Monday, July 17, 2017

Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop peddles all kinds of snake oil

Gwyneth Paltrow is a funny old bird. She was always little flaky but, after a series of OK acting performances in Shakespeare in Love and the Iron Man movies (and many more less-memorable ones), she has obviously made a very deliberate decision to reinvent herself as a New Age guru and a self-made healthcare entrepreneur peddling "cutting-edge wellness advice".
Now, maybe she is just naive or gullible, or maybe she is downright balf-baked, but most of the product she is flogging through her booming e-commerce company Goop is at the batty end of dubious. Maybe she really believes in this stuff, or maybe she is merely unwilling to let good science stand in the way of making a buck or two.
One mainstay among the many varieties of snake oil Goop promotes is the wildly successful Clean Cleanse detox diet, designed by Paltrow's Uruguayan doctor Alejandro Junger and endorsed by multiple celebrities, and which largely involves avoiding anything pleasurable and replacing it with expensive proprietory powders, supplements and juices. Unfortunately, responsible nutritionists will tell you that our bodies really do not need detoxifying in this way, and that even if they did, the kinds of products and diets recommended by the cleansing industry would not be the way to go about it. There is no - repeat, no - scientific evidence at all that these kinds of detoxifying regimes achieve anything positive.
But what other lines of mystical and magical cures does Goop deal in?
  • Crystal therapy, the application of crystals, preferably wielded by a Goop "crystal shaman", in order to "transform our energy" in some unspecified beneficial way, is completely unscientific and unproven, as will probably not come as a big surprise to most people.
  • Colonics, essentially a kind of enema to eliminate the toxins we routinely ingest as part of modern life, is also not supported by any scientific evidence, and may even prove dangerous.
  • Homeopathy, the idea that ultra-diluted solutions (i.e. basically, water) can mysteriously help with all manner of diseases and health conditions, has been repeatedly discredited over the years.
  • The raw goat-milk cleanse, perhaps predictably, is a particularly ill-advised method of detoxifying, were such a thing even advisable in the first place. Pasteurization of milk products has become standard practice for a good reason.
  • Energy stickers, purportedly to "rebalance the energy frequency in our bodies" (whatever THAT might mean), were originally advertised as using a material developed by NASA for the American space program until NASA caught wind of it and called for their name to be removed. 
  • And perhaps Goop's pièce de résistance, vaginal jade eggs to "help cultivate sexual energy" and "invigorate our life force". Guess what, they are ineffective and potentially dangerous, increasing the risk of bacterial vaginosis or even toxic shock syndrome.
Now, you can just think of Gwyneth Paltrow as a harmless kook. But through her celebrity endorsement, and that of her influential celebrity friends, she is both wasting people's hard-earned money and encouraging an unjustifiable belief in scientifically unproven (and potentially dangerous) fringe ideas. Bad, bad, not good.

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