Ok. You got me. I skipped the last two days of Oil Pulling. I woke up Saturday, drank tea and ate a scone, and didn’t swish for a single second. Then, when Sunday came, I woke up, ate a chocolate donut from Entenmann’s, brushed my teeth, and went out to face the day without sitting down and doing my twenty-minutes-in-the-morning ritual.
I thought about doing it both days. Honest, I did. It’s just that I was with old friends from out-of-town and I chose to spend the time talking with them instead of pulling coconut oil between my teeth. Call me a quitter if you want, but you’d be wrong. This was merely a mini-vacation. In healthcare, they call it a “drug holiday”. I’m not saying my small break was the same as someone skipping their antiretroviral regimen, but it’s a similar idea.
Let us not dwell on the past. Let us not focus on the inaction of one weekend when we can instead turn our attention to the present, to 7:56 AM, to my being six minutes into today’s Oil Pulling session.
I wish I had taken a picture of my teeth before Day One. It’s hard to tell if they’ve gotten whiter because I see them every day, but I feel that’s the one supposed benefit that can actually be measured. How can I track the toxins that get trapped in the oil? How can I tell if it’s curing the heart disease that runs in my family? How do I measure the increased clarity of mind when my mind has always been at its best when there’s a little bit of clutter to sift through?
Being scientific about this whole process is more difficult than I thought. Let’s see where the scientific method has let me down:
1. Ask a question. I did. Does Oil Pulling really work? The aim of the entire exercise is to get my own opinion on this ancient ritual.
2. Do background research. Again, I’m on it. It can be argued I wouldn’t be doing this if the background research didn’t find me. Article after article flooded my Facebook feed. I read them all, then searched out others on my own. I don’t know how “official” any of them are, but scientific studies were cited in a few.
3. Construct a Hypothesis. Nailed it. “I think the whole thing is silly and will not improve my health in a way I can measure.”
4. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment: Hello. I’m spooning a mouthful of Coconut Oil every morning.
5. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion: Here is where things get a little dicey. I’m writing while I swish every morning, but is that the same as collecting data? How can my asking Darth Vader a question help me figure out if there are improvements on the asthma front?
6. Communicate Your Results. I’m communicating Step 4, but I don’t know if that’s the same as sharing my results.
So it seems Step 5 is where I’ve gone astray. I need to find a better way to collect my data so that I can make a conclusion that’s grounded in science. Not nonsense.
But if this whole Oil Pulling thing is nonsense itself, do I really need to get more serious about my attempts to figure that out?