Coffee enema touted on Paltrow's website slammed as bogus, potentially harmful
Gwyneth Paltrow poses for photographers before Chanel's Spring-Summer 2016 Haute Couture fashion collection in Paris on Jan. 26, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Thibault Camus)
TORONTO -- Gwyneth Paltrow's natural lifestyle website Goop, which has been widely criticized for promoting potentially dangerous products based on pseudoscience, is now recommending a do-it-yourself coffee enema to "supercharge your detox."
The US$135 Implant-O-Rama is the latest offering being touted on Goop's website featuring health, fitness and beauty products, which the actress has said she plans to make available to Canadians.
The idea of using coffee as a colonic to detox the bowel and the body has been around for a long time, but it's been widely debunked and there's no scientific evidence to support it, said Tim Caulfield, a health law expert at the University of Alberta and a vocal critic of the culture of celebrity-based health advice.
"You could do damage to your bowel," Caulfield said Tuesday from Edmonton. "I think this is absolutely absurd, potentially dangerous and there's no way the consumer should consider using this product."
He said Goop tends to promote a particular product or service each January -- vaginal steaming in 2015, jade eggs in the vagina to cultivate sexual energy in 2017 -- using the tag line "a new year, a new you" for marketing.
"One of the things I find fascinating about this is Gwyneth and Goop have been scrutinized over the past two years or so quite heavily by the science community, by the health community," said Caulfield, author of "Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash."
"And despite that scrutiny, they still are marketing completely ridiculous and potentially harmful products like this one."
Health Canada could not comment Tuesday on the Implant-O-Rama. But on its website, the federal department says all natural health products sold in Canada must have a product licence -- after being assessed for safety, effectiveness and quality -- and be assigned an eight-digit Natural Product Number (NPN).
"This number lets you know that the product has been reviewed and approved by Health Canada," the website says.
Caulfield said if a product carries a specific health claim, it is subject to regulation by Health Canada.
"But the problem is the people who push these products can be quite clever in how they present the benefits," using such vague terms as energize, revitalize or detoxify -- without a specific claim about curing or treating a particular disease, he said.
"And it becomes more difficult for regulators to move."
Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a Canadian-born obstetrician/gynecologist in San Francisco who has been an outspoken critic of Goop's health advice, also slammed Paltrow for promoting the home-use product.
"Coffee enemas and colonics offer no health benefit. The biology used to support these therapies is unsound and there can be very real complications," Gunter wrote recently on her blog about health and evidence-based medicine.
"Keep the coffee out of your rectum and in your cup. It is only meant to access your colon from the top."