FTC Goes After Marketers Hawking Natural Remedies For Bed Bug & Head Lice Problems

If you’ve ever had bed bugs or known anyone who’s endured an infestation, you know what a nightmarishly awful, stressful and expensive problem it can be. That’s why the Federal Trade Commission doesn’t want two companies to prey on consumer distress by offering up natural remedies for bedbugs and head lice if they’re not really that effective at getting rid of the critters.

The FTC filed deceptive advertising charges against the two companies for hawking things like cedar, cinnamon, lemon grass, peppermint and clove oil in their products to prevent and destroy infestations. RMB Group LLC is on the hook for charges related to its “Rest Easy” bed bug products, while Cedarcide Industries, Inc. is being challenged for how it markets its “Best Yet!” bed bug and head lice products.

The Environmental Protection agency says bed bugs have been steadily freaking out consumers in recent years, partly due to the cost people have to bear when trying to get rid of them. Some unfamiliar with how truly difficult it is to rid a dwelling of the pests could be swayed by products’ promises of an easy fix. Just spray a little natural oil and poof! No more problem — but it ain’t that easy.

The FTC is charging both marketing companies for deceptive advertising, and Cedarcide, the makers of”Best Yet!” are also in trouble for claiming that the product is endorsed by the federal government.

In a radio ad, the company claims: “Best Yet was developed at the request of the USDA for our military, as a solution for killing sand fleas. But guess what, it’s equally deadly to bed bugs, larvae and eggs.”

Rest Easy is marketed for use mainly for consumers who are staying in hotel rooms, as a safeguard against catching bed bugs while away from home. The FTC’s complaint says the company is making unsupported claims that the product can kill and repel bed bugs by creating a barrier that protects the area around a bed.

The companies will either have to provide scientific evidence that their products do what they say or stop marketing them as they have been.


Edit Your Comment

  1. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    “The companies will either have to provide scientific evidence that their products do what they say or stop marketing them as they have been.”

    Too bad the same isn’t true of “dietary supplements” and “homeopathic” BS. Because then not one of them would be on the market, and not one red cent would be wasted by the gullible on such useless products.

    See also: placebo effect.

    • Bladerunner says:

      I was going to say exactly the same thing!

    • A.Mercer says:

      Sometimes they do but only in the extreme cases. The FTC went after Airborne.

      • Bladerunner says:

        Every homeopathic remedy is extreme in my book. At least Airborne contained things, and not just the “water memory” of things.

        • KyBash says:

          I don’t know if I’d call most OTC stuff extreme.

          Given a choice between something that’s cheap but likely won’t work and something that’s expensive and is probably going to be in one of those “bad drug” lawsuit commercials, I’d consider going will cheap and cheerful.

        • sweaterhogans says:

          I hate the connotation of the word homeopathic, and a lot are ridiculous. But every natural remedy is extreme? What about eating ginger instead of dramamine for nausea? I have never had anything work better. If there is a food or vitamin that works just as good (or better) than a pharma drug, why not take it?

          • Bladerunner says:

            Homeopathic does not mean home remedy. What you described is not homeopathic. Look up what it actually means, please. There is a difference between so called “natural remedies” and homeopathy, in that “natural remedies” may or may not be bullshit, but homeopathy ALWAYS IS.

          • Anna Kossua says:

            Homeopathy is where they take a substance that *causes* a symptom, then dilute so much there’s generally none of it left. It’s like taking an aspirin tablet and throwing it in a lake.

            The “ingredients” are usually things that would cause the problem, or seem totally random. Oscillococcinum, a flu remedy sold all over the place, is made from duck liver or heart, then diluted down to nothing.

            About that dilution… on the labels they list the ingredients along with a number like 10x, 60x, D60, 30c, etc. That isn’t the amount of ingredients, it’s the amount of dilution. At 60x, there’s nothing left of the ingredient. They believe (or want us to believe) the water remembers the substance, even when there’s not one molecule left. Some even say the phases of the moon make it work better!

            Total quackery. It confused me for the longest time, I thought homeopathy was the same as a natural remedy. Not even close!

  2. SirWired says:

    Yet another example of how useless the FTC is. These products were outright fraudulent. You lie on a loan application and you get to go to Federal Prison. Since this is a business doing the ripping off, what is the FTC’s remedy? They’ve extracted a toothless promise that the defendants will Go Forth and Sin No More, and that they will agree to have a judgement for $0.25M against them that they do not, in fact, actually have to pay. (Because they’ve already shipped the money off-shore, most likely.)

    And Consumerist, what’s with leaving off links to the appropriate articles or press releases?

  3. osiris73 says:

    I use the “best yet” on my dogs for fleas and it absolutely works in seconds. I’ve sprayed it on ants coming into my house and again, they die within seconds and the totally avoid the area I’ve sprayed for days. I’ve tried it on a few ticks I’ve caught crawling on me, and they died within second. I’ve never tried it on bedbugs, since we’ve never had them, but it sure as hell worked on the bugs I’ve tried.

  4. Southern says:

    Tea Tree Oil.

    1 tsp of Tea Tree Oil per quart of shampoo, and you’ll never see lice again.

    My 2 daughters have very long hair, and when they were in school we used to use Rid by the gallon. We’d get rid of them for a week or two, then they’d be back. It was to the point where every weekend my wife would have to do a scalp check of them.

    Then someone told me about Tea Tree Oil.

    I was skeptical, but tried it. Within a week, the lice were gone. The nits were gone. The eggs were gone. Now, 10 years later, we’ve STILL never seen another case of head lice. The 10-15 people that we’ve recommended it to have all told us the same thing.

    You’ll always find a bottle (or 3 or 4) of Tea Tree Oil in my house.

    • missminimonster says:

      Tea Tree oil is great for so many other things, too. Try putting some on your face and soaking your feet in it. :)

      As far as bedbugs go, I’ve heard that diatomaceous earth is very effective.

      • Southern says:

        Re: DE

        Yep, I’ve heard the same thing about DE in regards to bedbugs; hopefully I’ll never have to actually test it. :)

      • richcreamerybutter says:

        DE is very effective, but it should be used in conjunction with other traditional extermination treatments if you already have bedbugs. Otherwise it’s good to apply in cracks with caulk as a prevention, or after you’ve eliminated the bugs to avoid reinfestation.

        Although food-grade DE is safe, you should still wear a respirator.

  5. nicoleintrovert says:

    Skeptics – 1 Woo – 0

  6. Snaptastic says:

    Oils tend to kill the critters, but it only works when it is directly applied to them. Once the oils dry up, they are useless.

    I identified what I thought was a bedbug at work, but it was a batbug (same danged bug with a few microscopic differences in the head). The good side is that it led to the discovery of a decade-old nest of bats…but the batbugs are crawling all over the place. A company used the oils, but the oils have dried up and the batbugs are crawling around again.

  7. Wrathernaut says:

    For the record, my car nor my bed has bed bugs or lice.

    He had fleas once, but it was very short-lived.

    • Wrathernaut says:

      argh, cat, not car. Although my car hasn’t had any of those things.

      But, that’s twice he’s been featured on consumerist, so he’s practically an interwebs celebrity.