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Neal's Yard Remedies is a British chain of alternative medicine and cosmetics stores founded in 1981. They also have branches in Japan[1] and the USA.[2] In 2008 they attracted strong criticism for claiming, against the evidence, that the homeopathic preparations they sold could help prevent and treat serious fatal diseases.

Contents

History

The first Neal's Yard Remedies shop opened in 1981 in a corner of Neal's Yard in Covent Garden. Romy Fraser, the founder, was interested in alternative medicine and wanted to bring together all the varying so called natural remedies available in one shop.[3] The shop offered a wide selection of dried herbs, a large range of homoeopathic preparation, essential oils, Bach flower remedies, and other unproven and untested medicine products. A range of toiletries based on herbs and essential oils was developed and packaged in blue glass.[4]

In 1985 a small factory was opened in South London to meet increasing demand. In 1986 they opened two new shops and they have continued to grow and now have 29 shops in the UK and 9 in Japan. Neal's Yard also supply to well-known department stores like John Lewis.

In 2005 Neal's Yard Head office moved from South London to a new purpose-built facility at Peacemarsh, near Gillingham, Dorset, which they term an "ecofactory". That same year Romy Fraser sold the business to Peter Kindersley[5], former publisher and owners of Sheepdrove organic farm, providing enough land to grow a large percentage of the herbs that are used in their products.[6]

Awards

The company has been a regular recipient of awards for its ethics, ecological approach and, in particular, popularity of its skincare products.

In 2005 they won the RSPCA's 2005 Alternative Award for its ethical treatment of animals.[7] They have also won the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection's Golden Rabbit, a 2008 Carbon Neutral Company award,[8] the 2009 CEW Best British Brand and Best British Organic Skin Product,[9], and the 2009 Sunday Times Style Beauty Awards, Best Organic/Natural Product[10]

Criticisms

In April 2008, the company was investigated by the BBC for claiming that the homeopathic preparations they sell can help prevent and treat serious fatal diseases such as malaria. It was reported that this practice was "highly dangerous and it puts people's lives at risk."[11] Subsequently the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said the product was "clearly intended to be viewed as a treatment or preventive" and the company's actions "potentially harmful to public health and misleading"; Neal's Yard accepted there was no proof that it worked and have discontinued the product.[12]

In May 2009 The Guardian's Ethical Living blog invited the company to participate in an online discussion, having apparently received confirmation of willingness for discussion.[13] A later posting from a Guardian editor stated that Neal's Yard was "working on replies".[14] Following the posting of questions about the efficacy of their remedies, and comments of a skeptical nature towards Neal's Yard alternative medicines, the company decided not to participate in the discussion, and the thread was therefore closed.[13] The refusal of Neal's Yard Remedies to answer any of the questions was criticized by public relations experts.[15][16]

References

External links

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