Gwyneth Paltrow, queen of the quacktresses

Vector illustration - Queen gold text

Apparently, I wasted 8 years in medical training. Four years of medical school and four years of residency were over-kill (pardon the expression). It seems that in 2017 the most important requirement for a medical authority is to be a quacktress.

A quacktress is a actress who has monetized her celebrity by giving pseudoscientific medical “advice,” often selling books, supplements and other products to the credulous.

Who is gullible enough to believe steaming your vagina and filling it with jade balls makes any sense at all?

Quacktresses have been with us for years. Homebirth advocate Ricki Lake is a quacktress; anti-vax loon Jenny McCarthy is a quacktress; and, for many years, Suzanne Somers was the queen of quacktresses, peddling dubious cancer “cures.” But Suzanne Somers has been dethroned. Gwyneth Paltrow is the new queen of the quacktresses.

What has Paltrow done to deserve this honor? Perhaps it is because she is young and beautiful. Perhaps it is because she is a better actress than most quacktresses. But I suspect that Paltrow now represents the acme of quackery because so much of her nonsense centers on the vagina.

Through her lifestyle website Goop, Paltrow has proven that women are gullible enough to put anything in their vaginas.

Writing about a high end spa, Paltrow shared:

The real golden ticket here is the Mugworth V-Steam: You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al…

It is an energetic release — not just a steam douche — that balances female hormone levels …

What does that gobbledygook even mean?

The spa’s site provides a history of the steam, explaining that it has been utilized in Korea “for hundreds of years” and helps to “maintain internal health” and keeps “skin looking young and healthy. The procedure involves the placement of boiled leaves and flower buds on a “specific area of the body” for “detoxication.”

So much stupid in so few words!

Claiming that you can clean your uterus by steaming your vagina is like claiming you can clean your colon by steaming your mouth. Why would your uterus need “detoxification,” even assuming such a thing were possible? And how does it balance your female hormones when nearly all of them are made in your ovaries and head (pituitary gland)? Obviously it doesn’t.

But it does boost traffic at her website. As Paltrow explained:

If I find benefit to it and it’s getting a lot of page views, it’s a win-win.

It’s not her fault that people are gullible, right?

Paltrow’s vagina fetish doesn’t end there. According to the Washington Post:

Most recently, Paltrow’s lifestyle website Goop, which promoted vaginal steaming, is at it again with another advice for women: putting a jade egg — yes, a solid object about the size of a golf ball — in your vagina, and keeping it there all day or while you’re sleeping.

For $66 a piece, the jade eggs, once “the strictly guarded secret” of Chinese queens and concubines to please their emperors, would help boost your orgasm and “increase vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance, and feminine energy in general,” reads the beginning of an article titled “Better Sex: Jade Eggs for Your Yoni.”

But gynecologist Jen Gunter, had this to say:

My issue begins with the very start of your post on jade eggs specifically that “queens and concubines used them to stay in shape for emperors.” Nothing says female empowerment more than the only reason to do this is for your man! And then the claim that they can balance hormones is, quite simply, biologically impossible…

Gunter deftly and hilariously debunks Paltrow’s nonsense and there is a great deal of it.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s goat milk therapy for parasites is stupid and dangerous

Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t have adrenal fatigue because it doesn’t exist

As well as this delightfully scathing takedown:

Dear Gwyneth Paltrow we’re not f**king with you we’re correcting you, XOXO Science

Why would anyone believe Paltrow’s quackery?

In part it’s because of our obsession with celebrity. We worship celebrities and even the idea of celebrity. People are desperate for the opportunity to be humiliated on reality TV shows just so they can become famous. We trust celebrities even when they give us no reason to do so or plenty of reasons not to.

In part it’s because of bizarre form of racism that imagines that “orientals” and indigenous (read: black) peoples are in possession of exotic knowledge that white people can use.

But mostly it’s because of the dismaying strain of anti-intellectualism that has longed plagued our country, including the idea that doctors know so little that quacktresses actually know more.

Why? How can anyone claim with a straight face to believe that Ricki Lake knows anything about childbirth? How could anyone possibly believe that Jenny McCarthy knows about immunology simply by dint of having a child who she thought was autistic. And Suzanne Somers? Does anyone seriously believe that the purveyor of the “Thigh-Master” just happened to discover the cure for cancer in her spare time?

And who is gullible enough to believe steaming your vagina and filling it with jade balls makes any sense at all?

A lot of people, apparently, and they’ve made Gwyneth Paltrow queen of the quacktresses.

  • Amy

    I agree with all of this, but I also think that there’s the worship of perceived youthfulness, slimness, and beauty. Paltrow was lucky enough to be born into a rich and well-connected family, which more than helped her break into the industry (isn’t Steven Spielberg her godfather???), AND to be born with a great bone structure– she’s naturally tall and thin, with high cheekbones and graceful features. To say nothing of the effect wealth has on one’s looks– most people can’t afford personal trainers, nutritionists, stylists, and who knows what “work” on our faces. No amount of healthy diet, exercise, or toxic-free living can get those results. But people can pretend that it all does, and focus on THAT. It’s that whole aspirational thing. Maybe if we mortals do what Gwyneth does (or what Gisele, another semi-quack celebrity, does), we too can have clear skin, a trim figure, high cheekbones, and happy gorgeous children.

  • LibrarianSarah

    I like my steam the same way I like my men. Piping hot and far away from my genitals.

  • J.B.

    So “adrenal fatigue” as a concept doesn’t bother me – constantly juggling everything in life is exhausting and I just don’t have memory left. As a disease – no. If you need medication for anxiety go for it but the real solution for the constant stress…is cutting things out of your life. Which won’t happen for me anytime soon, so I drink wine! And exercise if I get around to being healthy, but wine seems to come first 🙂

  • Michele Tattoli

    She’s not even a good actress. I can’t stand her.

    • MaineJen

      See, that’s the thing. Good actors concentrate on their job: acting.

      • Amy

        You know what? I was just thinking about this this week– I’ve been binge-watching “Harlots” on Hulu. It’s a British production, so naturally most if not all the actors are British; I don’t think any are American at any rate. And as cheesy as the production is, the acting is amazing. And the actors look like normal people! They’re all attractive enough, but they come in a range of body types, and there are wrinkles and blemishes and less-defined cheekbones. It’s the same in most if not all non-American productions– the actors are all reasonably good-looking but were clearly hired for their acting rather than their looks.

        • Roadstergal

          My go-to movie for that is the 1995 movie adaptation of Persuasion. It’s sublime.

  • Zornorph

    So is this jade egg made of actual jade? I though that would cost more than that if it’s literally jade. But I will admit, this made me think of the hot cartoon character Jezebel Jade from the old Johnny Quest show.

    • demodocus

      Looks like it, though I doubt it’s high grade. Stupid as anything

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Jade was the best! (And the show was surprisingly risque for a 60s Hannah-Barbera cartoon when she showed up.)

      I know Jonny Quest inside and out because it was my mom’s favorite show from childhood. They used to show re-runs on the Cartoon Network when I was a kid and we’d watch them together. Then it was off the air for years and she was very sad, so I had to get her the DVD box set for her birthday years ago. Remains one of the best gifts I ever got her. When I visit, we have a pretty good time with it in between OMGs at the extreme retro-racism. And we love us some Jade/Race Bannon shipping. lol

      • Zornorph

        Were it not for the presence of Jezebel Jade, I would have assumed Race and Dr. Quest to be TVs first gay parents. 🙂

  • Who?

    The mechanics of this eludes me, so I’m going to ask: how do you get the jade egg out again? If it sits snugly in place, then getting it out is going to be a bit more than no trouble, isn’t it? And if it’s just floating around up there, could it end up going in too far for easy retrieval?

    Follow up: where do you put it while it isn’t making your lady-parts emperor-friendly? Perhaps it comes in a nice box? There’s a joke there somewhere, but I just can’t see it for now.

    Sounds like a whole lot of trouble to me.

    • Mel

      Let’s see…

      You don’t have to worry about it getting too far up in the vagina to be retrieved since it is size of a golf ball so it can’t fit through the cervix.

      Tampons can be tricky (if you lose track of the string) to get out since they are fairly light for their size. A hunk of jade is much heavier so gravity will “guide” the jade egg back out.

      In terms of snugness, the jade egg will only stay in when you are upright if you contract your PC muscles. It’s a way of doing weighted Kegels – not that I’ve ever heard that being recommended.

      • Who?

        Interesting, thanks. So one could literally have it drop out while walking around? Another good reason to not partake.

        • Charybdis

          One good sneeze whilst going commando under a skirt…you could shoot that thing out and kill someone.

      • Gæst

        Wikipedia claims “Ben Wa balls and other shaped vaginal weightlifting equipment are recommended by gynecologists and obstetricians to increase vaginal elasticity and bladder control.”

        None of mine ever have, though.

        • Charybdis

          Which? None of your OB/GYN’s have recommended them or the equipment themselves have not increased vaginal elasticity and bladder control? 😛

      • MichelleJo

        Do these things work? Weighted Kegels I mean, not steam cleaning or Jade eggs. My insides are starting to fall out, so I’m asking for practical purposes. The doc sent me for physio, I haven’t got around to actually do something about it. Mainly because I’m sceptical about this stuff. Apparently it could save me surgery down the line. Which I don’t see as a bad thing worth being saved from by doing regular yucky maybe it will help stuff.

        • Heidi

          I can’t answer your question but I’m pretty skeptical it works for most cases. I know I have a slight, asymptomatic rectocele from childbirth. Nothing is “loose” (as in my vaginal muscles seem the same tautness) so I really don’t know how exercises would help. I hope it stays asymptomatic and doesn’t worsen because losing estrogen at menopause isn’t going to help it but I guess time will tell.

        • Azuran

          I recommend you check out Dr. Gunther’s blog. https://drjengunter.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/dear-gwyneth-paltrow-im-a-gyn-and-your-vaginal-jade-eggs-are-a-bad-idea/
          She did a few articles on those jade eggs.

    • Karen in SC

      salad tongs?

    • Zornorph

      Reminds me of this joke:
      Q: What’s the most embarrassing to happen to a woman?
      A: When her Ben-Wa balls set off the airport metal detector.

    • Brix

      BAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!! HILARIOUS!!!

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Justin Timberlake voice: “Take a look insiiiiide…it’s an egg in my box!”

    • Roadstergal

      I have a pretty heavy ben wa ball type dealio that I use for fun and games, and it does indeed stay ‘snugly’ in place when I stand and walk. When I’m done with it, I have to push it out, sometimes guide it with fingers.

      I have to say, it’s not the sort of thing I’d wear around all day unless I had the day off and was determined to have a good time.

      It gets a good washing after use and lives in a little velvet bag.

      I have no Yelp reviews for my lady parts from emperors, however.

      • demodocus

        Empress Regnants do not care about the opinions of mere emperors!

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    So…”adrenal fatigue” is just depression or anxiety?

    • Heidi_storage

      I haven’t the foggiest idea; more importantly, neither does she, which means that she is unlikely to get proper treatment for what ails her. But, hey, maybe the pink drink will do the trick.

    • swbarnes2
      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Yeah, I’ve definitely seen it all over the place but I didn’t realize that it’s basically just…anxiety.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    It is an energetic release — not just a steam douche — that balances female hormone levels …

    Oh good, as long as it’s not just a steam douche. All of those other steam douches just seemed to be missing a certain je ne said quois. It must have been “energetic release!” I’ve found what’s missing from my life.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      I can think of another, and far more fun, way to get an energetic release from that area…

      • Heidi_storage

        Stick garlic up there?

        • Heidi

          There was a whole list of things to shove up there according to that Austrian lady a few weeks ago.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Ummm…yeah…yeah…that was it… :p

  • crazy grad mama

    Jen Gunter’s blog is delightful, and her takedowns of quack medicine are especially so. Last week she wrote “Don’t put ground up wasp nest in your vagina” https://drjengunter.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/dont-put-ground-up-wasp-nest-in-your-vagina/ In case you were considering that…

    • Heidi

      I read that. I’m going to extend that and say don’t put anything that you bought off Etsy in your vagina.

      • Sheven

        Tampon manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies want to sell you death-toxins but that one lady off Etsy or this guy who’s selling pills out of his garage, that’s healthy! These random people have excellent quality control procedures in place.

        • Heidi

          Speaking of tampons, I once saw a crocheted “reusable” tampon on Etsy. Like, NO, sounds like a really bad idea besides getting a dry wad of yarn up in the vagina sounds painful and difficult. I imagine cleaning a tight wad of thick yarn would be hard and drying it so that microbes couldn’t grow would be nearly impossible and definitely not environmental.

          • Gæst

            I’m in a non-consumer group with a lot of women big on crocheted tampons.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Indian hair tampons?

          • Heidi

            I was under the impression those were disposable at least.

          • Anion

            Pure Cherokee!

          • Gæst

            No, just yarn of some kind, thankfully. They also love “family cloth” instead of toilet paper. I just can’t imagine how much laundry I would have to do for all of that.

          • Charybdis

            Just. No.
            All the nope in the world.

    • Zornorph

      Say, put a tree in your butt
      Put a bumblebee in your butt
      Put a clock in your butt
      Put a big rock in your butt

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I didn’t put no boogie in nobody’s butt, that’s nasty man…

        • Zornorph

          So glad somebody got the reference – I was afraid I might be horribly dating myself 🙂

          • Empliau

            Put a light in your butt
            Make it bright in your butt.

            I loved that album.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Anyone with any PCM cred will recognize early Eddie Murphy. 80s Comedy Songs is a unit in PCM training. The homework consists of listening to a lot of Dr Demento shows (the Dr Demento 20th Anniversary album is basically the “Cliff Notes” version, and the instructors are advised to test material outside of it; iow, if you want to talk about the Frantics, you need to learn Last Will and Temperment and not just Tae Kwan Leep)

      • Spamamander, pro fun ruiner

        Oh man, the 80’s. And to think Eddie Murphy is now an actor for family friendly fare…

    • MichelleJo

      just sharing a comment I found over there.
      ‘I heard a story about a grocer in Santa Fe who, in the 60s, started selling the cheese rinds as physical contraception because the hippies asked if that’s what they were and he said, “Yeah. Sure.”

      POSTED BY THE GOLD DIGGER | MAY 23, 2017, 6:35 AM’

  • KQ Not Signed In

    Sorry, I couldn’t finish the article. My eyes rolled so hard they fell out of my head.

    • Mattie

      Think there’s a homeopathic remedy for that

    • Gæst

      Put some jade eggs in the sockets.

  • fishcake

    #totallycasualFBpost

  • Cyndi

    Why even go to Med school any longer? When a chubby housewife with bad skin makes skin care potions in her kitchen and claims to know more than every physician, immunologist, and dietitian combined, and any ditzy blonde actress can sell vag steamers and “yoni eggs” for big bucks, why would anyone want to rack up so much college loan debt?

  • Heidi

    I can find cheaper ways here at the house to give my labia third degree burns and possibly kill off the vaginal ecosystem and give myself a raging infection!

    And if there’s one thing I remembered in our 4th and 5th grade puberty talks is that TSS is nothing to mess around with. Don’t leave porous objects in your vagina for extended periods. Besides the fact, I would be pretty mortified if I was walking around public and a ball fell out the bottom of my pants!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I can find cheaper ways here at the house to give my labia third degree burns and possibly kill off the vaginal ecosystem and give myself a raging infection!

      Rule 38…

      • Heidi

        If I decide to do it, I’ll be sure to film it and upload it to offset the cost of having to see the gyn and get meds. I’ll break even!

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Well, I think the idea is that you’re supposed to keep your yoni egg from falling out by tensing your pelvic floor muscles as much as possible to tone them so you can please your emperor! Forget concentrating on work, friends, family, recreation etc…keep your mind on your yoni ball at all times and don’t let it fall out.

      I guess also don’t pee? Or else get a UTI by holding it all day so you can keep your yoni clenched tight. Wonder what the emperor would have to say about that…

      • Heidi

        Well, if I ever feel like I’ve not experienced having to do an impromptu poo when out in public enough, I’ll consider the jade egg!

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Are we talking Slim Jims?

    I like beef jerky on the whole, but Slim Jims never appealed to me.

    Our dogs love them, though (aka Pupperoni)

    • Heidi

      Nah, Virginia Slims, I bet!

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Does that come in menthol and regular?

      • Zornorph

        Gwyneth will soon be pushing a product called Vagina Slimes, I predict.

        • Poogles

          “Vagina Slimes”

          That is a hilarious auto-correct, LOL

        • Heidi

          That must be why her site’s called Goop. You never know what goop might come out of ya if you follow her advice.

        • Charybdis

          “Vagina Slimes” BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
          Sounds like some all female punk band.
          “Now opening for Pussy Riot is………………………
          VAGINA SLIMES!”
          Reminds me of a totally tasteless joke…..

          • Daleth

            Gwyneth will have someone translate “Vagina Slimes” into Hindi first, so it sounds really spiritual.

          • Heidi

            Yoni Sleeij

          • demodocus

            I wonder if I can get a translation of “slug breath” to call people. :>

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      I used to be able to eat a box of Slim Jims a day in my adolescent years if I let myself–I generally didn’t. Even at 12, I had some sense that this was probably not a good idea. But, man, could I ever go through those salty, savory, smoky, addictive things. I just hope I’ve inherited my ancestors’ hardy genes…

      They don’t appeal to me much anymore, though salty, smoky meaty things remain a weakness of mine. I get great housemade salami and other charcuterie from the nice Italian deli as a special treat sometimes. It’s delicious. In other words, I’ve graduated to yuppie Slim Jims. (But with more moderation than I exhibited when I was in middle school.) I wonder if it will help my adrenals?

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    The spa’s site provides a history of the steam, explaining that it has been utilized in Korea “for hundreds of years” and helps to “maintain internal health” and keeps “skin looking young and healthy.

    For most of those “hundreds of years” in Korea, it was not difficult to keep “skin looking young and healthy.” Because most people died when they were really young.

    Life expectancy in Korea in 1908 was 23.5 years. Good thing they were steaming the V to get that “internal health” or it would have been even lower, right?

    Right now, life expectancy in South Korea is outstanding, rivaling that of Japan. However, it didn’t really take off until the 1980s. Until then North and South Korea were pretty much tracking at a trend similar to that worldwide. But then in the mid- to late 80s, took off and North Korea.

    If I wanted to learn the secrets of health in Korea, I wouldn’t be looking back hundreds of years, I’d be looking at the last 30, because that is where they have made huge strides.

    • Empliau

      Although a Korean bathhouse is a delightful experience.

  • Heidi

    Heh, I have a machine at my house that “extracts” some brown water out of light brown coffee beans. It also makes me happier and less irritable. #browndrink

    • Heidi_storage

      Personally, I favor all-natural cacao fermented, dried, then combined with evaporated cane juice and bos taurus milk. I’m sure it balances my thyroxin, serotonin, AND yin and yang levels.

    • Heidi_storage

      Personally, I favor all-natural cacao fermented, dried, then combined with evaporated cane juice and bos taurus milk. I’m sure it balances my thyroxin, serotonin, AND yin and yang levels.

      • Heidi

        I occasionally throw some of that in my #browndrink to do some extra balancing but instead of bos taurus milk, I use the more “pure” substance that floats to the top.

      • Heidi

        I occasionally throw some of that in my #browndrink to do some extra balancing but instead of bos taurus milk, I use the more “pure” substance that floats to the top.

      • Wasnomofear

        And makes you poop, if you’re among the lucky majority!

    • Gæst

      Oh, but we can get super woo-y about coffee, too, especially if you make yours with ghee:

      “Ghee directly feeds nerve and Brain Tissue!….Yes for real, it actually does. It completely nourishes the neo-cortex of your brain, feeds dendrites and nerve cells, and conditions the sheaths of material around your nerve endings, called the myelin sheath. Ghee acts as a a very light weight highly absorbable lubricant that all cells of the body love and benefit from!”

      https://mamasattva.com/ghee-in-coffee/

      • Heidi

        Or the coconut oil! Ghee is pretty much clarified butter, no? And butter is when you churn or whip cream and cream is the fat from milk. These people…how do they come to these conclusions? I don’t why just drinking milk with fat in it wouldn’t have the same magical effect that ghee would, but I have noticed some of the woo-ey types do think dairy is evil unless it’s grass-fed butter, or now ghee because you it’s from the East. Interestingly, Mama Sattva and all her crew look really white.

      • Heidi

        “Mama Sattva Ghee is produced during
        the New & Full Moon.” Wut?

        • Gæst

          IDEK. I tried buttered coffee once and it was gross.

          • Heidi

            I tried butter when we ran out of cream. It left grease floating on top and just wasn’t good.

  • Heidi

    Or maybe her thyroid tests came out fine and she or he is using the placebo effect? I would hope that over him or her not actually treating her thyroid with real proven therapies.

    • Heidi_storage

      My totally uneducated guess is that her lab values are abnormal, but that she doesn’t have clinical disease; Science-Based Medicine did a post on that sort of thing recently.

    • Wasnomofear

      Or she took *side-eye* “well this won’t kill you, but I as your doctor may, if I don’t get you out of my sight asap, so sure, take your MLM wonder drink, crazy pants” as endorsement

  • Gæst

    Gaba?

    • Heidi_storage

      It’s a neurotransmitter. I don’t know what-all it does, but my friend is probably not correct in thinking that her pink drink will ensure the correct “balance” of GABA and serotonin.

    • Heidi

      That does sound funny and totally not legit, doesn’t it? Of course, if it had been capitalized, it would have been a little more obvious it was an acronym. It’s gamma something something acid – I googled it wondering if it was real.

  • Gæst

    I know a lot of people who read GOOP just to make fun of her nutty ideas. Maybe they shouldn’t, since it gives attention for her nonsense and encourages her to make more nonsense, but it IS a lot of fun to make fun of her.

  • mabelcruet

    Market forces, I suppose. She’s an actress selling herself and performing, soo this role as health guru is simply another role and another income generator. She always struck me as reasonably intelligent so I would bet she knows she’s talking absolute guff, but a dollar is a dollar. She’s probably got a follow up planned-quacktitioners generally operate by inventing a disease or condition, and offering a cure. So everyone steam cleans their lady bits, we all get thrush and she flogs us a little known cure for thrush like powdered extract of beetles, as used by the king of Siam’s concubines.

    Then again, it is a little sinister-you could tie it into the ‘all women are dirty, menstruation is unclean’.misogynistic narrative that still abounds. For many women the worst insult you could throw at them is that their lady parts smelled. Paltrow seems to be relying on that fear possibly.

    • Banrion

      I think she is actually deeply ashamed and embarassed of her own body and it makes her feel better to make other women feel the same way. Bringing home some quack cash is just icing on the self hate cake.

  • J.B.

    If adrenal fatigue is such a problem for Gwyneth, and if she sold a product that (really) handled all kids appointments and the family calendar in the exact way I would like, I would buy it. Otherwise go away, lady.