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#1
Old 08-01-2012, 10:05 AM
XT XT is offline
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What's the StraightDope on 'oil pulling'

Basically, from what I can tell, 'oil pulling' is essentially rinsing your mouth out with vegetable oil before you go to bed. This is supposed to have some beneficial effects, and I have a friend who is considering trying this. I don't see any harm in it, off the top of my head, but it sounds like complete horseshit to me. So, I figured I'd ask here...what's it supposed to do for you, how is it supposed to work, DOES it in fact have any beneficial effects, and what, if any, are the downsides or dangers?
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#2
Old 08-01-2012, 10:29 AM
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The most plausible claim I see is that it may help with sinus problems - that doesn't seem too off-the-wall - if you have some junk at the back of your throat that's soluble in fat but insoluble in alcohol or water, it might help where usual gargling doesn't. No idea if there are any common ailments that would meet these qualifications, though.

That one sorta-plausible claim isn't something I'd give much weight to, though, seeing as it is mixed in with so much obvious nonsense. If that claim stood alone, I might try it for my own chronic sinus problems - but since it's claimed that it also clears up blood disorders, arthritis, hormonal disorders, etc, I wouldn't bother with the twenty undignified minutes it would take to confirm that it's utter bollocks.
#3
Old 08-01-2012, 10:37 AM
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I had a co-worker who swore that gargling olive oil was good for preventing colds. I gave this all the serious consideration it deserved.

Also, if you do this right before bed you'll get oily drool on your pillow and that'll be hell to get out in the laundry.
#4
Old 08-01-2012, 10:38 AM
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Did a quick Google search, and found this debunking article.

Quote:
What Pullling Oil Might Do For You

As skeptical as we are about oil pulling’s ability to “detoxify the body”, there’s little doubt that oil swishing may help some people feel that their teeth were healthier after practicing oil pulling for a few days. Remember, according to oilpulling.com and other pro-OP web sites, your “oral cavity must be thoroughly rinsed and mouth must be washed” after oil swishing. Isn’t it possible that anyone thoroughly brushing and rinsing his or her teeth every day would see a marked improvement just as a result of increased attention to oral hygiene?

And let’s not forget that oil swishing is, after all, probably doing a pretty good job massaging the tissues of the mouth. Massage means better blood flow and better blood flow could quite possibly mean stronger teeth. And, perhaps, some of the oils (and the preservatives added to those oils during the manufacturing process) have at least some anti-microbial action. (An extremely small non-controlled study of 10 volunteers in India actually did find that oil pulling reduced dental plaque and gingivitis.)

Then there’s the matter of people reporting better skin. Again, I have absolutely no doubt that many of those experiences are real. The oils used for oil pulling are often high in the essential fatty acids that are often lacking in the American diet but which are necessary for healthy skin. I couldn’t “vigorously” swish something in my mouth for 20 minutes without swallowing at least a little of it, could you? That some people experience better skin after oil pulling doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Does this mean that oil pulling is worth the time and trouble it takes? That’s up to you.
So, doesn't seem harmful anyway...and might actually have some sort of benefits, even if it's not going to cleanse you of toxins and such.
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Old 08-01-2012, 10:53 AM
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Dental hygiene is associated with numerous health benefits- and through legitimate medical research. This includes, bizarrely, heart health, and things you wouldn't expect to be associated at all.

http://webmd.com/heart-disease/f...e-heart-health


Oil pulling is merely one way to clean the mouth- and quite vigorously (twenty minutes of swishing is madness).

But there may be less time consuming methods, like a good old fashioned electric toothbrush and some mouthwash- or more pleasurably, xylitol based chewing gum.

If you like oil pulling, go for it- it might make your mouth cleaner (and that does affect the rest of your body). If you don't like it, you're not missing out on the possibility of a clean mouth- just use some other method.
#6
Old 08-01-2012, 11:16 AM
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Why is it called "pulling"? They think it pulls toxins out of the body?
#7
Old 08-01-2012, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revtim View Post
Why is it called "pulling"? They think it pulls toxins out of the body?
It's punchier than "oleaginous ayurvedic lower-limb tugging."
#8
Old 08-01-2012, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revtim View Post
Why is it called "pulling"? They think it pulls toxins out of the body?
I think it's because oil is capable of dissolving things water and/or alcohol can not, so 'pulling' out that gunk from your mouth as it dissolves into the oil.
#9
Old 08-01-2012, 03:13 PM
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Not the usual woo, it went all the way to the 5th paragraph before talking about detoxifying. That must be some kind of record.

As usual, if the claim is that it eliminates 'toxins' from your body, it is bullshit.
#10
Old 08-01-2012, 03:20 PM
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Oh, and the Ayurvedic medicine mentioned is the old '5 elements' of earth, water, fire, air/wind, and sky.

I think this was covered in a Bruce Willis documentary.
#11
Old 08-01-2012, 06:35 PM
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I think you are supposed to put the oil in your mouth then use a candle to pull it out of your ears!

Sounds good to me!!
#12
Old 08-01-2012, 08:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dallas Jones View Post
Not the usual woo, it went all the way to the 5th paragraph before talking about detoxifying. That must be some kind of record.

As usual, if the claim is that it eliminates 'toxins' from your body, it is bullshit.
Right. Real therapies for removing crap remove specific chemicals from your body, and it says precisely what they remove.

None of the woo-sellers have the first idea what specific chemicals their crap is good for; makes sense, really, given that it isn't good for anything at all.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Get suspicious when you don't get real answers.
#13
Old 08-01-2012, 08:33 PM
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We sneered at our mothers about cod liver oil, witch hazel, and never leaving the house with wet hair in the winter, too.

Last edited by j666; 08-01-2012 at 08:33 PM.
#14
Old 08-01-2012, 08:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j666 View Post
We sneered at our mothers about cod liver oil, witch hazel, and never leaving the house with wet hair in the winter, too.
And you were right to do so.

Cod liver oil is a vitamin supplement at most, and potentially toxic. Witch hazel is an astringent like many others. And leaving the house with wet hair in the winter will result in, at worst, a chilly head, not a viral infection.

Last edited by Derleth; 08-01-2012 at 08:41 PM.
#15
Old 08-01-2012, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dallas Jones View Post
Not the usual woo, it went all the way to the 5th paragraph before talking about detoxifying. That must be some kind of record.

As usual, if the claim is that it eliminates 'toxins' from your body, it is bullshit.
hey now, it might help people who don't have a functioning liver
#16
Old 08-02-2012, 05:20 AM
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The Gyrate Guaranteed Detox Diet:

1) Drink two or three glasses of water over the course of the day.
2) Stop eating and drinking crap.

Nothing you put into your body will "detox" you. As long as you're not dehydrated, your body will "detox" itself as long as you stop putting in more of whatever toxins you're trying to get rid of.
#17
Old 08-02-2012, 05:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manila View Post
I think you are supposed to put the oil in your mouth then use a candle to pull it out of your ears!
I think you pulled this idea out of your ass.
#18
Old 08-02-2012, 06:14 AM
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It's a scam to solve the Greek debt crisis by upping sales of olive oil.
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