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The art of knowing when to stop talking

By Dr Doug Witherspoon - 02nd Apr 2023

ozone therapy

Regular readers of The Dorsal View will know that from time to time, we cover some of the ridiculous and occasionally dangerous ‘health advice’ dished-out by celebrities of various ilks. Impressionable people, especially those who are young or are doctor-averse, have ended up in medical clinics or worse due to these asinine health ‘tips’.     

Dishonourable mentions go to Demi Moore, who once proudly declared that she uses leeches on her bare skin and allows them to suck her blood in order to ‘detoxify’ her body.

Another door to dodgy advice was opened by the Kardashians, who endorsed eating one’s own placenta after giving birth in order to prevent postpartum depression. I never fully understood what this family is famous for, but their recommendation to have the placenta converted into pill form raised a number of problems, not least the lack of an evidence base (according to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the pill conversion can result in unhealthy pathogens).

I could go on, but one of the primary offenders, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, has once again distinguished herself by issuing advice that is at best quackery, and at worst downright dangerous. Ms Paltrow has a track record in this regard – she launched a company called Goop in 2008 and has been in hot water since then, and not for therapeutic reasons.

One of these controversies centered around Goop’s ‘Jade Egg’. This small, smooth rock was designed to be inserted into the vagina, supposedly to improve hormonal imbalances, the quality of orgasms, and a bunch of other bunkum. Horrified gynaecologists raised their voices loud and clear and Goop was subsequently fined $145,000 for making “unsubstantiated” health claims. But not before, depressingly, the Jade Eggs sold out on the website.

Ms Paltrow seems preoccupied with genitalia; she also advocated vaginal steaming in 2015, a procedure that involves hot steam and potentially second-degree burns. Again, hormone-balancing claims were made and the company stated “the real golden ticket here is the Mugwort V-Steam. You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al.” Where do you start with that one.

She has also claimed via the Goop newsletter that water has ‘feelings’, and has pitched a 24-carat gold sex toy that retailed for $15,000.

However, now she has upped the ante with a new ‘recommendation’ she made on a podcast titled The Art of Being Well (incidentally, if you are a fan of podcasts, keep an eye out for the upcoming Medical Independent series of podcasts, which will feature fascinating interviews with physicians. Be assured of only medical advice with an evidence base!). In the podcast, which was broadcast recently, Ms Paltrow explains how she uses “rectal ozone therapy” – a procedure where the powerful gas is delivered via catheter into the colon. The supposed benefits are a little unclear, but some claims are made about the advantages of introducing more oxygen into the body.

As an even more flaky aside, she participated in the podcast with an IV line inserted into her hand in order to deliver vitamins directly into her bloodstream “just ‘cos I was flying”.

Apparently, the flight prevented her from administering her usual IV ‘therapies’, which include glutathione and phosphatidylcholine.

‘Ozone therapy’ essentially involves using a generator device to administer medical-grade ozone into the body via the rectum. Unsurprisingly, this procedure is not approved by the FDA and Dr Kaveh Hoda, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist based in California, put it best when he told UK press recently: “The side-effects of ozone treatment have been described, with a lot of different issues like nervous system problems, problems with the heart, even vision problems….

“If rectal ozone therapy is put up there [I don’t believe a pun was intended here] with a medication we have studied and tested and prescribed – if [people] think they’re equivalent, we won’t be able to convince people of [medical practices that are] really important.”

Any studies that have so far been conducted on ozone therapy have been of low quality and have involved only animal models.

On the most fundamental level, ozone is, of course, extremely dangerous if inhaled and can result in enough irritation to the lungs to cause pulmonary oedema.

I think it’s fair to say at this point that unless they are encouraging people to be kind to each other, to be forgiving, to be accepting, and to love their fellow human, celebrities like Ms Paltrow should really be quiet and concentrate on pretending to be other people.

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