Gwyneth Paltrow, champion of vaginal eggs, bad lube advice, and honestly too many misguided ideas to keep track of, is now selling vitamins that she says can treat an imaginary disease called “adrenal fatigue”.
Photo by Terry White/Getty Images
The vitamins in question are called “Why am I so effing tired?”, a clever ploy to make you think, hmm, I get tired sometimes, so this supplement must be the answer! But — I feel like I have to point this out for the robots and aliens in the audience — humans all get tired sometimes, and for a wide variety of reasons. Almost none of them can be solved with vitamins.
Inside the packet, you’ll find a pretty standard multivitamin and fish oil supplement, plus some powdered plant material that may or may not do anything. (Herbal supplements can actually harm your health in some cases, so I’d want to see evidence that these are safe rather than giving Gwyneth the benefit of the doubt.)
There’s no reason to believe any of these things will make you less tired, which brings us back to the question on the label. Why are you so effing tired? Is it because you’re working overtime trying to save up for jeweled Birkenstocks? No, this is where the imaginary disease comes in. Dr Alejandro Junger, famous for Goop- and Dr Oz-endorsed detox cleanses, designed the packet with a specific cause of tiredness in mind:
This regimen is designed for people with adrenal exhaustion, or adrenal fatigue — a term that is not commonly used or even recognised by most modern medicine doctors outside of extreme cases. It affects an epidemic-level proportion of people and is usually confused with other conditions. The most common symptoms are: physical and mental exhaustion, difficulty sleeping, weight gain and difficulty losing weight, bad digestion, constipation, irregular periods, frequent colds and other infections, and the worsening of individual underlying medical problems.
It’s not recognised by most modern doctors because there’s no evidence that it exists. (And yes, modern doctors have looked.) The Hormone Health Network, part of the Endocrine Society, has a fact sheet on adrenal fatigue that includes a warning against vitamins or supplements sold for the condition: They won’t help, and might hurt. In fact, pretending you have adrenal fatigue could make your exhaustion or other symptoms (if you have any) worse:
Doctors urge you not to waste precious time accepting an unproven diagnosis such as “adrenal fatigue” if you feel tired, weak, or depressed. If you have these symptoms, you may have adrenal insufficiency, depression, obstructive sleep apnea, or other health problems. Getting a real diagnosis is very important to help you feel better and overcome your health problem.
Hear that? You need to get a real diagnosis, not a $US90 ($117) per month supply of pills. Adrenal insufficiency, which might sound similar, is a real disease whose treatment is not pricey internet vitamins.
Gwyneth’s other three supplement packs don’t call out imaginary diseases, but they’re also very unlikely to help your health. The supplement industry is a mess, after all, and supplements won’t make you lose weight or any of the other things they like to claim. The “Mother Lode” supplement may be able to stand in for a prenatal vitamin — but you can also get those at your local pharmacy for $100 less.