Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Neal's Yard - who thought this would be a good idea?

The Guardian have a regular "You ask, they answer" column as part of their "Ethical Living" blog.

Today, the "they" in question is Neal's Yard, the well known spelling mistake and woo-remedy store. I can see the team meeting at Neal's Yard HQ, with everyone sat on bean bags drinking organic herbal tea (coffee and boardroom tables being too corporate!). Desperate to spread the message of holistic organic goodness, someone comes up with the idea of getting a piece into The Guardian. After all, surely only mung bean eating, sandal wearing beardy hippies read The Guardian.... don't they?

It obviously didn't occur to them that a fair few skeptics also read The Guardian, and regularly frequent thier Comment is Free website.

So far, around 25 questions have been asked. I don't think Neal's Yard will enjoy answering them. Here are a choice few:

Benulek : How do you validate the medical efficacy of your 'remedies'?

Saltycdogg : Do you see no problem with trying to be 'ethical' while at the same time selling snake oil for a living?

puzzlebobble : you sell a multitude of products for a wide variety of medical conditions, some of which are serious or life threatening.

Please could you explain what level of evidence of efficacy you require before stocking any product?

If, as I suspect, the level of evidence of efficacy is poor then will you tell us what, if any, studies are done to look for harmful side-effects? How are these studies conducted? Furthermore please show us the power calculations for these studies.

Surely you don't view it as ethical to sell products which are of unproven benefit and which you don't even know are safe?

takearisk : Your website states:

The correct homoeopathic remedy will stimulate a sick person's vitality to send healing energy where it is needed, thus rectifying mental, emotional and physical imbalances.

Could you please explain how the 'correct homoeopathic remedy' is decided on and describe the qualifications of the people who make these decisions?

I'd also be grateful for a biological definition of 'healing energy' and an indication of where I can find the scientific evidence for its existence.

I can't wait for the answers.


  1. Four days of them swimming round a barrel.

    Almost cruel. Almost.