London - As Gwyneth Paltrow broke the news that she and husband Chris Martin were splitting up, it was immediately clear there had been three people in their marriage: Gwynnie, Chris... and her New Age guru, Dr Habib Sadeghi.
Announcing the separation on her website Goop, the actress and lifestyle expert devoted just eight lines to an explanation, introducing a baffled world to the idea of “conscious uncoupling”.
She then spent the rest of the announcement regurgitating a tortuously long essay that Dr Sadeghi and his wife Dr Sherry Sami had written to explain this psychobabble.
When a Hollywood star and supposed epitome of happily married domestic bliss entrusts to someone else the sensitive task of explaining why it all went wrong, you can be sure she places the utmost confidence in him.
In fact, Paltrow - who has long been on a spiritual quest to embrace the wildest alternative health theories imaginable - seems to have found her ultimate holistic wise man in the 43-year-old Iranian-American Sadeghi.
Thanks to her championing of his powers, he is fast becoming a fixture in the faddish celebrity world. His “integrative health” treatments for everything from weight loss to coping with cancer are sometimes alarming and almost always outlandish.
After being introduced to him by her doctor, detox advocate Dr Alejandro Junger, Paltrow recently admitted with the breathless devotion of the convert how Sadeghi “has changed (and continues to change) my life”. He “took my healing to another level”.
She plugs his books, his theories and his Los Angeles practice, the oddly named Be Hive of Healing, at every opportunity. It seems she can’t keep away from his treatment centre. As soon as she gets home to LA after a long flight, she said last year, she buzzes to his “hive” in Santa Monica.
“He gives me an intravenous therapy full of vitamins, which is incredible,” she trilled. “The lymphatic massage treatment helps with jet lag, too: they wrap you in a blanket and you sweat out impurities.”
She also claimed that Dr Sadeghi has changed her life in terms of allergy testing and food.
So, who is the man she calls her “mentor” and “favourite doctor”?
Like many New Age experts in ‘La-La Land’, Sadeghi is a conventionally trained doctor who caters for Hollywood’s weakness for the bizarre and unconventional.
Though he has initials after his name, they are not ‘MD’, like most US doctors, but ‘DO,’ for “Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine”. DOs and MDs take different degrees. Critics say DO training is less rigorous.
While DOs technically have the same status as MDs, an independent medical watchdog has claimed they are more likely to be involved in less conventional practices.
Other critics have noted that DOs tend to score lower marks at medical school and are more likely to come from non-science backgrounds.
Dr Sherry Sami, Sadeghi’s wife, Be Hive colleague and co-author of the “conscious uncoupling” screed, is a dentist not a doctor (In the US, dentists use the ‘Dr’ prefix).
A fellow Iranian immigrant, she shares her husband’s love of meditation and yoga, and tours the world on “dental humanitarian” missions. She and Sadeghi, who met at Columbia University in New York, have two young children.
Visitors to Sadeghi’s “behiveof healing” website, which is littered with impenetrable gobbledygook and pictures of orchids resting on pebbles, will quickly see that ‘conscious uncoupling’ is a model of linguistic clarity compared with some of the other unusual theories he advances.
Sadeghi didn’t actually come up with “conscious uncoupling” (that honour falls to relationship expert Katherine Woodward Thomas), but he has plenty of other trendy inventions of his own, some of which he has even gone so far as to patent.
The good doctor says he saw the light about the failings of modern medicine when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer during his second year at medical school.
He took a year out, experimented with yoga and vegetarian food and addressed his cancer with the power of positive thinking.
He returned to medical school, his disease beaten, and determined to set up a healing centre that would draw upon esoteric Eastern knowledge such as energy healing, acupuncture and - deep breath - something called psychoneuroimmunology.
Services offered by the Be Hive include “integrative bioregulatory medicine” - a phrase Sadeghi has trademarked and which involves kick-starting your “natural healing abilities” with herbs, essential oils and dietary supplements. “anthroposphical medicine” uses “healing plants and natural organisms” to treat everything from digestive problems to cancer.
Then there’s “Integrative Psycho-Synthesis” (iPS), Sadeghi’s patented personal development programme, which he says has prompted “dramatic breakthroughs” for actors, politicians and top businessmen.
Sometimes called “active compassion” and based on his own experience in fighting cancer, it involves teaching such mental techniques as meditation, the importance of attending to what others say (called ‘deep listening’) and general positive thinking.
Participants “will realise that through turning past betrayals into trust they become part of a living Truth through which all healing and abundance flows”, says Sadeghi, who boasts iPS patients call him the ‘Old Soul Doctor’ because of his sixth sense for knowing what makes people tick.
As an example of how his outlandish ideas work in practice, he sets an exercise for his cancer patients called ‘Purge Emotional Writing’.
In a quiet place, they must light a white candle before spending 12 minutes writing a stream-of-consciousness account of any unresolved issue about which they have not been honest. They then burn the paper. No need to read it as “you’ve purged this negative energy and don’t want to take it back into your consciousness”, Sadeghi says.
“Fire is transformative and cleansing because it changes the chemical composition of things.” Why 12 minutes? Because it has “great spiritual significance” in nearly all religions. Of course!
Naturally, he has written a book. Or a ‘long-awaited’ and ‘life- changing’ first book, as Gwyneth describes it on her website.
In Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss, Sadeghi argues you can lose weight through loving yourself (you can begin to see why celebrities love him).
The book includes a 40-day programme (40 also has a spiritual significance, naturally) to take you on a “sacred quest” for forgiveness, not just of others but also of yourself.
In interviews promoting the book, Sadeghi claimed: “If a baby receives perfect nutrition but no loving touch or nurturing, it will die. We call them ‘failure-to-thrive’ babies.”
Love, he says, is a nutrient required for our physical survival.
This might sound like waffle to the majority of us - but not to his celebrity followers. The book is full of their praise. Chris Martin said Sadeghi had “shown me how my outside reflects my inside... he has helped me a great deal and I hope more people can enjoy the benefit of his compassion”.
Stella McCartney praised his “soft and gentle approach, he gives support to life’s challenges in a way that removes fear and shame”.
British actress Emily Blunt claimed: “I don’t think I’ve come across anyone who understands more about the mind/body connection.”
Paltrow, needless to say, wrote the book’s foreword (Sadeghi did the same for her cookbook, It’s All Good). “He’s brought clarity to my life in ways that only someone with an old soul truly can,” she writes.
Simon Cowell and Rihanna are just two of the reported converts to Sadeghi’s regenerative ‘Cocktail’, also known around town as the ‘party girl drip’. Several times a week, stars go to the Be Hive to be hooked up to an IV drip of vitamins B and C, with zinc and chromium. Supposedly, it not only replenishes daily vitamins, but is a great cure for a hangover.
But what has been Sadeghi’s greatest gift to Gwynnie?
There have been suggestions that she has been lying about the state of her marriage for years for the sake of her and Martin’s children and their careers.
Last August, she admitted that after years of dishonesty she was finally “starting to get honest” and stop lying. She went on: “The path to honesty has been one of the most beautiful, painful and interesting lessons of my life.” Honesty, she had discovered, “is giving yourself the space to actually feel your feelings and be true to them”.
It’s the classic Gwynnie gush we have all come to know and love. And who had taught her “the way to what is honest”? None other than the wise old soul Dr Sadeghi, of course. - Daily Mail