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NHS’ Chief of Staff Criticizes Netflix’s The Goop Lab

Written by Science

NHS England’s chief of staff, Simon Stevens, accuses The Goop Lab of spreading misinformation involving people’s health.

While speaking at an academic event in Oxford after the show aired on January 24th, Stevens criticized the “dubious wellness products and dodgy procedures” shown in the series. 

Stevens added that, “while the term ‘fake news’ makes most people think about politics, 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.” 

Goop was founded in 2008 by Gwyneth Paltrow. It began as a health newsletter but has grown into a full health and wellness company now estimated to be worth £197.38 million. 

Goop offers alternative methods to conventional medicine and has been criticized for selling products and remedies not verified by outside scientific studies (goop has their own in-house scientists and researchers.) In 2017, goop settled a suit for $145,000 after making unsubstantiated claims over the advantages of using Yoni Eggs.

Now Paltrow has taken her company’s knowledge to Netflix in a new show called The Goop Lab. The series shows Paltrow and several female employees, along with a team of researchers and scientists, delving into the effectiveness of alternative methods for physical and mental health.  

Since the Yoni Egg suit, goop has changed the descriptions for numerous products and placed disclaimers on the site for items that lack significant scientific studies. Goop maintains it never received any complaints from consumers about the Yoni Egg’s prior description (the suit was brought forth by California’s consumer protection office.) 

Prior to the series’ release, Paltrow defended The Goop Lab in an interview with CNBC saying, “we’re very focused, of course, on, you know, backing up the things that we talk about with scientific claims when necessary or you know, being able to say, ‘hey this is just for your entertainment.’”

With all things medical, alternative or conventional, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion. Medical practitioners do not always produce the right diagnosis the first time, and a second evaluation can help a patient determine what the root of the issue is. 

Customers of goop should be well aware that many of the products have not been proven in outside studies, and customers should not have unrealistic expectations about the “healing powers” of goop’s remedies. 

That being said, many of Paltrow’s offerings revolve around feminine health and improving positive energies within women. Maybe this is a bunch of mumbo jumbo. Maybe it’s not.

While all of Paltrow’s products may not be substantiated with significant scientific studies, the placebo effect has been proven time and time again. Numerous studies have proven patients receiving a placebo (typically an inactive treatment or substance) gain the targeted benefits they would have received if they had been taking the true prescription. 

If customers of goop strongly believe that one of Paltrow’s concoctions could help improve their health or mental state, it’s possible that this level of belief could cause it to happen.

While it’s understandable why Stevens has said the NHS cannot endorse goop, as long as customers are aware of goop’s shortcomings, there isn’t a reason for potential customers to not give an alternative method a try if they believe it could help them.

After all, the mind is a powerful thing.

Last modified: 24th February 2020

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