If you have hundreds of dollars to burn and don't mind eating mystery fungus, Gwyneth Paltrow has the smoothie for you.
Paltrow is the founder of the lifestyle website Goop, a hell of an aptonym for a site that spreads pseudoscientific wellness factoids and peddles astronomically marked-up beauty products and things you can eat. For example: Paltrow's "morning smoothie," which is pretty much just vanilla and a blend of absurdly expensive powders, called Moon Dust, whose stress-relieving abilities are founded in folk science and nonscience.
Making Paltrow's morning smoothies will set you back $500. The main culprits are the 2-ounce containers of the edible powders, which sell for $55 to $65 on Goop. Alternatively, you can pay the same price for 4-ounce containers at cool-teen mecca and apparent nutrition retailer Urban Outfitters, because 100% markups aren't just for nightclubs anymore.
Here's the cost breakdown: vanilla mushroom protein powder, $35; maca, $25; ashwagandha, $17; ho shou wu, $18; cordyceps, $35. And then the Moon Dusts: Action Dust, $55; Beauty Dust, $65; Brain Dust, $55; Goodnight Dust, $55; Sex Dust (for... "you know"), $60; Spirit Dust, $65.
To have all of those Goop-approved ingredients on hand in your kitchen would cost $485. Plus tax.
And that's not including the base ingredients you need for the smoothie, like almond milk, almond butter, coconut oil, Himalayan sea salt and vanilla powder. Most of these are regular grocery store items, except for the mushroom-based vanilla protein that costs $35 for 20 servings. That's where the conventional ingredients end.
Scroll down the list and you'll arrive at a few scientifically unfounded substances sacred to the super-wealthy new age wellness sector — figures like juice guru Amanda Chantal Bacon and the entire cult of Bulletproof.
According to the Moon Juice shop, Moon Dusts are "transformative formulas" that "work synergistically at the deepest levels to heal and enhance your beauty, brain, body, sexual energy, sleep and spirit." They're "alchemized with the most potent organic and wild-crafted herbs, adaptogenic plants and bioactive minerals." This is the kind of ad copy that pays for condos in Orange County.
The powders are full of ingredients with very little actual scientific backing. You've got cistanche, shilajit, epimedium (also called horny goat weed), schisandra, reishi, longan, astragalus — and our favorite, salvia. (Yeah, that salvia.)
Taking medicinal herbs from India and China and repackaging them to look like they belong on the shelf at Whole Foods feels uniquely like college kids getting sanskrit tattoos during a two-week backpacking trip in South Asia, but whatever. Let's dig into this fiscally irresponsible monster cocktail.
Cordyceps is a fungus. It lives on some caterpillars in China, and it's mentioned in old Chinese medical books. The idea is that traditional or folk healers would use cordyceps to cure any ailment, sometimes combined with other herbs. Now it's being looked at for potential athletic benefits like endurance. Some researchers are excited about it, but overall, it's sort of been grandfathered in — meaning that if your ancestors have been using an ancient medicine for centuries, you just assume it works. Of course, medicine has changed since the age when healers would tell you to eat a mushroom instead of an antibiotic. And since then, modern studies have determined that any endurance or performance claims are bupkis. At least for now.
Maca makes you horny. Maca root's been used by native people in the Andes mountains for about 2,000 years. People who ingest maca believe it makes you stronger and more fertile and gives you a higher libido. It may be a folk remedy, but maca might be one of the few ingredients on the list that might actually work — even though those studies are few.
The effects of ho shou wu (or he shou wu) are more vague. The Moon Juice website claims it enhances youthfulness, reproductive function and sex drive — which may be anecdotally true, though research says the trade-off is liver toxicity.
Besides these rare liver disease alerts, most of the ingredients in Paltrow's smoothie won't really hurt you. But we should all be aware that most supplements aren't Food and Drug Administration-approved, so companies like Moon Juice can sell you whatever the hell they want — and can even call them "like, real magic" without penalty from the FDA or whatever agency wizards use.
"There is not enough evidence to support nor debunk the use of medicinal herbs," Nyree Dardarian, Assistant Clinical Professor at Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions, told Mic. "Total number of trials and sample sizes of published research is a lot of times too small to confirm the effectiveness of the herbal medicine."
Dardarian told Mic she "wouldn't recommend investing in supplements containing the herbal, botanical and natural products" in Paltrow's smoothie.
We wouldn't either. You'd be better off eating a fluffy omelette and spending that money on literally anything else.