In Depth

Why Gwyneth Paltrow’s health advice is a load of Goop

NHS chief executive slams the celebrity’s ‘dubious’ and ‘dodgy’ TV show tips

The head of the NHS has accused Gwyneth Paltrow’s new TV health show of spreading “misinformation” that may pose a “considerable health risk” to the public.

The Netflix series, The Goop Lab, explores the effectiveness of alternative therapies for physical and mental illnesses. 

But some critics have questioned the claims being made on the programme. which debuted on the streaming platform last week.

What did the NHS chief say?

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens poured scorn on Paltrow and her team testing vampire facials in the series, as well as featuring a body worker “who claims to cure both acute psychological trauma and side-effects by simply moving his hands two inches above a customer’s body”.

Speaking at an event in Oxford on Thursday, Stevens said that the series featured “dubious wellness products and dodgy procedures”, the BBC reports.

He continued: “[Paltrow’s] brand peddles psychic vampire repellent, says chemical sunscreen is a bad idea and promotes colonic irrigation and DIY coffee enema machines, despite them carrying considerable risks to health.”

He also pointed out that “people’s natural concern for their health, and particularly about that of their loved ones, makes this particularly fertile ground for quacks, charlatans and cranks”.

Why is Goop controversial?

Writing for Metro, Florence Schechter, founder of the Vagina Museum in London, said: “In each episode, you are graced with 30 minutes of generalised wishy-washy statements encouraging the ‘optimisation of self’, health and wellness treatments.”

She adds that it is important to call out Paltrow’s products, because if she goes unchallenged “it legitimises potentially dangerous claims”.

However, Hannah Jane Parkinson of The Guardian says that while “a huge chunk” of the suggestions in the series are “simply absurd” there is wisdom “if you look hard enough”.

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Is this the first time Paltrow has been questioned?

In a word, no. Or as the Daily Mail puts it: “Gwyneth Paltrow is no stranger to critics.”

Earlier this month, her company was mocked after it put on sale a £58 candle that was said to smell like Paltrow’s vagina.

In 2018, Goop agreed to pay $145,000 (£112,000) for making “unscientific claims” about “vaginal eggs” it was selling.

The brand had claimed its jade and rose quartz eggs, which are inserted vaginally, could regulate menstrual cycles and balance hormones.

Its “vaginal steaming” method was also criticised, with Dr Vanessa Mackay, a spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, releasing a statement reminding women that the vagina cleans itself.

“Steaming the vagina could affect this healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels and cause irritation, infection and inflammation,” she said. “It could also burn the delicate skin around the vagina.”

Crystal-infused water, which Goop claims is ideal for “spiritual support”, was also dismissed, says the Mail. Claire Pettitt, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, said: “There is absolutely no evidence to support any benefit of adding crystals to your water.”

Earlier this month, Dr Jen Gunter, author of The Vagina Bible, said of the trailer for the Netflix series: “This looks like classic Goop: some fine information presented alongside unscientific, unproven, potentially harmful therapies for attention, with the disclaimer of ‘We’re only having conversations!’”

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