The BBC has returned an episode of Dragons' Den to iPlayer after it was removed from the platform due to concerns surrounding a product that was said to help with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

The episode, which aired on January 18, saw businesswoman Giselle Boxer explain she had used “diet, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and ear seeds” to aid her recovery from ME, and had turned the latter idea into the brand Acu Seeds.

The pitch became historic as all six Dragons, including Gary Neville - who was a guest on the show, put in an offer for her Acu Seeds product, which is described as a “DIY needle-free ear acupuncture for anxiety, migraines, hormonal issues, insomnia, weight loss and more”.

After hearing their offers, she decided to pick tech entrepreneur Steven Bartlett to invest in her business.

Following the Dragons' Den episode, a joint letter signed by ME campaign groups was sent to Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairwoman Dame Caroline Dinenage and Health and Social Care Committee chairman Steve Brine.

The groups said as the episode had aired in prime time on BBC One, they were "very concerned" a large audience would have heard the pitch which they alleged “amounts to an unfounded claim that this form of alternative medicine can cure ME”.

The charity who organised the letter, Action for ME, also said on X (formerly Twitter) that its chief executive, Sonya Chowdhury, had also written to BBC director-general Tim Davie to voice “concerns over the episode”.

The episode was taken down from iPlayer following the complaint so the BBC could review the contents.

Dragons' Den returned to BBC iPlayer after being removed

The BBC has now added a clarification to the Dragons’ Den episode which includes the Acu Seeds product and returned it to iPlayer. 

On Saturday (January 27), a BBC spokesperson said: “Following a review of the episode, a clarification has been added to the programme on iPlayer to address the concerns raised.

“It reads: Acu Seeds are not intended as a cure for any medical condition and advice should always be sought from a qualified healthcare provider about any health concerns.”

There is also a note in the information section of the episode to highlight that the programme has been edited since broadcast.

The BBC has defended the inclusion of the wellness business on Dragons’ Den as it described the show as an “entertainment programme which features products created by entrepreneurs but is not an endorsement of them”.

The BBC, in a statement posted to its complaints section, added: "It shows real businesses pitching to investors to lift the lid on what happens in the business world.

“This episode featured an entrepreneur sharing her own personal experiences that had led to the creation of a business.”

The BBC also noted that within her pitch, Ms Boxer stated her “personal healing journey” had been a combination of treatments and that “ear seeds were never described as a cure for ME”.

The broadcaster continued by saying “Dragons’ Den does not, and has never, set out to offer medical advice and we believe its audience understands this” but added the clarification on iPlayer and in the episode due to the concerns raised.

The Northern Echo: Gary Neville and Emma Grede (third from left) are guest Dragon's on the latest series of BBC's Dragons' Den.Gary Neville and Emma Grede (third from left) are guest Dragon's on the latest series of BBC's Dragons' Den. (Image: BBC Studios/Simon Pantling/PA Wire)

What is myalgic encephalomyelitis?

ME is a long-term condition with a wide range of symptoms including extreme tiredness, sleep issues and concentration problems, according to the NHS website.

It can also lead to symptoms including muscle or joint pain, headaches, a sore throat and/or dizziness in some cases.

The NHS added there is currently no cure for the condition but there are treatments that may help manage ME.