Over the past few years, global citizens of the world have not been Gwyneth Paltrow's biggest fans. While I can't put my finger on what exactly has made her so unlikeable to many, it seemed to start with her "conscious uncoupling" from Chris Martin, and spiraled out of control after she launched her lifestyle brand Goop. (It should also be noted that the appeal of Coldplay has also suffered since the divorce. Coincidence? I think not.) In all honesty, what really sent people over the edge was when Paltrow blogged about challenging herself to live off of $29 worth of food stamps for a week. While her intent was to raise awareness (and money) for the Food Bank For New York City, the general consensus of public opinion was pure outrage.
Recently, some writers criticized Paltrow over a recipe for a smoothie where the ingredients totaled nearly $500. (A writer for Slate went as far as to say that her product endorsements sound like "period euphemisms.") Mid-eye roll, there was one item on the list that caught my eye—Sex Dust. The edible powder comes from Amanda Chantal Bacon's store Moon Juice, which is described as "a resource for organic alchemy, ancient wisdom, and deliciously potent foods for those seeking beauty, wellness, and longevity." Unfortunately, both women have been victims of online "health-shaming" because of how overpriced the supplements are.
Rather than go off on a tangent of my own, I felt intrigued to give these potions a run for their money. To find out if this stuff really did have the ability to enhance my mind, body, and soul, I consumed all of the Moon Dust formulas for seven days. The full collection costs $340 and includes Beauty, Sex, Action, Goodnight, Spirit, and Brain, or you can buy them all separately for $55 to $65 per 8-ounce jar. The company recommends a serving as one tablespoon, sprinkled into hot or cold beverages.
Prior to this experiment, I consulted a group of medical experts about whether or not they endorse the use of these products: Adina Grigore, a holistic nutritionist and founder of S.W. Basics, Dr. Gabrielle Francis, a naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist, and licensed massage therapist, and Dr. Elizabeth Trattner, a board certified doctor of Oriental medicine and acupuncture. Public opinions are one thing, but nothing should weigh more than the words of a professional.
"Moon Juice dusts use very clever marketing that make it look like great products. It seems like the world has taken to eating well from pop culture, and eating healthy is glamorous and hip. Mind you, I think it is a great way to raise awareness but consumers need to be educated on the proper way to take supplements and moreover how to buy ones that are safe," says Dr. Trattner. "The ingredients look wonderful as they are organic, however, there is no GMP stamp on them that denotes Good Manufacturing Practices. GMP are the practices required in order to conform to the guidelines recommended by agencies, that control authorization and licensing for manufacture and sale of food, drug products, and active pharmaceutical products."
Dr. Tratter also said she would feel more comfortable recommending Moon Juice if she knew that a licensed acupuncturist or a licensed practitioner skilled in herbalism was involved with the creation of the products. (It turns out that herbalism is an intense practice of medicine that takes several years to study and master.) "The formulas are drawn from Chinese and some Ayurveda medicine—it takes a licensed and skilled practitioner to make sure these are safe to take with other herbs, supplements, and drugs," she adds. "Most consumers do not know this."
Dr. Francis further elaborated on the problem with the labeling of Moon Juice's products. "I lived in China for a year and studied Chinese herbs and people that used Chinese herbs in an environmental toxicology class," she notes. "I doubt that there are organic things coming from China, so my biggest concern here is the source, and if the products are not only organic but if they are sourced with fair trade in mind."
Though skeptical of Moon Juice's claims, every expert approved of the concept and design of the actual products. Dr. Francis said that she thought the Dusts were "excellent alternatives to coffee and tea" and that they are "thoughtfully formulated to support the claimed benefits." The doctors even said that if given the opportunity, they would try the dusts for themselves to explore the benefits.
Click through the gallery to follow the journey of my Moon Juice trial. If you are interested in investing in the full Moon Dust collection, proceed here.
Beauty Dust, $65
Cost per serving: $4.19
Ingredients: Goji, rehmannia, pearl, schisandra, and stevia.
What it promises: Preservation of youth, shiny hair, twinkling bright eyes, and glowing skin.
What it delivers: This Dust added to the taste of my rose tea blends, though I honestly couldn't tell whether or not my hair was shinier or if my face was more clear than usual. Maybe if I didn't use so many other skincare products, I would have been able to notice a difference.
What the experts say:"This Dust contains two super-berries—goji and schisandra. Both are antioxidant-rich and are adaptogens, meaning they’ll help fortify your immune system, improve energy levels, and increase your ability to focus. While I don’t think this is necessarily beauty in a bottle, I know that when I’m healthy, energetic, and focused I feel much better about myself!" — Grigore.
"I love this combination of Asian superfoods here. They are all potent adrenal adaptogens or known for their strong antioxidant properties. It is safe for consumption assuming that the ingredients are truly tested. It is hard to find organic ingredients from China and the source is not mentioned on the product label. Perhaps they are wildcrafted in the U.S. If they are from Asia, I would be concerned about high amounts of heavy metals in Chinese herbs." — Dr. Francis
Action Dust, $55
Cost per serving: $3.55
Ingredients: Astragalus, ginseng, schisandra, eleuthro, rhodiola, and stevia.
What it promises: Peak performance, stamina, longevity, energy, and ability to withstand stress and injuries.
What it delivers: The first time I drank this was with a cup of tea the minute I arrived at my office. After an hour passed, I immediately felt more alert. I typically drink at least four cups of tea while I'm at work, but I only needed one that day. That same day, I felt motivated enough to go to the gym in the evening, and then pushed myself to go the extra mile and take care of my long overdue grocery shopping.
What the experts say:"A chief ingredient of this product is astragalus, another herb traditionally used in ancient Chinese medicine. Astragalus is loaded in antioxidants, is an adaptogen, and has been cited as an effective treatment for helping cancer patients cope with the side effects of chemotherapy, which supports this product’s claim as a recovery aid. Generally speaking, though, the research on this ingredient is limited. " — Grigore.
"This is a very potent combination of adrenal adaptogens, mostly of Asian origin. Adaptogens are used for people that have chronic stress and energy disorders and are known to enhance adrenal activity and balance. This is good for someone who is tested to have low adrenal function. Many people have actual excess cortisol and adrenaline and are overstimulated in adrenal function. So this product would be too much for them. It would only be taken in the morning and at noon. It could cause insomnia and anxiety if taken too late or in someone with high cortisol." — Dr. Francis
Brain Dust, $55
Cost per serving: $3.55
Ingredients: Astragalus, lion's mane, shilajit, maca, rhodiola, stevia, and gingko.
What it promises: Superior states of cognitive flow, clarity, memory, creativity, alertness, and capacity to handle stress.
What it delivers: I also sprinkled this Dust into my morning cup of tea while I was at work. In all honesty, I legitimately felt more focused than usual. When you are consumed in the digital world, it is easy to get overwhelmed by everything happening on your screen, but I never felt distracted. I get stressed out really easily, but I never felt too overwhelmed by my work flow. (I noticed a difference on the days when I did not consume this specific dust and nearly had nervous breakdowns.)
What the experts say:"This Dust claims to provide brain benefits like enhanced memory, clarity, and alertness. A notable ingredient here is Lion’s Mane, a Japanese mushroom; one study found that it was indeed effective in improving mild cognitive impairment. I wouldn’t rely on this Dust to get you through a major presentation sans preparation, though!" — Grigore
"This is also a nice combination of adrenal adaptogens and nerve tonics. It is a very good combination for someone with issues related to clarity and focus. I can help neuroplasticity (repair of nerve cells) and circulation to the brain. This product should be taken at breakfast and noon but not in the evening or it would interfere with sleep." — Dr. Francis
Spirit Dust, $65
Cost per serving: $4.19
Ingredients: Goji, reishi, longan, astragalus, salvia, and stevia.
What it promises: A peaceful mind, an expanded existence, awareness, creativity, and joy
What it delivers: Sometimes I am convinced that I suffer from the placebo effect, but I genuienly felt like I maintained a zen state of mind after drinking this Dust. I really wish that I had pushed myself to go to yoga that week because it probably would have transported me to full-on namaste mode.
What the experts say:"I’m pretty much going to characterize this Dust as the 'feel good' one and several of the ingredients it contains—goji, reishi, and astragalus—are all antioxidant-rich adaptogens. While they may not ever deliver on their promise to promote an 'expanded existence,' they certainly are worth consuming!" — Grigore
"This herbal combination is great for mental clarity and has some herbs that have been used to enhance mystical experiences without the hallucinations. It would be a good tea to drink before meditation, yoga, or prayer." — Dr. Francis
Goodnight Dust, $55
Cost per serving: $3.55
Ingredients: Chamomile, zizyphus, polygala, schisandra, and stevia.
What it promises: Deep sleep, soothing support, and emotional calm.
What it delivers: I ingested this Dust within a cup of tea before I went to bed. Normally, I spritz lavender-scented sprays on my sheets and sleep on silk pillowcases so I sleep pretty comfortably, but I think that this Dust helped to ease the process of winding down. I would drink it again.
What the experts say: "I’m sure most of you are familiar with chamomile, which has long been regarded as a calming and soothing ingredient (and found most frequently in tea). This Dust contains chamomile as a key ingredient, which is logical enough, plus zizyphus, another herb that’s utilized as a sedative in ancient Chinese medicine. Again, I can't claim that this is the secret to a good night's sleep, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to test it out pre-snooze." — Grigore
"This is a safe drink for insomnia and anxiety. It has mostly herbal nervines which help calm the nervous system and support sleep." — Dr. Francis
Sex Dust, $60
Cost per serving: $3.87
Ingredients: He Shou Wu, cistanche, cacao, shilajit, maca, epimedium, schisandra, and stevia.
What it promises: Ignited sexual flow, waves of sensitivity and power, supported primordial energy, vital essence, deeply nourished sexual vigor, and hightened creative potential.
What it delivers: Going into this whole thing, I did not have high expectations for this Dust. I'm single, but it's not like I've been outwardly seeking romantic company. The evening that I took this, I went out to a few events with my friends. For the most part, I felt confident. I was surrounded by a lot of attractive people, and I think that I might have been sending some sexual signals, but I did not intend to phsyically act on any urges. Maybe in a different setting, in a different state of mind, this would enhance sexual experiences. Based on my activities, I cannot confirm or deny this claim.
What the experts say: "Now, I can’t speak to whether or not this actually enhances libido, but it does contain ingredients that are purported aphrodisiacs—namely He Shou Wu, an ancient root that’s highly revered in ancient Chinese medicine. Also, as a nutritionist, I’d rather someone drink this to get in the mood than down a bunch of glasses of wine. You'll feel better in the morning, too." — Grigore
"The herbs in this formula are known to be aphrodisiacs in either Asia or South America. They are researched to be strong adaptogens for the female and male hormones. This means they can adapt to hormones being low or high depending on what is needed. I would avoid the maca if one is known to have high cortisol or anxiety issues. It is best taken early in the day so as not to interfere with sleep. Unless of course, that is the point. I am suspicious of all herbs coming from China if the source is not determined." — Dr. Francis