Labour has forced its new public health spokeswoman, Luciana Berger, to renounce her views on homeopathy.
Ms Berger replaced Diane Abbott as shadow Health minister in Ed Miliband's reshuffle last week. She has previously signed parliamentary motions submitted for debate that supported the funding of homeopathic remedies on the NHS after the British Medical Association had opposed it. A Labour Party spokesman yesterday said: "Luciana fully supports the scientific evidence on the use of homeopathy. These old petitions will have no impact on her work as a shadow Health minister."
Homeopathy is a method of alternative medicine using diluted substances which are claimed to cause the body to heal itself. It is widely viewed by the scientific community as being based on no evidence, the remedies being no more effective than placebos.
Private practitioners offer homeopathic remedies to treat a range of illnesses, including asthma and high blood pressure. Some also suggest that it can prevent diseases such as malaria. A 2010 House of Commons science and technology committee report on the treatment stated that the concept of homeopathy was "scientifically implausible". Homeopathy is sometimes available on the NHS; there are NHS homeopathic hospitals, and some GP practices offer it.