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Amber beads and essential oils?

Find out why you can’t make unsubstantiated claims about the powers of amber beads and essential oils.

By Trust and Safety 13 October 2023

Amber bead necklaces are often claimed to help 'ease' teething troubles. Some essential oils are claimed to help with things from headaches and stress, to anxiety and depression.

Some people believe these to be true, and that's their right. We're not here to say people who feel they benefit from these products are wrong.

With that said, sellers of any product aren't allowed to make claims that can't be proven by scientific study. Products advertised in this way can often give false hope to vulnerable people.

In 2015, the Commerce Commission issued formal advice to an online seller who had been making false claims about the powers of their amber beads:

"[If you] cannot adequately substantiate all of the claims relating to the therapeutic benefits of the product, reasonable grounds do not exist for the claims to be made. Such claims are therefore in breach of the Fair Trading Act."

What does this mean?

It means you can’t make claims about your product if they can't be scientifically proven. Making misleading claims that can't be backed up can breach the FTA.

Examples of misleading claims

  • "When worn against the skin, the amber warms and releases the oil that helps soothe and relieve symptoms of teething."
  • "Scientific research has proved that succinic acid (or any other property) has a very positive influence on teething babies/pets/anyone."
  • "Succinic acid strengthens the body and improves immunity."
  • "Amber beads/succinic acid has been proven to be the equal or better of many commercial drugs, and much less expensive"

How do I sell products without making misleading claims?

The Association of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA) supports the Therapeutic Advertising Pre-vetting Service, often known as TAPS.

TAPS can be used to ensure that listing descriptions don't breach any law. If you’re selling, as a business, it's worth considering using this service.

Risk of strangulation

Plunket guidelines state that necklaces, hairclips, and other jewellery are a choking and strangulation risk, so it’s better if they're not worn. This includes amber beads.

Amber necklaces should be removed from a baby when the baby is unattended even if this is likely to be for a very short period of time. Babies shouldn’t be left wearing necklaces while sleeping – whether that is during the day or overnight.

Can I still sell amber beads, essential oils and other alternative remedies?

Yes, but don’t make any claims that you can't back up. We recommend running your description past TAPS before you list on the site if you're an 'in trade' account.


Trust and Safety
Trust and Safety