As a purveyor of lifestyle advice, Gwyneth Paltrow has promoted the benefits of pink Himalayan sea salt, conscious uncoupling and being stung by bees.
Her prediction for the next big thing in wellness? An hallucinogenic drug that has been linked to at least 19 deaths.
The Hollywood actress said she believes the use of ibogaine, a mind-altering drug derived from a rainforest shrub found in central Africa, will become more mainstream. It is used in some countries to treat opiate addiction.
Paltrow made the claim in an interview with the New York Times to promote Goop, her lifestyle brand.
She was asked: "So what’s the next big thing? What’s the next gluten free or conscious uncoupling?" She replied: "I think how psychedelics affect health and mental health and addiction will come more into the mainstream … I mean, there’s undeniably some link between being in that state and being connected to some other universal cosmic something.
"How do we evolve? What is the next iteration of the culture as it pertains to the way we think about things? The degree of openness to which we think about things and process things? What about ibogaine, that shrub from Gabon?" However, she added the disclaimer: "I don’t know. Don’t take my word for it."
Paltrow said she had never taken hallucinogens herself because they "terrified" her.
Ibogaine was linked to 19 deaths between 1990 and 2008, according to a paper by Prof Kenneth Alper, of New York University School of Medicine. Some of the deaths were attributed to use of the drug by people with preexisting heart conditions.
Paltrow’s Goop website features an interview with Dr Deborah Mash, professor of neurology and pharmacology at the University of Miami, who has re-searched ibogaine and believes it is useful in treating addiction.
However, she warned that the drug was dangerous if not taken under medical supervision.
Paltrow’s website has previously fallen foul of California’s consumer protection office over unscientific claims. In September, Goop agreed to pay $145,000 for claiming that its jade and rose quartz "vaginal eggs" could balance hormones and regulate menstrual cycles. Goop said there was "honest disagreement" about the claims and noted that the settlement did not indicate liability.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s wackiest advice
Paltrow set up the site in 2008 and it is now said to be worth £190million.
In the NYT interview, she said Goop was ahead of the curve. "When we talk about something that is incendiary, I always see in six months other people starting to write about it, and 18 months later, businesses popping up around it.
"It’s always confirmation to me that we’re on the right track. I mean, when I did my gluten-free cookbook in 2015, the press was super negative… now the gluten-free market is huge.
"Or conscious uncoupling. People were like, ‘this is insane, you’re crazy.’ And now it’s sort of talked about as a thing that people think might be possible for them."
Told that "some of the things on your site stray into the realm of pseudoscience that may be not only unproven, but potentially dangerous", she replied: "We’ve never said, ‘you should try this,’ or, ‘this works.’ We’re just saying, ‘wow, this is interesting, let’s have a Q&A with this person who practises this.’ And then that somehow gets translated into, ‘Gwyneth says you should do this.’" Paltrow joked that she had only been "masquerading as an actor" before finding her true calling.
It is estimated that one in 400 people die from taking ibogaine, but often because of contributory factors.
‘Addiction interrupter’ Drug found in rainforest
Ibogaine is a psychoactive drug derived from a rainforest shrub found in central Africa. It has been linked to at least 19 deaths but is legally available in some countries, where it is used to ease the symptoms of heroin withdrawal.
Goop features an interview with Dr Deborah Mash, professor of neurology and pharmacology at the University of Miami, who describes the drug as an "addiction interrupter".
She claims it works by "blocking withdrawal and cravings and alleviating depression", and said it can also be effective in treating cocaine addicts and alcoholics.
But she adds: "Unfortunately, today, ibogaine has pretty much gone to the underground of self-styled ibogaine practitioners. There are many people all over the world – some well meaning, some not well meaning – who operate ibogaine treatment centres and put addicts in harm’s way.
"There have been deaths. If you don’t have medical supervision, addicts can get into serious trouble, as people who abuse drugs and alcohol are often very sick and might have damaged livers or hearts."
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