Dentist Struggles With Amish Home Remedy

Although many home remedies may provide limited relief of dental conditions such as sensitivities and toothache, some are more effective than others. And some, such as black walnut extract, can actually make the tooth situation worse. This particular remedy has been making the rounds in Amish circles, despite a complete lack of scientific evidence or supportive data, according to a recent article in The Intelligencer Journal.

One Dentist Versus the Community

“There is the perception that black walnut extract cures cavities and as the healing progress goes along will even push out your old fillings,” according to Dr. Stephen Raffensperger, a dentist who has practiced in Intercourse, Pennsylvania for 27 years. Intercourse is a Pennsylvanian community that is known for its Amish population in addition to its distinctive name. “I’m frustrated with my inability to communicate that this is a hoax.”

Regardless of his experience working with the large Amish portion of his practice, Raffensperger says that he has been unable to make an impression with his patients regarding this remedy. “If I say directly that it doesn’t work, I’m not to be believed” he states, understandably frustrated. “Apparently the word is out that your dentist doesn’t want you to know about this. Anything I say is suspect because obviously I don’t want to go out of business. I can’t tell my patients — and I’m a chemistry major — that this doesn’t work. I’m dealing with miseducation and it’s about belief.”

The Case for Black Walnut Extract

In addition to propagation by word of mouth, an anonymously printed flyer is making its way through Amish communities protected from more traditional advertising methods. This flyer is entitled “Black Walnut: the Household Dentist,” and broadly extols the virtues of black walnut extract tincture, which it states will cure cavities in a few weeks with regular application. The flyer states that a boy who was in a bike accident and told he needed dental surgery was cured using a tincture of black walnut.

In addition to the printing presses, the online alternative dental world is showing mixed support of black walnut extract. The popular search site eHow mentions several uses for this extract, yet does not cover any dental benefits. It does, however, mention that long-term oral use may be dangerous. EarthClinic.com, SoulHealer.com and LiveStrong.com state that the extract may be used to treat and strengthen tooth enamel. SoulHealer even goes so far as to enlist the support of a doctor, Dr. Rita Louise, who believes that black walnut extract could be a miracle drug, and says so very clearly on the website.

As to these varied and unique claims, Dr. Raffensperger is at a loss as to any possible uses for black walnut extract. “I think it would stain things very nicely. In fact, I’ve seen some staining of teeth that I am not supposed to clean off because obviously it means the product is working.”

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