Goop’s most vocal critic is Jen Gunter, a San Francisco ob-gyn who has assailed the site for everything from its detox smoothies to its series of “anti-bloat” recipes. Her most viral posts are takedowns of the jade egg, the infamous green weights that Goop has suggested women insert into their vaginas for “spiritual detox.” Goop sells the eggs through its online shop, and despite their $66 price tag, they’ve reportedly sold out at times.
Gunter, who did her residency at the University of Western Ontario and a fellowship in infectious disease at the University of Kansas Medical Center, remembers feeling lured to the depths of internet pseudoscience in 2003, when her sons were born very prematurely and with multiple health issues. “I started researching things online that I had never researched before,” she told me. “I was googling stem-cell therapy. It was a minefield of bad information.”
“I knew where to step,” she said—but others might not. “I realized what it’s like to be desperate at 3 a.m.”
Gunter has written, repeatedly, that the jade eggs discussed in Goop can cause pelvic pain and infections. “Jade is porous, which could allow bacteria to get inside,” she wrote in January. “It could be a risk factor for bacterial vaginosis or even the potentially deadly toxic shock syndrome.”
Nathaniel DeNicola, a faculty ob-gyn at George Washington University, confirmed that the risk of infection with a jade egg is “worrisome,” though it depends on how porous the egg is and how it’s sanitized.
Goop’s editors struck back at Gunter with a post titled, “Uncensored: A Word from Our Doctors,” in which they explained that “we are drawn to physicians who are interested in both Western and Eastern modalities.” Its readers, they implied, can decide for themselves whose advice to follow: “We chafe at the idea that we are not intelligent enough to read something and take what serves us, and leave what does not.”
The “uncensored” post included a note from Steven Gundry, a doctor who has contributed to Goop. In it, he chastised Gunter for using the word “fuck” in her posts, defended his credentials, and claimed Gunter “did not do even a simple Google search of me before opening your mouth.”
On Goop, Gundry promotes the idea that lectins, a type of protein found in certain plants, such as kidney beans, cause diseases like asthma, multiple sclerosis, or irritable-bowel syndrome. It’s true that lectins from uncooked beans can cause food poisoning–like symptoms, but as my colleague James Hamblin reported in April, experts say cooking prevents any potential harm from the lectins. Gundry has also been quoted warning against taking Advil and antibiotics, as well as eating tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and soybeans, among other foods.
In our interview, Gundry described his portion of the Goop editorial as a plea for civility. “Discussion should always be welcome, but discussion ... has always been at a collegial level, and there’s no shouting or screaming or profanity,” he said. (Paltrow has been quoted using the phrase, “If you want to fuck with me, bring your A game,” and reportedly has cocktail napkins stamped with the motto.)