Oil pulling

A skeptical look at medical practices

Oil pulling

Post #1  Postby ShellyD99 » Wed Nov 08, 2006 7:03 am

This is pretty odd, so bear with me.  My mom, bless her, has some quirky ideas about medicine.  Every time I see her, she's gushing about some new wonder-product (vitamin E, progesterone cream, kava kava, aloe vera, etc.).  She's as credulous with these alternative practices as she is suspicious of traditional medicine.

So her new panacea is "oil pulling" or "oil swishing." From what I know, you put some oil in your mouth (I forget what kind, but obviously not the petroleum type) and swish it around for 20 MINUTES.  This is important because there's supposedly some vein under your tongue that all your body's circulated blood reaches, and the oil, um, sucks out the toxins from the blood in this vein.  It's supposed to cure, like, everything.    Did you follow?  (If so, could you explain it to me?)

Well, I looked online and couldn't find ANY skeptical analyses of this.  The only people who know about it are the gung-ho advocates.  It sounds really hokey to me.  But I don't know why, scientifically.  And I don't want my mom falling for a scam.  Any thoughts?
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Post #2  Postby Lance Kennedy » Wed Nov 08, 2006 9:21 am

If toxins could leak out of the blood vessels like that, we would all be in real trouble!  Plus the fact that there is no blood vessel in the mouth with sufficient volume blood flow to permit more than a token amount of the body's blood to come close to this magic oil, even in 20 minutes.

Incidentally, tell your mother not to use kava kava.  Serious side effect.  Liver failure in a significant number of patients.  I have had a lot of contact with Fiji and Fijians.  It is widely used there as a recreational drug.   Lots of health problems result.
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Post #3  Postby Kitiara » Wed Nov 08, 2006 9:47 am

I had a girlfriend like that. We actually parted on ways, because she was so gullible.
Olive oil is quite good for you, in perspective.
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Post #4  Postby Philosophical Skeptic » Wed Nov 08, 2006 11:54 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:Incidentally, tell your mother not to use kava kava.  Serious side effect.  Liver failure in a significant number of patients.  I have had a lot of contact with Fiji and Fijians.  It is widely used there as a recreational drug.   Lots of health problems result.


Does it do that to everyone or just people with certain conditions? It's concerning to me since I use it sometimes to help get to sleep, isn't all that powerful on me, though.
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Post #5  Postby Kitiara » Wed Nov 08, 2006 12:17 pm

It seems there is a bit of info available on it. http://www.raysahelian.com/kava.html

Sleep is better for you when the body is unaffected. You may find that a hepa air cleaner produces enough white noise to mask things that keep you awake. Don't take sugars, and b vitamins in the evening. Figure out why you want to be awake and work on that. :pc:  I take the phone off the hook when I sleep. 8-)
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Post #6  Postby Lance Kennedy » Wed Nov 08, 2006 7:59 pm

Philosophical skeptic.
Re kava kava side effect.

Two determining factors.
1.   Dose.   How much do you take.
2.   Individual susceptibility.

Lots of people take heaps for years and never seem to be affected, so it is not 100% sure.  However, I think it is best not to take any.
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Re: Oil pulling

Post #7  Postby strusins » Wed Nov 08, 2006 9:39 pm

ShellyD99 wrote:....  This is important because there's supposedly some vein under your tongue that all your body's circulated blood reaches ...


how funny... I'd forgotten (been so many years) that when I used to drop acid, peole would always say to put acid under your tongue so it would be absorbed by the body more completely.  Of course I did what everyone else did, as they obviously had more experience, and hey, it worked!  (Of course, I got just as high swallowing the acid, when I didn't leave it under my tongue.)  

Ha!
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Post #8  Postby Kitiara » Thu Nov 09, 2006 12:10 am

That's how you are supposed to take cell salts, too.

I agree with Lance Kennedy on the kava, better not to take any.
Of course, insomnia has never been a problem with me.
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Oil Pulling

Post #9  Postby kebod » Sun Nov 19, 2006 12:04 am

Hi Shelly,

I was doing to online reading and came across your post. May I respectfully suggest that you were unable to find "skeptical analyses" because this is a health procedure that really does work.

I started oil pulling 3 months ago to see what it could do. Immediately I noticed much whiter teeth. Within the week, my tongue and gums were pinker and healthier looking. The pale white coating that had been on my tongue for years was decreasing the more I oil pulled. My joints lost their stiffness, to the degree that I no longer take MSM Glucosamine or need to use my foot massager to relieve their stiffness. I was starting to walk like an old lady, and this was great to be free of that!
My skin became softer and smoother all over. For decades I had a skin condition -- Keratosis Pilaris -- little bumps all over my upper ams and cheeks. This has decreased by 99% and I can wear sleeveless tops again without embarrassment. (Karatosis Pilaris has no known medical cure.) I could tell you more health improvements, but these are the biggies. Others on the oil pulling forum report many other different health improvements: no more bleeding gums, clearer thinking, more energy, sounder sleep. We have been collecting pollutants and chemicals in our bodies for years. Eventually, we pay for this inner pollution.

Oil pulling has been practiced for hundreds of years, having its roots in Ayurvedic medicine in India. Even today, many in India do this as part of their daily regimen.

You say "there's supposedly some vein under your tongue". Why don't you just look under your tongue and check that vein for yourself? It is there and it is large. If acid can pass into our bodies under the tongue, don't you think that substances can pass out as well? My husband, a former chemist, says that oil pulling makes sense to him because some substances are water soluble and some are oil soluble. The toxins collected in our body, carried through our blood, will pass through that large vein, and those that are oil soluble will be absorbed by the oil. This takes time, so oil pulling is done on a daily basis, and gradually, more and more toxins are pulled out by the oil.

I'm not a chemist or a doctor, so I can't explain this any better to you. All I can do is invite you to do your own research to better understand what your mother is doing. Maybe you will ask her what health benefits she has experienced since she started. You can check out these web sites if you care to:
http://www.oilpulling.com/
http://curezone.com/forums/f.asp?f=738

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Re: Oil Pulling

Post #10  Postby Ron L » Sun Nov 19, 2006 3:00 am

kebod wrote: Being a skeptic is good. Being an open minded skeptic is even better.
kebod

Most of us have heard or read something to this effect. It presumes that we're missing some good stuff because we falsely reject it. It is possible that some of us do.
Your post, however, is almost an archetype of how *not* to convince skeptics of your views on medicine.
I'd suggest a reading tour of the posts under this subject.
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Post #11  Postby Kitiara » Sun Nov 19, 2006 11:39 am

It's ok, Ron, I am there with you.
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Post #12  Postby Pyrrho » Sun Nov 19, 2006 3:35 pm

I really think that the proposed mechanism of action for "oil pulling" could not work. In order to be removed by the oil, oil-soluble toxins would have to come in contact with the oil, so, the oil would have to enter the circulatory system. This alone would trigger an immune system response--oil being a foreign substance definitely not welcome in the bloodstream. Furthermore, the blood flow would carry the oil away from the site of entry: there would, in my opinion, be little to no chance that the oil could then be extracted from the oral tissues by the mere act of swishing oil around in the mouth.

I think it's likely that the oil would become emulsified to some extent by the swishing action and admixture with saliva, and it's likely that swishing oil around in the mouth could remove food particles and other debris from the mouth and from between teeth, but that's all. The incredible cures alleged for this procedure are, well, incredible.
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Re: Oil pulling

Post #13  Postby St. Jimmy » Sun Nov 19, 2006 4:09 pm

ShellyD99 wrote: some vein under your tongue that all your body's circulated blood reaches


I think if you wait long enough, all the blood in your body will eventually go through all the veins.
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Post #14  Postby Kitiara » Mon Nov 20, 2006 7:02 am

Ya know, re-reading kebod's post, I think it sounds simple enough to try. If it does something or nothing, I think I will notice.

Kebod, thank-you for adding your opinion. Something that has been done for many years may have merit.
That is a purty big vein under the tongue, for sure, for sure...
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Post #15  Postby strusins » Mon Nov 20, 2006 11:03 pm

Kitiara, do you believe in the placebo affect?  You are so certain that you will be able to tell if oil pulling does anything... if it did not, and you believed it did, you are so certain you could tell the difference?
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Post #16  Postby Xipe_Totec » Tue Nov 21, 2006 3:35 am

Pull a double blind with some friends?
The Government did it.
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Post #17  Postby Kitiara » Tue Nov 21, 2006 4:32 am

[Pull a double blind with some friends?]
Sounds greasy.
Now, if we can combine the oil pulling with a Crisco twister party, I may find it more fun. 8-)

Yeah, placebo effect is why I rudely applauded Ron, and dismissed the idea out of hand. Rereading the posts, I thought it might be easy enough to check out, but just sounds nasty to me. I can't see oiling your teeth making them feel clean, I doubt you will ever get the taste out of your mouth. Besides, if you swallow, you'l have the trots for days :shock:
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Post #18  Postby ShellyD99 » Tue Nov 21, 2006 4:54 am

About this being "simple enough to try," I have an idea...My mom told me some guy did the swishing bit with oil, then spit it out onto his grass (for some reason) and the grass died from his body's toxins.

So I told my mom to give me some of her oil, and I'd do an experiment.  You know, with one square of control grass (now would I put nothing on that, or the un-pulled oil?) and one area I spit the toxic oil on.  Granted, the whole thing sounds disgusting.  But I'll do anything in the name of science!  

I said it tongue-in-cheek but then, if I actually do it and nothing happens maybe she'll reconsider the oil swishing.  Or if I burn a hole in the ground, I'll stand corrected. :wink:  Too bad this has never been on Mythbusters.
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Post #19  Postby HghrSymmetry » Tue Nov 21, 2006 6:52 am

ShellyD99 wrote:About this being "simple enough to try," I have an idea...My mom told me some guy did the swishing bit with oil, then spit it out onto his grass (for some reason) and the grass died from his body's toxins.


Are you sure the grass died of the toxins in the oil or the oil itself?

The mucous membranes of the mouth (and especially sublingually) can definitely absorb certain medications/supplements/amino acids/chemicals, etc.  As far as the reverse...material flowing from within to out is a stretch and a misunderstanding of the process.  

My guess is the only thing that will result is an oily mouth.
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Post #20  Postby Kitiara » Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:50 am

I'm fair sure the oil itself killed the grass.
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Post #21  Postby St. Jimmy » Tue Nov 21, 2006 1:51 pm

ShellyD99 wrote:
So I told my mom to give me some of her oil, and I'd do an experiment.  You know, with one square of control grass (now would I put nothing on that, or the un-pulled oil?) and one area I spit the toxic oil on.


You should have at least three patches of grass, all from the same otherwise healthy garden, kept in similar (similar enough to be called identical) conditions etc.
1) grass left untreated
2) grass treated with non-pulled oil
3) grass treated with pulled oil

Obviously if you do this on grass in your garden you run the risk of it raining or gettting eaten etc., so, depending on how long your mother thinks it should take for grass #3 to die, you might want to do it indoors, in which case they should all probably get water.

Kitiara wrote:I can't see oiling your teeth making them feel clean, I doubt you will ever get the taste out of your mouth.


I actually thought of this myself, but this quote illustrates the point rather well:

In an attempt to get the taste of oil out of your mouth, you might brush your teeth a lot more than under non-oil-pulling circumstances, in which case over a course of weeks it would not be surprising to have healthier teeth and gums.
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Post #22  Postby Kitiara » Wed Nov 22, 2006 2:08 am

:D Good point, St. Jimmy...it would need a lot of brushing, swishing, maybe even some Simple Green :gurn:
Also you must consider the saliva mixed with the oil [not toxin, just spit], this is not the same as only oil, so the two oils poured on the grass are not the same, with, or without toxin?
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Post #23  Postby St. Jimmy » Wed Nov 22, 2006 5:01 pm

In that case have another patch of grass where the contents of your mouth are poured out as well, to control for the effects of saliva.
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Post #24  Postby Scully » Wed Nov 29, 2006 1:49 pm

Philosophical Skeptic wrote:
Lance Kennedy wrote:Incidentally, tell your mother not to use kava kava.  Serious side effect.  Liver failure in a significant number of patients.  I have had a lot of contact with Fiji and Fijians.  It is widely used there as a recreational drug.   Lots of health problems result.


Does it do that to everyone or just people with certain conditions? It's concerning to me since I use it sometimes to help get to sleep, isn't all that powerful on me, though.


Don't know if this will help or not, but this is a statement released by the FDA on kava and liver toxicity.

http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/addskava.html

Lance Kennedy wrote:Philosophical skeptic.
Re kava kava side effect.

Two determining factors.
1. Dose. How much do you take.
2. Individual susceptibility.

Lots of people take heaps for years and never seem to be affected, so it is not 100% sure. However, I think it is best not to take any.

The problem is that, because herbal supplements are not remotely standardized, the amount of the "active" ingredient can vary not only from brand to brand but from pill to pill.  You also have no idea what other fillers are included.  As for individual susceptibility, that is always an issue even with more traditional meds.
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Post #25  Postby Kitiara » Wed Nov 29, 2006 3:58 pm

You're right, that is why when I use herbs I look for those that have no known side effects. It makes dosing a less risky business, and I just adjust it's amount depending on the effect I am getting.

You make a good point about the fillers. Another pet peeve of mine is when they take a perfectly good herb, and chuck something else in with it, making it useless to me. I avoid labels with compounded herbs. I take only herbs as pure as I can get, even if I need to purchase them as a tea, and load them into the gelatin capsules myself.

That is not a statement in defense of the lack of standardation, which is unfortunate. :(  Since there are so many versions of what to do with any given ailment, I have had to work out things according to my judgement [including dosages for Labradors of various ages and sizes]. It is inconvenient if I want to tell a friend how to administer an herb, but not as inconvenient or as dangerous as the things a vet may do to the animal.
My mom recently lost a cat to a vet's mistake. They tried to charge her for the proceedure that killed the poor beast [it died in agony, due to a surgical mistake]. As my mom is as far up the ladder as you can get in the nursing profession, a short note returned with the bill ended their ballsy attempt to get money for their oops.
Both human and vet doctors have the same chances of mistakes. I will take non toxic herbs over their bumbling efforts, whenever it is indicated as an option.
It is a shame that the misinformation about some herbs [to increase sales]makes it seem like they can be used for all manner of things they are ineffective for.
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Post #26  Postby ShellyD99 » Thu Nov 30, 2006 5:44 am

The poor cat... awww...I have a hard time following that post.  Kind of an animal lover.  But I just wanted to tell you all the results of my little experiment:

I'm sure there were mistakes in carrying this out, it was not exactly under laboratory conditions, etc.  But I had a patch of un-pulled oil, a patch of pulled oil (I hated swishing that stuff for 20 minutes!) and, um, the spitty patch.  Not sure even now what that was quite for.  But it seemed like a good idea.  

So a couple days later, none of the grass is dead.  None.  If anything the oily grass looked a little greener, probably because of oily residue or something.  So from my humble POV it looks like this myth is busted.
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Post #27  Postby Thylacine » Thu Nov 30, 2006 8:13 am

I can think of no possible mechanism that would enable oil to "pull" anything through our tissues and out of our bloodstreams. Even if it were possible, why would the oil only pull these so-called toxins from our systems while leaving the non-toxic chemicals, um, unpulled? Also, any substance capable of extracting various vaguely defined substances from our bloodstream would seem to be incredibly dangerous to experiment with?

Our livers have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to deal with unwelcome chemicals in our bloodstream. I think it unlikely that swishing a little oil in the mouth would do a better job.
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Post #28  Postby Kitiara » Thu Nov 30, 2006 8:23 am

Good girl. A true Skeptic [better than me, I would prolly would not have gone through it].

Olive oil is good for you. Maybe it is best to just eat it as a dressing, and let it pull the crap out the other direction. Err, the pun there was a tad graphic, sorry. :?

As to the cat story, I believe a bit of isolation and some simples that I could have made up would have fixed the critter. It frustrates me to hear stories like that.
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Post #29  Postby St. Jimmy » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:57 pm

ShellyD99 wrote:I'm sure there were mistakes in carrying this out, it was not exactly under laboratory conditions, etc.  But I had a patch of un-pulled oil, a patch of pulled oil (I hated swishing that stuff for 20 minutes!) and, um, the spitty patch.  Not sure even now what that was quite for.  But it seemed like a good idea.  

So a couple days later, none of the grass is dead.  None.  If anything the oily grass looked a little greener, probably because of oily residue or something.  So from my humble POV it looks like this myth is busted.


The saliva patch was to control for the possible effect of the saliva mixed with the pulled oil. Did you make sure to have a patch with nothing on to control for all the others? You said the oily one looked "greener", greener than what? Than the nothing-patch, than the pulled-oily grass, than the saliva grass?

Did you show these results with full explanation of procedure to your mother? If so what was her reaction?

I'll bet it'll be something along the lines of "It only works if you repeat it many times", in which case I would use her oil instead, because yuck!

Well done for going through with it anyway!
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Post #30  Postby Kitiara » Sat Dec 02, 2006 7:19 pm

Mater, if you want to release bile, and manage greasy aftermath, a big bowl of tabouli works better than a mouthful of oil, swished or not. :wink:

Tabouli:
1 bunch fresh parsley, minced
1/2 bunch fresh mint, minced
1 bun. green onions, minced
one large ripe tomato, chopped
1-2 cloves fresh garlic
juice of one fresh lemon
dash of extra virgin olive oil
option: handful of bulgar/cracked wheat
Eat scooping it from bowl with wheat pita, or romaine lettuce leaves. Best eaten in the morning, alone, and not followed by other food for a couple hours.
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Post #31  Postby Kitiara » Sun Dec 03, 2006 6:25 pm

That works. Gives it lots of pow, though :shock:
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Post #32  Postby St. Jimmy » Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:50 pm

What's TCM?

Taboulé, which I assume is the same thing (two equally incorrect re-hashing of another language I guess), also needs some chilli. But then again everything always needs chilli...
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Post #33  Postby NeroXIV » Fri Dec 08, 2006 8:23 pm

mater deum wrote:In TCM they use oil in the mouth to make the gallbladder release more bile.  (Swish, don't swallow)   This would be helpful if you had overindulged and didn't feel well after eating a greasy, rich meal.  Does it actually work?  I don't know.

After a greasy meal, swish some grease around in your mouth. You'll feel better. Riiiight.
Anyway, TCM would only "be helpful" if it weren't pure bunkum.
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Post #34  Postby NeroXIV » Tue Dec 12, 2006 1:39 am

mater deum wrote:How do you know that it doesn't work, Nero?

I know that TCM is bunk because it's a based on erroneous principles, namely, the balancing of a poorly defined, imaginary substance called chi, which flows through poorly defined, imaginary conduits in the body called meridiens, and on the erroneous belief that natural phenomena can be classified into the 5 "elements" of wood, air, fire, water and metal.
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Post #35  Postby Kitiara » Tue Dec 12, 2006 4:39 am

That's why the stupids cut out their tonsils and eventually their appendix. They have no idea how to manage their lymphatic systems, nor how to purge poisons from their body, and ignore symptoms until they are life threatening.
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Post #36  Postby NeroXIV » Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:19 pm

mater deum wrote:The gallbladder is an  erroneous organ?  Bile doesn't really exist?  Well, that's new to science.

Yup, that's what I said, "The gallbladder is an  erroneous organ."  :roll:
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Post #37  Postby NeroXIV » Tue Dec 12, 2006 10:55 pm

mater deum wrote:I had a Chinese friend once who introduced me to a certain tea.  I had told her that I usually feel awful after eating rich foods (we lived in France and it was hard to avoid eating rich foods and lots of cheese.)  She showed me where to shop for this certain tea.  I drank a cup after every 'offending' sort of meal and it really did work.  It settled my stomach pain (better than ginger tea or peppermint tea.)  I wish I could remember the name. It was some sort of  TCM herbal concoction.

Interesting - I thought TCM and alternative medicine in general was about treating causes, not symptoms. A medical doctor without tea to sell you might have suggested simply not eating so much rich food.
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Post #38  Postby Kitiara » Wed Dec 13, 2006 11:29 am

As a long range resort, you are correct, Nero, but it does treat the cause if it is a one time dietary glitch [a mistake], and not a lifetime habit that you refuse to change. You can see that treating something continuously is different from treating something once, but rarely.
I would assume that a knowledgeble person would not insist on making the same mistake day after day, and week after week.
Me, I'm not talking about TCM, which I use sporadically, and dubiously, more I refer to just general application.
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Post #39  Postby NeroXIV » Wed Dec 13, 2006 8:25 pm

Kitiara wrote:I would assume that a knowledgeble person would not insist on making the same mistake day after day, and week after week.

Aw, that's not very nice, saying mater deum is not a knowledgable person. Meanie.
Last edited by NeroXIV on Thu Dec 14, 2006 6:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #40  Postby NeroXIV » Wed Dec 13, 2006 8:32 pm

mater deum wrote:So, your evidence,please, that the gallbladder doesn't have anything to do with bile storage.

Where did I say that? Same place I said "Bile doesn't really exist?"
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