How ‘Wellness’ Became an Epidemic

There’s a whole world of doctors frustrated with the wellness movement, with what they see as the shady, shallow science behind it, and they too are vocal. Just get Timothy Caulfield, a health and law expert at the University of Alberta and author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?, started on the topic of detoxifying one’s body. “It’s completely ridiculous from a scientific perspective on every level,” he’s said. “The idea that we need to detoxify our bodies — we have organs that do it … There’s no evidence that we have these evil toxins in our cells that are making us put on weight, that give us fatigue. But it plays to our intuition in a very powerful way.” Jennifer Gunter, an OB/GYN and pain-medicine physician in Toronto, writes a frank and often funny blog that often takes on Paltrow and Goop. One post reads: “Your goopshit bothers me because it affects my patients. They read your crackpot theories and they stop eating tomatoes (side note, if tomatoes are toxic why do Italians have a longer life expectancy than Americans?) or haven’t had a slice of bread for two years, they spend money on organic tampons they don’t need, they ask for unindicated testing for adrenal fatigue (and often pay a lot via co-payments or paying out of pocket), or they obsess that they have systemic Candida (they don’t). I have a son with thyroid disease and I worry that in a few years he might read the kind of batshit crazy thyroid theories you promote and wonder if he should stop his medication and try to cure the chronic EBV that he doesn’t have. I also worry that science will have to spend more and more resources disproving snake oil as opposed to testing real hypotheses. I worry that you make people worry and that you are lowering the world’s medical IQ.