There is a particular brand of rich white lady wellness pseudoscience that I’ve never fully understood, but obviously has such consistent appeal that it can sustain the Goop Labs of the world. It typically comes across as ineffectual and silly – the people who insist they can, for example, battle off all types of harmful diseases using expensive food products and supplements in lieu of typical “western medicine” solutions which contain, you know, actual medicine. Most of the time these tendencies are of the variety that are just amusing and relatively harmless, such as butt-chugging sunlight. But then enough of these ladies decide that vaccines contain autism and suddenly people are getting measles and mumps at Disneyland and the whole thing becomes a lot less funny and a lot more Darwin award in tone.
This brings us to Cristina Cuomo, whose magic virus cures – shared in a series of public blogposts – is a masterclass in pseudoscience and elitism. The wife of CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who was making headlines this week by staging a dramatic emergence from COVID-19 isolation (after actually emerging several days earlier) and announcing his complete recovery, Cristina took up her fight against the virus with the use of ‘food medicine’ and Clorox bleach, among other therapies infrequently prescribed because they do not work.
Ms. Cuomo operates a wellness and lifestyle magazine called “Purist” from their home. When it launched in 2017, she announced “Wellness is the new luxury,” and boy, does she take that motto seriously. She claims her method of careful dieting, Peruvian bark, ‘body charging,’ and electromagnetic stimulation significantly shortened her time battling the virus. Cristina kept her husband and father of their three children under strict protocol as well, tethering him to their basement and minding his meals, and expressed concern that “FEVER 99 with an afternoon spike to 101.5 and evening spike aggravated by full moon”. (Please note: the moon is not giving you a fever.)
When it came time to treat her own illness, she went full tilt. It doesn’t appear that Cristina tried the controversial prescription Hydroxychloroquine therapy often mentioned by the president, nor did she mention any of the other several dozen COVID-19 therapies currently in trial phases. As a wellness mogul and dear friend of the late “transcendent photographer, adventurer, preservationist and raconteur,” Peter Beard, such pedestrian approaches to disease management were insufficiently luxurious.
Instead, she received quinine through a number of other alternative sources. In lieu of treatments you might find with professionals, the luxury magazine editor reached for a handy regimen of “oxygenated herbs.” She emptied her citrus drawer and spice cabinet into a single beverage with raw garlic and deployed an army of vitamins and supplements to fight the dreaded disease.
In the first of many plugs for naturopathic professionals and “friends,” Cristina elatedly describes the arrival of what reads like a truck full of unpronounceable products delivered by one Dr. Roxanna Namavar, “who also does vitamin drips at home in the Hamptons,” dressed head-to-toe in coveted medical protective gear. This special delivery, Cristina recognizes, may not be in every reader’s budget so she suggests the next best thing: bathing in Clorox bleach.
“Here is a more affordable way of neutralizing heavy metals: Twice, I took a bath. I added ½ cup ONLY of Clorox to a full bath of warm water to combat the radiation and metals in my system and oxygenate it,” she suggests. “We want to neutralize heavy metals because they slow-up the electromagnetic frequency of our cells, which is our energy field, and we need a good flow of energy.” Yes, a good flow of energy. And lighter, brighter skin with every wash.
"Both days, I added ½ cup of Clorox to my bathwater to combat the radiation and metals in my system and oxygenate it."https://t.co/XlodBvRrFw
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) April 23, 2020
The next expert to lend friendly healing advice was energy specialist Randy Oppitz who suggested that Cristina borrow a “body charger” from a friend. (Just like any power tool, it’s wise to have a friend with a “body charger”). “It sent electrical frequencies through my body to oxygenate my blood and stimulate the healthy production of blood cells to fortify my immune system,” she said of the body charger. “It also rebalanced my energy, which was gravely off from the stress of caregiving, catching the virus, fearing my kids would get it, etc. The key to healing the human body is directly related to the body’s ability to allow energy to flow through it.”
Cristina accompanied her body charger therapy with other useful and repurposed medical gadgets such as a portable pulsed electromagnetic field machine and a spirometer, “to help oxygenate the lungs.” She also relies heavily on one Dr. Linda Lancaster, founder of the “Light Harmonics Institute”, a “healing and teaching center specializing in Energy Medicines” based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “Dr. Linda Lancaster has discovered that it is the interplay of invisible forces such as chemicals, heavy metals, radiation, and opportunistic parasites…” – in a Goop profile, Dr. Linda “gives us a peek into the unique treatment that she’s famous for: Patient-specific cleanses that use goat milk and herbs to eliminate parasites, which allows patients to skip out on harsh drug regimens.”
In addition to rigorous energy, electromagnetic, and bleach therapies, one fighting an illness must also eat. You must eat mostly plants and exorbitantly expensive wheat grass shots, according to Cristina, but you may also hire a luxury Italian catering company Aqualina to feed your children.
In a key moment in Ms. Cuomo’s story, Dr. Linda ran an analysis of Chris Cuomo’s hair to find that he has insufficient protein. “She changes up the homeopathics a bit with the addition of more C, zinc, adrenal support, hemp, an Osha cough syrup, baptisia for a low-grade fever, and the addition of more meat to this week’s meal plan (to mitigate the low blood sugar that caused him to be dizzy a few days ago).”
Cristina subscribes to a diet and yoga discipline known as Ayurveda, a pseudoscientific approach to digestion that includes strict rules about which foods should be consumed and how they are supposed to be prepared. Cristina refers to these daily meals as “food medicine”. Of course, the custom “food medicine” lunches for the Cuomo’s come from the skilled kitchen of an Ayurvedic Hampton’s chef. But even with the high price tag and “yummy” adjectives the bland list of ingredients makes this food sound like more of a chore than a treat.
Breakfast: Green tea (caffeinated). Liver-cleansing smoothie. Chris had oatmeal.
Lunch: Cabbage, asparagus—a kidney cleanser—and chayote sambar (chayote is a tropical squash that hydrates the body and is high in vitamin C), with a lentil stew; mango with cardamom and cashews, a tissue-builder that’s also delicious
Dinner: Aqualina’s zucchini-and-mint soup and mushroom crepes.
There is an abiding naivete to all of this that would be somewhat endearing if not for the badness of the advice. “One’s character will truly be evident now as things begin to open and people begin to recirculate in public. Are we going to behave like locked-up wild animals set free?” Cristina wonders via blog text. “Maybe we take a cue from them and emerge slowly, quietly, trepidatiously. How will we greet one another? I’m going for the peace sign.” Best of luck with that, and don’t hog all the turmeric.