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A Tragic, Real-Life Tale of Oil Pulling

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I'm sitting here trying not to gag on a mouth completely full of coconut oil diluted with saliva.

Apparently this is good for me.

Ayurvedic practitioners calls this oil pulling. It's the big, new, ancient thing -- thousands of years old, and suddenly super popular again, thanks to digital trend-setters like Pinterest and Facebook.

Hold on. Deep breath. Not. Going. To. Heave. I can do this.

Oil pulling has been all over my Facebook wall for weeks now: promises of everything from whiter teeth to help with allergies to relief of chronic pain. I read somewhere it could treat cancer and AIDS. I was in open-minded awe -- until I read claims that it could improve digestive issues.

Because it's currently causing me new ones.

In fact, if you have a sensitive stomach, now is where I tell you to run. Run far away from the rest of this harrowing tale. Chances are, you'd never try oil pulling to begin with, anyway.

Maybe I need to last the full length of time, rise mind over nausea, and gargle this oil for the recommended 20 minutes.

When my husband said he'd be working late tonight, I realized I had my window; if he ever caught me doing something like this, I'd never be kissed again. Even more, I'd never stand a chance of succeeding in his presence.

You see, my husband and I both have overactive gag reflexes, to the degree that it's a contributing factor why we never plan on having more children. You try changing a molten diaper while simultaneously trapped in an uncontrollable duet of dry-heaving "huuuu-hhhs," each one setting of the next like diaphragm Dominoes. Just the memory is pushing me closer to sharing my coconut spit with the keyboard.

Speaking of, the longer you keep this oil in your mouth, the more liquid your mouth produces, and the harder it is to keep it in. My cheeks are inflated like a squirrel. Every minute is worse than the last.

Must. Distract. Self.

I'm committed. I've made it this long: 11 minutes. Eleven long, slobbery minutes. I'm not giving up now.

I've played a game like this before, but it was a dare and I was 9, playing with the older neighbor kids. I was not alone, as a sober, educated adult, during my rare free time after my kid goes down to bed, by my own free will, and based solely on a Facebook forward that I totally didn't research first. Nope. Just decided to jump right in. Just marched right on downstairs during my window of opportunity -- because you don't want to miss a chance like this, no sir -- and scooped a spoonful of thick, white coconut glop into my mouth.

And then instantly spat it out onto the counter, and stared at it in confusion.

I pushed it into the sink and rallied. I scooped another half a spoonful. Hesitated before closing my lips around it, and then shoved it right in.

Plop. My reflexes betrayed me again, as my tongue refused to participate in this game.

No, mouth, we're doing this. This time, I filled only a tiny, wee portion of the teaspoon and took it like a shot of cheap tequila. Almost swallowed, which ignited the gag reflexes again. I tried to take a deep breath, but my nose was partially clogged. My lips parted and my slimy punishment tried to break free again. Stay! I squeaked a congested breath through my nostrils and began immediately distracting myself.

I decided to put on a face mask.

But know what you can't do while gargling a mouth full of fat wad? Lean your face over the sink and wash your face. The motion swished the slop around in my mouth and my lips engaged in tug-of-war with my will to to keep them shut.

Now I could barely breathe. I grabbed a Kleenix to blow my nose, but you know what else is tricky without the ability to mouth-breathe? Blowing your nose properly.

To the Interwebs, the great distractor.

After the damage is already more than halfway done, now seems like the perfect time to do some research on this tactic.

Best done in the morning on an empty stomach. One to two teaspoons full? It's bedtime, and I had a massive dinner. And I only used maybe ¼ of a teaspoon, with generous exaggeration.

After all this, I've done it all wrong.

Eighteen minutes and I'm sitting here with a mouth of lukewarm, fatty spit and am unlikely going to reap any of the benefits from it.

Then I stumble upon an article by Discovery.com.

Saying there are only a few medical studies of oil pulling, and none particularly convincing of a consistent benefit for "any particular condition." The verdict: Oil pulling probably doesn't do anything.

Nineteen minutes. And it's on my desk in a sad pile of failure.

Read more articles from the weirdest city in America, Boulder, here: Only In Boulder.