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Oil Pulling Your Leg

Oil pulling is a traditional Ayurveda method of oral care. It involves swishing sesame oil or a similar oil, perhaps mixed with other substances, in the mouth for 10-20 minutes as a means of preventing caries (cavities), reducing bacteria, and promoting healthy gums. In our internet-fueled age of misinformation, oil pulling has seen a surge in popularity as it makes the rounds on Facebook and other popular social media sites.

The proliferation of unscientific medical advice also essentially assured that oil pulling would be updated to incorporate the latest marketing memes in the alternative marketplace. It is therefore not surprising that this technique is being presented as a cure-all, treating all sorts of systemic diseases by allegedly pulling toxins from the mouth. The Wellness Mama (the first hit on Google) proclaims:

Oil pulling is an age-old remedy that uses natural substances to clean and detoxify teeth and gums. It has the added effect of whitening teeth naturally and evidence even shows that it is beneficial in improving gums and removing harmful bacteria!

Food Matters also gushes:

It is believed that these oils help the lymphatic system of the body as harmful bacteria are removed and beneficial microflora are given with [sic] a healthy environment to flourish. Because of this holistic perspective, oil pulling has been used as a preventative health measure for many other conditions.

This is followed by a long list of conditions from migraines to bronchitis.

Oil pulling for dental care

Using oil as a rinse for oral care in the time before modern medicine was perhaps not a bad idea, and does have a modicum of plausibility. Just the mechanical act of swishing any fluid around the mouth is likely to dislodge bits of food and clean the teeth. I wouldn’t recommend it over brushing your teeth, but it is probably better than nothing.

Recently several researchers have done small pilot studies looking at the effects of oil pulling. Some are overtly trying to support traditional Indian treatments, but at least they are clear about their biases. In any case, these small studies show that swishing oil in the mouth daily does have an effect, unsurprisingly, on oral bacteria.

A 2008 study by Asokan et al. found that a standard mouthwash containing chlorhexidine reduced Streptococcus mutans (a significant contributor to tooth decay) in plaque at all four time points measured (24 hours, 48 hours, 1 week and 2 weeks) and in the saliva in the latter three time points. The oil pulling group had reduced S. mutans only in plaque at one and two weeks. So the standard therapy, chlorhexidine, was superior to oil pulling in reducing S. mutans.

A 2011 study also by Asokan published in an Indian journal found that oil pulling was equally effective to chlorhexidine in reducing halitosis and bacteria associated with halitosis.

Asokan also investigated a possible mechanisms of action of oil pulling. He found:

Sesamin and sesamolin isolated from sesame oil did not have any antibacterial effect against oral microorganisms like Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus mitis and Streptococcus viridans. Emulsification of sesame oil occurs during oil-pulling therapy. Increased consumption of NaOH in titration is a definite indication of a possible saponification process.

And concluded:

The myth that the effect of oil-pulling therapy on oral health was just a placebo effect has been broken and there are clear indications of possible saponification and emulsification process, which enhances its mechanical cleaning action.

It seems that rinsing with oil leaves oil in the oral cavity, and that swishing with oil can have a mechanical cleaning action.

That also seems to be the extent of the peer-reviewed scientific literature on oiling pulling – a few preliminary studies by a single researcher with an apparent cultural bias. Even if researcher bias is put aside, the evidence is hardly overwhelming. If taken at face value it indicates that swishing with oil is helpful to oral health, probably just because of the mechanical cleaning (perhaps enhanced by oil emulsification), but is not as effective as standard modern therapy with mouth wash.

Proponents of oil pulling do provide a few more references in obscure journals, but they do not show up on Pubmed even when searching by exact title and author names (which suggests the journals are not officially recognized as peer-reviewed). The studies show similar results – preliminary evidence that swishing with various oils reduces some bacteria, but not better than chlorhexidine.

I did come across one other published paper on oil pulling – a report of recurrent lipoid pneumonia from oil pulling. Lipoid pneumonia is a chemical lung disease caused by aspirating (breathing in) small amounts of oil. The long duration of mouth swishing with oil recommended by oil pulling advocates may increase the risk of lipoid pneumonia as a complication. This is a good reminder that no matter how “natural” and “ancient” a treatment is, we should not assume it is entirely without risk.

Oil pulling for general health

While oil pulling may be a better-than-nothing alternative if you are stuck without modern dental care, there is no scientific basis in either plausibility or empirical evidence for any claims of benefits to general health. Of course, lack of plausibility and evidence is not a barrier to promotion by the alternative gurus.

The claim here is that oil pulling removes “toxins” and harmful bacteria from the body through the oral cavity. Like all alleged detox treatments, specific toxins are never named or measured, nor is any specific causal link made to the specific diseases that are claimed to be treated.

Proponents often refer to the preliminary studies above showing some effect for oral health, again probably just from the mechanical swishing, and then use that to claim that “oil pulling works,” followed by claims that it treats specific diseases and conditions for which there is no evidence. Dr. Bruce Fife, who wrote about recommending oil pulling, claims you should try it:

If you suffer from asthma, diabetes, arthritis, migraine headaches, or any chronic illness,

and

All disease starts in the mouth!

In the extreme oil pulling has become just another “one cure to cure them all” alternative pseudoscience.

Conclusion

Oil pulling is a suggestive misnomer, implying that something bad is being pulled from the mouth (toxins and bacteria). What little scientific evidence exists shows that it is probably not as effective as standard mouth wash, and what benefit it has is likely entirely due to the mechanical act of swishing to remove particles and bacteria from teeth and gums.

There is no reason either theoretically or based upon any evidence to recommend oil pulling (which should be renamed “oil-swishing”) instead of standard modern health care with flossing, tooth-brushing, and mouth rinse. However, it does appear to be better than nothing, and might have a role in developing countries without access to modern oral care. The one caveat is that extended periods of swishing that are commonly recommended (10-20 minutes) are likely not necessary and further present a risk of lipoid pneumonia from accidentally breathing in small amounts of oil.

Oil pulling for general health or any other indication is pure pseudoscience. Detox claims are based on nothing, as are all detox claims. There is no evidence or plausible rationale to recommend oil pulling for any indication other than as a poor substitute for oral care.

Posted in: Dentistry, Herbs & Supplements

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209 thoughts on “Oil Pulling Your Leg

  1. windriven says:

    ” It involves swishing sesame oil or a similar oil, perhaps mixed with other substances, in the mouth for 10-20 minutes as a means of preventing caries, reducing bacteria, and promoting healthy gums.”

    Oil pulling, say 15 minutes, twice per day = 30 minutes for oral hygiene

    Sonicare, 2 minutes, twice per day + flossing = 5 minutes for oral hygiene

    What precisely is the point? Is this intended for those who have lost their toothbrushes? Those who can’t bear the agony of plastic bristles entering the temples of their mouths? Or is this just another pointless fashion that the guppies of social conformity will flock to for a week and then move on to acai juice ear washes as a preventative for migraine?

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Seriously. 20 minutes? Really? I consider my oral health routine to be pretty lengthy, it clocks in at about 20 minutes each day. But only a minute or so is spent with Listerine (alcohol free) in my mouth.

      Not to mention – if oil rinsing is used as a substitute for an entire oral care routine (i.e. instead of flossing, brushing and rinsing with mouth wash), that’s another problem right there.

      20 minutes? Really?

      Plus, oil is probably the most expensive macronutrient to purchase. What a waste of money. Do you get to swallow it afterwards? Because that might help offset nutrient deficiencies in poor individuals.

      1. Jack says:

        No because then you would be swallowing all of the toxins, silly.

      2. Skepdick says:

        Please cite your sources regarding the usefulness of alcohol-free Listerine. In fact, the alcohol was probably the only ingredient that had any effect. Thinking that rinsing your mouth for a few seconds with alcohol-free Listerine is going to do you some good has no scientific basis. No skeptic would ever waste their money on such nonsense.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          If nothing else, the type that I use has fluoride in it.

          My dentist recommended the use of a comprehensive mouth rinse. I said I didn’t like the risks of oral cancer presented by alcohol-containing mouth rinses, they recommended my current one. I went with it because I’m not a doctor and I trust them to give me the best advice they can on the basis of their education.

          As a skeptic, I feel it is incumbent on me to recognize my limitations, to recognize just how much time and effort it takes to accumulate adequate expertise to have an opinion. As such, I defer to most medical practitioners rather than trolling pubmed for meta-analyses on every single ingredient in my mouthwash. It takes time away from playing tower defence games on my tablet and reading books about paladins and shit (a favourite author from youth just re-released a trilogy I loved as a teen – so I’m going to read that instead).

          If a dentist corrects me, great. Until then, I’m sticking with my giant jug of mouth wash. The other fluoride stuff tasted like raw chicken and fart, and turned my teeth green.

          1. S'carah says:

            Just so we’re clear about purposeful or usefulness; Alcohol free and sugar free mouth washes are recommended for those with recent oral piercings and I would assume that anyone else with mouth sores that are healing will opt to use the alcohol free as well.

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              Alcohol-free mouthwashes are also a reaction to the increased risk of oral cancers due to alcohol being used as an oral rinse.

              1. Sean Duggan says:

                And, of course, there’s the doubt as to whether the “germ-killing”components of mouthwash actually do anything positive for your oral health. There are beneficial bacteria in the mouth as well, and clear-cutting the pasture of one’s gums may just result in the weeds having an easier time taking root. I’m honestly not certain which way to turn on it all. The evidence for it being a by-product of marketing and side effects is fairly reasonable (ostensibly, the alcohol was only really in mouth-washes because otherwise, the oils separate, but the marketing benefits of being able to claim killing “99% of bacteria” were too good to pass up), but maybe that’s just fearmongering on the same level of people claiming that children need to get exposed to the flu at a young age so that they build up “natural antibodies”. I do admit that, in this world of fears of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, I look a bit askance on my oral regimen essentially involving killing off most of the bacteria in my mouth, good or bad, leaving only any resistant ones to re-colonize.

              2. Thomas says:

                I use bourbon to offset that risk…

        2. SyD Standen says:

          Regular mouth wash with alcohol is bad for people prone to thrush. The alcohol kills the good bacteria. (I have been told probiotics and rinsing with peroxide will make it better.) OH, and of course water rinse and tooth brushing.

      3. Lisa says:

        I went to walmart and bought a gallon size jar of cocnut oil for about $ 10 dollars. I have done the oil pulling for two months and have noticed that my teeth are clean and when I floss my gums dont hurt. I also use the oil on my face and have not had a blemish since then. Since the Coconut oil comes in a creamy form I simply rub it between my fingers and melt it in my palms. I also take a table spoon and let it melt in my mouth. I swish it while I take a shower to save time. When I am done I spit it out and use my tooth brush. I love the feeling I have on my teeth, they feel so clean. I can hear my tooth brush squeek and I dont have tarter all day. You really should try it. I started because I didnt really believe it would help. Now I pretty much use coconut for all my beaty rituals, including shaving. I also save a lot of money.

        1. Andrey Pavlov says:

          Nevermind the fact that you’ve entirely missed the point of this post and this website, I just don’t get this:

          I started because I didnt really believe it would help.

          A common comment, yet one I simply cannot fathom. Why on earth is really believing something won’t be helpful a reason to do something?

          “I decided to try poking myself in the eye because I really didn’t believe it would help my vision”

          “I decided to try shaving with mace in the dark because I really didn’t believe it would offer me a cleaner shave”

          “I decided spend my money on echinacea because I really didn’t believe it would help my cold”

          I really just can’t fathom how believing something won’t work could ever give justification for taking time, money, and effort to do something.

          1. AWilliamWright says:

            Hahaha…Oh, the hilarity of reason and logic. Well done, sir.

            1. Andrey Pavlov says:

              LOL. Thank you.

              1. Bob says:

                Sir, you are a complete idiot.

                Are you that incapable of a little more depth to see he did not mean that literally?? He gave oil pulling a try to see if it would support his previous disbelief or present reason to look more into it. You also took one line out of this person’s story and blew its importance out of proportion to undervalue the main message of his story. Who cares why he started doing it… it only matters if it worked or didn’t: in this case, the guy thought it worked. Not only are you an idiot, but you are a brute. Your close mindedness sickens me. Go back to school.

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                It’s funny when someone calls somebody else an idiot but doesn’t manage to use the correct gender pronoun in the same breath.

                Who cares why he started doing it… it only matters if it worked or didn’t: in this case, the guy thought it worked. Not only are you an idiot, but you are a brute.

                It’s also funny to call someone an idiot, when the person making the attack fails to grasp that “he thought it worked” isn’t the same thing as “it worked”, which is the main reason why the original post was written.

                I really don’t understand the heat over this issue. You can buy a tube of toothpaste for what, $2, and brush for 2 minutes and have clean teeth, which is proven to work. Or, you can take a mouth full of oil, swill it around for 20 minutes, and have no guarantee it’ll actually help you.

                But yeah, Andrey is the idiot.

              3. Windriven says:

                And you sir, are a credulous twit.

                You can spin “Lisa”‘s inanity any way you’d like but her assertion remains inane.

                “Who cares why he started doing it… it only matters if it worked or didn’t: in this case, the guy thought it worked.”

                So what? Who cares what “Lisa” thought? Lots of people think that Earth is only 6,000 years old. Lots of people think that we can drive atmospheric CO2 without consequences. Lots of people think lots of stupid things. Science is the method we use to differentiate the stupid from the true.

                “Your close (sic) mindedness* sickens me. Go back to school.”

                And your credulity sickens me. Seeking a true and accurate understanding of the world around us isn’t closed-minded, it is the process that has taken us from the savannas to the edge of the solar system, it is the process that eliminated the scourge of smallpox and that raised us from a life that was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

                And you admonition that Dr. Pavlov “go back to school” is just plain funny. Andrey is one of the more erudite people you are likely to encounter.

                If you want to live in a world of wishes and make believe, be my guest. Parade your ignorance and credulity here any time you’d like – we’re always on the lookout for comic relief.

                * While we’re ‘going back to school’, the phrase is ‘closed-minded’ not ‘close minded.’ The idea is closed versus open rather than close versus far.

              4. MadisonMD says:

                I started because I didnt really believe it would help.

                I think this fairly clearly undermines the credibility of Lisa’s entire post for the reasons laid out by Andrey.

                He gave oil pulling a try to see if it would support his previous disbelief….

                Bob: Do you try inane things to test if they support your disbelief? And then do you draw conclusions based on your experience without concern for post hoc ergo propter hoc? And you call Andrey an idiot who needs more education?

                Very, very rich irony. Thanks for the entertainment, Bob.

              5. Andrey Pavlov says:

                @Bob:

                I thank you for your thoughtful commentary.

                Are you that incapable of a little more depth to see he did not mean that literally??

                Ah yes. So I should be a mind reader as well. But fine, let’s assume for a moment that I did not make the assumption. What is the other then? That it is a rhetorical tactic designed to make us believe that Lisa is actually skeptical, thus providing more authority to her anecdote, all whilst she actually already believed oil pulling would be effective or while genuinely being completely undecided. In either instance, it is a lie perpetrated for the sole reason of obfuscating the main point.

                So either my commentary stands as is, or it should be amended to say that Lisa is intentionally lying about her state of mind before trying oil pulling as a rhetorical trick to scam us into believing her. Either way seems to undermine her comment quite effectively.

                But of course, the true reality of it is that both you and she simply do not think at all before writing. Because in the very next sentence after you chastise me for taking her literally when I should not have, you do precisely the same thing:

                He [sic] gave oil pulling a try to see if it would support his previous disbelief or present reason to look more into it.

                So…. how does that undermine my original point? Why on earth would a rational person do something to support the idea of not doing it? If you have a previous disbelief in the potential efficacy of something, then trying it in order to further support that disbelief is utterly illogical. Which is precisely what my original comment was about. The second part of your sentence, in which there is a desire to find more reason to look further into a topic is legitimate, but is incongruous with both Lisa’s stated thoughts and the first part of your very own sentence. Unless one is just prattling off words with literally no thought at all (ahem), it is incompatible to say that the idea behind the sentence is to both bolster an existing disbelief and look for reasons to believe.

                But then again, English is my 3rd language, so maybe I am not quite as good at it as you are.

                You also took one line out of this person’s story and blew its importance out of proportion to undervalue the main message of his story.

                No, I didn’t. I chose to focus on a blatantly inane statement that is commonly made. The rest of the main message of the story cannot be undervalued because it has no value to begin with, as is demonstrated by the original post.

                Not only are you an idiot, but you are a brute. Your close mindedness sickens me. Go back to school.

                If pointing out logical inconsistencies is brutish, so be it.

                Thankfully, however, I have finished school and have my medical degree. While I absolutely loved medical school, I have no desire to do it again. What I do have is another 6 years of training ahead of me which I am thoroughly looking forward to. That said, I doubt I will magically learn something that will make logically inconsistent and/or painfully lazy statements worth more than the nothing that they are.

                Oh, and thank you for the kind words Windriven.

        2. crystal says:

          I absolutely agree with you I do the exact same thing and my mouth has never felt so good. As a major plus !!! 2 of my caveties have disappeared between my teeth I have no fear of the terrible pain I was getting when I flossed since I (before the oil pulling) started coconut oil pulling 6 months ago. I will not stop now. Think about it- – if out bodies can heal cuts, internal injuries, Bones and so on why not teeth with. Also the oil is weird the first time but thats it. Its like holding water in your mouth.

          1. Harriet Hall says:

            Why not teeth? Because they are not living tissue like the other things you list that the body can heal; the pulp is alive, but not the part of the tooth where cavities develop.

          2. Andrey Pavlov says:

            Think about it- – if out bodies can heal cuts, internal injuries, Bones and so on why not teeth with.

            Why not spinal cords and brain tissue? Why is it that people are paralyzed for life? Why not ligaments? Why do we do surgery for torn ACL? Why not cartilage? Why is a torn meniscus a lifelong issue?

            Dr. Hall already said it – because tissues are different. And the enamel of teeth is not cellularized nor vascularized. If you cavities feel better it might be because you’ve successfully gotten the bacteria out of them. But they are still there. And most likely you either never had them or still do but are in denial about them.

      4. Thomas says:

        Actually, oil is pretty nutrient-free. So that’s no benefit, either.

    2. Pat says:

      Oil pull with coconut oil: it’s antibacterial, naturally whitens the teeth, I feel healthier : I was diagnosed with adrenal exhaustion: I put 1 T. coconut oil in my mouth and start working it: it auto matically becomes oil from my body heat ; pull twice for 20 mn in am before breakfast,: sometimes I do the 2nd one after breakfast but I should do before to get all the bacteria off my teeth: it creates an emulsion with all of my saliva, brush my teeth and I drink Sunrider teas: Cali and fortune delight mixed with Quinary which regenerates the body: it has golden seal in it: a natural antibiotic. I can actually feel it feeding my teeth! I will be able to keep all of my teeth for the rest of my life when they wanted to pull some of my teeth. I will have some work done, but I’ll be able keep my teeth. To order please email me at pat_massie@ yahoo.com: I will order it for you at my cost(20% below retail) , have it shipped to you (ground) and teach you how to make the teas: they’re so delicious, especially with the Sunnectar. You don’t need to use hygrogine peroxide: I can feel it hurting my adrenals. Use the Sunrider: the Chinese way to heal!

      1. Pat says:

        The time for oil pulling goes very : I get take a shower, get ready for the day, make my bed, coffee, tea, breakfast and lunch; everything while pulling the oil thru my teeth: gets all the debris on my mouth if I do if after eating. It really is great! Read Dr. Fife’s book from the library or Amazon: he has thoroughly researched this.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Yeah, if there were proof, we would be see it on pubmed. If it’s published in a book, and it’s not published by a scholarly publisher, Fife can basically say anything he wants, and it’s unchallenged. Avery Press, that publishes his Coconut Oil Miracle book, is Penguin’s nutter imprint. Fife himself is a naturopath, meaning he has neither the training nor the inclination to grasp the scientific literature.

          The thing is – any proof for Fife’s assertions is at best found in petri dish and rat studies. And here’s the other thing – humans are not petri dishes or rats. Lots of things cure lots of diseases in petri dishes and rats but fail in humans. If they were drugs, you couldn’t sell them, but because coconut oil is a food or a supplement, you can claim whatever you want.

          Coconut oil ain’t magic, it’s food. And offering to sell people coconut oil in the comments section calling coconut oil a stupid idea makes you a corporate whoring shill.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Hi Pat,

        It is asserted that coconut oil might be antibacterial, in glass dishes. Whether it has meaningful action in the human mouth is an open question.

        Adrenal exhaustion is a fake disease made up to sell you supplements. Did the person who diagnosed you happen to sell the products that were supposed to make you better? Doctors are specifically prevented from doing this with drugs because it is a massive conflict of interest that gives them incentives to put their profits ahead of their patients’ well-being.

        it has golden seal in it: a natural antibiotic

        Oh, fancy! If it’s got a golden seal, it must work! As a natural antibiotic, what side effects does it have? Because if it has effects, it has side effects – the human body duplicates cell receptors, both within itself and across bacterial species.

        Is there any proof it is an antibiotic by the way, or do you just believe what it says on the label? Because drug companies have to prove that their products actually work – supplements and food companies do not, they can make all the vague complaints they want.

        To order please email me at pat_massie@ yahoo.com: I will order it for you at my cost(20% below retail) ,

        Oh, I get it – you’re a shill, a corporate whore! You’re a patsy prostitute for a multilevel marketing company, a one-man brothel who will lie your ass off if it means profit for yourself and your middle-management masters! Awesome, I hope you die of cancer in the near future.

  2. goodnightirene says:

    I thought it was some new fracking method from the title!

    I’ve never understood the mouthwash thing. I brush and floss, have a very good dental history and have never been informed of bad breath–even by the kissers on my list. Hubby uses it, but we both reek of garlic most of the time I’m afraid–the only cure for which is to EAT RAW ONIONS. :-)

    As for “toxins”, fear of them is as ancient as cave painting, but wouldn’t you think people with smartphones would begin to give up superstitions?

    1. Young CC Prof says:

      I thought oil pulling was a massage technique when I first heard of it. Someone rubs oil on their hands and then pulls on your skin, maybe. Sounds more pleasant than gargling with it, anyway.

      I use a mouthwash with fluoride (when I remember) because it hardens the enamel, and I’ve struggled with tooth decay and thin enamel in the past. I don’t use a disinfecting mouthwash.

      1. Newcoaster says:

        I think I’ve heard of it in that context as well. Rubbing on the oil and then a vigorous massage rubs off the dead skin and with all those nasty toxins.

  3. windriven says:

    “wouldn’t you think people with smartphones would begin to give up superstitions?”

    Perhaps it is only the phones that are smart.

    It occurs to me that in a perverse way the power of modern medicine enables people to dabble in idiocy. They can swish oil and if they develop caries the dentist can fix it. They can guzzle glucosamine drinks and if it doesn’t help, the orthopedic can replace the knee. People can dabble in tomfoolery because, in many cases, there are no immediate and unpleasant consequences.

  4. Newcoaster says:

    That’s a new one to me. Just when I’d thought I’d heard of all the medically related woo.

    I’m not sure how common this is though based on limited personal experience. Many years ago I dated a woman of East Indian descent who was into a variety of Aruvedic health treatments. At the time , even pre-med school, and pre-skeptically inclined myself I kind of knew most of it was nonsense. (Its interesting how many things one can ignore when love/lust is in the picture). Anyway, while she introduced me to tongue scraping for oral hygiene, and suggested various foods for detoxing, I don’t recall oil pulling, and it sure sounds like something she would have been into.

    Who is this “Dr” Bruce Fife anyway?

    1. MTDoc says:

      Barney’s brother.

      1. windriven says:

        :-) !

      2. Newcoaster says:

        LOL

        Answered my own question. His bio on the Amazon page says he’s a naturopath and a shill for the coconut oil industry. OK, it doesn’t say he’s a shill, that was my interpretation. ;)

    2. Newcoaster says:

      Answered my own question. His bio on the Amazon page says he’s a naturopath and a shill for the coconut oil industry. OK, it doesn’t say he’s a shill, that was my interpretation. ;)

  5. Thor says:

    Anecdote Alert! I’m embarrassed to admit that I tried oil-pulling for three months several years ago. Not for oral hygiene but because I suffer from painful teeth that have been worked on in the past, leaving dentists perplexed. It may be abnormal, heightened pain sensation and/or pain “memory”. It was touted by any number of sources as a panacea and I was getting a bit desperate. Anyway, I performed sesame oil swishing religiously twice a day for 15 minutes each time. What an effort (and a drag)! Result: nothing, nada, zip. And realistically how could there have been a positive effect as no plausibility exists for a mechanism? Goes to show how we’ll try things when no answers or options are forthcoming. Silly me. Luckily, it wasn’t a serious matter. I like to think I’d know better today.

    1. mousethatroared says:

      But where did you hear about it? Was it a google search for “tooth pain” for something?

      I’ve had long bouts of “tooth pain”. I can relate to “kinda desperate”.

      I had a pain in my lower cheek that I saw the doc for, thinking a sinus infection….which they ruled out and sent me to the dentist. Dentist exam revealed a cracked tooth. Root canal, still pain, second root canal, still pain, pulled the tooth, still pain, filed down the rough area left by the tooth removal, still pain, bite guard at night still pain. This happened over several months, I finally noticed that taking Aleve would control the pain and it eventually became more episodic in nature. My husband and I refer to this as my “not tooth” pain.

      To be honest, I would have rather flirted with tooth pulling than undergoing the root canals and bone filing…but I guess I can’t say how that would have ended up.

      1. mousethatroared says:

        oops, I guess I hit send before I was finished editing. Anyway, I kinda suspect that the “not tooth” pain I get periodically is actually mild migraine or cluster headache or similar. I never actually had the urge to try alternative medicine. Nothing seemed very plausible, I guess.

      2. Thor says:

        Well, I first heard of it many years ago through my exposure to all things CAM. Then a few years back a friend recommended I try it. But really, no need to even bother. It may have a small mechanical effect of cleansing the biofilm, but so would swishing with pure liquid soap. For pain it just doesn’t have the remotest bit of plausibility.

        Geez, sorry about your ordeal. Funny, I’m currently going through a similar problem. You had two root canals done on one tooth? I’m still having pain after getting root canals on two different teeth about a year ago. The next step would be to have them pulled, first one and wait and see, then the other if needed. I’m very hesitant—here’s why.
        There are two possibilities (for both of us): the ligaments holding the tooth in place are traumatized (we both had nerve ‘amputation’ plus you had a full tooth amputation). It can take over a year for this to fully heal (ligaments are notoriously slow to heal); or it can be phantom pain, the same kind that amputees suffer from. This is probably what I have so pulling the teeth wouldn’t help. It’s a terrible problem and patients must rely on progress made by neurologists (hi Dr. Novella) in their study of chronic pain, including phantom pain. For now, it’s wait and see. And plenty of NSAIDS. Goddamn it!

        1. mousethatroared says:

          Yup, two root canals same tooth. That means drilling out all the old material and replacing it. Not a good time. Although, not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

          Thing is, for me, I’m not even sure that I needed the first one. I suspect the crackled tooth was an incidental finding and the pain was completely unrelated*.

          As to having your teeth pulled. I did get lucky, the tooth that’s gone was in the very back and is not essential. I’ve had no shifting of teeth, so that’s all good.

          But if I might intrude with some unasked for advice (apologies, here) I’d consider asking about seeing a neurologist or a pain clinic to rule out other conditions or see if there might be other treatment options, (if you haven’t already), before additional dental work.

          But this is just based on my experience. Probably your experience is completely different and my advice is not really applicable.

          *Just to be clear, I am not questioning that root canals are sometimes very appropriate and helpful. I’m just not sure it was in my particular case.

          1. Thor says:

            No intrusion perceived, mouse. Some more similarities—my root canals were first on the very back one, and then several days later on the one next to it, which was also cracked but probably not a factor. And, the rc for this one was probably unnecessary as the pain was likely referred from the first one. My lower jaw aches deeply now nine months later.

            I’m certainly not rushing to get them pulled. I’m already under the care of a neurologist, as I have chronic facial neuropathic pain, diagnosed as migrainous carotidynia, of all things (14 years and counting). I should have been more careful with the rcs, but two endos were in on the action.

            1. mousethatroared says:

              That sounds like it really sucks. I hope you (and your medical folks) can figure out something that makes you more comfortable.

      3. Danielle says:

        You should be evaluated for a neuralgia…the pain is likely not odontogenic if the tooth was removed and pain persisted unless it’s coming from another tooth. I’d like to think they tested the nearby teeth. But an episodic pain that wasn’t taken care of by the ultimate treatment of extraction reads a neuralgia to me. I’m a dentist if you want to know where I get my info from.

    2. crystal says:

      Maybe it only works for some people like how pharmaceutical meds only work for some people. For my 3 cavities so far 2 of them disappeared over about 4 months. And my mouth feels good! You could also try (and I’ve been doing this for 1year, a little before I started oil pulling) 2 hand fulls of black berries.I got the idea from the book called Sun diet, but its not a diet book. Its by David … Anyhow I noticed after 2 weeks my teeth went more sentative then no real sentsativities but still I had those same 3 cave ties then a little later I started oil pulling. Something got rid of my cavity wether it was both or just the berries for a longer time period. My 3rd cavity is shrinking I think another 6 months itll be gone it was Huge!

      1. Harriet Hall says:

        I don’t think either blackberries or oil pulling can heal cavities. If you want to convince us, you will have to provide more evidence than just asserting that you had cavities and they are now gone.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        For my 3 cavities so far 2 of them disappeared over about 4 months.

        Cavities do remineralize over time you know. You know what also works? Fluoridated mouthwash.

        All you’re really saying is “a lot of time passed and the symptoms of my cavities changed”. That’s not really proof of anything.

        1. Chris says:

          Maybe she was under heavy sedation when she got crowns and really doesn’t remember.

  6. DevoutCatalyst says:

    I’m a long time fan of OilPulling. I love the smell of kerosene in the morning,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLNQyJqcE5I

  7. Marion says:

    What the..?
    Hear of something new every day.

  8. Greg says:

    The only oil I’ve heard of, but have yet to confirm, that supposedly improves oral health is Tea Tree Oil. It was suggested to me to put 2 drops on my toothbrush prior to brushing, by a sales assistant at a Health Food / Supplement store where I used to buy whey protein. He claimed it was recommended to him by his dentist to clear up gum problems – I think he mentioned that it was severe gingivitis. I have tried it – leaves your gums feeling strange and tastes horrible, but I don’t know that it does much for gingivitis, though the sales guy said after 6 months of using it, his gums were healthy again. I presume it is good for helping to eliminate bacteria, as it is touted as having anti-bacterial properties, however I don’t know if there’s any science to confirm it.

      1. windriven says:

        That’s not the same as buff pecs, is it?

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Sadly no. It would be a lot easier. To maintain my 60-inch chest takes a lot of work, and even more wax. And it’s hard to wax my chest with these 46-inch biceps. My elbows barely bend. My wife has to feed me with a very long spoon. I’m basically like Carrot Top crossed with a Belgian Blue.

      2. MadisonMD says:

        The gynecomastia (man boobs) is a side effect of topical administration. Here’s what webmd says about oral tea tree oil:

        Tea tree oil is UNSAFE when taken by mouth. Don’t take tea tree oil by mouth. As a general rule never take undiluted essential oils by mouth due to the possibility of serious side effects. Taking tree tea oil by mouth has caused confusion, inability to walk, unsteadiness, rash, and coma.

        So that horrible taste Greg got was undoubtedly the product of eons of evolution which selected for species with a strong instinct to spit out poison.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Once, during my younger and more credulous days, I put some in a bath. My genitals were not happy, nor was my perenium. And it’s really hard to scratch down there, what with the muscles getting in the way of my elbows.

      3. mousethatroared says:

        Damn, it seems that side effect only applies to prepubescent boys. Not much chance of an increase in cup size for women.

    1. MadisonMD says:

      though the sales guy said after 6 months of using it, his gums were healthy again. I presume it is good for helping to eliminate bacteria

      What it is undoubtedly good for is sales…. 6 months worth of sales for anyone who believes the sales guy. He probably had an internal debate about whether to push his luck and say 12 months, but you looked too sensible.

      1. Greg says:

        He wasn’t pushing Tea Tree Oil – it somehow came up in the discussion I had with him. I already had some oil at home that was given to me by a friend, so decided to try it as my gum health is not the greatest. It was too horrible to use e.d. so I gave up on it.

        1. mentel says:

          my guess, after getting advice to add drops of tea tree oil to solve the problem, the sales associate started actually brushing regularly. Or, you know, random fluctuation of symptoms, or got a deep cleaning at the dentist but gave credit to a guru instead, or mismembering

    2. JD says:

      Tea Tree oil does work for gum issues. I had gaps in my gums measuring a 5. Apparently that is quite bad. The hygenist and dentist threw out some suggestions, but I wanted a natural way to heal. I used a paste with tea tree oil in it as well as a mouthwash with it. Using those products and flossing work. I also dipped a dental brush in the oil and flossed that way.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        What’s natural about tea tree oil that comes in a bottle? Does it drip out of the leaves in such a concentrated form? Also, how do you feel about man-boobs?

        Question – you say “using those products and flossing work[ed]“. So…before you tried this, you didn’t floss?

        If so, how do you know the flossing alone wasn’t the reason your gums improved?

      2. LISA K says:

        IT WAS THE FLOSS THAT WORKED, NOT REALLY THE TEA TREE OIL, LISA RDH

  9. mary says:

    The term oil pulling refers to a strong action of PULLING the oil through the teeth NOT just a swishing of it.

    1. Thor says:

      Exactly. When I did my run, in addition to swishing, I forcefully pulled, pushed, extruded the stuff through the teeth. Regardless, it’s kinda like ascertaining where to place acupuncture needles.

  10. A says:

    Thanks for this article.

    For whatever reason, it seems like coconut oil, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar are marketed to fix almost any problem, up to and including cancers. This article repeats the coconut oil as mouthwash claim, and makes a few other unproven claims.

  11. Kevin Moore says:

    Anyone see the news about certain mouthwashes increasing heart attack risk? One scientist said :

    “Killing off all these bugs each day is a disaster when small rises in blood pressure have significant impact on morbidity and mortality from heart disease and stroke.”

    The study only contained 19 subjects. Would be nice if a larger follow-up study was quickly initiated.

    http://www.medicaldaily.com/antiseptic-mouthwash-raises-heart-attack-risk-blood-pressure-chlorhexidine-kills-good-bacteria-helps

  12. A says:

    Jezebel actually wrote a semi-skeptical article on oil pulling last week but ultimately seemed to recommend it.

  13. Angora Rabbit says:

    I suppose I should be happy about this as it is certainly safer than the meme several years ago of gargling with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Could not believe that one.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      What happens with 3% H2O2?

      1. Thor says:

        You’re just eager to have another AR mini-dissertation-ha.
        Can’t be used undiluted. My bet is it causes disruption of oral biome, changes pH, alters saliva, and causes mucosal irritation, if not ulceration. Definitely not advised (maybe 1% diluted as wash, or 1-2 drops on toothbrush).
        But then I’m not AR.

        1. Angora Rabbit says:

          You were AR on that reply! :-)

          That long-ago 3%H2O2 was the last straw for me way back when. I replied to everyone on that spam from a friend (it was one of those chain forwards) and pointed out the flaws and the high risks. Kindly, of course. Most of ‘em shut up, a few thanked me, and, what a relief, I didn’t get sent such nonsense again. They probably still continued, but maybe they were a little slower on the “forward” trigger finger.

          Btw, anyone consider the caloric content of swishing around that oil? Surely 100% of it isn’t spit out. Lessee, oil contains 100 kcal/tablespoon or 9 kcal/g. Do the maths, folks.

          1. Thor says:

            Touche’! And really not my kind of pleasant. Did you happen to see them in formal debate against one another? Pretty good stuff (hint: Peter lost). I dig WLU’s point: AR rocks! Off topic?

          2. Thor says:

            Sorry AR, this was meant to be placed under windriven’s comment.
            (You got me flustered and blushing.)

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          AR could write out her favourite folk song lyrics, in pig Latin, and I would still pay rapt attention. She (he?) is just that good. She is the Christopher Hitchens’ younger and more pleasant brother of scientific complexity within the field of nutrition.

          1. windriven says:

            @WLU

            Actually, Peter Hitchens, while more pleasant than Christopher, is a pious ass. AR deserves better ;-)

            1. Thor says:

              Touche’! And really not my kind of pleasant. Did you happen to see them in formal debate against one another? Pretty good stuff (hint: Peter lost). I dig WLU’s point: AR rocks! Off topic?

              1. windriven says:

                Yes,I presume you mean the debate they held in a church – as I recall they debated on a couple of occasions. Good stuff.

            2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              I was referring to Christopher Hitchens’ other younger, more pleasant brother. Bartholomew Rungerford Hitchens. He shuns the spotlight, but is quite the looker.

              And hell, while I’m making things up, is a nutritionist. And astronaut. With hair that flows like a waterfall. He smells like cinnamon.

              1. windriven says:

                Ah William, I really, really needed a laugh this morning and you delivered in spades. The cinnamon pushed me right over the edge :-)

                Seriously – not a good morning. Thanks for the laugh and a sense of perspective.

              2. Thor says:

                FUNNY! I see why you seldom lose an argument.
                (AR guest post!)

              3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                And the best part is, this time I was funny on purpose!

          2. Angora Rabbit says:

            You forgot to mention better looking, too.

            Btw, Happy Pi Day, everyone! Has anyone else noticed that next year will be Super Pi Day with at least 5 sig figs?

            1. Chris says:

              Whoa! I did not realize that. I have programmed into my embroidery machine both Euler’s Formula and Euler’s Identity. I need to make sure that I have them both on an article of clothing for next year.

              I was wearing a shirt with Euler’s Identity on it in a computer science class. The instructor made a remark about some computing thing engineers use and pointed at me.

  14. Tryinit says:

    I’ve been oil pulling for 3 days now. Right away my teeth look whiter. I’m talking super white, and my teeth are too sensitive for at home whitening so I like that.

    I haven’t noticed any other difference, other than that it forces me to brush my teeth more thoroughly to get the oil out of my mouth. I wasn’t always the best brusher, so for me, it’s a good thing.

    I doubt the claims of reducing toxins are valid however. I have TMJ and have read that it can help reduce pain associated with that. I haven’t noticed any change but it can’t hurt to try.

    1. Thor says:

      “I did oil pulling AND brushed my teeth more thoroughly. Oil pulling works”.
      Oil is simply liquid soap.

      1. Tryinit says:

        You need to brush up on your reading skills. I said the only change I noticed was whiter teeth.

        1. windriven says:

          I think Thor’s point was that the whitening may have resulted from more vigorous brushing to rid your mouth of the oil residue. Additionally, the oil might be expected to grab any lipid solubles lurking in your mouth but I have no idea whether these exist in meaningful amounts or if they contribute to less white appearance.

          1. mousethatroared says:

            Are we still talking tea tree oil? I’ve read that tea tree oil can be used as a bleach (like peroxide). It wouldn’t surprise me if it has some mild whitening/stain removing effects. It should be easy enough to test.

            The question would be in that case, if whitening is all it does, whether it’s the safest, easiest whitener available.

            1. Thor says:

              We were back on oil pulling. But, tea tree oil is another CAM favorite—a panacea/miracle, of course. In this case, though, there might actually be some positive mechanisms of action, so the verdict isn’t complete yet. Evidence so far is fairly weak, but it may be useful as a mild antiseptic. It’s certainly not indicated for oral use.

        2. Thor says:

          No offense meant (need to start using emoticons).

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Perhaps that is merely the oil glistening off of the tooth surface? :P

    3. Cat-I-Am says:

      Decided to try oil-pulling after reading that it could tighten loose teeth, which I had aplenty. It did more than I expected. The next morning, ALL my teeth felt firmly anchored, all teeth were whiter AND my gums felt stronger. Three days of it and my gums were pinker than since I was a child. In one year of it, gums have grown over all”pockets” except the more severe bottom 2 which, firmly anchored, have not gotten any worse. I’ve since added a few drops of Hydogen Peroxide and spearmint oil to the tsp of virgin coconut oil I pull and my breath stays fresh. Also, oil pulling has beautifully formed my cheekbones, I guess because of the jaw workout. OP has been incredible for me because I thought I was destined to lose all my teeth like nearly all the women in my family who now wear dentures and partials. Don’t knock what you have not tried!

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Really? Oil pulling remodeled the bones of your cheeks? They usually don’t change shape without major trauma. You might have an osteosarcoma, you should get that checked out.

        You might not even be real.

        1. Cat-I-Am says:

          I am indeed real; why would you think I wasn’t? I’m not selling anything! And yes, oil pulling did define my cheekbones; so much so, family members remarked that my face looked younger. I believe it exercises the jaw muscles. Your first time will also result in an achy jaw. I forgot to mention that within a week, my gum bleeding stopped and has never occurred again. Yes, sounds miraculous, but true. And no, I do not have “osteosarcoma” — I am sure my dentist would have said something. Actually, I was told I would need gum repair surgery for deep pockets. Now, I’m told to keep up the good flossing work (which I have ALWAYS done) because my gums are so improved!

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Because you said “oil pulling made my cheekbones more defined”, and there’s basically no way this could happen. It doesn’t exercise your jaw muscles, since they don’t change the volume of your mouth, that would be the soft palate. Also, it would make your jaw, not your cheekbones, look bigger, since it would widen most notably the masseter muscle at the corner of the jaw, and make you look like a chipmunk.

            Your dentist wouldn’t necessarily look for bone tumors. You do realize that your dentist focuses on your mouth, right? Not your head.

            And no, I still don’t believe you. People have a vastly unwarranted faith in their ability to attribute causality, and are generally vastly overconfident in their ability to identify subjective changes in their health. It’s a very human trait. It’s not just you. But it is reality.

  15. Bethhuntington says:

    Web MD has a pain management support community.

    A contributor has posted about how this oil pulling has relieved her pain from CFS, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Lyme Disease.

    I’ve often thought that the best treatment for make-believe illnesses is make-believe treatments.

    1. mousethatroared says:

      I don’t understand – you think that Fibromyalgia and CFS patient’s symptoms are like an imaginary friend…not real – just make believe? Or do you think the diagnoses are the medical communities imagination?

      1. windriven says:

        Fibromyalgia is a toughie, mouse. It is sometimes easy to dismiss conditions for which there is no clear etiology and no settled diagnostic criteria. I could say the same things about CFS and even chronic Lyme’s. Not all physicians embrace all – or any – of the three as physical diseases.

        1. mousethatroared says:

          @windriven – I still don’t know what the commentor meant, they might have just been passing through and I’ll never know.

          My concern is if they are suggesting that FIBRO and CFS are “make believe”, that may be very similar to saying the patients are pretending or imagining their symptom. As the writers on this blog have repeatedly stated, the symptoms of these conditions are clearly real. The question is not whether the symptoms are real or make believe, but whether they are actually one condition or several different conditions and whether the origins are predominantly psychiatric, neurological or ?

          I will point out, even if the conditions were 100% psychiatric (which I personally don’t believe), that would not make them “make believe” any more than bipolar, depression or OCD are make believe disorders.

          Of course, the commentor may have meant something else. Apologies to them, if I’m jumping the gun.

          1. windriven says:

            “My concern is if they are suggesting that FIBRO and CFS are “make believe”, ”

            I think that is what she meant, mouse.

            And thank you for the info on the Rheumatologists. Point 3 makes it sort of a catch-all diagnosis but it is better than nothing. And I certainly agree that whether there it proves to be a brain disorder or a nerve disorder or an immune disorder – a disorder it remains and deserves to be treated.

        2. mousethatroared says:

          Also @windriven – the American College of Rheumatology does have a diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, by the way.

          http://www.rheumatology.org/ACR/practice/clinical/classification/fibromyalgia/fibro_2010.asp

  16. Elizabeth says:

    A few years ago a “friend” of mine tried to convince me to do oil pulling. But with petroleum jelly. I said “You’ve got to be kidding me. That sounds disgusting”

    They tried to tell me that worse than petroleum jelly squiggling around in your gums is FLUORIDE. I think oil pulling is an anti- fluoride scam.
    These people are actually afraid of fluoride claiming its a brain toxin and can make you brain damaged…
    I think THEY have brain damage.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      That’s among the more revolting things I have ever heard.

    2. Kathy says:

      Oh, yuck. Even more yukky than rinsing one’s mouth out with very salty hot water. Which I tried – once.

      1. mousethatroared says:

        We used to gargle with salt water for a sore throat all the time when I was a kid. I still do occasionally. I think this is a classic depression era remedy, no messing around with fancy oils that cost an arm and a leg, just use what you have on hand. I guess I find it only a titch unpleasant, Kinda helps the throat a bit. Tastes much better than cherry or pretty much any other flavor cough drop which are incredibly disgusting.

      2. Elizabeth says:

        I was pretty convinced THEN that she was crazy but recently I found it to be even more true. She’s not really a friend so much as I know of her from Facebook.
        IDK why I keep these people around. Except I think its because I feel smart around them.

    3. Gregor Samsa says:

      Getting a cat to consume Vaseline does wonders for loosening up hair balls — those inside the cat, not those on the carpet.

    4. Gregor Samsa says:

      Getting a cat to consume Vaseline does wonders for loosening up hair balls — those inside the cat, not those on the carpet

  17. Sean Duggan says:

    My wife recently asked after this after she saw it on Facebook. Snopes.com even did an article on oil pulling, debunking it, and they’re usually pretty conservative about discounting CAM practices. My argument to my wife is that mouthwash isn’t that much different, since most of them have various mint oils in them. I did see a commentary at one point (I think off of Cracked.com, whose writers fluctuate between providing a surprising depth of research and posting things they heard somewhere) that the alcohol in modern mouthwash owes more to do with keeping the oils from separating than disinfecting, and that repeatedly killing the bacteria in your mouth might be harmful since some of it is stuff that we use to better break down our food in our mouth. It seems fairly plausible to me, although not enough for me to give up my daily mouthwash morning ritual.

    Another possibility I considered where oil pulling might help over swishing with water or mouthwash is the idea of the buildup of oil. I imagine a thin film of the oil making it slightly more difficult for food and plaque to build up, or at least making it easier to scrape everything off with the toothbrush or a napkin in the style of the more ancient practices of scraping olive oil and ash off of the skin before soap was readily available.

  18. JEESH! I posted a link to this on my FB page and got over 20 comments akin to the following two:

    “All science aside, speaking from personal experience. I’ve been pulling for roughly 3 months now. My mouth has been the healthiest it’s ever been. My breath has drastically improved throughout the whole day. My gums look healthier than ever before. I used to have sensitive teeth and now I dont. My dentist was actually surprised by my dental health and asked what I had been doing.
    Hey if its placebo Im all for it! if it works I ain’t complaining. The mind is powerful and if I can trigger healing through oil pulling then so be it. People need to find triggers for healing and if it works for them then thumps up, if not then move on to the next thing. I lost faith in mainstream science a long time ago, it’s utterly disturbing how big pharma controls what the masses should or should not take and all their focus is on profit maximization and getting people to rely on them. I encourage people to try things for themselves! have fun researching and experimenting don’t dismiss something until your body dismisses it. I practice many things that may fall under “Pseudoscience” but my body loves me for it, so if I get results then nothing else matters. It’s like some professional dancer telling you that you’re dancing the wrong way, I will continue to perfectly dance the way I like to and have fun doing it, to your imperfect perception of me.”

    “Don’t’ tell my dentist. He can’t figure out why my teeth are generally very very clean!”

    How does one deal with such comments?!?!

    1. Elizabeth says:

      Ignore it. Let them do whatever they want. That’s my philosophy. I can’t reason with the unreasonable kooks I have on Facebook either.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I’m not on Facebook, but I still believe you can unfriend people, can’t you?

      1. Elizabeth says:

        oh yeah. i actually had someone unfriend me.

        because i proved them wrong…is the simple story.

        i keep some around for the laughs. Especially like the “Studies prove that fluoride is brain toxin”

        I post a status “Just downed some listerine and finished brushing my teeth with colgate after drinking two glasses of water.”

        And they either unfriend me…
        or don’t see it/pretend not to see it…or try to inform me its bad for my health.

        1. mousethatroared says:

          Well I don’t think you’re actually supposed to drink the listerine…if for no other reason than scotch is better. :)

          Good luck with your FB friends.

  19. Burrahobbit says:

    Posting from India

    AFAIK, this whole “age old traditional method” was pulled out of thin air (oil ?) in the past decade or so by innovative producers of the oil. My grandmother used a number of ayurvedic nostrums but I never heard of this.

    Shows how easy it is to create a new “natural”remedy and market it to the rubes.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Heh, a similar approach can be taken by adding “quantum” to anything. And poof! Instant medicine. Because apparently quantum effects include suspiciously-specific trends towards improved human health?

      1. Elizabeth says:

        I am about to drink my quantum lemonade and go to bed. Trying to fight this cold?

        HA!

  20. Lölly says:

    I have wondered what people used for oral hygiene before toothbrushes and toothpaste were invented. I suppose this is it – as long as you were an ancestor lucky enough to live in a place where coconuts grew.
    The claims that it cures diabetes etc. are laughable. Great if it whitens the teeth, freshens the breath, reduces tooth decay etc. but let’s see some evidence. And I’m talking meta analyses of double-blind RCTs here, not YouTube posts!
    And as for 15-20 mins, on an empty stomach, certain types of oil that may be used etc. what science are those stipulations based on? Baloney.

    1. weing says:

      I think the Romans used urine.

      1. Burrahobbit says:

        In India people used (and some still use) a twig from a neem tree. Chewing on it gets the teeth reasonably clean.

        1. Elizabeth says:

          When I was like 10 I didn’t feel like brushing my teeth like my mom said. Only thing I remembered from history about oral health in the old days was “twig” so I grabbed a twig from my tree and chewed on it for like 5 minute and said
          “Problem solved”
          While not realizing that…..brushing my teeth would have been more efficient.

  21. Michael says:

    Did anyone else notice it strange when “Food Mama” writes in her article about oil pulling: “Since I started using oil pulling while not pregnant, I feel comfortable continuing while pregnant…” Maybe it’s just me, but she seems to imply that engaging in an activity before pregnancy renders that action safe during pregnancy… Like if you down half a bottle of scotch a week before pregnancy, just keep doing it because, well, you used to do it too. Strange thinking.

  22. Debbie says:

    Maybe the author of this article should have read the entire “Wellness Mama” blog because at the end she says that it isn’t at all what she thought it would be.

    1. Lukas Xavier says:

      because at the end she says that it isn’t at all what she thought it would be

      Where? I read her post as a pretty clear recommendation of oil pulling. For example:

      Oil pulling is a very inexpensive therapy that could potentially have great benefit on oral health, so I see no downside to trying it and I have used it myself for several years.

      She said that she hasn’t personally experienced any non-oral health effects, but she doesn’t dismiss the idea that oil pulling could help with that. I don’t recognize your characterization at all.
      One of the commenters use the phrase you mention: “Nothing like I thought it would be.” Wellness Mama never uses these words.

      And of course, this article isn’t about Wellness Mama. She’s an example who’s quoted once and then never mentioned again. One might even say that if you had read the entire article, you would have noticed that.

  23. A says:

    A writer at the Huffington Post has written about her “Tragic, Real-Life Tale of Oil Pulling” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/aimee-heckel/a-tragic-reallife-tale-of_b_4964896.html

    It’s also interesting to look at Google Trends for oil pulling- It seem to go viral starting on March 4, 2014. http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=oil%20pulling&cmpt=q

    1. Sean Duggan says:

      ^_^ Horrible person that I am, I read her initial bit about having too active of a gag reflex impeding her ability to have children and thinking, “I would have thought the opposite…”

  24. windriven says:

    Wasn’t oil pulling on Letterman once as a ‘stupid people tricks’ segment?

    1. kdog says:

      There was a spoof of a vegetable oil commercial that compared the taste of fried foods. Chris Elliot glugged from two containers of oil and said, “No difference Dave!” Viewers really needed a strong gag reflex to watch it.

  25. Stephen says:

    I don’t know what caused the spike (The Huffington Post story?), but oil pulling seems to be rapidly achieving fad status. Check ou the Google Trends for it:
    http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=oil%20pulling

  26. Stephen says:

    Addendum – Sorry, just noticed I was beaten to the punch a couple of posts up…

  27. Wake Up says:

    Some of you have a mouthwash ritual but won’t seriously consider oil pulling as an alternative? There are studies associating mouthwash with cancer yet swishing edible cooking oil is dismissible? If you wish to believe all the chemical products out there are better than natural alternatives because they are more modern it’s your choice but it’s not logical or scientific.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      There’s evidence associating the alcohol in mouthwash with cancer, which is why I use an alcohol-free mouthwash (assuming you are directing your comment at me). And there is evidence supporting its use, vis. Since you seem so concerned, yes – I do use a fluoridated toothpaste. I do wish they would put xylitol in my mouthwash as well though, since apparently xylitol is superior to sorbitol

      Oil pulling has no evidence supporting it, and little reason to expect it to work. Plus, the mechanism proposed, “toxins”, are an unproven, quackery-riddled theory. What are these “toxins”? Are they fat soluble? If so, how many of them exist in the mouth? Why would they be selectively pulled from the fat where they are currently stored into the oil you’re swishing around in your mouth? Would it do so in significant quantities? Enough to make a health difference?

      If you’re looking for an alternative to mouth rinsing, I have heard from my friends that sending money to strangers over the internet works. Here is the number of a Swiss bank account, please deposit your funds and enjoy the mutitude of health and dental benefits it provides you:

      4522 5576 9811 3213

      Final point – you do realize that coconut oil is made up of chemicals, right? Unless you mean “natural”, in which case, extracting coconut oil through crushing coconut meat, sometimes using solvents, enzymes, acids, salts, electrolysis and/or centrifuges, isn’t exactly “natural”.

      OK, this is the final point – believing that “natural” products are somehow better than “scientific” or “modern” products, merely because they are “natural”, is illogical. Nature is not designed to foster human health. Smallpox, high erucic acid canola oil, deaths cap mushroooms and rattlesnake venom are all natural. I don’t recommend sampling them though, since all are quite dangerous. Except smallpox, which has been driven extinct through the unnatural process of vaccination. Science says “you’re welcome”.

  28. WakeUp says:

    Oil pulling has no evidence to support it? A quick look at PubMed will show the contrary. It’s amazing how many supposedly “pro-science” people will say there is no evidence when there is evidence for alternative therapies, yet will support practices with contradictory evidence just because an authority supports it (no matter if it is an authority with such a bad record as the American Heart Association with its numerous flip-flops and dependence on donations from vested corporate interests).

    I would agree the commonly mentioned proposed mechanism of “pulling toxins” sounds pretty far-fetched (depending on your definition of “toxin”) but any thoughtful appraisal would also recognize that oils are the main ingredient in something called soap, you know that thing used to clean stuff? The properties of the oils that make it useful in soap may also be playing a role in oil pulling. A popular oil pulling option, coconut oil, has known antimicrobial properties. It acts by enveloping lipid-coated microbes and breaking down their protective biofilm. If one actually thinks about it “pulling toxins” may actually accurately describe the process. So in response to your questions, if you are willing to define streptococcus mutans as a toxin, it is fat soluble and there are potentially billions of them in an unclean mouth. Would the oil have an advantage over conventional mouthwash? It is only conjecture but I can think of two possible advantages right off: it is less abrasive (even water may dry out the mouth) and it may have longer lasting action (because it sticks around).

    As for taking issue with my use of the word “chemicals”, if you are as intelligent as I expect you to be, you would recognize immediately I am using it in the context of industries taking substances found in nature and purifying and concentrating them or modifying them into a form the human body has not had a long evolutionary experience to adapt to. I can point to your oxymoronic use of “high erucic canola oil”, but I understand you just fine.

    In regards to the processing of coconut oil, let’s ignore that coconut oil fans usually make a point of recommending the virgin version, even the refined version of coconut oil is not subjected to the chemical treatments that canola oil is.

    Finally as to your point that there are dangerous natural things and beneficial man-made things, people have had more time to experience and adapt to the natural things and come up with an accurate evaluation of it. For something like vaccination that produces a relatively quick beneficial effect of large magnitude that can be quickly and easily assessed hurray! However for something like statins or even margarine, where the supposed benefits are subtle and the side effects may be significant enough to overshadow the potential benefits, the time-tested alternative may well be the more prudent choice.

    Can you tell me the logic in why some health practitioners may be more comfortable prescribing Namenda or Aricept for Alzheimers but are uncomfortable with having patients try out coconut oil? They prefer the handful of clinical studies showing ultimate ineffectiveness and multiple side effects of the manufactured medicines over the centuries of experience with the food staple simply because there is a patina of scientific rigor with the former? It just boggles.

    I have nothing against science. I have something against misused science or the use of science’s name in vain. Strong scientific evidence may be best but where scientific evidence is weak other forms of evidence should not be casually dismissed.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      There are some results:
      - From 2011, it appears to reduce plaque and gingivitis, but it was an unblinded trial, there was self-assessment involved, and only 20 subjects total (10 per group, oil versus chlorhexidine), but overall the study is mostly about halitosis, bad breath
      - From 2011, this is a literature review that asserts oil pulling works for 30 different maladies because Ayurveda texts claim it does. Promising!
      - From 2011, an in vitro study that concludes the oils have no antibacterial effect, but might work like soap. Which seems rather redundant to brushing your teeth.
      - From 2009, similar to the first entry, right down to the author and background being identical. Could reduce plaque and gingivitis, but not better than chlorhexidine
      - From 2008, same author, same background. Same 20 subjects? Chlorhexidine worked better.

      The rest seem to be about unrelated topics. Dr. Novella discussed these, did you read the article? They’re all by the same guy. And there’s no meaningful outcome measures – did oil pulling reduce cavities? Tooth sensitivity? Any of 30 conditions claimed to be curable through oil pulling? Is it worth 20 minutes per day (twice per day?) of having a ball of soapy oil in your mouth? Is it more effective than brushing your teeth and using a conventional mouthwash? Will it rebuild enamel like a fluoride rinse does?

      Bringing up “flip-flops of the American Heart Association” doesn’t magically answer these questions, it’s a distraction from the lack of good quality evidence for oil pulling and an indication of sloppy thinking on the person making the statement.

      Yeah, oil pulling might work through saponification – but why not just gargle with soap then? And the hand-waving about how coconut oil might remove toxins if we redefine what a toxin is, doesn’t really help your case. Yeah, oil pulling might do a lot of things. It might cure cancer. It might cause it. I don’t feel like spending 40 minutes per day with a mouth full of soapy snot on the basis of “might”. Particularly when that “might” is highly speculative.

      As for taking issue with my use of the word “chemicals”, if you are as intelligent as I expect you to be, you would recognize immediately I am using it in the context of industries taking substances found in nature and purifying and concentrating them or modifying them into a form the human body has not had a long evolutionary experience to adapt to. I can point to your oxymoronic use of “high erucic canola oil”, but I understand you just fine.

      Apparently missing my point that such a use of the word is idiosyncratic and wrong. Do you think the human body evolved to swish highly concentrated coconut oil in our mouths? Where did our protohuman ancestors get the centrifuges?

      Rapeseed is found in nature with high levels of erucic acid, canola oil is rapeseed with the ecrucic acid bred down to lower levels, so yes, my wording was a bit sloppy.

      people have had more time to experience and adapt to the natural things and come up with an accurate evaluation of it.

      …except that people aren’t particularly good at coming up wiht “accurate evaluations”. Otherwise we wouldn’t keep finding that the herbal remedies promoted are either worthless or actively dangerous. We might have noted that eating human brains is a bad thing. We might have realized that “natural infections” have little to do with “life force” and a lot to do with contagion. Humans are quite terrible at accurately appreciating the natural world, which is why science had to be developed first. And with science came the extinction of disease, the nigh-elimination of infant and maternal mortality and the dramatic jumps in life expectancy we see now.

      I’m not sure how you can defend the intelligence of prescientific peoples considering they thought of 35 as “old age”.

      Can you tell me the logic in why some health practitioners may be more comfortable prescribing Namenda or Aricept for Alzheimers but are uncomfortable with having patients try out coconut oil?

      I’m mostly uncomfortable because douchebags like Gary Null and Joe Mercola promote coconut oil as a panacea when it’s really just fat, and the research results look like this. Meanwhile, the results for aricept look like this. Not perfect, but at least supported.

      To summarize, you “have nothing against science”, but are perfectly willing to embrace wholeheartedly any claims that play to your existing beliefs (natural is better) but will reject wholeheartedly anything that doesn’t (chemicals are bad! But only if you define chemicals as something made in a factory!) no matter the evidence base.

      You appear to be doing science wrong.

    2. Andrey Pavlov says:

      So much deliciousness here. Where to start….

      A quick look at PubMed will show the contrary

      Because when I do a PubMed search I get twenty references. Damn, that’s a lot*! Let’s see what they say. Well, 13 of them have nothing to do with oil pulling. One is just titled “condoms” which I found bemusing.

      Of the 7 remaining one of them is on lipoid pneumonia from oil pulling (that’s bad, by the way).

      All 7 were the very ones Dr. Novella discussed in the blog. So… that point’s already been handily addressed

      yet will support practices with contradictory evidence just because an authority supports it

      Followed by a tu quoque argument.

      but any thoughtful appraisal would also recognize that oils are the main ingredient in something called soap, you know that thing used to clean stuff?

      And this is probably my favorite category. When someone makes it perfectly clear that they know literally 5 words relevant to the concept and absolutely nothing else. “Soap is made of oil”

      Yes. You are correct. But that does not mean soap is oil. Why don’t you ditch the dish soap and just wash your plates in Canola? How come you don’t remove the hand soap from your bathroom and put a nice pump of extra virgin olive oil in there? Perhaps your shampoo could be replaced with sesame oil, for the exotic Asian feel?

      You see there is a chemical reaction that takes place to convert oil (well, fat in general) into soap. Want to take a guess as to what that reaction is called? Why, it’s called saponification! I love it when science is just so obviously descriptive!

      This was literally one of the very first things I learned in my introductory organic chemistry class I took in high school. But you could just watch the movie Fight Club for the same information, if a full organic chemistry course is a little too heady for your tastes.

      So not just any thoughtful appraisal would lead you to recognize that “oils are the main ingredient in soap.” It would have to be one of the most shallowly trivial thoughtful appraisals conceivable.

      The properties of the oils that make it useful in soap may also be playing a role in oil pulling

      What are those properties? Because they are actually, you know, actually defined. But the entirety hinges on the fact that the fatty part of the molecule is hydrophobic and the salt part (which is what you get in a saponification reaction – the salt of a fatty acid) is hydrophilic. So when you get something oily on your hands and then use soap to rub on them, the fatty part buries itself into the greasy non-water parts of the dirt and the salt part stays in the water you use to rinse your hands. This forms little droplets that break up and are surrounded by hydrophilic ends that allow it to enter solution in water.

      Pure oil is all hydrophobic and thus completely dissimilar from the properties of soap. I mean, I know this is technically organic chemistry but the basics are simple and accessible. Just read the wiki article on it!

      Would the oil have an advantage over conventional mouthwash? It is only conjecture but I can think of two possible advantages right off: it is less abrasive (even water may dry out the mouth) and it may have longer lasting action (because it sticks around).

      Well, of course the opening volley is “we don’t use real science like PubMed” followed by your conjecture of how or why something may work. Notice a touch of irony here?

      Also, abrasive does not mean “dries your mouth out.”

      But in any event those exact questions are addressed and discussed. Perhaps you missed the part where Dr. Novella said that in terms of bacterial control oil pulling is probably better than nothing but not as good as standard, even cheaper, and highly available dental care? Using those very same studies from PubMed you somehow accused us of not using, mind you.

      you would recognize immediately I am using it in the context of industries taking substances found in nature and purifying and concentrating them or modifying them into a form the human body has not had a long evolutionary experience to adapt to.

      Oh I love it when people try and trot out the evolutionary gambit. In fact, I should just call it that, it is such a common trope.

      The body is highly flexible and adaptable. Our physiology is not something that is built such that each conceivable compound (whether a “chemical” in your definition or not) has one and only one enzyme or metabolic pathway to go through. Yes enzymes are specific, some more than others, but typically to a class of molecule. Just because a particular length chain of fatty acid doesn’t exist in “nature” doesn’t mean that magically our body can’t process it. Yes, we can craft things our body can’t process. But we know specifically why that is the case. And if it is in our ingestible products we’ve tested it and know it can be processed. That’s it. Doesn’t matter if we’ve had “enough time” to evolutionarily adapt to that specific molecule. And “enough time” is a completely variable and subjective term anyways. There is no fixed “enough time” in evolutionary biology. Some things are rapid some are not, random things happen.

      n regards to the processing of coconut oil, let’s ignore that coconut oil fans usually make a point of recommending the virgin version, even the refined version of coconut oil is not subjected to the chemical treatments that canola oil is.

      Really? And what, precisely, is your reference for this?

      Because when you look at Canola Oil and coconut oil you find that they are produced via basically the exact same method. Which makes perfect sense, considering that both are based on the idea of squeezing the oil out of a seed and then separating out the desired oils. Both use hexane as a solvent to remove certain alkyl compounds, and both can be refined, bleached, and deodorized. And in neither case does this actually end up being in the final product – the entire point of the RBD process is to remove unwanted oils from the final product for increased shelf life, change the flavor profile, etc.

      Finally as to your point that there are dangerous natural things and beneficial man-made things, people have had more time to experience and adapt to the natural things and come up with an accurate evaluation of it.

      A thousand years of unscientific random trial and error, without rigorous recording, is not worth 10 years of rigorous observation with detailed recording. Kind of like how aristolochia was used for thousands of years and thought to be beneficial, until just a couple of years of rigorous looking showed that it, in fact, had a shockingly high incidence of destroying kidneys.

      So your point is completely and utterly wrong.

      Can you tell me the logic in why some health practitioners may be more comfortable prescribing Namenda or Aricept for Alzheimers but are uncomfortable with having patients try out coconut oil?

      Sure, happy to.

      Those drugs have a much higher plausibility of working in the first place, particularly on a shorter time scale as would be necessary for any meaningful treatment of Alzheimers. They also have some actual evidence of benefit. I agree it is weak evidence and likely a rather small effect size, if it is there, but that is still more evidence than there is for coconut oil. In other words, even though not dramatic and unfortunately likely to be ineffective, they are still vastly more likely and have significantly more rigorous evidence that they will do anything than coconut oil.

      Combine this with the fact that coconut oil is very high in calories and low in micronutrients and it becomes generally untenable to recommend it. The patients who would be receiving Alzheimer’s treatment are older, with slower metabolisms, and less appetite overall. If you add coconut oil to the diet it will either have to be so little as to be pointless (even if it does do something for Alzheimer’s) or enough to make them gain weight. And that will be much worse for their health for myriad reasons. Or if you replace for an isocaloric diet you face the same problem or a decrease in micronutrients which are much more important.

      over the centuries of experience with the food staple simply because there is a patina of scientific rigor with the former? It just boggles.

      It only boggles for those of us who have such an incredibly superficial understanding of the topic that they would make the argument that oil is like soap. And not realize that the argument actually means you should wash your mouth out with soap not oil.

      And of course, the old “centuries of years of experience” trope. Sorry, but that doesn’t fly. Go read up on aristolochia.

      I have nothing against science. I have something against misused science or the use of science’s name in vain

      Perhaps you don’t. But it is obvious that you know so incredibly little about science that you are not even remotely qualified to say when someone is “using science’s name in vain.”

      Strong scientific evidence may be best but where scientific evidence is weak other forms of evidence should not be casually dismissed.

      Undoubtedly the person who is arguing that oil works like soap because it is the main ingredient is certainly the most qualified to lecture actual medical scientists on casually dismissing evidence.

      I would suggest you actually learn some science – at least some of the most basic stuff – before having the gall to come and lecture people on the proper use of science.

      *no, it isn’t. That is paltry and I was being sarcastic.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Aristolochia is what I am always thinking of when I say “kava kava” in reference to a dangerous herbal compound traditionally used for something. Always. I just never remember what the actual name is.

        1. Andrey Pavlov says:

          It’s a handy one to remember. I’ve used it as an example many times.

        2. mouse says:

          Is kava the same as kava kava? I looked into Kava for anxiety awhile ago – also not particularly safe, can’t remember were I found the info, but here’s the SBM version.

          http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/is-kava-safe/

    3. Dave says:

      Every doctor I know thinks that the the current Alzheimer’s meds are inadequate. This is a terrible relentless incurable disease. The meds are used because they may have some benefit for a period of time and there really isn’t much else that helps. That’s the logic for using them. If you have to chop down a tree and you only have a stone hand axe to do it with, that’s what you will use. If you have good evidence that coconut oil is better than these meds I would be thrilled to see it.

      1. WakeUp says:

        Dave I wouldn’t say coconut oil is going to be effective but as a long shot attempt to delay progression it is as good as the pharmaceutical alternatives and safer. Coconut oil is GRAS and the anecdotal results when it works seem to indicate greater magnitude in improvement. For side effects coconut allergy would worry me more than potential stomach upset or cholesterol elevation. There is a logical mechanism for its possible effect. Search for caprylic acid and axona in relation to Alzheimer’s. The mechanism is somewhat related to the one explored by the insulin nasal spray that got some attention last year.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Dave I wouldn’t say coconut oil is going to be effective but as a long shot attempt to delay progression it is as good as the pharmaceutical alternatives

          Why would you say this? The drugs for Alzheimer’s don’t have profound effects, but they do have some in certain subgroups. Therefore, there’s proof of efficacy. Meanwhile, for coconut oil you’ve got…what? Anecdotes? And the fact that it doesn’t kill you dead because it’s food? Man, imagine if Pfizer could use that level of proof for their products!

          “Try our awesomemaxicor! It doesn’t kill you, and it might work. I gave it to my dog, and now it plays chess better than I do!” That’s a hell of a double-standard.

          Of course, Pfizer already does this, because they’re the source of many of the “natural” compounds out there, along with a ton of vitamin supplements. Thanks DSHEA!

    4. Jaytee says:

      Amen to that! So many people seem entirely comfortable accepting whatever a doctor or other authority figure tells them, but find it anathema to even consider using low-tech solutions to common problems such as coconut oil, baking soda, vinegar or salt. I have respect for the place of peer review, despite all its problems, but I don’t need a peer-reviewed study to justify using salt and soda and vinegar for household cleaning, for instance, or homemade toothpaste. It’s cheap, easy and nontoxic. If you prefer buying bottles of overpriced manmade chemicals colored blue (or whatever), go for it. The blanket hostility towards low-cost home remedies is puzzling to me. Use of them doesn’t constitute a wholesale rejection of medical science, it’s just practical and frugal.

      I have tried oil pulling with coconut oil. I don’t particularly buy the vague toxins explanation; I think it’s just a misguided attempt to explain why it works. It does seem to help some people; I don’t assume everyone writing about it is lying or unable to tell the difference between not brushing and brushing along with oil pulling. I found oil pulling left my mouth feeling very refreshed, I just don’t remember to do it every day. Nor does 20 minutes seem necessary. That’s good to know about the small risk of pneumonia, whew! I am willing to try stuff that is cheap, not dangerous, and has some history behind it. If that makes me a kook in somebody’s opinion, I can live with that.

      “Natural health” advocates are being mischaracterized here. (The use of logical fallacies including ad hominem and unsupported generalizations are not restricted to anti-science numbskulls, I’ve noticed.) I’ve read a number of blog accounts of oil pulling. NEVER have I seen one that recommended substituting it for toothbrushing.

      I never saw the point of mouthwash, myself. Oral health, including fresh breath, has more to do with nutritional status and basic hygiene. Toothbrushes, water-piks, etc., are helpful tools, but if you’re eating a crap diet, you’re not likely to maintain good oral health no matter how much you brush, with or without fluoride.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        low-tech solutions to common problems such as coconut oil, baking soda, vinegar or salt.

        I would cook with all of those things. I would clean with some. I would use none for oral hygiene. None have fluoride for instance, which I need for my cavity-prone teeth. Which were much worse, by the way, when I used a “natural” toothpaste. Ended up with six cavities.

        I have respect for the place of peer review, despite all its problems, but I don’t need a peer-reviewed study to justify using salt and soda and vinegar for household cleaning, for instance, or homemade toothpaste. It’s cheap, easy and nontoxic. If you prefer buying bottles of overpriced manmade chemicals colored blue (or whatever), go for it. The blanket hostility towards low-cost home remedies is puzzling to me. Use of them doesn’t constitute a wholesale rejection of medical science, it’s just practical and frugal.

        Can you not see the substantial difference between “I use these things to clean” versus “I use these things to prevent or treat illness”? You can see dirt disappearing (though it’s false security if you’re trying to eliminate bacteria). You can’t see the short or long term changes to hepatocytes.

        Nobody needs a peer reviewed study when it comes to cleaning their bathroom (commercial kitchens with a public health obligation – that’s another story). This is a straw man. These low-cost solutions existed in the past, and were used for health. They didn’t work, and they don’t work now. To assert a health claim, yes, a peer-reviewed study is needed (as well as prior probability and an understanding of how the body works). 5% acetic acid won’t change anything, all those hydrogen molecules are going to be buffered in seconds. Ditto baking soda. Coconut oil is just food. Salt is flavouring (and a potential blood pressure problem). Biology is a little more complicated than cleaning.

        I am willing to try stuff that is cheap, not dangerous, and has some history behind it. If that makes me a kook in somebody’s opinion, I can live with that.

        Bloodletting has history behind it, wanna give that a try? And how cheap is virgin coconut oil compared to toothpaste? $2 for a tube of Sensodyne that lasts months, what does 500mL of VCO retail for these days? Because at a tablespoon a day, that might last you a month.

        “Natural health” advocates are being mischaracterized here. (The use of logical fallacies including ad hominem and unsupported generalizations are not restricted to anti-science numbskulls, I’ve noticed.) I’ve read a number of blog accounts of oil pulling. NEVER have I seen one that recommended substituting it for toothbrushing.

        Of course, “natural” is itself a logical fallacy, appeal to nature. No, logical fallacies are not restricted to the antiscience, and skeptics do far too much back-patting about that.

        The fact that you’ve never seen someone recommend oil pulling as a substitute for toothbrushing doesn’t mean the implication isn’t there. The natural products world is full of nudge-nudge, wink-wink recommendations – notably the structure-function relationships allowed by DSHEA, and the quack Miranda warning.

        I never saw the point of mouthwash, myself. Oral health, including fresh breath, has more to do with nutritional status and basic hygiene. Toothbrushes, water-piks, etc., are helpful tools, but if you’re eating a crap diet, you’re not likely to maintain good oral health no matter how much you brush, with or without fluoride.

        Fluoride.

        Also, fresh breath is a little more complicated than mere good oral hygiene, xerostomia is one, and there are more beyond just food.

        Not all problems can be treated with diet.

        1. Curious says:

          When I read your post the thing that most interested me was this paragraph :

          “I would cook with all of those things. I would clean with some. I would use none for oral hygiene. None have fluoride for instance, which I need for my cavity-prone teeth. Which were much worse, by the way, when I used a “natural” toothpaste. Ended up with six cavities.”

          Would you mind answering a few personal questions ?

          How many cavities do you have in total ?
          What do you think is the cause of your cavities ?
          Over what period of time did you get the 6 new cavities ?
          What makes your teeth cavity-prone ?
          Why did you decide to use a natural toothpaste ? And which brand was it ?
          Did you continue using the natural toothpaste even after you developed a few cavities or did all 6 come at the same time ?
          Do you consider your diet a factor at all in the health of your teeth ?

          And also from an earlier post
          “And no, I still don’t believe you. People have a vastly unwarranted faith in their ability to attribute causality, and are generally vastly overconfident in their ability to identify subjective changes in their health. It’s a very human trait. It’s not just you. But it is reality.”

          Are you attributing causality when you say you were using natural toothpaste (stopped using toothpaste containing fluoride ?) and you got 6 cavities ? Were there other factors that you consider being important in the change in your teeth health ?

          I understand if you don’t wish to share such personal details but that’s what I’m curious about from your posts.
          Thanks

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            How many cavities do you have in total ?

            Now, none. I went to the dentist yesterday and was praised on sticking to my oral health regimen given its positive results.

            What do you think is the cause of your cavities ?

            I haven’t had a cavity in a while, but I did have to have a filling replaced a couple months back. I think the cause of my previous cavities were bad genetics, unfluoridated toothpaste, excessive brushing, failure to floss, failure to use an effective oral rinse, high consumption of acidic foods (mainly fruits and vegetables) unpaired with hydrogen ion-absorbing neutralizing foods (I now consume nuts or an egg after my morning fruit), and a lot of tooth grinding.

            Over what period of time did you get the 6 new cavities ?

            I went through most of university without seeing a dentist, so I would estimate 4-6 years.

            What makes your teeth cavity-prone ?

            Genetics (my mother also has very cavity-prone teeth), lack of fluoridated toothpaste, lack of a good oral care routine, infrequent visits to the dentist. Those are guesses, of course.

            Why did you decide to use a natural toothpaste ? And which brand was it ?

            Tom’s of Maine natural shit. At the time I was a credulous nonskeptic raised by a father who did not emphasize science and a mother who I love very much who was, and still is, a bit of a frank nutter when it comes to medicine. I was also in the arrogant, ignorant, certainty-assuming, iconoclastic period of life that generally accompanies being young. There was a bit of pharmanoia thrown in there too. A poor doctor tried to convince me of the value in assessing where information comes from and who is making the assertion, and I still owe him an apology. To many doctors actually.

            Did you continue using the natural toothpaste even after you developed a few cavities or did all 6 come at the same time ?

            Nope, started using a fluoridated toothpaste after they were all filled and the dentist recommended it. Now I use Sensodyne ’cause my teeth are still pretty prone to sensitivity. But my gums look great.

            Do you consider your diet a factor at all in the health of your teeth ?

            Yes, in the sense that acidic food (lots of fruits and vegetables) fostered the development of cavities. More broadly yes in the sense of diet being a vital factor in general health, including oral health.

            Are you attributing causality when you say you were using natural toothpaste (stopped using toothpaste containing fluoride ?) and you got 6 cavities ? Were there other factors that you consider being important in the change in your teeth health ?

            Regarding toothpaste, yes, I attribute causality; not 100% responsible, but a significant contributor. I believe this because of the scientific evidence supporting the importance of fluoride in the remineralization of teeth and cavities and the role of acids, grinding, genetics and a poor oral care routine in causing cavities.

            If the scientific consensus on these factors changes, I will change my mind and behaviour accordingly, because I am not an expert, I will never be an expert, and I have better things to do than re-examine all primary sources in order to be able to argue with genuine experts. I do my best to quash the belief that I will ever be capable of arguing with a genuine expert and instead approach them with the aim of learning from their expertise; this is offset by an appreciation for the fact that controversies do exist, and as paraphrasing what Dr. Hall has said in the past – to really get anywhere you have to find out who else is an expert that disagrees with the first expert and why.

            And tolerance for ambiguity, becuase you’ll ultimately never know. Nobody will. Plus, eventually the earth gets swallowed by the sun and nothing ever matters in the long run, so be nice to people now and enjoy the wonders of the world ’cause you’re only here once.

  29. WakeUp says:

    I was going to reply in-depth to you Andrey but then I noticed you seem to take Wikipedia as an authoritative source. Automatic fail.

    1. Windriven says:

      “I was going to reply in-depth to you Andrey but then I noticed you seem to take Wikipedia as an authoritative source. Automatic fail.”

      If you discount Dr. Pavlov as a worthy interlocutor because he (and most of us here) use Wikipedia as an information source on occasion, you paint yourself a fool. Wikipedia is sort of the ‘Cliff’s Notes’ of any given subject; a useful thumbnail but neither exhaustive nor necessarily the last word. But it is, in a loose sense, peer reviewed and generally does a good job of balancing controversies.

      Could your failure to engage Dr. Pavlov have less to do with Wikipedia than with your recognition that you would be embarrassingly outmatched?

    2. Andrey Pavlov says:

      No, WakeUp, I do not take Wikipedia as an authoritative source. I take it as a good starting point to get some basic ideas under your belt. Ideas so basic that you got wrong, I am afraid you wouldn’t be able to actually understand the actual authoritative sources referenced and summarized in the wikipedia articles I linked to. Oh, and there’s also that article in the journal Nature which showed that the accuracy of Wikipedia was better than Encyclopedia Britannica. Would you flounce off if I referenced that instead of Wiki?

      Windriven said it well and you’d do well to get some basic science education under your belt. I am not kidding or being hyperbolic when I say that you have profound misapprehensions of some very basic and very fundamental facts of science and general and relevant specifically to this discussion. And I can assure you that I do not get my knowledge and education from Wikipedia.

      I took my first college level science course in 1993. I proceeded to take a course or two per semester at night until I began high school in 1996. I was fortunate in my high school that we were a top nationally ranked program, so I was able to take courses in advanced calculus, statistics, and organic chemistry before graduating. I then went on to complete two full degrees where 5 of the buildings I studied in were named after Nobel Laureates in sciences… and who still taught there. I then went on to do post-graduate research in molecular pharmacognosy while spending 3 years working nights in the ER of a Level 1 Trauma Center. After that, I completed 4 years of medical school and did research and published along the way.

      So I can assure you that the Wikipedia articles are indeed accurate on the basics I was trying to convey and I have at least as much confidence as particle physicists do in the Higgs boson that you haven’t a clue what you are talking about. But I am curious as to what sort of rhetorical contortions you can come up with (as are others, I am sure) so please, attempt to “reply in depth.” Perhaps one day you’ll recognize that you are swimming in a very shallow pool.

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      WakeUp, your comment appears to be a face-saving dodge of the actual point. Do you actually contest the basic facts about how soap and nut oils are produced? Much as citing wikipedia for controversial information is a suboptimal thing to do, citing it for extremely basic information like “how fats are turned into soap” is not a big deal. If he had left out the links altogether, what would you have said?

      Also, citing wikipedia, a little lame (but not that bad considering the context). Failing to deal with, or perhaps even read an argument, because it cites wikipedia for extremely basic biochemistry? Super lame.

      But please, do the right thing here. Go to a source besides wikipedia, perhaps google books, and show how Andrey got the saponification process wrong. We’ll wait.

      Also, you failed to reply to my own, rather detailed post. I cited several pubmed-indexed journal articles. Is that adequate? Can you lower yourself to reply?

    4. mouse says:

      Wait, wait, Wikipedia’s a fail – but Fight Club gets a pass? pffft…

      Wikipedia does support their information with citations, you know.

      Of course it doesn’t have Pitt and Norton, soooo in the balance I’d say Wiki vs FC breaks even.

  30. Cat-I-Am says:

    Decided to try oil-pulling after reading that it could tighten loose teeth, which I had aplenty. It did more than I expected. The next morning, ALL my teeth felt firmly anchored, all teeth were whiter AND my gums felt stronger. Three days of it and my gums were pinker than since I was a child. In one year of it, gums have grown over all”pockets” except the more severe bottom 2 which, firmly anchored, have not gotten any worse. I’ve since added a few drops of Hydogen Peroxide and spearmint oil to the tsp of virgin coconut oil I pull and my breath stays fresh. Also, oil pulling has beautifully formed my cheekbones, I guess because of the jaw workout. OP has been incredible for me because I thought I was destined to lose all my teeth like nearly all the women in my family who now wear dentures and partials. Don’t knock what you have not tried!

  31. WakeUp says:

    Cat-I-Am I would be very careful with the hydrogen peroxide and wouldn’t add it myself. It may have corrosive effects that end up damaging enamel.

    Andrey seems to enjoy engaging in semantic nitpicking as evidenced with his taking issue with my use of abrasive, when anyone should be able to understand the point I was making, but for anyone still challenged substitute the word harsh.

    More direly he makes what I perceive as two erroneous arguments and backs up both errors with Wikipedia. Everyone might as well reference Mercola’s articles. I see no reason to engage him.

    I find trying to convince people what to think is much less effective than having people convince themselves what to think. That’s why If any of the issues I bring up are of interest to readers I think it better they look it up themselves rather than explaining it in detail myself. So Andrey can suggest that oil has no cleaning attributes and cite Wikipedia. I will disagree even if that implies Wikipedia is wrong. You the reader may believe whatever you wish.

    1. Windriven says:

      “Andrey seems to enjoy engaging in semantic nitpicking as evidenced with his taking issue with my use of abrasive, when anyone should be able to understand the point I was making, but for anyone still challenged substitute the word harsh.”

      Dr. Pavlov is not nitpicking. Precise thought is reflected in precise expression. “Abrasive” and “harsh” are not particularly close synonyms for each other. You also said, ” if you are willing to define streptococcus mutans as a toxin…” Bacteria are not toxins they are bacteria. They may produce toxins as components of their excreta or release toxins upon death.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Andrey seems to enjoy engaging in semantic nitpicking as evidenced with his taking issue with my use of abrasive, when anyone should be able to understand the point I was making, but for anyone still challenged substitute the word harsh

      Meanwhile refusing to engage in substantive discussion because one’s interlocuter cited wikipedia for basic information about saponification is the height of mount intelligence. I’m giving myself an “oh snap” for that one.

      Oh snap.

      More direly he makes what I perceive as two erroneous arguments and backs up both errors with Wikipedia. Everyone might as well reference Mercola’s articles. I see no reason to engage him.

      Again, his references to wikipedia were about how soap is made, the basic biochemistry behind it. Do you challenge that this is how soap is made? Is it unreasonable? Meanwhile, your argument that coconut oil works as mouthwash is based on your hypothesis that coconut oil turns into soap…so maybe you should check whether this premise is correct? You could start with wikipedia.

      One must also note that wikipedia pages do contain references to substantiate their content. One could also do a google search for “saponification” to check his premises, assuming you could understand content like this.

      One could also note, that if you were convinced of the salubratory nature of oil pulling is the result of intra-oral soap formation, one might try simply using soap. Might be faster, save you 15 minutes of oral care each day.

      One might also hypothesize two further facts:

      1) You’re not engaging with anything Andrey says because you are unable to address them.

      2) You are attempting to cover this up with vague protestations of inadequate sources.

      See, from our perspective we can’t tell if you’re genuinely offended by the invocation of a crowd-sourced medium, or if you’re just too stupid to even understand what Andrey said, and are handwaving to cover up your embarrassment.

      So Andrey can suggest that oil has no cleaning attributes and cite Wikipedia. I will disagree even if that implies Wikipedia is wrong.

      So…Andrey giving detailed analysis of basic biochemistry and providing a wikipedia page as a reference – automatic fail.

      You providing no detailed analysis, showing no understanding of basic biochemistry, and providing no references, means you won the internet?

      That’s awesome. You should apply yourself to the problems of cold fusion and perpetual motion, maybe even Time Cube, you could solve them all and then not tell us. Do you read a lot of Ayn Rand?

      1. Andrey Pavlov says:

        One could also do a google search for “saponification” to check his premises, assuming you could understand content like this.

        Ah, that brings back memories. I actually really enjoyed organic chemistry. Most people hate it and it is often referred to as the med school course requirement that will either make you or break you (I’ve also heard of it as “separating the men from the boys”).

        That is because it is extremely complicated. You can change the outcomes of reactions by controlling the heat, the pH, the rate (independent of the heat), the molecular backbone in the non-reactive parts of your reagents, and so on and so forth. Most of my classmates struggled because they tried to memorize each and every reaction. A surgeon will have less to memorize in terms of anatomy. Understanding why the reactions happen is the key to success in ochem.

        My undergrad ochem courses were huge. Around 400 students per course (my undergrad was big). It was also a sort of “policy” at my uni to make the tests stupid hard and grade on a curve. I have a 76% in my ochem class and I was in the top 5% of my class. Anyways, we had a professor that was a sneaky guy. He put a question on a midterm that only me and 3 or 4 others got the correct answer to. I know this because he asked us to stay after class. The question was superficially a very standard Sn2 reaction. But he changed a couple of the parameters in a way that we hadn’t explicitly studied. Most people got the question wrong because they didn’t know the changes would alter the outcome. That was because they memorized the most common generic outcome for an Sn2 reaction, rather than thinking through what was actually happening in the molecules.

    3. Cat-I-Am says:

      Cautious by nature, I am only using generic hydrogen peroxide in 1-2 drops. I have noticed many whitening and toothpaste products in the dental section of grocery stores that include hydrogen peroxide (along with aspartame) as a main ingredient. Case in point: Crest 3D White. However, I will heed your word of caution and research the topic of hydrogen peroxide and teeth enamel erosion. Thanks for the heads-up!

  32. Bill Johnson says:

    Gross, but if it really helps cleaning the mouth so I guess I’ll give it a try. I’ve read on some of the comments and it’s all good feedback from them. I’ll share this to most of my friends. Thanks for this information.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Hi Bill,

      Have you tried a toothbrush? And, of course, you could always try the crap that you sell on your website. You know, the one you link to because you want people to buy it.

  33. WakeUp says:

    Precise thought is reflected in precise expression

    Precision is not the same as accuracy. Andrey it could be argued is being precise by giving an excess of detail but he is doing so about things that don’t matter and consequently missing the mark by a wide margin. His attempts to justify himself by plaintively arguing about Wikipedia’s suitability and flogging his resume are a pointless waste of time. He should learn to be succinct and to stop beating a dead horse.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      by giving an excess of detail

      You needn’t read it all but the general lack of understanding the material you are attempting to write about suggests you should.

      about things that don’t matter and consequently missing the mark by a wide margin.

      Sorry, but your entire argument was based on redefining a bacterium as a toxin and saying that oil is the main ingredient in soap and since soap cleans things oil might too.

      The first part is an absurd redefinition and the second demonstrates your complete lack of understanding of what you are trying to argue.

      His attempts to justify himself by plaintively arguing about Wikipedia’s suitability and flogging his resume are a pointless waste of time.

      It is only ever from people who have absolutely no rebuttal, nothing even remotely resembling an answer to a challenge, who complain when a wikipedia article is referenced in an argument. My resume is in response to your accusation that I don’t have a more authoritative source to my arguments.

      And all of your responses are nothing but a really badly disguised dodge. You can’t even actually say that my points are incorrect, merely that Wiki is unreliable therefore you can ignore them. When challenged that indeed, wiki is reliable both by data and by my own personal knowledge using decades of authoritative sources to learn the material, you just double down.

      He should learn to be succinct and to stop beating a dead horse.

      I don’t have to be succinct. Just in the same way you don’t actually have to say any substantive. But if you want to pretend like you actually have a valid thought in your head, you should focus on discussing the relevant science at hand. Not whinge that Wiki is unreliable or that I am too logorrheic. How about you just actually explain why the points I listed are wrong? Bring your own references to the table to refute them. It doesn’t matter if Wiki is authoritative or not. In fact, if it isn’t it should be easier for you to find actual authoritative sources that contradict my points.

      I won’t hold my breath though.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      WakeUp, who precise was Andrey’s description of saponification? I mean, assuming he had left out any links to wikipedia, how accurate would you say it was? Because I’m sure you know enough about biochemistry to judge, right?

      Also, since you think coconut oil turning into soap is the main reason oil pulling is effective, how is gargling with soap working out? Since I’m assuming you’ve cut out the middle man.

      1. WakeUp says:

        William, I find Andrey’s argument messy. I also see why you do not trust yourself to interpret studies on your own. I’ve never said saponification is the sole mechanism by which oil pulling may work. You may have inferred it from my mention of the relationship of oil to soap but I never said saponification was the reason oil pulling works. That alone makes moot and academic anything Andrey has to say about saponification. I can stop there.

        But let us humor Andrey. What is he saying? Saponification cannot possibly be taking place? Why not? A study on oil pulling even mentions it as a possible mechanism. Andrey’s not entirely clear but he seems to be saying it is impossible because oil is hydrophilic and oil is the only thing there. Or is it? Anyone who has tried oil pulling knows it encourages the production of saliva. I leave it to you to connect the dots.

        I haven’t tried gargling with soap. Have you? Why do you think it wouldn’t work out? Personally I would probably be more concerned with swallowing it, the taste it might leave behind, and possible mouth drying than with oil pulling.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          I’ve never said saponification is the sole mechanism by which oil pulling may work. You may have inferred it from my mention of the relationship of oil to soap but I never said saponification was the reason oil pulling works. That alone makes moot and academic anything Andrey has to say about saponification. I can stop there.

          Oh yeah, I don’t know how Andrey would have gotten the idea that oil pulling works through the same mechanism as soap.

          I would agree the commonly mentioned proposed mechanism of “pulling toxins” sounds pretty far-fetched (depending on your definition of “toxin”) but any thoughtful appraisal would also recognize that oils are the main ingredient in something called soap, you know that thing used to clean stuff? The properties of the oils that make it useful in soap may also be playing a role in oil pulling.

          I also see why you do not trust yourself to interpret studies on your own.

          Yeah, I don’t know a thing about interpreting studies. Neither does Dr. Novella. But you do, since you provided us with such a long list of them demonstrating that oil pulling works. I mean I can count dozens hundreds thousands lots oh sorry, none in your first second third in any of your posts. No, you’re analysis of the scientific literature, your grasp of the clinical trial process, is unmatched. Yes, truly your quick look on pubmed and long list of hypothetical mechanisms through which oil pulling might work, if one assumes it works, and redefines a lot of words in the process, outweighs any counter-argument.

          But no, Andrey is the one that uses messy arguments. Andrey is the one that claims oil pulling works because of vested interests in the American Heart Association. Andrey is the one who proudly points to the poor effectiveness of Alzheimer’s drugs to justify mouthwash. Andrey is the one who refused to engage with the substance of an argument because wikipedia was used for basic information. Andrey is the one who claimed that “chemicals” really only mean those “in the context of industries taking substances found in nature and purifying and concentrating them or modifying them into a form the human body has not had a long evolutionary experience to adapt to.”

          Hey, you should tell Andrey that humans evolved in Africa, where coconuts (and screw-type expeller presses, and centrifuges, and acetone) aren’t found in nature. Also, you should tell him that coconut oil is a “substance found in nature that has been purified and concentrated into a form the human body has not had a long evolutionary experience to adapt to”.

          Oh, hold on, that was you. Each time. that was you. Each illogical tangent, each childish dismissal, each erroneous claim, and subsequent to that, each assertion that we misunderstood your brilliant argument.

          Oh, no, we got it. Because we see crap like this all the time. The same repetitive bullshit spoon-fed to you buy people selling you coconut oil, or the idea of coconut oil, or the idea that “natural” is better because, presumably, you’re such a narcissist that you think “nature” gives a shit if humans live or die. Nature is a tremendous source of chemicals, some of which are useful to humans – but the vast majority are not, because nature did not evolve to serve humans. By this logic, we have just as much cause in suggesting nature evolved to serve cats, because catnip is a euphoric and hallucinogen for them (but not humans).

          Just admit it – you got schooled. Your responses were lazy, illogical and wrong, filled with fallacies that don’t make you smart, merely an uncritical consumer of products sold by those adopting an unconvincing rhetoric, and you doubled-down by claiming you were misunderstood.

          Because that’s what happened.

  34. Tana Villanueva says:

    Science Based Medicine, I think not. It’s lack of Science because there are not enough studies to base a conclusion. Why? Because Science based studies are funded by the Government and Government is in Bed with Big Pharmaceutical Companies to make $$$ off Consumers willing to only buy Products approved by FDA and deemed safe by Center for Disease Control. Studies are mostly done by Universities and Labs funded by Pharmaceutical Companies and the Government, and they do not have your best interest in mind at all. I cannot tell you how many medications I have been on that were approved by the Government that were supposed to save my life only to find out they were later recalled, and or after years being on the market were found to have severe long term side effects, or cause permanent damage to Nerves, heart, liver etc. I was on Antibiotics for over 3 years after contracting a MRSA Superbug from performing CPR on my dying Mother. I listened to the Doctors as they gave me antibiotics without testing me with a Sensitivity Culture to determine which antibiotic in fact would kill the bacteria. After 3+ years of surgeries to cut out infections and 3+ years of the wrong so called safe medicine(Antibiotics) I was sent home to die because they had gone through every possible antibiotic and there were none left. During that time taking these drugs I developed multiple conditions from taking these drugs, not to mention severe damaging side effects. What saved my life? When I smartened up and stopped listening to Doctors and did studies Natural Medicine and started treating myself. It has been over 6 years since I was given my death sentence by the Medical Professionals of Western Medicine. I have been healed through Natural Remedies and have been without any infections for 5 Years. The only thing I received from the Medical Doctors and Hospitals was huge Bills that I refuse to pay because they did absolutely nothing for me other than cause damage with their negligence and ignorance. I have been using Coconut Oil for my health and yes it works, just like many other less expensive treatments like Garlic, Tea Tree Oil, Olive leaf Extract, oregano Oil, Colloidal Silver to name a few. They have all been around longer than modern medicine. Furthermore do research on your medicines, most ate synthetic and have had very short studies on them before being put out on the market for use by you the consumer. Who wrote this article, someone who admits to researching through Google. Since when is Google the know all? Wake up people and use your common sense and don’t believe everything you hear and read. Instead try going out on a limb and think outside the box and research on your own and YES try something that has been around for hundreds of years that is natural rather than what is being pushed down your throats by the Government and Big Pharm, you owe it to yourself and your body.

    1. Tana Villanueva says:

      Science Based Medicine, I think not. It’s lack of Science because there are not enough studies to base a conclusion. Why? Because Science based studies are funded by the Government and Government is in Bed with Big Pharmaceutical Companies to make $$$ off Consumers willing to only buy Products approved by FDA and deemed safe by Center for Disease Control. Studies are mostly done by Universities and Labs funded by Pharmaceutical Companies and the Government, and they do not have your best interest in mind at all. I cannot tell you how many medications I have been on that were approved by the Government that were supposed to save my life only to find out they were later recalled, and or after years being on the market were found to have severe long term side effects, or cause permanent damage to Nerves, heart, liver etc. I was on Antibiotics for over 3 years after contracting a MRSA Superbug from performing CPR on my dying Mother. I listened to the Doctors as they gave me antibiotics without testing me with a Sensitivity Culture to determine which antibiotic in fact would kill the bacteria. After 3+ years of surgeries to cut out infections and 3+ years of the wrong so called safe medicine(Antibiotics) I was sent home to die because they had gone through every possible antibiotic and there were none left. During that time taking these drugs I developed multiple conditions from taking these drugs, not to mention severe damaging side effects. What saved my life? When I smartened up and stopped listening to Doctors and did studies Natural Medicine and started treating myself. It has been over 6 years since I was given my death sentence by the Medical Professionals of Western Medicine. I have been healed through Natural Remedies and have been without any infections for 5 Years. The only thing I received from the Medical Doctors and Hospitals was huge Bills that I refuse to pay because they did absolutely nothing for me other than cause damage with their negligence and ignorance. I have been using Coconut Oil for my health and yes it works, just like many other less expensive treatments like Garlic, Tea Tree Oil, Olive leaf Extract, oregano Oil, Colloidal Silver to name a few. They have all been around longer than modern medicine. Furthermore do research on your medicines, most synthetic Medicines put out by Pharmaceutical Companies have had very short studies on them before being put out on the market for use by you the consumer. Who wrote this article, someone who admits to researching through Google. Since when is Google the know all? Wake up people and use your common sense and don’t believe everything you hear and read. Instead try going out on a limb and think outside the box and research on your own and YES try something that has been around for hundreds of years that is natural rather than what is being pushed down your throats by the Government and Big Pharm, you owe it to yourself and your body.

      1. Windriven says:

        Wrap the tinfoil a little tighter. Then Learn how Not To use Punctuation.

        The “content” of your comment is too absurd to warrant response.

        1. @Windriven

          Focusing on the text, words and messenger ignoring the concepts and ideas are the best way to shut down dialogue and thus end the discussion.

          Who pays you to stab blogger in the back? Or Is this a game you just enjoy playing to entertain yourself?

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Steve, are you seriously saying there is a coherent, readable thought in that post? That it’s easy to read? That trying to parse what Tana is easy? That she gives every indication of being a fully rational person?

            I can’t speak for Windriven, but nobody pays me. I’m just as happy criticizing Big Pharma idiots that show up here – but most don’t bother. They’re to busy lobbying senators and congressmen, and visiting individual doctors. I like to criticize any bit of shoddy logic or factual errors I find, they’re just a lot more common in CAM.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Actually, the NIH funds many billions of dollars worth of studies. Concerned about the pernicious effects of Big Pharma on medical research? Try to get your congressperson to boost the NIH’s funding several times over.

        Colloid silver? Are you blue yet?

  35. jen says:

    well…my hygenist is amazed how easy it is to clean my teeth…I have always brushed twice a day, and floss once. The thing I added was oil pulling for the past 5 months.
    My gums didn’t bleed when she cleaned my teeth. So that’s all I know. No bleeding. And easy to clean my teeth. Hardly any scraping required on her part. The dentist in the office is open to oil pulling. Perhaps not all claims are true. But this kind of dental visit very unusual for me…and a happy one

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Have you tried, perhaps, fluoridated mouth rinses? They have consistent, obvious proof of efficacy, and you don’t need to use them for 20 minutes, twice per day.

      Seriously, 40 minutes of what is basically snot in your mouth, on the off chance it might not be a pure waste of time? Because a dozen centuries back people who didn’t know what a bacteria was thought that it helped?

      Jebus and Buddha.

  36. Tessa says:

    I note that you are not basing your synopsis on any hard research evidence either. The only information you have we’re a few unrecognized studies and the here say of large pharma companies who make millions from promoting their toxic concoction that they call a mouth wash. I see no overwhelming evidence that these work otherwise there would be overwhelming evidence of decreased incident of dental decay yet the opposite is true.
    Modern dentistry is a money making toxic crock.
    Let’s look at root canal I bet there are a plethora of published studies on this little toxic haven. I and in my unpublished research have not met anyone who has had a successful root canal that costs thousands of dollars and everyone I have spoken to finally resorted to tooth removal.
    Let’s look at other dental marvels over time like mercury fillings pay to have them put in and those who survived to do so payed to have them replaced hopefully with ceramic otherwise an equally volitile toxic cocktail of plastic.
    And who can forget the addition of fluoride to everything a toxic byproduct of heavy industry that was becoming an industrial nightmare with nowhere to safely dump this chemical. There are plenty of positive research on this little dental marvel.
    My other favorite gem is toothpaste labels professing not to contain sugar. It may not be Cain sugar but is definitely contains some form of refined sweetening agent all of which are well published causes of tooth decay.
    Simple rule of thumb if it’s not published in a recognized journal doesn’t mean it’s not proven it just means that it’s not profitable therefore no one with sufficient resources are prepared to fund these kind of studies.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I note that you are not basing your synopsis on any hard research evidence either.

      Um…that’s because there isn’t any. That’s rather the objection – because there is no hard evidence for oil pulling, it should not be promoted as safe and effective. You know, the standard we set for drugs and medical claims.

      large pharma companies who make millions from promoting their toxic concoction that they call a mouth wash. I see no overwhelming evidence that these work otherwise there would be overwhelming evidence of decreased incident of dental decay yet the opposite is true.

      The main constituents of mouthwash are alcohol and fluoride, both of which have demonstrated benefits – antibactieral properties and harder teeth that are less sensitive, respectively. Meanwhile, oil pulling at best might act like dilute soap (in which case, use soap maybe?) but is generally promoted due to its effects on alleged “toxins” which are never identified and basically don’t exist.

      Modern dentistry is a money making toxic crock.

      Meanwhile the guy selling you premium cold-pressed virgin coconut oil does so at a loss? Or it’s free? You think greed only exists in Pfizer? How quaint.

      Let’s look at root canal I bet there are a plethora of published studies on this little toxic haven. I and in my unpublished research have not met anyone who has had a successful root canal that costs thousands of dollars and everyone I have spoken to finally resorted to tooth removal.

      You might have a biased sample, in that I’m guessing you troll a lot of anti-dentistry websites. I have a root canal, have had it for over a decade now. I had a crown put in recently. Works fine. Meanwhile, where is the evidence oil pulling can fix a rotten tooth?

      Let’s look at other dental marvels over time like mercury fillings pay to have them put in and those who survived to do so payed to have them replaced hopefully with ceramic otherwise an equally volitile toxic cocktail of plastic.

      …except for the fact that mercury fillings are quite safe, harder than non-mercury amalgam fillings, and are only considered “toxic” because credulous consumers are scared by people who use spurious tests to artificially inflate results claiming mercury “leaks” from the fillings.

      And who can forget the addition of fluoride to everything

      Yeah…except for the fact that if fluoride levels are above the limits set by the EPA, then municipal water treatment plants actually remove fluoride to lower tap water safe levels.

      Simple rule of thumb if it’s not published in a recognized journal doesn’t mean it’s not proven it just means that it’s not profitable therefore no one with sufficient resources are prepared to fund these kind of studies.

      If it’s not published in a recognized journal, you have basically no way of knowing if the person making the claim is lying to you – that’s why science places emphasis on independent replication.

      And coconut oil is quite profitable, methinks.

  37. Sagar says:

    Oil pulling…
    At least here in India, toothpaste is cheaper than oil :)
    if oil pulling has fallen out of favor over the past couple of centuries, it must be because no one in their right mind would want a mouth full of frickkin oil :)

  38. Tim says:

    Just my 2 cents…

    I was in the military and took cipro for 6 months as an anthrax prophylaxis. Soon after, was a total metabolic wreck, including oral health.

    Years later, health was mostly good, oral health terrible. I started oil pulling 20 min/day with sesame oil.

    Before I started, I had 15 periodontal pockets over 5mm in depth, with many over 10mm. The goal is none deeper than 3mm. After 6 months, all had decreased, none over 10mm, most between 3-5mm. After 1 year, no pockets greater than 2mm.

    Now after over 3 years, my mouth is the best my dentist sees. He says my 48 year old mouth looks like the mouth of a 4 year old child.

    My routine is to brush w/fluoride-free toothpaste upon waking, oil pull 20 minutes after dinner, then brush w/water and floss.

    My routine at the time of all the gum disease was to brush and floss 3X day.

    My dentist, hygenist, and the receptionist are now oil-pullers and they recommend it to every patient with gum problems.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      You should tell them to test this in a controlled trial. Maybe actually come up with some proof for the claims.

      Also, I brushed my teeth with fluoride-free toothpaste for years and got many, many cavities. Now I use fluoridated toothpaste and mouth wash every day, along with flossing and a gum stimulator. No cavities, and my gums are now a lot healthier. And I don’t need a mouth full of snot twice a day to do it.

  39. Claudia says:

    My, my such bickering about something like this. #1 oil is cheap. # 2 There are no contraindications. # 3 There are no side effects other than some minor detox reactions.
    #4 If it works for you, GREAT. If it doesn’t you haven’t done anything harmful to the body and the worst thing is that you have spit a bottle of oil in the trash. Big deal. Research costs money and if the drug companies can’t make billions from it they aren’t going to spend the money to do it and who wants them to? Then they will lobby to make oil a medicine and you will have to buy it from the pharmacy with a prescription. Do your own research. Write down everything that ails you from cavities and gum disease to achy joints, sleep disorders, allergies, asthma, diabetes etc. Oil pull for a month, look at your list and see what you are still suffering from and mark off what is no longer a problem. Pull for another month and check your list again. I have found that my sleeping problems of several years were gone after one session. My skin looks better than ever and some of my aches and pains have cleared up. It seems stupid to me to disregard something so harmless and easy because of research, without doing your own.

    1. Windriven says:

      I don’t much care about oil pulling either way. I presume it is BS because there is no obvious prior plausibility. But decent evidence would change my mind.

      But here you uttered a massive inanity:
      “It seems stupid to me to disregard something so harmless and easy because of research, without doing your own.”

      .. To disregard something because of research …

      Do you accept the research that modern aviation relies on or do you do your own? Do you have an alternative geometry for airfoils that you think works better? Do you accept the research on pneumonia treatments or would you rather wing it should you come down with pneumonia?

      So much research, so many magnificent advances, but oil sucking probably won’t hurt you so give it a whirl! Research that your life depends on is good but research that your life doesn’t depend on isn’t?

      Dumbass.

    2. MadisonMD says:

      I have found that my sleeping problems of several years were gone after one session. My skin looks better than ever and some of my aches and pains have cleared up.

      @Claudia: How do you know it was the oil pulling that helped you and not the bio-energetic jewelry that you sell? It could be all the EMFs that were making your skin look bad, right?

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        It’s probably more that she was exhausted after 20 minutes of sloshing that crap around in her mouth :)

    3. Chris says:

      We need to add to you list:

      # 4: It is time consuming. Twenty minutes is a long time to hang around a bathroom sink.

      #5: It is stupid. For reasons why, just read the above article.

  40. Sarah says:

    I appreciate the skeptical approach to examining this method.
    “Detox claims are based on nothing, as are all detox claims. There is no evidence or plausible rationale to recommend oil pulling for any indication other than as a poor substitute for oral care.”
    However I think this (above quote) is a bit too broad of a conclusion to draw, there tend to always be exceptions.
    P.S. Did you have a bad experience with a detox diet?

    1. Chris says:

      “P.S. Did you have a bad experience with a detox diet?”

      The answer is available by using the “Search” box on this page:
      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-detox-scam-how-to-spot-it-and-how-to-avoid-it/

  41. RoxyMoron101 says:

    I brush my teeth first and then to a scoop of coconut oil. I just started doing it, so far so good, it makes my lips moist and I can slightly taste coconut

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Why on earth do people feel the need to reply to this article with so many “it worked for me” claims? What’s so magical about coconut oil that they feel the need to sign up for an account, activate that account, then drop in a two-sentence turd answer like “it worked for me and I likes the tasties” as if it were a meaningful comment?

      Does Big Coconut pay people to do it? I wonder what line that ends up on in their financial statements.

  42. Too bad the word ‘pulling’ is misunderstood. It means to pull the OIL through the spaces between teeth. It’s a mainly a physical exercise to increase blood and lymph circulation in the head, neck and oral cavity. Heat builds up in the tissues. Salivation is stimulated to cleanse the mouth. Sick people aren’t that interested in brushing their teeth. A little bit of the build up of unhealthy oral bacterial colonies are disrupted and spit out with the oil but the main benefit comes from exercise.

    It’s an ideal way for the frail to recover from an illness. You can do it laying in bed or sitting. The oil has to be thick and spit out several times during the 20 minutes as it dilutes with saliva. It’s done vigorously and it’s hard work for the average person. The mind has to focus and every muscle in the body, especially the tongue, cheek and neck, is eventually recruited from head to toe.

    As you regain your strength you incorporate standing yoga poses. Eventually you stop pulling and continue with standing yoga.

    Visit my blog to discover more myths facts about yoga and tai chi. http://www.fit4zip.blogspot.com

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Your website is a blight upon the eyes and the search function doesn’t work.

      It’s a mainly a physical exercise to increase blood and lymph circulation in the head, neck and oral cavity. Heat builds up in the tissues. Salivation is stimulated to cleanse the mouth.

      How much heat do you think actually builds up? You’re using tiny, tiny muscles here, that bare amount of heat would be shunted through the rest of the body in an incredibly short amount of time. And your alleged explanation doesn’t match at all with the equally spurious explanation provided by proponents. Not to mention, if salivation is what works, why use coconut oil? Why not something that directly increases saliva, like lemon juice or even just lemon oil?

      Sick people aren’t that interested in brushing their teeth.

      Nice little victim-blaming you’ve got going on there. But meanwhile they’re going to be interested in 20 minutes of snot in their mouth?

      A little bit of the build up of unhealthy oral bacterial colonies are disrupted and spit out with the oil but the main benefit comes from exercise.

      An unsupported assertion, all of it – there’s no evidence that oil pulling disrupts bacterial colonies (it might, mechanical disruption and whatnot, but there’s no actual evidence), and no evidence that the main benefit is exercise. All you’re doing is substituting your spurious and alleged explanation for their spurious and alleged explanation, without ever considering if it even works at all.

      It’s an ideal way for the frail to recover from an illness. You can do it laying in bed or sitting. The oil has to be thick and spit out several times during the 20 minutes as it dilutes with saliva. It’s done vigorously and it’s hard work for the average person. The mind has to focus and every muscle in the body, especially the tongue, cheek and neck, is eventually recruited from head to toe.

      Yes, clearly when the frail are recovering, the best place to start is not mobility or upper body strength – it’s the ability to swish a mouthful of oil around for 20 minutes. Hope they don’t choke, because they might not be able to push themselves over to spit it out, what with their atrophied arm and shoulder muscles.

      And seriously, every muscle in the body? Are you an idiot?

      As you regain your strength you incorporate standing yoga poses. Eventually you stop pulling and continue with standing yoga.

      And I see you conveniently teach yoga! Because if there’s one thing that is good for frail people, it’s contorting their bodies into awkward positions that rely on balance and muscle co-ordination.

      Visit my blog to discover more myths facts about yoga and tai chi.

      Is one of your myths “yoga and tai chi are special and are in no way merely low-impact exercise”?

      1. I pray you never have a catastrophic illness. If you go to a hospital and interview patients you’ll discover some of them have just enough strength to swish ice water around their teeth and then spit it out. Their doctor’s orders are to avoid drinking more than a couple ounces of water a day so they melt ice, swish it a little to enjoy a simple pleasure and spit it out.

        If their doctor was trained in Ayurvedic medicine the next step up after regaining some strength might be to swish with oil. With time, if they’re lucky to survive their illness, they’ll learn yoga where yes, the goal is to eventually engage every muscle of the body including the swishing muscles.

        May you always be in good health and never have to experience this.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Rather than prayer I will follow my doctor’s advice and eat lots of fruits and vegetables, get enough sleep, exercise regularly and keep my vaccines up to date.

          I’m not sure why you bring up ice water as if it had any relevance, but then again your powers of deduction and logic appear to be impaired.

          If a patient had an ayurvedic doctor they would simply experience the course of an untreated illness, possibly dying, because that’s what happens when you use a prescientific set of ideas and pretend it is medicine.

          And seriously, fire your web designer.

        2. simba says:

          I love the way twenty minutes of apparently vigorous (head to toe, seriously?) swilling of greasy oil in your mouth is totally equivalent to 3 or 4 seconds of ice water as a comfort measure.

          If it works patients hard enough to have the benefits you claim, there is no way I’d be able to do it while sick, and I am not alone in this (you imply this yourself: “hard work for the average person” yet also somehow “ideal.. for the frail to recover from an illness”). Many sick people can’t even stand palatable but oily food.

          You still have to demonstrate some benefit from this, by the way- whether it actually shows measurable improvement for most people to do this, whether people can actually adhere to it, how much benefit it has.

      2. Windriven says:

        “Your website is a blight upon the eyes and the search function doesn’t work.”

        William, you made me laugh out loud.

    2. MadisonMD says:

      It’s an ideal way for the frail to recover from an illness. … every muscle in the body, especially the tongue, cheek and neck, is eventually recruited from head to toe.

      Bwha ha! Do your hips and toes wiggle? Why don’t physical therapists use this? Much simpler than teaching folks to walk again.

      Visit my blog to discover more myths facts

      So all your facts are mythological?

      1. See my reply to WilliamLawrenceUtridge

  43. Camomillla says:

    You do not have to stop brushing (or flossing) and you do not have to swish for 20 min (I do it for 3 min with coconut oil once a day). My teeth are noticeably whiter and feel very clean. The coconut oil taste is SO much better than a mouthwash (I do not think you could keep a mouthwash in your mouth more that few seconds…). Great to know that reduce bad bacteria too from a scientific point of view!

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      You join the long list of ESL commenters who apparently did not read the article, because there is no scientific evidence to support bacteria reduction, but are still willing to claim success based on subjective outcomes.

      Also, you’re a moron.

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