Running too Much & Oil Pulling your Legs


Tirumala Temple, India

I thought I would post 2 articles on 2 subjects a lot health-conscious people are talking about these days.

First, there’s the subject of “oil-pulling”. This “alternative” health practice, which involves swishing edible oils in the mouth is apparently becoming more popular. It is derived from Ayurveda, and is said to not only help improve oral health, but to help the body “detoxify”, and help improve various health conditions like migraines, or asthma. As I’ve said before, beware of any product that says it can help you “detoxify”. It is almost certainly quackery. The word “detox” is essentially meaningless outside of treatment for people who have been poisoned or are in drug treatment.

Dr. Novella at Science Based Medicine examines Oil Pulling from a skeptical perspective, and the various claims made for it don’t stand up to scrutiny: Oil Pulling Your Leg. It is within the realm of plausibility that it may benefit oral health, and swishing any fluid around your mouth is probably better than nothing if for some reason you can’t brush your teeth, but none of the other health claims have any scientific evidence for them.

Also much talked about these days is a recent study which claims running too much can kill you. I occasionally revisit this issue on my blog since as an avid distance runner, I’m curious to know what is “too much” when it comes to running. Alex Hutchinson(a biased source which even he admits) in Runner’s World closely examines the science to see what the data actually says, and for the most part, the data doesn’t support the headlines: Will Running Too Much Kill You?

Hutchinson takes apart the recent studies, revealing that, contrary to the alarmist media hype, those who ran the most miles did not have the shortest lifespans. There are so many confounding factors that are being ignored, and the conclusions drawn by those claiming high mileage running is unhealthy have no strong evidence supporting them. This doesn’t mean that it’s implausible that high mileage running can lead to a shorter lifespan, it’s just that those claiming this haven’t backed up their claims with any strong evidence. And these studies said nothing about high mileage jogglers!

So I see no reason to stop running 50 or more miles per week.


4 responses to “Running too Much & Oil Pulling your Legs

  1. Totally agree– the word “detox” (in an alternative health context) drives me nuts!

    • I’m not surprised that you get it.

      Sadly, too many continue to fall for it. It makes sense though. If all you have is fake medicine, it makes sense to use it to treat fake diseases.

      Besides “detoxify”, consumers should be wary of products that claim they can “cleanse”, “revitalize”, “purify”, “invigorate”, “rebalance”, “alkalize”, the list goes on.

      The quacks keep everything as vague as possible. Besides confusing the public, this also helps keep them off the FDA radar. I hope you’re feeling better!

  2. Haha – I love the title, “Oil Pulling Your Leg”. And you’re right – I have seen a lot of press about oil pulling recently. When I found out what it was, I wasn’t moved to try it (especially since I don’t cook with oil so I don’t even have any in my house). Like you say, however; it is catching on and it’s important for people to be skeptical about it. I haven’t heard much about how too much running can kill you. I know this isn’t at all what you’re referring to in this article, but I remember seeing on the news how a mother punished her child by making her run for hours on end without water and the girl died. I know, I know – not at all what you’re referring to, but it just popped into my head. Hope you’re having a great weekend! Celeste 🙂

  3. I’m glad you’re not into it either and not surprised. About the only thing Oil Pulling and other “detox” products are proven to remove is money from the gullible. There is virtually no scientific evidence to support it. Since the people pushing these products can’t cite any reliable evidence, they have to rely on certain buzzwords, like how this is an “ancient” practice, or it is “traditional”, besides appealing to our hardwired desire to “detox” or “purify” ourselves.

    But the fact that it is ancient still doesn’t validate it. If being “ancient” is all that is necessary to prove the usefulness of something, then that makes bloodletting efficacious. It’s been used since ancient times, it is mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic texts and was practiced well into the 19th century to treat so many illnesses, so it’s gotta work! Actually, it does work for treating hemochromatosis and a few other conditions, but that’s about it. This would also validate the 4 Humors, since this is ancient too.
    Ayurveda also has its own similar version of the humors. Ayurveda is almost nothing but pseudo-science. It wasn’t so long ago that it would have been dismissed as quackery, and studied purely for historical purposes, not for treating illness. Sadly, it is experiencing a resurgence of popularity, probably due in part to it being re-branded as a form of “alternative medicine”, instead of the quackery/pseudo-science that it really is. This Oil Pulling fad is just one small part of this phenomenon.

    Any good middle-aged medical doctor will tell you that much of what they studied in medical school 30 years ago is no longer valid. Never mind medical texts from over 2,000 years ago!

    You don’t cook with oil at all? What is your reason for this, and do you use any substitutes? I often use a lot of olive oil, though I don’t always cook it.

    I hope that mother is punished to the fullest extent of the law!

    I hope you have a great week ahead.

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