As I so love to remind my readers, I’ve been at this blogging thing a long time now. In early December, it will have been a full decade since that strange, cold, dreary winter afternoon (well, technically late fall) when, inspired by an article in TIME Magazine about blogging, sat down in front of my computer, went to Blogspot.com and created the first iteration of Respectful Insolence. At first my output was intermittent, but within a couple of months I was posting virtually every day, a habit that’s continued to this very day. About a year after my very first post, I was invited to join ScienceBlogs, which I did in February 2006. Bizarrely enough, I’m still here.
The reason I’m boring you all with yet another recitation of this blog’s history is because I just want to emphasize that I’ve been at this a long time. There’s very little in terms of quackery that I haven’t seen before. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. However, such is the warped creativity (if you can call it that) of quacks that, even now, every so often I come across a form of quackery of which I’ve never heard before. In fact, it’s times like these I live for. After all, how many hundreds (perhaps thousands) of times have I written about, for example, homeopathy? True, homeopathy is The One Quackery To Rule Them All, but every so often I get a little tired of explaining the law of similars and the law of infinitesimals. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still fun after all these years, but the novelty is long gone.
That’s why, as much as I hate to send more attention his way, I must allow my blogging attention for today to drift over to everybody’s New World Order conspiracy theorist and quack, Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com. I have to tip my hat to him today. He’s pulled out a doozy of a bit of quackery, something I’ve never heard of before. Well, that’s not quite the right way to put it. I have heard of oil pulling before. I first blogged about it seven years ago. As far as woo goes, oil pulling is rather unimaginative; all it involves is taking oil such as sunflower oil, olive oil, or some similar oil and swishing it around in your mouth. The claims, of course, are anything but unimaginative, including pulling “disease elements” out through the mouth; i.e., “detoxifying” yourself through your mouth into a mouthful of plant-based oil. I’ve heard variants of “mouth detoxification” before, too, such as Arthur Bloom’s claim that swishing fruit juices through your mouth can remove enough cholesterol-containing epithelial cells and their “toxic fat” (yes, it’s detoxification), with such an effect that it will prevent or reverse atherosclerosis. As I put it, who needs Lipitor?
What, you ask then, is even better than oil pulling or other methods of “detoxifying” through your mouth? Here’s where Mike Adams comes in. Apparently he’s come across two woos combined into one, two crappy woos that taste crappy together. I’m referring to, of course, the aforementioned oil pulling. But what—what?—could be added to oil pulling to make it even more awesome woo? Glad you asked! I’m talking ozone-infused oil pulling! If you believe Adams, it’s a “revolution in oral health combining modern technology with ancient medicine.” Of course, I don’t believe Mike Adams about much of anything. My curiosity, however, was piqued:
The practice of “oil pulling” has been used for thousands of years to pull toxins from gum tissue in the mouth.* It’s a mainstay tool of Ayurvedic Medicine and many people swear by its benefits. But now we’ve taken oil pulling into the 21st century with the addition of an ozone infusion right into the oil.
Ozone, the same elemental molecule you can smell in the air after a lightning storm, is now being used to radically transform modern dentistry. What dentists have discovered is that ozone kills bacteria throughout the mouth, including in tiny, microscopic crevices. Today, more and more dentists have become aware that old root canals may harbor dangerous bacteria and release toxins into the mouth which get swallowed into the body.
Regarding the whole “taking it to the 21st century” thing, Mike: Ozone is hardly “21st century.” It’s old quackery. Very old. At least 1930s old. Indeed, it’s so old that this article on Quackwatch about oxygenation therapy (which includes ozone therapy) is very out of date and incorrect about this statement:
By 1960, research had identified nearly all energy-producing metabolic pathways in both normal and cancer cells and showed that energy-producing systems in normal cells were the same as those found in cancer cells . Despite this, Warburg insisted until his death in 1970 that the cause of cancer was “inferior” energy of anaerobic metabolism.
Well, yes and no. We now know that this view is wrong; there is a big difference in metabolism in many tumors. Indeed, altered energy metabolism is now considered one of the hallmarks of cancer. I’ve also discussed the Warburg effect and targeting it for the treatment of cancer many times. Be that as it may, this bit of out of date science in a Quackwatch article (and in all fairness it’s not even clear yet whether alterations in tumor metabolism are a cause or consequence of cancer) does not in any way mean that ozone therapy is not quackery. Remember, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is conventional therapy for open wounds, burns, and other sorts of injuries, although it is nothing of the sort for autism, where it is rank quackery. Ozone therapy, however, is quackery, distinctly 20th century quackery.
Of course, the whole idea behind the disease that this form of oil pulling is supposed to cure is a variation of an even older idea: “autointoxication.” It’s an idea I’ve discussed at least a couple of times before. Of course, in woo-ville, usually this “autointoxication” comes from the colon. Indeed, it’s not a coincidence that most of the “detox” regimens involve the colon, given old viewpoint that there are “20 lbs.” of waste matter in your colon that’s slowly poisoning you. Or, as it’s sometimes said, “Death begins in the colon,” to which I reply, “Only if you’re referring to the brain cells of people who believe in colonic ‘detox.’”
It turns out that the admonition to beware of your colon trying to kill you came from a chiropractor named Dr. Bernard Jensen, DC, who is apparently known as the “father of colonics.” Personally, that would not be a name or title that I’d be particularly interested in having ascribed to me, but then I’m not a chiropractor. In any case, if you believe people like Jensen, getting rid of that extra fecal matter is the cure for all sorts of diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and many others.
It’s a view that actually started to infiltrate mainstream medicine in the late 1800s, but fell out of favor by the 1920s as physicians realized there was nothing to it. (There’s nothing like actually operating on the colon to demonstrate how false this view is. Come to think of it, I wonder if we’ll see a colectomy to fix “toxic colon” in The Knick.) Still, lots of quackery requires various purges designed to empty the colon and “detoxify” from above and enemas designed to empty the colon and “detoxify” from below, the most famous example of the latter being the infamous coffee enema. If you believe the quacks, the coffee “detoxifies” through the colon and stimulates blood flow to the liver. It doesn’t.
So basically, oil pulling itself is nothing more than the concept of autointoxication applied to the mouth instead of the colon, with mouth bacteria being the source of all those evil
humors toxins that make you sick. Think of ozone oil pulling as simply a super-duper super-charged form of oil pulling that is way more excellent than that old regular oil pulling without ozone:
Oil pulling works far better than mouthwashes because oils are far better at penetrating all the tiny crevices and small areas around your gum tissue and teeth. If you’ve ever had a jar of coconut oil leak or spill, you know how coconut oil gets into everything, finding even the smallest opening to work its way through.
That’s why we chose coconut oil as the base oil for our oil pulling solution: it’s simply the best-performing oil available in the world for oil pulling.
Next, we blended it with ozone-infused jojoba oil, creating an oil combination with outstanding penetration and ozone-carrying capacity. The ozone rides with the oils, reaching every microscopic gum line, tooth crack or fissure anywhere in your mouth, delivering bacteria-killing ozone to all those areas as you swish the oil around your mouth each morning.
And, according to Adams, this wonder substance has at least a three year shelf-life, possibly up to a decade, making it an essential supply for that survivalist shelter you’re building. After civilization breaks down and you’re on your own and can’t see a dentist, you can use it to prevent gingivitis and cavities. How practical for a doomsday prepper.
But what about that three year shelf life? Ozone is an unstable molecule, particularly in aqueous solution. It doesn’t hang around long. At 20° to 25° C around room temperature) in water its half-life is around 15 to 20 minutes. I know what Adams is saying, though: This isn’t an aqueous solution. It’s jojoba oil mixed with coconut oil. Well, these oils contain 9% to 10% unsaturated fat, which means double bonds, and ozone loves to react with double bonds. So I doubt the half life is going to be much better in oil. Even if we imagine the ozone in Adams’ magical mixture to have the same half life as it does in air, that would still only be three days at around 20° C. There’s no way this stuff is going to stick around for three years, much less a decade, regardless of the sort of ozone generator used to “infuse” this oil with ozone. Of course ozone used to be used (and still sometimes is) for water disinfection; so perhaps this coconut oil is really clean, with a minimal bacteria count, but it’s Mike Adams. Who knows?
I do know, however, that Adams never lacks for hyperbole:
Getting that ozone into the oils, however, is a difficult and time-consuming process. It requires DAYS of meticulous work to saturate the oil with ozone, using very expensive high-technology ozone-producing equipment.
That’s why ozone-infused products are never cheap. Accomplishing the infusion takes a lot of time and investment. But the results are worth it: A breakthrough remedy solution representing a marriage of today’s most advanced technology with one of the most widely-used systems of holistic medicine in human history.
That’s why this product solution is so powerful… and rare. I don’t think an ozone-infused coconut + jojoba oil pulling solution has ever been made available to the public before. This is not only a first; it’s also a real breakthrough for oral health.
OK. So the manufacturer bubbles ozone through the oil for a long time. Color me unimpressed. Of course, all that trouble justifies a high cost: $12.95 for 4 oz. and $24.95 for 8 oz. Adams is, after all, a capitalist. In fact, Adams has a hole line of O3 Essentials, various products claimed to be “ozone-infused.” There are ozone-infused body oil, facial cream, and dental cream.
This is all nonsense, of course, from a chemist’s point of view. (Remember, before I went to medical school, I was a chemistry major.) Let’s just put it this way. Ozone is highly unlikely to hang around in these products in concentrations that could kill bacteria as advertised. Even hydrogen peroxide, which is more stable, breaks down over time. That bottle of hydrogen peroxide you have in your medicine cabinet won’t last three years unless—maybe—if it’s never opened, but then it’s not much use. It generally has a shelf life of about a year if the bottle is unopened but only 30-45 days once the bottle is opened and it’s exposed to air. Moreover, if there were a concentration of ozone sufficient to actually do what Adams claims it does, the experience would not likely be pleasant, given that ozone kills bacteria by producing reactive oxygen species and free radicals and requires a fairly high concentration to be bacteriocidal.
So basically, if you buy this wonder product from Adams, all you’re getting is some scented oil to use for oil pulling, which itself is nonsense. Still, as the old adage goes, there’s a sucker born every minute. After all, Adams wrote a nearly identical article for his ozone-infused dental cream over a year ago, and this time around apparently his ozone-infused oil pulling product sold out after he advertised it. One born every minute indeed.