An NHS boss says 'serious science' is needed to treat long Covid - and Gwyneth Paltrow's 'regime' is irresponsible

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 11:08 am
Updated Thursday, 25th February 2021, 11:09 am
The actress has been criticised by an NHS boss over her long Covid treatment regime (Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

Gwyneth Paltrow has been criticised by an NHS boss for her unconventional methods of treating her long Covid symptoms.

Paltrow wrote about her experiences on her Goop blog, where she explained that she had Covid-19 “early on” and that it has left her with “some long tail fatigue and brain fog”.

In her blog, Paltrow said that she turned to a “functional medicine practitioner” who had recommended an “intuitive fasting” healing schedule.

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As part of her recovery, Paltrow said she was on a mainly “keto and plant based” diet with no sugar and alcohol, as well as fasting until 11am every day.

The keto diet that Paltrow is promoting has proven controversial amongst some health experts, with some branding it as dangerous.

The NHS website encourages long Covid sufferers to include a variety of health foods and proteins in their diet, in contradiction with Paltrow’s method.

In her blog post detailing her recovering regime, Paltrow links to a number of different products, such as herbal nonalcoholic cocktails for $89, an infrared sauna blanket for $500 and even a necklace for $8,600.

‘Not the solutions we’d recommend in the NHS’

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, said that “serious science” should be applied, and that “influencers” have a responsibility.

He said: “Like the virus, misinformation carries across borders and it mutates and evolves.

“So I think YouTube and other social media platforms have a real responsibility and opportunity here.

“In the last few days I see Gwyneth Paltrow is unfortunately suffering from the effects of Covid-19.

“We wish her well, but some of the solutions she’s recommending are really not the solutions we’d recommend in the NHS.

“We need to take long Covid seriously and apply serious science. All influencers who use social media have a duty of responsibility and a duty of care around that.”

‘Risks to health’

This isn’t the first time that Goop has been criticised by the NHS - last year, the head of the NHS said that the company may pose “risks to health”.

The comments came after the release of The Goop Lab on Netflix, a series which was produced and hosted by Paltrow, and saw her explore a variety of wellness issues and treatments.

Sir Simon Steves, chief executive of NHS England, said that the rate at which inaccurate health claims can be spread on the internet has put “myths and misinformation on steroids”.

He said: “Gwyneth Paltrow’s brand peddles ‘psychic vampire repellent’: says ‘chemical sunscreen is a bad idea’; and promotes colonic irrigation and DIY coffee enema machines, despite them carrying considerable risks to health and NHS advice clearly stating that there is no ‘scientific evidence to suggest there are any health benefits associated with colonic irrigation’.”

Coping with long Covid

It can vary from person to person how long it takes to recover from Covid-19.

While some people may feel better in a few days or weeks, others can feel symptoms lingering around for months afterwards.

Symptoms of long Covid can include:

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Problems with memory or concentration (“brain fog”)
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Pins and needles
  • Joint pain
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Tinnitus, earaches
  • Feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • A high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to the sense of smell or taste
  • Rashes

The NHS website says that if you’re worried about your symptoms four weeks or more after having Covid-19, you should contact your GP.

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and the impacting that they’re having on your life. They may even suggest some tests to find out more about your symptoms, and to rule out anything else that could be causing them.

These tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Checking your blood pressure and heart rate
  • A chest x-ray

Your doctor will then talk to you about the care and support you might need. You may also be given advice about how to manage and monitor your symptoms at home.

The NHS says: “If your symptoms are having a big impact on your life, you may be referred to a specialist rehabilitation service or a service that specialises in the specific symptoms you have.”

The NHS also has a special Covid-19 recovery website which details ways to help cope with the effects of Covid-19 on your body and mental health.