From vulvas to psychedelics, Gwyneth Paltrow’s new Netflix documentary TV series The Goop Lab is a surprisingly educational experience.
I’ve never seen so many vulvas.
In episode three of The Goop Lab, streaming now on Netflix, that is. Boom! There they are. Vulva after vulva. All different, all normal. “We see penises all the time,” Gwyneth Paltrow says.
And she’s right.
Given Goop’s track-record, complete with coffee enemas and $75 vagina-scented candles, it goes without saying that the series should be taken with a grain of Goop-endorsed maldon smoked sea salt. Their wellness ethos is, at best, medically dubious and, at worst, dangerous.
To be fair, this is something they acknowledge right out of the gate in the form of a disclaimer that the series is intended to “entertain and inform” and not to provide medical advice.
Then again, the six-part series is not all woo-woo and jade eggs. If you look hard enough, in fact, there are actually quite a few gems – or, if you like, rose quartz crystals – of information.
In Paltrow’s words, Goop is about “self-optimisation”. “We’re here one time, one life, how can we really milk the shit out of this?” she says in the series’ introduction.
Here are seven things I learnt from The Goop Lab.
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The ‘Rock and Roll’ method
Now back to the third episode about female pleasure, probably the best of the series: here, we meet Betty Dodson. A 90-year-old denim jacket-wearing sexual health educator. “There is no country in the world that encourages girls to explore themselves and their sexuality,” she says.
Dodson – aka, the Oprah of orgasms – has invented her own masturbatory method: using both hands and a vibrator to rock and roll back and forth, flexing your pelvic muscles as you go, until you reach orgasm. And, as we see for ourselves when Carlin Ross, Betty’s right-hand woman, demonstrates the technique live on-screen, it works. A lot.
The ins and outs of female anatomy
Dodson is also here to clear up some common misconceptions about female anatomy, starting with the difference between the “vagina” and “vulva”. The former, she explains, refers to the birth canal only. “Ya wanna talk about the vulva,” she clarifies. “That’s the clitoris, the inner lips and all that good shit around it.”
Dodson, who has been teaching masturbatory workshops to women for over half a century now, encourages women to study their own parts with a mirror. In her workshops, they call this the “genital show-and-tell”.
The ‘Wim Hof Method’
In episode two, we meet Wim Hof, aka the Iceman, who has set world records for withstanding ice-cold temperatures and developed techniques to make the body more resilient.
While cold therapy is nothing new, the Wim Hof Method involves three basic pillars: meditation, cold exposure (from chilly showers to ‘snow-ga’) and specialised breathing.
This method, Hof claims, can help to control the body’s temperature while reaping the benefits of cold exposure. “Cold water is a great way to learn to deal with stress,” Hof explains to a group of Goop staffers. “If you learn how to breathe deep, you can go into the cold water and adapt. And with that, you become the alchemist of life itself.”
While the findings on this new method are hardly conclusive, people claim it has helped them improve athletic performance, conquer fears and even help to treat Lyme disease symptoms.
Hof’s parting words of wisdom? “Remind yourself every morning: Are you happy? Are you healthy? Are you strong? If not then, breathe, motherfucker.”
Energy healing is a thing
Arguably one of the more woo-woo wellness practices spotlighted on The Goop Lab is “energy healing” in which chiropractor John Amaral, Paltrow’s go-to healer, has Team Goop wriggling and writhing on a massage table – without laying a finger on them. Welcome to episode five.
Here, the idea is that tension, emotion and trauma that have become “stuck in the body” can be alleviated by manipulating the energy field around a person’s body.
Julianne Hough is a fan. “This work is so transformative that I just wanted to share my experience with every single person that I could,” she explains on The Goop Lab.
Describing one particularly powerful experience, Hough says: “There was this one moment last year when John [Amaral] was actually working around my foot, and I got angry. And then I just had such a deep sadness. It was actually a memory that I had and it was connected to a trauma that happened to me when I was 10 that I hadn’t even thought of for 20 years.”
Vampire facials can make you look five years younger
In a bid to wind back her biological age, Paltrow tries a vampire facial in episode four. If you cast your mind back to 2015, you will remember this skincare treatment was popularised by Kim Kardashian West after she underwent one on an episode of Kim and Kourtney Take Miami.
Dubbed the “vampire facial”, the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment involves taking blood from your body, spinning it around in a centrifuge to separate the red blood cells from the platelets and plasma (one of the series’ more gag-worthy moments) and then basically reinjecting the plasma into your face.
While the treatment’s efficacy remains up for debate, we can colour Paltrow convinced. “My baby daddy was like, ‘You look five years younger!’” she says afterwards.
Psychedelic therapy might be the future
The first episode looks at the healing potential of psychedelics, such as mushrooms and MDMA, for treating mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety.
The goop team flies to Jamaica to experience magic mushrooms firsthand and work through their various traumas. While still emerging, there is increasing evidence to support the idea that psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) can be used to help treat mental health issues with wide-ranging benefits.
However, as the experts themselves stress in this episode, it is imperative this kind of psychedelic therapy is done in the right environment and under strict medical supervision.
We are all a little bit psychic
In the final episode of The Goop Lab, psychic medium Laura Lynne Jackson does psychic readings on Goopers to convince them she is talking to their dead relatives.
“Being a psychic means that I read energy and being a medium means I can connect with the consciousness of people who have left their physical bodies,” she tells Paltrow.
According to Jackson, we all possess the language to communicate with the other side, known as the four “clairs” – clairvoyance (seeing), clairaudience (hearing), claircognizance (knowing) and clairsentience (feeling) – but most of us don’t tend to listen to our intuition.
Jackson explains, “If you ask for signs and messages from the other side, you will get them. You don’t need a psychic medium to prove it to you.”
By and large, The Goop Lab is a mixed bag, depending on where you sit on the alternative wellness spectrum – with psychedelics at one end and psychics at the other.
All I know is that after binge-watching all six episodes in a couple of days, I’ve started taking cold showers and wondering whether I could start tapping into my own psychic ability. I guess I’ve been Gooped.