British Columbia

Gwyneth Paltrow's wellness empire Goop comes to Vancouver — with words of warning from doctor

Company's 'pseudoscience' points to larger problems in women's health care, Dr. Maryam Zeineddin says.

Company's 'pseudoscience' points to larger problems in women's health care, Dr. Maryam Zeineddin says

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow founded the website Goop almost a decade ago. (Layne Murdoch Jr./Goop/Getty)

American actress Gwyneth Paltrow's wellness empire is taking over Stanley Park this weekend, as Goop holds its first international summit in Vancouver.

But the arrival of Paltrow's controversial brand has drawn warnings from the medical community that some of the talks, workshops and products are based on pseudoscience. 

Dr. Maryam Zeineddin, women's health columnist on CBC's The Early Edition, is just one doctor cautioning against blindly buying into wellness endorsements.

"You've got to take everything with a degree of scepticism," she said.

"There are certain products that they endorse — for instance, the infamous jade eggs that were supposed to be put in your vagina, and then their coffee enemas, and cleanse after cleanse — that you have to be very cautious about."

The warnings haven't dented the popularity of Goop, which has grown to be worth more than an estimated $250 million.

Goop events have drawn hundreds of attendees in the past and the first day of the Vancouver summit is sold out. The company sees Canada as a natural market for growth.

"Canada is typically pretty far ahead of where we are in the United States in terms of its point of view on health care and wellness and nature and the environment," Goop's chief content officer Elise Loehnen told CBC.

"Going to Vancouver, we already have a pretty big fan base there."

The 'Implant-o-rama system at-home coffee enema,' priced at $135, appeared on Goop.com's beauty and wellness detox guide as a way to 'supercharge your detox.' (Goop.com)

Women 'not being heard'

Zeineddin says Goop's dubious health claims point to a larger problem in the field of women's health.

"Women are unfortunately not being heard in the medical community," she said.

It can be challenging for women to find solutions to health issues from fatigue to difficulty with hormones, Zeineddin said — and companies like Goop that offer promises of fixes tap into that frustration. 

"Goop has this brand that gives you a sort of sensation that there's a form of community," she said.  

"[Many women] want to find a way to bring more wellness into their lives and they have been drawn to this brand."

But that can draw attention away from the conversation about women's health in conventional medicine, Zeineddin said.

"Instead of focusing on women's health really being ignored by the medical community and needing more science, they feel like they've found an alternative path, and the alternative path is this kind of pseudoscience," she said.

Ultimately, it's up to individuals to make informed decisions about their health.

"You have to have your own sense of understanding of what is good for you and what is not," she said.

"At the end of the day, you have to remember that Goop is a business — and people tend to forget this sometimes."

With files from The Early Edition

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