No evidence to support claim that gargling with castor oil can treat tonsil stones

By: Rahul Adhikari
October 17 2023

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No evidence to support claim that gargling with castor oil can treat tonsil stones


The Verdict False

Medical experts say that castor oil cannot treat tonsil stones; there is no evidence that consumption of specific foods is linked to this condition.

Claim ID 10b27963

A video featuring alternative medicine practitioner Barbara O’Neil is circulating on social media, claiming that gargling with castor oil can break up tonsil stones.

O’Neil claims that a high-meat diet and high caffeine consumption can cause tonsil swelling, adding that people with tonsil problems should consider stopping their consumption of wheat, dairy, and refined sugar. 

The video has been shared on Facebook in a reel format, where it has garnered 163 likes and 38 shares. An archived version of the viral post can be found here.

Screenshot of the viral post on Facebook. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)

 However, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that castor oil can treat tonsil stones. 

What are tonsil stones? 

Tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths, are small, white, or yellowish formations that can develop on or within the tonsils. They are typically composed of mucus, dead cells, and other debris. 

According to the U.K.'s National Health Service, tonsil stones are primarily caused by chronically inflamed tonsils, sinus issues, and poor oral hygiene. They are usually harmless, and without associated symptoms suggesting infection or other issues, they do not require medical intervention, and often clear up on their own. However, if they lead to long-term problems like chronic sore throat or recurrent tonsillitis, patients are advised to seek medical assistance.

What experts said about castor oil’s effectiveness

Dr. Sudipta Chandra, Ear Nose Throat (ENT) Surgeon in Kolkata and Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS), Glasgow, told Logically Facts, “Tonsil stones are mainly caused by infections. There is no scientific evidence that meat, coffee, sugar, or dairy products can cause tonsilloliths. The treatment for the condition is primarily medical. We prescribe medicines to treat the disease. Sometimes gargling with salt water can be helpful, but there is no evidence or studies that prove castor oil can treat tonsil stones.”

Dr. SP Das, ENT Surgeon at Super Speciality Hospital in Raiganj, West Bengal, said, “Tonsil stones are treated with prescribed medicines. Castor oil cannot cure tonsil stones, and gargling with castor oil can be harmful. It can’t be used as a treatment for the condition. The tonsil stones are mainly caused by infections and oral hygiene-related problems. Meat, milk, sugar, or any food, doesn't directly cause Tonsilloliths. However, if food particles get stuck in the mouth, that can be one of the reasons for infection.”

Who is Barbara O’Neil?

The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) in New South Wales, Australia, banned O'Neil from practicing medicine in 2019. The HCCC stated that O'Neil is an "unregistered practitioner" and after an inquiry, found that she posed a risk to public health and safety. Logically Facts has previously debunked several health-related fake claims made by O’Neil.

The verdict

Medical experts confirm that tonsil stones are caused by infections and oral hygiene problems, and gargling with castor oil cannot cure the condition. There is no evidence that consumption of meat, caffeine, or dairy products causes tonsil stones. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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