Health

Gwyneth Paltrow's 'NASA Healing Stickers' Aren't the Worst Thing She Sells

June 23rd 2017

By:
Mike Rothschild

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle blog Goop has become an easy target of online mockery for its overpriced products and the absurdly unscientific claims it makes.

Among the worst recent controversies is the blog's claim that inserting egg-shaped pieces of jade into the vagina will "increase chi... hormonal balance, and feminine energy in general,” and that by firing hot "infrared and mugwort steam" into their insides, women can release energy and balance hormones.

This week, Goop was once again taken to task for selling an untested protect meant to treat a non-existent problem. And this time, it was no less than NASA calling them out.

Under the headline, "Wearable Stickers that Promote Healing (Really!)", Goop talked up the benefits of wearing small carbon fiber stickers to "rebalance the energy frequency in our bodies." That necessary, it claimed, because "everyday stresses and anxiety can throw off our internal balance, depleting our energy reserves and weakening our immune systems."

Deploying the logical fallacy known as the "appeal to authority," Goop claimed that the stickers are "made with the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits so they can monitor an astronaut’s vitals." 

Skeptical of this sciencey-sounding word salad, several news outlets contacted NASA to see if any of this was true. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't. 

A NASA spokesperson told The Washington Post the agency doesn't use carbon fiber in space suits, which are actually made of a variety of synthetic materials designed to function optimally in the vacuum of space. A former NASA researcher confirmed to Gizmodo that even if space suits once used carbon fibers, it would be to make them stronger, not monitor an astronaut's vital signs.

Because of the backlash, Goop removed the claims regarding NASA, and released a statement saying it had "gone back to the company [that makes the stickers] to inquire about the claim" that the space agency uses similar materials. 

While wearing the stickers likely has no measurable health effect, since the body has no "ideal energetic frequency" to rebalance, it also likely has no appreciable risk, either, given that they're just stickers. The only real risk is to one's wallet, as the stickers come in packs that start at $60. 

Body Vibes

Unfortunately, the same can't be said of many of the other products sold or promoted by Goop.

Amid the jade egg controversy, for example, Goop was criticized by doctors for selling something that could cause bacterial infection and toxic shock syndrome. Meanwhile, the "vagina steaming" the site touted carried an inherent risk of causing burns, infection, irritation, and even pregnancy complications. 

The site also sells a seemingly endless supply of powders, "dusts," pills, supplements, oils, crystals, juices, and tinctures. Every claim under the sun is thrown out, from improving gut health and boosting the immune system to goosing one's sex life to "align[ing] you with the mighty cosmic flow." The products are expensive, make untestable and implausible claims, and are, ironically, full of ingredients that Goop itself has deemed "toxic." 

Goop Dusts

And the sticker company, Body Vibes? It makes use of a "technology" touted to sell health pendants, "prostate health patches," headache treatments, and a "Digestive Solution™ energy card" that purportedly detects "human carbon units." Like Goop, the supposed benefits of these products are touted while actual proof of their efficacy and potential risk is omitted.

The "astronaut patches" controversy will likely come and go, doing no long-term damage to Goop's reputation among those who swear by its products. But it's a reminder that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and untested products that make lofty promises are probably not something that will do anything other than put you at risk and waste your money.