Wellness Fads, Part II – Gwyneth Paltrow and goop

Gwyneth Paltrow is an American actress and entrepreneur.  The daughter of actress Blythe Danner and producer-director Bruce Paltrow, Gwyneth was born in Los Angeles in 1972.  She studied briefly at UC-Santa Barbara before dropping out to pursue an acting career.

gwynethpaltrow
Fig. 2.1: Actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow.

Gwyneth was noticed in the 1995 thriller Seven, where she appeared alongside Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt.  Her breakthrough film was the 1996 film Emma, a movie based on a Jane Austen novel.   Following that, she won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Shakespeare In Love.  Since that time, Ms. Paltrow has appeared in a number of films that have received varying degrees of critical acclaim.  But there is no doubt that she is a star actress, and is famous for her stunning good looks and her aplomb.

Ms. Paltrow has also been active in various charitable activities, including a stint as a Save The Children ambassador, and as a member of the board of the Robin Hood Foundation, an anti-poverty charity active in New York City.  She has donated proceeds from her work as a spokesperson for Estee Lauder perfumes to breast cancer research.

However, we are not interested here in Gwyneth Paltrow’s acting career nor her charitable activities.  We will concentrate on the company goop run by Ms. Paltrow.

GOOP: 

Gwyneth Paltrow has launched her own company called goop.  The name was taken by inserting two “Os” between Paltrow’s initials (apparently a friend convinced her that many successful companies had a “double O” in their names).   Initially, goop was simply an e-mail newsletter that Ms. Paltrow circulated to her friends.  It contained New Age bromides from Paltrow, with the slogan “Nourish the Inner Aspect.”

The success of her newsletter led Paltrow to branch out to a lifestyle website and next to add e-commerce.  Goop was incorporated in 2011 and Ms. Paltrow served as CEO of the company until 2014.  Goop has become a real powerhouse.  The company is currently worth $250 million, and in addition to an online website, it sponsors workshops and wellness seminars.

Goop has become infamous as a clearinghouse for New Age notions of wellness and health.  In addition, it is known for the high cost of many of its products.  We don’t care if people want to spend $3,100 for a straw handbag; however several of the “Wellness” products pushed by goop are either pseudo-scientific nonsense, or could actually be dangerous to one’s health.  Let us review a few of the more controversial goop health recommendations, and some of the advice from their ‘wellness advisors.’

1. Coffee enemas:

Goop offers for sale the Implant O’Rama System At-Home Coffee Enema kit – no s***!  Yes, this is exactly what it seems – a kit containing a bottle designed for you to fill with coffee, insert into your butt, and perform an enema.  By the way, the “At-Home” portion of the name does not imply that this is something you don’t do at work; presumably it specifies that you can perform this ritual by yourself without consulting a doctor.

enemabottle
Fig. 2.2: Implant O’Rama enema bottle.

This type of colon therapy is an example of a health fad with a long history.   Here we review the article on enemas and colonics by E. Ernst in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.  The theory behind this practice is called “autointoxication,” and it maintains that unless eliminated, harmful materials or “toxins” will build up in one’s intestines and are a major contributor to many, if not all, diseases.  This notion was itself an outgrowth of “humoral medicine,” the medieval notion that diseases were caused by the imbalance of the four humors (earth, air, water and fire) in the body.  For example, both Hippocrates and Galen believed that waste products in the intestines were a major cause of disease.

In the 19th century, according to Ernst, “the markets were flooded with pills and tonics as well as enema devices and practitioners of abdominal massage, all aiming at ridding the colon of its contents and the patient of his or her money.” As indicated in our introduction to this series of posts, enemas featured prominently, for example, in treatments at J.H. Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium in the late 19th century.

This all changed drastically beginning in 1906, when the fledgling American Medical Association formed its Propaganda Department (later changed to the Bureau of Investigation).  That office began a systematic investigation of various medical practices, and exposed those that were found to have no proven medical benefits.  The theory of autointoxication was scientifically reviewed and found to have no benefits.  The AMA crusaded against such quackery and, at least temporarily, they succeeded in shutting down this industry.

However, colonics and enemas are now back in the “mainstream,” so to speak, of alternative medicine.  Ernst lists various conditions that colon therapy is claimed to cure: “alcoholism, allergies, arthritis, asthma, backache, bad breath, bloating, coated tongue, colitis, constipation, damage caused by nicotine or other environmental factors, fatigue, gas, headache, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, indigestion, insomnia, joint problems, liver insufficiency, loss of concentration, mental disorders, parasite infestation, proneness to infections, rheumatoid arthritis, sinus congestion, skin problems, and ulcerative colitis.”

Ernst attempted to find any legitimate scientific rationale for this treatment.  Apart from a repetition of the old and discredited 19th-century arguments, he could find no justification for this practice.  Ernst then turns to a review of coffee enemas, which he calls “a hazardous derivative of colon therapy.”  “Its proponents claim that caffeine is absorbed in the colon and leads to a vasodilatation in the liver, which in turn enhances the process of elimination of toxins. None of this is proved, nor is there any evidence of the clinical efficacy of coffee enemas. Coffee enemas are associated with severe adverse reactions.”

What are these “adverse reactions?”  Some of these are listed by Dr. Bruce Lee, Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  They include: rectal burns (particularly if one uses hot coffee); proctocolitis; polymicrobial enteric septicemia; and even death (J.W. Eisele and G.T. Reay, JAMA 244, 1608 (1980)).

Regarding colon therapy, Ernst concludes “There is no evidence that it conveys true benefit in any condition. Even a recent “review of the available literature” by a proponent of colonic irrigation provides only theories and anecdotes. Yet good proof exists that it is associated with considerable risks.”

Regarding the statements by alternative-medicine practitioners about the efficacy of coffee enemas, Dr. Lee states: “scientists deemed that many claims about enemas were full of … well, you know what.”  Lee also quotes a statement on enemas from Dr. Timothy Caulfield.   “Keep in mind that any type of enema, even when medically indicated, can have potential bad side effects. The resulting pooping, which can be quite voluminous and liquidy, can result in dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which, in turn, can be life threatening when severe. You also can accidentally inject bacteria and other critters up your butt, which can then lead to infections. Moreover, pushing fluid up there can damage your rectum and intestines.”

In conclusion, the coffee enema product offered by goop is not only ineffective in treating any legitimate medical condition, but it could be dangerous as well.

2. Breast Cancer and Underwire Bras:

In a post on the goop website, Dr. Habib Sadeghi posted that there could be a link between underwire bras and breast cancer.  Sadeghi is the co-founder of Be Hive of Healing, an “integrative health center based in Los Angeles,” and is apparently a mentor to Gwyneth Paltrow.

In fact, Sadeghi is simply resurrecting discredited suppositions regarding wearing bras, particularly underwire bras, and the use of antiperspirants.  Claims about a link between bras and breast cancer originated in a 1995 book by Singer and Grismaijer, Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras.  In that book, the authors claimed to find a significant link between wearing a bra and developing breast cancer.

That book sparked a great interest in a possible relationship between wearing a bra and contracting breast cancer.  However, it was discovered that the “link” was bogus.  A landmark study was carried out by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.  It studied women in the greater Seattle area between 55 and 74 years old who had been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.  It compared those women with a control group in the same region.  The study attempted to correlate cancer rates with factors such as bra cup size, hours per day wearing a bra, wearing an underwire bra, and age when bra wearing commenced.  The study found no correlations between any of these factors and incidence of breast cancer.

As pointed out on the “Breastcancer.org” website, “underwire bras do not cause breast cancer. Only one scientific study has looked at the link between wearing a bra and breast cancer. There was no real difference in risk between women who wore a bra and women who didn’t wear a bra. Being overweight does increase breast cancer risk though, and women who are overweight are more likely to have larger breasts and wear a bra. Women who don’t wear bras are more likely to be at a healthy weight. This difference in weight is probably why this myth continues to circulate.”

As far as we know, Singer and Grismaijer had not taken into account the fact that women with larger breasts are more likely to wear bras, and that women who are overweight are likely to have larger breasts.  There is a known correlation between obesity (and diabetes, which is correlated with obesity) and breast cancer.  When these correlations are taken into account, the “link” between wearing bras and breast cancer disappears.

The supposed “mechanism” relevant to underwire bras is that they “cause breast cancer by blocking the drainage of lymph fluid from the bottom of the breast so it can’t get back into your body.” According to the American Cancer Society, the theory that breast cancer is caused by an accumulation of toxins due to restricted lymph node drainage is “inconsistent with scientific concepts of breast physiology and pathology.”

Jen Gunter is a San Francisco-area OB-GYN who is a legitimate expert on women’s health issues.  She had this to say about the causes of breast cancer in women.  “Breast cancer is a complex condition that involves genetics and a variety of risk factors, the most common ones being obesity, dense breasts, alcohol consumption, if and when (age) a woman gives birth, taking estrogen, and a history of radiation exposure.  None of these things are related to bras except obesity.”

Unfortunately, Singer (one of the co-authors of Dressed To Kill), contended that the Hutchinson Cancer Center study was flawed.  Among Singer’s claims was that the study was worthless since all women in the study wore bras.  Actually, nearly all women in our culture wear bras, so the study was unable to find a suitable cohort that did not wear them.

Singer also criticized the study for looking only at post-menopausal women.  This was a conscious choice for this study.  Breast cancer manifests itself at an average age of 62, thus it makes sense to concentrate on older women.  Furthermore, the proposed “mechanism” that would link breast cancer to wearing a bra suggested exposure over a long period to unspecified “toxins.”  Older women would have had a longer exposure period.

Finally, Singer claimed that the study was compromised, because the Hutchinson Center sponsors an annual “Bra Dash” event, a fund-raiser where women run with bras on the outside of their clothing.  Furthermore, Singer made the breathtaking claim that “The bra industry is a billion-dollar enterprise.  And billions of dollars are spent each year researching and treating this disease. Ironically, ending breast cancer can cause financial hardship for many people.” 

The fact that Sadeghi repeated these unfounded assertions does a real disservice to women seeking to obtain believable health-care information.  It is typical of goop that they promote this kind of irresponsible advice on their “Wellness” pages.

3. Nutty Wellness Products:

Among other things, goop has become infamous for pushing some truly wacky wellness products.  One of these was the Psychic Vampire Repellent from Paper Crane Apothecary.  Apparently this was a mist spray that claimed to provide protection from vampires, as well as from “psychic attack and emotional harm.”  One is reminded of the joke about the person who offers an “elephant repellent.”  When asked whether it works, the response is “Do you see any elephants around?”

vampirerepellent
Fig. 2.3:  Psychic Vampire Repellent from Paper Crane Apothecary.

Another product offered by goop was “Brain Dust”.  It is described as “an adaptogenic blend of enlightening superherbs and supermushrooms that help combat the effects of stress to align you with the cosmic flow for great achievement.”  Its ingredients are claimed to: “enhance focus and mental stamina; promote mental clarity & concentration; and promote a positive mind and mood.”  Well, I don’t know what an “adaptogenic blend” is, but hell, sign me up!

brain-dust
Fig. 2.4: Brain Dust from goop.

A third supplement, called Why Am I So Effing Tired?, was described as “a comprehensive vitamin and supplement regimen designed to promote adrenal function, mental acuity and stress tolerance”. It retails for $90 a month.  Supplements like these are promoted by goop “medical advisors” such as Aviva Romm and Alejandro Junger.  They hawk products that they claim are effective in combating “adrenal fatigue.”   Note that ‘adrenal fatigue’ is a condition that is not recognized by any endocrinology society, and is a ‘syndrome’ that medical professionals claim does not exist.

This article by Cardegiani and Kater reviews the evidence for adrenal fatigue.  The conclusion?  “This systematic review proves that there is no substantiation that ’adrenal fatigue’ is an actual medical condition. Therefore, adrenal fatigue is still a myth.”

soeffingtired
Fig. 2.5:  Goop product “Why Am I So Effing Tired?”

One more goop Wellness product is “Balls In The Air”. This is described on the goop website as “a comprehensive vitamin and supplement regime that supports a healthy immune system and efficient energy levels, while promoting overall well-being.”  Figure 2.6 is a list of the ingredients in Balls In The Air.  You won’t be able to read it, but the point is that this product contains a lot of ingredients.   They include green coffee bean extract, bitter melon fruit extract, and high doses of vitamins B and C.

ballsingredients
Fig. 2.6: List of ingredients in the goop product Balls In The Air.

Perhaps the most dramatic result of taking Balls In The Air is that one’s urine turns neon yellow – this is probably the result of a mega-dose of vitamin B.  Basically, one is taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement along with Omega-3 and a bunch of plant nutrients, at a price of $90 for a one-month supply.  Also note that goop’s wellness products all share a disclaimer presented in very fine print at the bottom of each web page: “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” In other words they are, at best, very expensive placebos.

We’ll end here with a goop product accompanied by spectacular claims.  Goop’s “Body Vibes” are wearable stickers that are claimed to “promote healing” and “rebalance the energy frequency in our bodies.”  In addition they will “boost cell turnover,” and “smooth out both physical tension and anxiety.”  Figure 2.7 shows a model wearing Body Vibes stickers.

bodyvibes
Fig. 2.7: a model wearing goop’s Body Vibes stickers.

What are the physical principles involved?  According to the goop Website, “the body’s energy systems all emit electromagnetic energy. Body Vibes is a vibrational energy disc designed to help people achieve harmonic homeostasis.  Body Vibes contain frequencies believed to have various harmonizing effects on human bodies …  Frequencies are recorded, condensed, and stored within the sticker … When the sticker is properly applied to your skin, it begins broadcasting the stored frequencies, which may influence the mind/body bio-field with signals transferred through sympathetic resonance. This interchange of frequencies is believed to have balancing effects on particular systems within the body.”

Although the Body Vibes website is rather vague, it appears to claim that the stickers are programmed to emit electromagnetic waves at six specific “magic” frequencies within the range from 396 to 852 Hertz.  If these emissions can penetrate through the skin, they should also be easily detectable with simple instruments.  No such measurements are referred to on the site.

And – get this! – the technology is a spin-off from the NASA space program.  That’s right! – Body Vibes are manufactured using “the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits so they can monitor an astronaut’s vitals during wear.” This material employs “bio-frequency that resonates with the body’s natural energy field.”

The claims for Body Vibes were sufficiently stunning that journalists contacted NASA for confirmation.  NASA responded that spacesuits “do not have any conductive carbon material lining the spacesuits.” A former NASA chief scientist added, “What a load of BS this is.”  Oh, and by the way, all of the bloviage from Body Vibes about harmonic homeostasis … mind/body bio-field and sympathetic resonance is also complete garbage. BS from goop – what a shocker!!

Goop subsequently removed the claim from their Website, and issued the lame-ass disclaimer:  “advice and recommendations included on goop are not formal endorsements and the opinions expressed by the experts and companies we profile do not necessarily represent the views of goop. Our content is meant to highlight unique products and offerings, find open-minded alternatives, and encourage conversation.”

 Sorry, that doesn’t cut it.  Goop advertises a product by passing on miraculous claims about what it does and how it works.  When that turns out to be complete nonsense, goop then says “we don’t actually believe our endorsements, we are just being ‘open-minded.’”  See Section 5 for a recent update on the goop disclaimer.

Note that the claims by the Body Vibes company were not simply a misinterpretation of the function of the conductive carbon lining an astronaut’s space suit, the statement was a bald-faced lie – there was no such lining.  The Body Vibes company then claimed that their totally false claims about NASA were simply based on a communication error.  “We regret not doing our due diligence before including the distributor’s information in the story of our product.  However, the origins of the material do not in any way impact the efficacy of our product.”  You know, I agree 100% with the last sentence from Body Vibes, though not in the way they intended!

4. Anthony William, Medical Medium:

medicalmedium
Fig. 2.8:  Self-titled “Medical Medium” Anthony William.

Another of the goop wellness advisors in Anthony William, who describes himself as a “medical medium.”  Mr. William’s origin story can be found here.  When he was four years old, William was visited by a presence called Spirit, who “told” him that his symptom-free grandmother had lung cancer – his ‘diagnosis’ was confirmed by her subsequent medical checkup.  He realized that Spirit provided him a “gift” that he uses to read people’s medical conditions and tell them how to restore their health.

 Although he has neither a medical degree nor any formal medical training, Mr. William has what is apparently a flourishing consulting business.  After scrutinizing some reviews of his work and critiques of his treatment modalities, we can summarize some of Anthony William’s methods.

First, if you have a consultation with Mr. William, this will generally be over the phone (since he receives his information from Spirit, it is unnecessary for him to actually meet you).  You will almost certainly be told that you have Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), which is the root cause of your problems.   Now, EBV is extremely common, but it is also frequently asymptomatic, and legitimate medical professionals believe that it is only rarely associated with diseases.

Anthony William has published a book called Liver Rescue, that contains the following blurb: “Nearly every challenge, from pesky general health complaints to digestive issues to emotional struggles to weight gain to high blood pressure to heart problems to brain fog to skin conditions to autoimmune and other chronic illnesses, has an origin in an overloaded liver and can improve and heal when you harness the force of this humble organ.”  That’s right, folks – eczema, psoriasis, diabetes, strep, acne, gout, gallstones, adrenal stress, autoimmune disease – they’re all the result of an overloaded liver!

Mr. William has written another book called Thyroid Healing, and we will discuss some of his assertions about thyroid disease and ailments.  Here, we will rely on a review of William’s claims by Scott Gavura, a Canadian pharmacist and author of the blog Science-Based Pharmacy.

thyroidhealing
Fig. 2.9: The Anthony William 2017 book Thyroid Healing.

First, William asserts that “In over 95% of today’s thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s and even thyroid cancer, EBV is the cause.  The other 5% of thyroid problems come from radiation exposure due to chest X-rays, dental exams, and/or plane travel.”  Is this true?  Gavura says “there is no evidence this is the case.”

Next, William claims that the thyroid “uses this memory of homeostasis to transmit radio-like frequencies (not yet detected or measured by medical science or research) that delegate tasks and responsibilities to multiple body systems and organs.”   What about this claim?  Gavura’s response is that it is well documented how the thyroid and its hormones work.  Medical science has developed effective treatments, as evidenced by thyroid replacement therapies. And I guess it is Spirit who has clued William in to these “radio-like frequencies,” undetectable with advanced scientific instrumentation.

William continues that “Hashimoto’s is not a life sentence … it’s the EBV virus – this invader – that is causing the damage … Your body just needs the proper support, which I’ll describe soon, to triumph over the virus.”  Gavura: hypothyroidism is almost always a lifetime treatment.  And by the way, “the proper support” from William means that one will receive a pitch for supplements and specific foods that will “restore a damaged thyroid, strengthen the other glands of the endocrine system, and lower the viral load within the thyroid.”  According to Gavura, “you cannot heal hypothyroidism with food, and specific foods will not boost thyroid function or ‘flush toxic heavy metals.’”

In other words, Anthony William’s book provides some spectacularly incorrect statements about thyroid function and disease.  None of his claims is supported by medical science.  Fortunately for him, William’s website contains the following disclaimers: he is not a doctor or healthcare professional; his information is not a substitute for medical information; and you should speak with a doctor or healthcare professional before acting on any of his advice.   We’ll second that!

5. Vaginal Health:

Of all the “wellness” products promoted by goop, the one that has received the most attention is the “Jade Egg.” For $66, one can purchase the jade egg shown in Fig. 2.10.  The verbiage in the ad reads “used by women to increase sexual energy and pleasure, this nephrite jade stone helps connect the second chakra (the heart) and yoni (the vagina) for optimal self-love and well being.” 

goopjadeegg
Fig. 2.10: Goop Jade Egg.

That’s right, folks, a woman is meant to insert the jade egg in her vagina.  What happens next?  For that we visit the goop website to hear from “beauty guru/healer/inspiration/friend Shiva Rose.” Ms. Rose asserts that: Jade is “a great stone for taking away negative energy … they help cultivate sexual energy, clear chi pathways in the body, intensify femininity, and invigorate our life force.”

Jade, being a crystal, needs to be “recharged.”  Since jade ostensibly gets its energy from the Moon, Ms. Rose recommends putting it out under the light of a full Moon (no, you don’t need a special charger for this!).  How do you know when it needs re-charging?  When “you feel it’s been drained of energy.”  Alternatively, “you can burn sage” (sorry, I have no idea why this helps).  But you need to watch out – since the egg is a crystal and absorbs energy, it’s essential that you “clear it” when you receive the egg, otherwise who knows what energy vibrations the darn thing may have stored up!  Finally, Ms. Rose asserts that it is important you provide the egg with its own altar.

Well, the “goop jade egg” brought the company an untold amount of free publicity.  Neither scientists nor talk-show hosts could resist it.  Nearly every website that criticizes goop includes a segment on the “jade egg.”  We particularly recommend posts by Dr. Jen Gunter, a San Francisco-area OB-GYN who actually has professional knowledge about vaginas and their issues.  Included in Dr. Gunter’s salty language regarding Gwyneth Paltrow and her company is some first-rate medical advice regarding these issues.

Also, we recommend Dr. David Gorski who writes a blog under the pseudonym Orac.  Gorski also provides detailed scientific critiques of the more ridiculous health claims made on the goop website.

The lawyers for goop realized the company could be in big trouble if anyone took seriously the health claims for their products that appear on their website.  So the goop website now provides the following all-purpose disclaimer:  “The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.”

The disclaimer above recycles the classic excuse for anyone who is called out for uttering demonstrably false statements.  “Hey, I was only kidding!  Surely you didn’t take this seriously – those remarks were meant for entertainment only.”  So, did the disclaimer suffice to shield goop from any adverse consequences?  No, it didn’t.  The state of California took the viewpoint that goop made legitimate health claims for their jade eggs, and that those claims did not withstand scrutiny.  So, as of Sept. 7, 2018, goop agreed to pay $145,000 in civil penalties over its ads for the Jade Egg and Rose Quartz Egg (the Rose Quartz Egg is supposedly very similar to the Jade Egg, except that its energy is “more gentle and brings in more love energy”).

The California task force was particularly concerned that goop claimed that use of these products could balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles and improve bladder control.  The task force asserted that these products would accomplish none of those benefits.  In addition to the penalty, goop agreed to provide refunds to any customers who requested them.

Spokespersons for goop issued a statement following the California ruling. “The settlement acknowledges no liability on the company’s part and addresses only advertising, not the products themselves.  There is honest disagreement between the sides, but goop wanted to settle the matter quickly and amicably.”  Well, just like the “scientific” claims for goop’s products, this statement is also baloney.  There is no “honest disagreement” regarding the efficacy of these products – they are guaranteed to provide none of the magical medical benefits ascribed to them.

After absorbing a boatload of criticism for pushing dubious, even crackpot theories and “wellness” products, the folks at goop have finally taken a few baby steps towards more honest statements on their website.  They are also aware that they could be sued for promoting products that might actually harm or kill their customers.  So goop now “labels” the materials on their website according to five different criteria (the explanations of these criteria are those supplied by goop).

For Your Enjoyment: There probably aren’t going to be peer-reviewed studies about this concept, but it’s fun, and there’s real merit in that.

Ancient Modality: This practice is nearly as old as time — many find value in it, even if modern-day research hasn’t caught up yet (it’s possible the practice will never attract its attention).

Speculative but Promising: There’s momentum behind this concept, though it needs more research to elucidate exactly what’s at work.

Supported by Science: There’s sound science for the value of this concept and the promise of more evidence to come soon that may prove its impact.

Rigorously Tested: The validity of this concept is pretty much undisputed within the world of M.D.’s, D.O.’s, N.D.’s, and Ph.D.’s.

And here is a critique of the goop disclaimers from the group Truth in Advertising: “[The disclaimers] make clear that the company is aware that it does not have the appropriate scientific evidence to support many of the health claims that it is making in its marketing materials. Further, as a matter of law, these four disclosures cannot be used as cover for unsubstantiated disease-treatment claims. That is to say, goop is not permitted to make a deceptive health claim and then post a disclaimer saying, ‘sorry, there isn’t reliable and competent scientific evidence to actually support that claim but buy our product to treat your [fill in the ailment] anyway.’”

In writing this article, we have made extensive use of blogs by some actual medical professionals who have reviewed the products recommended on the goop website.  In addition to Dr. Jen Gunter and Dr. David Gorski whom we have previously mentioned, we also recommend nutrition researcher and health writer Sheila Kealey.

We also recommend Dr. Timothy Caulfield, the Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta.  Caulfield has become an expert on goop and its influence, and is the author of the book Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?  He is a regular contributor to the BMJ opinion online series.  Here you can find a Podcast by Michael Joyce that interviews Caulfield and discusses his work.

caulfieldbook
Fig. 2.11: Timothy Caulfield’s book about Gwyneth Paltrow and goop.

By the way, Gwyneth Paltrow is decidedly unapologetic about the “medical advice” she provides through goop.  She is reported to have said “If you want to f*** with me, you better bring your ‘A game’.”  The meaning of this statement is not entirely clear to me.  The scientific criticism of claims made on the goop website has been devastating – there is absolutely no “evidence” for these claims, and several of the “conditions” discussed on the goop website appear to be non-existent (e.g., adrenal fatigue and de-toxification).  In terms of scientific credentials, Gwyneth Paltrow and her medical advisors have no ‘A game’ – they have no game at all.  Given the recent $145,000 penalty levied against the company goop for its false advertising claims, Jen Gunter askedDid the Attorney General bring his ‘A’ game against goop (and did your mediums tip you off that you were about to be sued)?”

On the other hand, perhaps Ms. Paltrow is referring to the fact that her company is making money hand over fist, as evidenced by its current valuation at $250 million.  In that sense she has benefited financially from the criticism and ridicule heaped upon the absurd claims made by suppliers for her company.  So, alas, she appears to be laughing all the way to the bank.

Source Material:

Wikipedia, Gwyneth Paltrow:
Wikipedia, goop:
Goop straw handbag:
Implant O’Rama System At-Home Coffee Enema kit:
E. Ernst, Colonic Irrigation and The Theory of Autointoxication: The Triumph of Ignorance Over Science, Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 24, 196 (1997).
Bruce Y. Lee, Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop Promotes a $135 Coffee Enema Kit.
J.W. Eisele and G.T. Reay, JAMA 244, 1608 (1980).
H. Sadeghi, Could There Possibly Be a Link Between Underwire Bras and Breast Cancer?
S. Singer and S. Grismaijer, Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras
Breastcancer.org Website: Common Fears With No Evidence: Antiperspirants and Bras,
American Cancer Society Website: Breast Cancer Risk and Prevention: Disproven or Controversial Breast Cancer Risk Factors:
S. Singer, The Cover-Up Continues: New Study Claims Bra-Cancer Link a “Myth”:
Orac (Dr. David Gorski) One More Time: No, Wearing a Bra Does Not Cause Breast Cancer
Paper Crane Apothecary, Psychic Vampire Repellent (for sale on goop)
Brain Dust by Moon Juice (for sale on goop):
Why Am I So Effing Tired? (for sale on goop):
F.A. Cardegiani and C.E. Kater, Adrenal Fatigue Does Not Exist: A Systematic Review, BMC Endocr. DIsord. 16, 48 (2016)
Balls In The Air (for sale on goop):
Body Vibes wearable stickers (for sale on goop):
The Medical Medium – and What’s Potentially at the Root of Medical Mysteries,
Anthony William, Medical Medium Thyroid Healing. 
Scott Gavura, The Medical Medium’s Thyroid Pseudoscience.
Jade Egg (for sale on goop).
“Beauty guru/healer/inspiration/friend Shiva Rose,” Jade Eggs For Your Yoni,
Anthony William, Liver Rescue.
Dr. Jen Gunter, Bad Goop Advice.
Sheila Kealey, 4 Goop Doctors: A Look At Their Pseudoscience.
Dr. Timothy Caulfield, The Straw Men of Integrative Health and Alternative Medicine.
Dr. Timothy Caulfield, Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?  Penguin Random House, 201.6
Michael Joyce, a podcast with Timothy Caulfield.

Continue to Part III