Gwyneth and her medi-shills strike back


Quacktress Gwyneth Paltrow has take PT Barnum’s advice to heart.

Barnum famously said that you can’t go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. Paltrow is channeling Barnum with her website goop and is laughing all the way to the bank.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]When quacktresses like Paltrow trade on their celebrity to sell useless, nonsensical and potentially dangerous products, they aren’t empowering women; they’re taking advantage of them.[/pullquote]

But not everyone is laughing with Paltrow. Some are laughing at her. Indeed OB-GYN Jen Gunter has made a specialty of skewering Paltrow and she never lacks for material. Highlights include:

Gwyneth Paltrow says steam your vagina, an OB/GYN says don’t

Dear Gwyneth Paltrow, I’m a GYN and your vaginal jade eggs are a bad idea

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

The bad publicity is apparently having an effect, because goop is addressing the criticism head on with a new post, Uncensored: A Word from Our Doctors:

Last January, we published a Q&A with Shiva Rose about her jade egg practice, which has helped her (and legions of other women who wrote to us in response) feel more in touch with her sexuality, and more empowered. A San Francisco-based OB-GYN/blogger posted a mocking response on her site …

There was a tremendous amount of press pick-up on the doctor’s post, which was partially based on her own strangely confident assertion that putting a crystal in your vagina for pelvic-floor strengthening exercises would put you in danger of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome …

Some of the coverage that goop receives suggests that women are lemmings, ready to jump off a cliff whenever one of our doctors discusses checking for EBV, or Candida, or low levels of vitamin D—or, heaven forbid, take a walk barefoot. As women, we chafe at the idea that we are not intelligent enough to read something and take what serves us, and leave what does not. We simply want information; we want autonomy over our health…

I’ve been reading Jen Gunter for years, and I’m quite sure that she wants women to have accurate information and believes passionately in women’s autonomy. But the ugly truth is that when quacktresses like Paltrow trade on their celebrity to sell useless, nonsensical and potentially dangerous products, they aren’t empowering women; they’re taking advantage of them. It isn’t Gunter who thinks women are not intelligent enough to understand medical information; it is Paltrow who bets on her belief that women are not intelligent enough to tell the difference between real medical information and quackery.

Paltrow is now defending herself using a page from the Tobacco Industry playbook.

The tobacco industry recognized as far back as the 1970’s that it was impossible to use science to justify the existence and marketing of their products. Going forward, the tobacco industry changed its focus from insisting that cigarettes did not cause lung cancer (a strategy made untenable by the weight of scientific evidence) to reframing the issue as one of personal freedom.

…[W]e try to change the focus on the issues. Cigarette tax become[s] an issue of fairness and effective tax policy. Cigarette marketing is an issue of freedom of commercial speech. Environmental tobacco smoke becomes an issue of accommodation. Cigarette-related fires become an issue of prudent fire safety programs. And so on.

Make no mistake, the advice to steam your vagina, to use jade eggs or to suspect that you are afflicted with adrenal fatigue are pure, unadulterated nonsense. It has no basis in science; these are marketing scams.

Paltrow has enlisted her medi-shills, Drs. Steven Gundry and Aviva Romm to strike back at Gunter. Who are medi-shills? They are physicians who use their medical knowledge to sell self-branded products, often through their own websites. There’s no surer sign of a quack than a doctor who has his or her own online store.

Dr. Gundry peddles supplements and skincare. The Skeptical Cardiologist notes:

I found on Dr. Gundry’s website an immediate and aggressive attempt to sell lots of supplements …

Dr. Gundry’s bio states “I left my former position at California’s Loma Linda University Medical Center, and founded The Center for Restorative Medicine. I have spent the last 14 years studying the human microbiome – and developing the principles of Holobiotics that have since changed the lives of countless men and women.”

Need I mention that “holobiotics” is (?are) not real.

Dr. Gundry doesn’t offer any science to support goop’s products; there isn’t any. Instead Gundry gives a master class in the use of the logical fallacy “appeal to authority”:

But, since you did not do even a simple Google search of me before opening your mouth, let me give you a brief history: I have published over 300 papers, chapters, and abstracts on my research in peer-reviewed journals and have presented over 500 papers at peer-reviewed academic meetings.

So what?

All those folks at Big Pharma have lots of citations to their names, too. Are we supposed to believe that people who publish scientific papers aren’t vulnerable to misleading people about their own products in order to make a profit?

Gundry appears to have a monstrous ego. Nearly all his 1290 word “response” is about himself and his credentials … as if we care.

I’ve written about Dr. Romm many times in the past. Romm is a former homebirth midwife and current herbalist who rhapsodizes about the purported safety of homebirth, but, curiously refuses to attend them now that she’s an actual doctor.

As I wrote in 2014:

I don’t know your reasoning. Perhaps you feel that you want an easier lifestyle? Perhaps you prefer to cash in by practicing “functional medicine” on the worried well who can pay out of pocket. I don’t blame you. You probably have massive amounts of debt and a high profile, high profit practice is the best way to clear that debt.

But don’t you think it’s rather hypocritical to promote homebirth while refusing to attend homebirths?

Romm also fails to offer any science to back the questionable goop products; she can’t because there isn’t any. Instead she offers typical alt-health gobbledygook:

In a time when women are desperately hungry for safe alternatives to mainstream practices that too often fall short of helpful for chronic symptoms, and in the setting of a medical system that is continually falling short of providing lasting solutions to the chronic disease problems we’re facing: I prefer, rather than ridiculing vehicles that are actually highly effective at reaching large numbers of women who want to be well, to seek to understand what women are looking for, what the maintstream isn’t providing; and how we can work together to support those vehicles in elevating their content so that women are receiving the meaningful, and evidence-based answers, they want and deserve, whenever possible.

Yes, women are desperately hungry for safe alternatives to mainstream practices that fall short of helpful for chronic symptoms. That’s precisely why goop’s peddling of vaginal steaming, jade eggs and adrenal fatigue are so strikingly unethical. These products AREN’T safe alternatives to medical practice helpful for chronic symptoms. They’re quackery.

This isn’t about health; it’s about profit. Big Placebo is no different from Big Pharma when it comes to putting money ahead of women’s wellbeing. Paltrow is a perfect example.