mark. Yes, I will get my doctor’s opinion of it all.
        Thankyou, Anita

    2. I have used (and sold) Niagara products in the US for years. And while my claims have no scientific basis, I can tell you that the arthritis pain I have had in my body since my youth is always alleviated by the proper use of these products…without any side effects.

      Are the pricey??? A bit…but when you factor in the point that these devices have lasted me for many, many years….the cost is extremely minimal for such a great relief.

  3. We bought a Niagara Therapy chair at Easter, 2014 &s o far we are very happy with the vibration therapy we are receiving. We are experiencing less arthritic pain so that’s good…but we are a little disappointed that the saleslady/consultant who demonstrated the chair & promised to visit us to assist us in gaining the most benefit from our purchase has not returned our phone call & a couple of text messages.. It seems that once the money has been paid they are no longer interested in us.

  4. It seems that one would need to have tried the product for a valid complaint to be filed and upheld. It sounds more like a witch hunt by an unsuccessful and jealous bloke.

    1. Mark, I’m not sure what you’d expect such a change to accomplish? Would you require a scientist to have a treatment for a particular disease before carrying out a systematic review for it? What about a regulator whose job it is to determine whether or not to approve a treatment based on the evidence for it?

      I can understand why personal experience would be required in the case of complaining about a specific instance of malpractice. But when it comes to determining whether or not a treatment seems to work for a particular issue, personal experience is pretty much wholly irrelevant.

      At best, personal experience agrees with the evidence, at worst it disagrees with the evidence and is thereby misleading. But the only way to know one way or the other is to rigorously gather that evidence. That’s why we need to carry out rigorous clinical trials in order to tell whether or not at treatment works, and why using health anecdotes in advertising is against the law in New Zealand.

    2. “It seems that one would need to have tried the product for a valid complaint to be filed and upheld.”

      Incorrect. If specific testable and tested claims are made then personal experience is not needed or even desired. One aspect of scientific method is the removal of as much bias as possible. “It worked for me” is an entirely subjective claim and without proper controls you have no reliable way of knowing *what* it was that worked.

      This isn’t so much a witch hunt, more protecting the unsuspecting public from a possible charlatan that is out to make a buck from the ignorant.

      People like this may be well intentioned, but if so, surely they’d rather know that they have also been duped by whoever it is that pointed them in the direction of the woo they are currently promoting.

      1. So in your opinion, protecting an unsuspecting public from a “possible” charlatan is justification for going out of your way to block pain sufferers from accessing information / advertising on products that they may choose to spent THEIR money on for relief. I suspect that you and Mark Hana work for or for the benefit of pharmaceutical companies who would rather stuff elderly people full of toxic pain medications. I am 53, in reasonably good health but we need a new bed and it is our intention to purchase a Niagara Therapy king size. I am dismayed by the lack of customer reviews on the web and wonder how many have been removed because someone has threatened the posters for making “subjective” claims. Shame on you and shame on those of you who are so selfish that you would rather the money be left in your elderly parents bank for your inheritance than for THEIR money to be spent on THEIR comfort. I’ve tried a Niagara bed and can’t wait to own one.

      2. Hello Debora, thanks for your comment.

        I think you may have misinterpreted my motivations here. It’s never been my intention to “block pain sufferers from accessing information”, and I don’t think that’s been the result of my complaints. Instead, I mean to protect the right to make informed decisions about one’s healthcare.

        This is a right that is infringed upon when someone is misinformed about their potential healthcare options, as they would be for example when told that products have been “Medically proven for 60 years” whereas in fact what is meant by this statement is that the company making the product “has been involved in medical research relating to the product since 1952”.

        As for your suspicion that I “work for or for the benefit of pharmaceutical companies who would rather stuff elderly people full of toxic pain medications”, I can tell you that you are entirely mistaken. If you would like some evidence of this, you might want to read some of my more recent articles that are critical of the pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Reckitt Benckiser, regarding what I consider misleading advertising of their pain relief products:

        What Does “37% More Powerful” Really Mean?
        The Price of Painkillers
        The Price of Painkillers 2: Only Misleading in Australia

        To be frank, I find your assertion that I am motivated by the prospect of inheriting money that would otherwise be spent on these products to be rather bizarre, especially considering that I don’t think I know anyone (including my parents, who are not elderly) who’s ever considered buying one of their products. I never meant to imply any such thing either, and of course it’s not true, but if there’s anything I’ve said that’s led you to this conclusion I’d appreciate you pointing it out so I can try to improve my communication skills.

        Regarding a lack of reviews for these products, I don’t know what to put that down to. I can tell you that I’m not aware of anyone having been asked to remove any review (positive or negative) about these products on any basis, let alone on the basis that it is “subjective”, but I also haven’t looked for any such cases. I have, however, seen reports of uncomfortable experiences with Niagara Healthcare regarding cold calling and difficulties securing a refund. It might also interest you to know that the second most common search query used to reach this website is “niagara healthcare complaints”, which generally happens around once or twice every day, so it would seem that there are some people interested to know if anyone has complained about them.

        Your choice of whether or not to purchase one of Niagara Healthcare’s products is of course entirely up to you, and I don’t mean to try to persuade you one way or the other. My complaints against their advertisements were an effort to make sure they weren’t misleading people about their products, so that people such as yourself could have the opportunity to make well-informed decisions when it comes to whether or not to purchase them. I hope your decision to buy one of their beds works out for the best.

  5. They kept on my back four about four years,I eventually agreed to see them even though I was suffering the flue.
    The presentation was good and they continued on the health and how good the cycloid vibration is.
    Somehow I agred to buy the chair for $10723.00 that was after bein able to get a $2000 discount
    The next day I realised I could not afford the price and tried to stop the buying procees but they persuded me to buy the thermo cyclopad and hand instument controls for $5215 telling me millions of satisfied customers throught the world
    Now afterfive days tinninitis in ears has increased and depression has started knowing I cannot afford the objects and will not get a refund.
    Only buy if you have a fortune and do notexpect great results the cost infers

  6. I bought a Niagra Therapy chair about 10 years ago. It did cost a lot of money and I did feel a lot of pressure from the salesman to buy. However, I was very pleased with the results I got and the relief of my aches and pains. It completely mobilised me and I was able to lead a much more active and pain free life. After about six years the upholstery started to show signs of wear and look shabby and also I had regular problems with the control unit and had to pay for the mechanic to come out and put things right. I also bought their hand unit at the same time and I still regularly use that with good effect. I sold the chair, for a small amount, about three years ago mainly because it looked so shabby. I am 70 years old now and suffering from the pain with arthritis. I do not like taking lots of medication and so I am thinking of buying one of their vibration pads as I can use that anywhere. If I can afford it later I would consider buying a bed.

  7. Have just had a free Niagra demonstration and when finished I said I wanted time to think about it and discuss it with my daughter. The salesman up till then had been very pleasant, but on receiving this information became quite angry and said I should have advised him at the beginning that my daughter had control of my finances (which she doesn’t), this immediately made me very wary and right up to the time he walked out my door he was trying to pressure me into buying. I found his attitude quite intimidating and would advise the elderly to have someone with them when trialling this product. The products are very expensive and I personally cannot afford to throw money away. He even suggested for the sake of my health to get a loan. I am 73 and have fairly bad arthritis and asthma. I will investigate further but am not rushing into it.

    1. Yes they are very pushy in there sales tactics and I know from experience as I was employed by them for a number of years. Products do work. But need to be used properly. And only cost about a tenth of the asking price! But if anyone does purschase a product dont upgrade a few years later thats there trick they come back in about 2 years and try and trade in your old product for a new one. When there is no need, products should last 10+ years if looked after

  8. Hi, I recently bought a hand unit at a Home renovation show, about 5 days later the unit was delivered to my door, by a person that was indicated on the reciept that I was given. I did not receive any instructions with the unit, I used the unit a couple of times and found it too strong I could not control the amount or vibration as the unit did not appear to work properly, and it also activated my tennis elbow pain, that I had much therapy done on earlier, I was told the unit would help all types of ailments, such as arthritis etc. I called the people up in Quebec Canada, and explained my situation, I was burshed off by the company manager, I thn called a representative in my home town, and again was brushed off. All I wanted was to have the unit returned as apparently it is not working for me and I do not need more pain. Does any one out there know where the main office is and who one could get a hold of. In Alberta we have a week in which to cancel any contract if the customer changes their mind, the people an Niagara hold you off long enough for that time to pass, so they do not have to deal with you.

  9. Had a phone call today (30.04.2015 ) from this firm, I asked where they had got our phone number from as we are ex-directory.The man from from my husband, and I told him he has Dementia and this is a nuisance call and will be reporting them to Trading Standard.

    1. Thanks for your comment Sue, I hope your complaint to Trading Standards is productive. That certainly sounds like very unwelcome behaviour from them!

  10. Keith Moore 2015/11/22
    Yesterday had their Rep Talk to us (76 Y.O) for 40 minutes C/P with video. We tried it for less than 10 mins when he went into closure mode. I managed to get the price for the Hand unit NZ$1765 which I found excessive by 3 times even allowing for his markup. So i said I found it irritating and would talk to my EA specialist.
    PS have you done anything about the Dentist’s Cartel? seems tobe strange how the all give V similar Quotes

  11. I fail to see what all the fuss is about. The products does work, has the author of this website tried it, or just causing evil, to knock a good no drug support technique.

  12. A friend of mine recommended it to me. Her dad is diabetic and had ulcers and after using the Niagara therapy, his ulcers were healed and he never felt better so I sent it to my Mum in France and she has been using it for 5 months now and she is loving it, she hasn’t got the pain that she used to have and she sleeps much better. But before I bought it a consultant came to my house and gave me a free demonstration but I didn’t feel any pressure from him to purchase anything, he was a gentleman. I asked him to give me a couple of days to think over it and he was nice enough to accept it and walk away but I felt it that my mum could benefit from it so I decided to go ahead with it and he has been in touch since and asking about how my mum is going. So if Niagara therapy can improve my mum’s health I am happy.

  13. Just visited my elderly parents today who told me they were visited earlier by a Niagara representative. Apparently the rep did the demo which consisted of a ‘sheet’ which covered the seat of an arm chair and it was connected to a machine (it was taken out of a small case). I had a quick read of the pamphlet the rep left behind which really gave me nothing. I asked my mum how much they wanted for this. The answer was $4,000.00. I laughed and I told my mum that the machine should do all her daily chores for that price and that would help negate her aches and pains. I googled it just to kill her curiosity and came across this page. Love it!!

  14. I just received a phonecall re this Niagara product & was a little suspicious from the beginning when the caller asked if I was still living at (blank) address. I should have ended the call there but replied ‘no’ & then she got the correct address. Suffering from extreme pain in my knee joints & desperate to find relief, I gullibly agreed to an appointment later in the week. Apparently they will ring to confirm. Thank goodness I had my wits about me enough to google & very fortunately found this site. Thank you for taking the time to post such thorough & informative information. I will be posting on facebook.

  15. Humm…a lot to digest here. So I did some research myself. The Niagara products do cost a hefty price but so does physiotherapy and if you can use the Niagara product 1-3 times a day it would pay for itself in a year while getting 2-3 times more therapy than the physio provides. Just do the math. Also, just getting to a physio can be a huge task for some disabled or elderly patients. I also checked into some of the professional references and such as the sporting teams such as Freemantel and Geelong AFL clubs, Black Caviar (horse racing) and both the AU Olympic and Para-Olympic teams and it all proved legitimate. Why did this get left out of the article? Through my mother-in-law I found a neighbor here in Bellbowrie QLD that has used the Niagara chair for about five years, she suffers for a chronic arthritic condition, none the less she raves about the therapy.
    I am not on with misleading advertising or any sort, I despise it, but there is nothing wrong if done in a fair manner. Any legitimate company has the right to advertise and strive for business success and many have done so for decades. Having sales persons, reps or consultants is also standard business practice, as no company can survive without sales revenue. Keep in mind the big pharma companies also utilize paper and magazine ads, and also use reps. More so, and without your knowledge, the big pharma pay massive rebate payments to doctors and animal vets to entice these professionals to push their products on patients such as you. Every time your doctor writes a prescription he/she increases their rebate payment from the big pharma company. Payments are made both quarterly and yearly. This is partly to blame for the whole “over-prescribing” antibiotics…the doctors are enticed by financial rebates. Sorry, I veered of course, but it all can be factored in.
    I almost forgot, I found multiple university (Sydney Uni, Flinders Uni and more) professor video testimonials whereas the professor recorded the results of a Niagara device studies within the university premises where the study was conducted. I highly doubt the university executive staff, being risk and liability opposed, would allow this had the studies been illegitimate.

  16. With the proliferation of the internet has also come the open forum for people to complain about just about anything.

    Niagara products made & sold in the US years ago are still around & working quite fine.

    Expensive??? Certainly not cheap, but quality never is.

    Effective??? For most people…absolutely! Especially when you can use it whenever you want, as much as you want, without fear of an overdose or chemical reaction.

    I’m sure that there are over zealous salespeople, the same as in any field, but ultimately, the decision on whether or not to purchase is based on a cost/benefit evaluation…and I can tell yoh from both sidez….as a customer and as a sales rep for these great products….the relief from pain at your fingertips, without drugs or trips to this Dr or that clinic….is well worth the cost.

    I receive no compensation from the company for what views I share….but each & every day, I receive relief from pain.

    I hope my comnents are well received here….and I reiterate, I receive no compensation for them & paid for my equipment like a regular customer.

  17. I am glad to have read both sides of the debate on here. I have recently got the niagara bed for my 81 year old father with parkinsons. The main reason was for the health and safety improvements for my father and carers of having a bed that would assist him in sitting up in the mornings. I hadn’t thought about the therapeutic effects initially. I don’t know if the reps are more ethical in the UK but I found them not hard sell or pushy.

    I do agree with mark that they should not make medical based claims that are unsubstantiated and should be challenged when this happens. However, I think if you don’t have unrealistic expectations you may be very pleasantly surprised. My father definitely finds the vibration therapy relaxing most of the time, my own back stopped aching after 20 minutes on the bed with the motor on, my father is sleeping well and he sometimes walks better after a session with the vibration on. It looks like being well worth the expense for our father and for saving carers’ backs.

    When I cancelled the first visit after I had to replace my father’s bed more urgently than their turnaround time would have allowed for, I received just one call from them and they didn’t pester me after that. When I then later arranged a visit for while I was with my father, the rep was very respectful and quite informative. I did feel the onus was rather heavily on the vibration therapy rather than being informative about the bed dimensions and set up. In my own experience, the people who delivered and assembled were great and the rep came a few days later to check it was OK for my dad and to give us a demonstration to get optimum use from it. She did get a bit enthusiastic for us to get a chair too but when I said this definitely would not happen in the near future, she didn’t push any further.

    So far so good and the physiotherapist was interested when she visited. Hope this is helpful.

    1. Hi Every One, am in process of thinking of buying the wand and was uncertain of which way to go, so I have found this site very helpful. I have had a demonstration and found the lady to be lovely and no she was not at all pushy and I explained to her that I needed time to think about it and that was no problem for her. Thank you so much for all these helpful comments.

  18. I managed a retirement village in Warwick and Niagara contacted us to give demonstrations ! I organized it in conjunction with a village morning tea so all the residents would benefit from the information. I requested their be no hard sell and any residents looking to purchase a product, rep would have to go through myself. Very agitated and aggressive. …Richard…ex biggest lower contestant was the rep ! He was very pushy aggressive and underhanded in sideline ing myself and my request and attempted to sell several products to residents. On questioning residents …one had handed a cheque over for a chair for $10,000 ….ffs that is insane and could buy a small car !!! I immediately sought legal advice and paid myself for a letter

    1. Beware these people pushing Niagara products are working on a commission basis !after purchasing a pad And manual vbrounit some years ago I had no issues until recently I purchased a chair only to find that when in less than a year the battery charge facility failed and on ringing the company was fobbed off and offered no real assistance to rectify the faulty battery!istrongly advise against dealing with this company who’s ethics are virtuously non existent as the twelve month warranty I was given is not worth a pinch of shit !yes naturally I am very very angry and disappointed with Niagara asi was employed with awell organised and recognised health and aged care facilities and will be contacting many relevant organisations in the very near future !niagara. Shame on. Your. Totally unethical behaviour particularly in my instance. Peter wood. Inverell. I’m not at all concerned about revealing my name for receiving such a shonky service from a supposedly. Ethical company!

    2. Yes I know from experience working with the company for 5+ years Richard roach is the king of pushy salesmen I have had customers tell me he wouldnt leave til they had signed. Just remember with all salesmen you can say no!!!!!

    3. I am Richards ex wife and you are right he is very under handed and wont stop until he gets a sale! I was disgusted at the behaviour he became accustomed to just to get the almighty dollar and keep himself at the top of the leaders board. Richard will use emotional blackmail and guilt to convince families to buy the product even ringing back to the company to arrange a special discount. This is a set up the reps call each other to have a laugh about how close they are at closing the deal! I actually went out with him once and I was appauled at the way he and the company will do whatever it takes to get a sale it is disgusting and wrong. at this one visit the homeowner actually asked him to leave and I said ok lets leave these lovely people and move on but he would not budge he stayed until he got that man to sign on the dotted line!! I have never been so embarrassed or disgusted I never knew this side of my husband. I work as an aged care nurse and am an advocate for elderly people, I know first hand the tactic’s this man and the company will do to get money. The company puts on holidays overseas twice a year for their top sales people and award them with bonus’s for sales one year Richard sold $1000000 of product in less than a year! That gives you an idea of how hard they push for the sale. As for the product I still have my bed but the only feature that helps me is the fact I can move the foot and head of it, the hand unit helps with sore feet and muscles but is very far from worth the expensive cost. The owners of the company are so removed from reality they would have no idea how hard it is to survive on a pension let alone fork out cash for their product. Do yourselves a favour save your money see a massage therapist regularly and you get better results.

  19. Niagara cycloidal therapy does work. I have had leg pains for over a year and several doctors have been of little help. I tried the Niagara Thermo Cyclo pad and their hand unit and notices an immediate reduction in pain. While the price is excessive, I went ahead and purchased the hand unit. I am very pleased I did, as after two weeks of using the device I am pain free, and walking better. I have stopped using some of the medication needed to reduce my pain level. I am so pleased, I have now purchased the Niagara Thermo Cyclo pad. (The price for a new one is truly excessive but I purchased a near new second hand one)
    There are many Scholarly articles on the cycloidal vibration therapy. In fact I found 237. Some of them are in hospital trials with highly positive results.

    1. Hi Bonner, thanks for commenting.

      I’m glad your leg pains have improved, although I hope you understand that anecdotes are not reliable forms of evidence for things like this. They fail to account for any confounding factors, such as placebo effect, natural healing, and regression to the mean, and as a result they are all too often misleading. This doesn’t mean that they are false, of course, only that they can’t be used to draw reliable conclusions about the effect of a treatment.

      Likewise, the number of results you can find while searching for “cycloidal vibration therapy” is not evidence of its efficacy. It’s important to evaluate research on its merits, not just on its conclusions.

      When I went through a large swathe of research on this two and a half years ago, which was provided by Niagara Healthcare in response to my complaint, I found that the vast majority of it was of very poor methodological quality. Typically it suffered from small sample sizes, inadequate controls, and an lack of blinding measures. This means the research failed to account for factors such as placebo effect and random variation between participants.

      In fact, the only high quality trial they cited (it the only one with a decent sample size and appropriate control and blinding schemes) found that the device being tested worked no better than a sham device in terms of reducing pain. Here’s a link to this particular study:

      If you like, you can read my analysis of all the evidence Niagara provided as part of this document the ASA’s old website:

      Although it’s certainly not the most implausible idea I’ve ever come across, I remain far from convinced that Niagara Therapy’s products have clinically significant specific therapeutic effects.

      I’m also particularly averse to trusting Niagara after having found out that they continued to mislead consumers in the same way even after the ASA’s ruling on my complaint.

      Earlier this year, another person who I don’t know (G. Simons) complained to the ASA about Niagara still using the misleading and false claim that their products have been “Medically proven for 60 years”. Their complaint was settled, but you may remember that Niagara’s response to my questioning of this statement three years ago was to say that they actually meant “medically researched since 1955”. I’m thoroughly unimpressed to have found that the continued to use the same misleading claim despite this admission.

      Here is a link to that complaint from this year:

      1. Hi Mark. Thanks for your reply. Nearly 2 months have passed by since your comments. I wanted to give the Niagara cycloidal vibration therapy a good try before replying. For me the Niagara cycloidal vibration therapy does work. Provided I use it daily, I can get many hours of near pain free walking. To me it has been far better than the drugs that I have been given for pain relief, and the cycloidal vibration therapy does not upset my stomach like the pain killer tablets. It would be magical if the Niagara would cure my foot problem, but I know it never will, just like pain killers wont. To me it is a better alternative than popping pills which have unwanted side effects.

  20. Mark,
    Why don’t you put all of this to rest by actually scheduling an appointment with a Niagara rep? Better yet, why don’t you go to the Niagara office in Parkinson QLD and have your appointment done on site. As you seem like a relatively young fella and hopefully in good health, I would suggest you bring along a relative or person with major pain or health issues and have Niagara do a therapy session on this person. While you are at the Niagara office you can have your specific list of issues and concerns addressed first hand.
    Mark, if you truly deem yourself a credible investigative journalist then you owe it to both your followers and the accused (Niagara Therapy) to engage in a legitimate and comprehensive investigation.

    As I see it you, and many others, are doing nothing more than internet research and somewhat hiding behind the internet vail. We can all agree that “the proof is in the pudding”. So Mark, put on your big boy pants and get face to face with those you are accusing. The ball is in your court Mark and time to put some backbone into your profession.

    On another note: I am not really understanding the comments about salesmen or commission sales people. Business 101 provides that there is no business without some level sales. Duh! Every business in the world is involved in sales of some sort because if they didn’t sell something then there would be no business at all. All of the witch hunting seems to make people illogical.

    I am not suggesting Niagara Therapy is perfect but any company that has been around since 1949 will inevitably have a few complaints or even a few questionable sales persons. Whether your company is IBM, Mercedes Benz or even Ferrari, some where along the way, especially over so many decades, even the best firms have a few bumps in the road. If Niagara has sold these devices to 16 million+ persons, wouldn’t it stand to reason that a few negative issues would arise? If all the issues that Niagara are listing above and considering they have been in business for 67 years with 16 million+ users, then I would suggest that Niagara has one heck of a good track record.

    Come on Mark, time to man up and dig deeper. You only respond to the witch hunter replies but not to the logical or positive replies and input. A fair shake is in order here. Are you going to do your job and get in person with Niagara or continue to base your forum on sketchy backdoor internet information? Get with Niagara, video it and document it provide first hand information or stop fueling illegitimate fire in order to promote your forum. What are you going to do Mark?

    1. Peter all crap….
      Mark is well within his right. And you seem put up to try and make them sound better than they are.

      1. And all Niagara sales people are scammer. And I know from experience..

  21. I was a former employee for 7 years. They prey on the elderly and people with mental problems. And use dodgey sales tactics to trick old customers to upgrade to a new product and loss thousands only after using the first product for 2 years. When they say there products will last 20 years… All crap.

    1. Hi John,

      I find it curious that you you’ve put forth such scathing comments regarding the sales ethics of Niagara without a single positive point offered to balance this out AND yet you worked for them for 7 years??!!

      How does this happen?

      This certainly doesn’t sound like the objective, un-emotive type of review you would expect from someone who stayed with a company for such a decent period of time…and who, I would have assumed, left on amicable terms…

      Something smells off here…

  22. I have had a Niagara pad for over 25 years and have found it to be absolutely amazing. I use it when I have congestion in my respiratory tract and it help soothe and bring up mucus. I also have MS and find it helps invigorate my system and help with the fatigue. Furthermore, I bought the pad second hand and it has never broken or let me down. Neither has it pumped me full of chemicals with false claims and a list of contraindications as long as your arm and at an extreme. cost. All my family have used it, from young to old and for a variety of reasons.
    For me I wouldn’t part with it for anything

  23. I received a call from them someone is coming this week tue after reading comment s I would like to cancel the visit.Is their a e-mail address you can give me to stop them would be very great full s abel

  24. I feel for anyone that receives a call from these leeches. I have a story to tell but it will take a while.
    In short –
    My father was convinced to purchase the portable massager. $5000 odd.
    My father has a pacemaker, Parkinson’s, diabetes, overweight & many other mental & health issues.
    He ended up in hospital after being resuscitated. I contacted Niagara & instructed them to take the machine back & refund my father. They did, only when I advised them I have enduring guardianship & enduring power of attorney of my father.
    I found out yesterday, they have contacted him again & sold the machine again!

  25. this is one of the worst companies i have ever come across they constantly phone to make appointments which they never turn up for then they come up with stupid excuses i have told them to take me off their call list but they still ring even being rude on the phone to them does not work anyone who gets a call from these people tell them to #### off and change your phone number or they will haunt you for EVER

  26. thanks for your report. This therapy works, my mother lived enjoying here life with an amazinng Niagara bed, it is sad to see the above comments

  27. Thanks for this information. I was approached by one of their sales reps this morning outside Coles at Katoomba and signed up for a “free treatment”. I’ll politely decline when they phone or send an email.

  28. Thanks for the confirmation of a possible rort, my radar told me as much. Selling “snake oil” in any guise has been around for many years and only preys on the vulnerable when they are at their weakest (chronic pain etc.).

  29. HI Mark, Just had the consult/treatment/demo yesterday afternoon and will add what I hope are reasonably objective observations. I did find the product pitch very ‘thorough’ aka long. The documentation and diagrams, presented as you would a school project from a folder, was enough for me to see TGA goods registration etc. and lots of anatomical pathways. The before and after photos and some other pictorial testimony seemed quite dated to me as well as vague referencing of studies. Explanation of the role of uric acid and mobilisation of it was new to me as a treatment method but was of interest because my arthritis is Gout derived. My query here was why Allopurinoll would not achieve the same outcome (I have not been able to tolerate this drug as it does not relieve my severe pain so; am stuck using the gastrically dangerous non steroidal anti-inflamatories). In general the salesperson was a decent, quite focussed bloke who tolerated my extreme cynicism and questions politely and within shouting distance of plausibility.
    To the demo – I have multiple co-morbidities, as we say, the most relevant here being extremely obese with lymhodoema. I have had a history of vascular ulcers but have been clear for several years. I have severe arthritis in the knees and very limited walking ability. The consultant placed the pad behind me in seated position and went to work on one leg with the hand massager from foot to above the knee. After half an hour the colour of my foot had gone from a darkish purple tint to normalish skin tone, my normally slightly puffy leg appeared to be visibly and to the touch less so and my atrophy like stiff calf was loose and pliable. The pain in the treated knee (everpresent) was barely perceptible and continued to be so for several hours with my gait much freer and less like my normal arthritic waddle. My neuropathy was less pronounced and I walked on rough pavers which normally cause me discomfort. My friend who has been involved in my treatments witnessed this and confirmed my observations.
    I write this because I can relate to those who say it works but also am in accord with those who have had an unhappy experience. It is apparent that the sales pitch could easily tip over into the hard aggressive sell, the pitch has all the elements. I am grateful to our consultant who spent very considerable time in his demonstration and continued to check how I was for the rest of the time.
    The cost is extraordinary and the results appear, at least on me, to be equally so. It is a dilemna for me so I wouldn’t presume to advise anyone. I will continue reading and am appreciative of your article and subsequent feedback.
    All in all the information seems to confirm a horses for courses situation.
    Mike Kelly

  30. Hello mate. I was reminded of Niagara while watching Fake Britain Season 8 Episode 5.. Particularly the script, “helps blood circulation”, asking about medical conditions & symptoms, “free demonstrations”, massage equipment, and thousands of pounds in stuff sold to old people. I briefly worked there after moving to the Uk to tie me over. It was disgusting and I got myself fired within a couple of weeks.

    When I watched that episode, which showed a VERY similar company called Dreamworks or something like that, and I was reminded of all that again and googled if they had been shut down as well. To my horror, they had not.

    I’d be willing to give testimony to what went on etc. I worked there in June or July 2006, if I remember correctly. I might still have the script, I am not sure.

  31. Two points.
    a) Sales script
    b) Efficacy
    Yes, the hard sell marketing organizations which are often copying American sales tactics are terrible. You can also count Kirby vacuum cleaners and any other product which requires an in-home demo. But then again one could also look at bad sales tactics of many double glazing companies.
    Niagara products work. My wife had a stroke and was paralysed on left side. MRI shows brain on right side is dead. The use of pad and hand held device has restored feeling to the bad side. Every morning the muscles have cramped up. The arm and hand is rigid with a claw like look and rock solid.
    Thirty mins with Niagara and all is flexible again. My wife uses the pad whever she is in pain. She says it works. She uses very little pain medication. If you are healthy the benefits will not be so obvious. Just wait till you have a medical/health issue and it helps. You won’t be so quick to sneer. BTW after 7 months my wife is able to do so much more than the docs ever said she would. Little things which now take her from total ‘max assist’ to medium assist for so many actions.
    I am trying to find a manufacturer here in USA. I want to buy her a bed now. Sadly cannot find anything at the moment.

    1. I bought these products off EBay. They are at least 1970 models. They work great. How many other products can you say that about? If anyone wants me to buy used here in US, let me know. I will gladly have them sent to me and checked out and then sent on to you. This must be cheaper than buying new.

  32. patrick
    I live in cairns, and at cairns central , they were touting niagara, got my phone no, and called me a few times. Nothing better to do they gave a demonstration. THe golf ball spinning on his hand was interesting..
    Stating this is a medical devise used in over 45 hospitals around the world, and maybe many more.
    Also used by dockers and bulldogs, used in one hospital on patients after heart surgery .
    Emphasizing it is a medical device ..
    If the device is so good ,and the device is as old as me. why have i not heard of it. Modern day technology and mass production, would make it viable.
    Sorry too scepticle no sale.
    yours pat

  33. I have blocked two recent comments on this article as spam because they were an Australian quack – a naturopath who claims on his website to treat cancer with intravenous Vitamin C, among other dangerous health fraud scams – advertising their services.

    This comments section is not for advertising. It’s certainly not for advertising quack clinics.

  34. We are just cleaning out my wife’s mpthers house.Found the massager that they were sold a some years ago.About the product I don’t know but the selling method was disgusting.The woman selling it told the old couple they had been sent by the district nurse.She arrived at 11.00 am and stayed until 1.30 pm when she had a sale.Old people like to eat on time and this put them under pressure.The massager is still in the box after being used once to no effect.I rung Niagara to cancel the deal but got no joy.

  35. I have had one for years.
    I have a shattered knee and leg in 1986 and the pain was extremely bad.
    I bought my chair off eBay and a bargain, I will never look back and need a oral med for my osteo arthritis.
    My husband has four heart conditions and while it will never help with that, it enables him more energy from circulation and better sleep.
    Moreover, in Australia it has the therapeutic goods act registration which means they had to prove the claims.
    Even the Australian Sports Institute Of Australia have them as does some of the big footy clubs.
    As for published research, they don’t need it, they only have to prove there claims of what it does to the govt. Aa per every therapeutic product that hits the market.
    If you look closely at what it does, and what it not designed to do then you will note many conditions are not recommended to use this product by the manufacturers.
    I wouldn’t buy one off the pushy sales staff and they definitely don’t have a good track record, but the product itself is awesome

    1. I’m not an expert in Australian medical device regulations, but I did just search the Australian Therapeutic Goods Register for “Niagara” to see what it had to say about the devices included in there. Here’s the first result (PDF link):

      The indications given for it are:

      “These devices may increase local area blood flow, assist in the reduction of musculoskeletal pain and may increase joint mobilisation.”

      The weak wording of this (“may assist” etc.) implies to me that it is not supported by much evidence at all. Rather, I expect this regulatory scheme is similar to New Zealand’s in that its primary focus is on safety, and these products don’t seem to be dangerous.

  36. This is not a comment on the claims of efficacy nor the dodgy sales tactics- (which clearly exist having read the whole thread).
    I bought a pad second hand. It was faulty so I opened it up to repair it and investigate. What amazes me is inside is a motor that Niagara have bought in. It’s a nice unit, but basic- it has two fans on its spindle and some very basic electronics. The motor causes a metal bar to vibrate due to the rotation of the fans. The whole thing could be manufactured for less than £150 cost price.
    The mark up is ridiculous.

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