Oil Pulling is apparently an ancient practice, but is seeing a recent surge in popularity. It is claimed it can cure almost anything, from bad breath to AIDS.

The process apparently involves swishing oil around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes, to collect bacteria, and toxins, which your body expunges through the saliva:

The oil pulls all mucous, bacteria and toxins from your body through your saliva. (source).

Google will show you many claims related to "miracle" cures related to Oil Pulling. But for the purpose of this question, I want to focus specifically on one claim. I can imagine how something like this might help with gum disease or other oral health issues. And I'm pretty skeptical of the claim that this can cure AIDS. So I've chosen one of the "mid-range" claims for my focus:

Oil Pulling ("OP") is reported to cure: Mouth & Gum Disease; Stiff Joints; Allergies; Asthma; High Blood Sugar; Constipation; Migraines; Bronchitis; Eczema; Heart, Kidney, Lung Diseases; Leukemia; Arthritis; Meningitis; Insomnia; Menopause (hormonal issues); Cancer; AIDS; Chronic Infections; Varicose Veins; High Blood Pressure; Diabetes; Polio; Cracked Heels.

Is there any evidence that Oil Pulling can cure Arthritis, whether completely, or even simply to help with the severity of symptoms?

  • A small study in 2008 found oil pulling to be of some effectiveness for counteracting plaque, though inferior to conventional mouthwash. Of relevance to the question, the authors of the study note that "There is no scientific literature on the use of oil pulling therapy.", so I suspect there may not be any throughout debunking of this as yet. – Compro01 Jun 4 '13 at 22:31
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    @Compro01: Interesting, but not very conclusive. Considering the sample size was 10, and the subjects were adolecents (and thus, I suspect, less likely to adhere strictly to test conditions). It also doesn't say that it counteracted plaque, but Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria which can cause tooth decay. – Flimzy Jul 12 '13 at 5:56
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    This is of course not a conclusive answer, but it is always worth asking, "Does this purported therapy have any reasonable mechanism given what we know of biology". In this case, there is no reason to think that oil in your mouth would pull "all mucous, bacteria and toxins" out of your body (not to mention the nebulous use of "toxins"). Unless a reasonable mechanism can be suggested to explain this I would have no personal issue dismissing this claim out of hand. – Kevin Wells Feb 11 '16 at 0:12
  • @KevinWells: Proponents offer claimed mechanisms. They're easy to find if you google. Whether the mechanisms are valid is an implicit part of the question. – Flimzy Feb 11 '16 at 8:05

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