Snake oil salesmen have a long and storied history in the United States of America, but if you thought their day was over, you thought wrong.
Gwyneth Paltrow created her alternative medicine empire Goop (yes, that’s really its name) from a weekly newsletter containing her musings on life. Now, after bringing in upward of $15 million in 2016, GOOP is one of the leading figures in the supplement industry. The company sells herbs, supplements, creams, snacks and many other things that they say aid with a variety of conditions. For example, for infertility they recommend “crystal harmonics.” For depression, they have a rose flower essence tincture. A Goop partner claims that putting grass-fed butter in coffee both increases brain function and fights cancer. An article on Goop’s website claims walking barefoot can cure insomnia. A lot of their products say they “promote hormonal balance.”
These claims are, of course, pseudoscience, backed up by hardly any clinical research or study. On top of that, they’re marketed by Goop to appeal to a specific audience largely composed of women—the same supplements tend to marketed differently by other companies. Infowars, a conservative fake news website, sells some of the same products, but with very different descriptions.
Now, someone is finally taking them to task for their wild claims. Truth in Advertising (TINA.org), a watchdog group that pays attention to fraudulent or deceptive claims in, you guessed it, advertising, has filed a complaint with two California district attorneys, citing more than 50 instances in which the product’s description claims to “treat, cure, prevent [or] alleviate the symptoms of” various conditions.
TINA.org goes on to discuss the science or lack thereof behind Goop, mentioning how Paltrow herself doesn’t seem to know the definitions of treatments her company espouses, how the company seems to doubt evidence-based science, and how one of the company’s own doctors recommended a site-wide audit in consultation with physicians.
Goop has a “health and wellness summit” scheduled for January. Hopefully they’ll have revised their claims by then.