See comments below.
Image retrieved 7/25/2009 from http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2007/04/15/listerine-cures-everything/:



I tried to post a comment on the web page cited above, but it didn't work because the comment was too long. So I created this web page and posted a comment on the web page cited above with a link to this page in the post.

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Never having seen any ads like this, a few years ago I independently started to gargle twice a day with Cool Mint Listerine. I continued because I went from many colds every winter to almost none, and the few I do get are much much less severe. Additionally, when I start to feel a tickle in my throat, I reach for the Listerine and gargle. The tickle usually goes away.

So I generally believe in the results the ad claims. But my conjecture is NOT that these results are primarily due to the antiseptic properties of Listerine, but rather to the cleansing action in removing accumulating mucous and entrained microbes from the throat and lower nasal cavity (more thoughts below). Because of that, in an effort to improve the results, I also started using saline nasal spray before I gargle with Listerine (maybe I'll get a Neti pot, too). I've tried gargling with saline solution but the results (clumps of mucous in the spit) are much less favorable. There must be something in Listerine that cuts away or frees the mucous from the throat tissues. Perhaps someone could recommend an enhanced saline solution prepared at home that would do the same thing as the Listerine. ?

Assuming what I've experienced and the ad claims is mostly true, why doesn't the company currently manufacturing Listerine continue these kinds of ads? Potential reasons:

1. After prolonged use there were some deleterious effects, but I have never heard of any. Besides, using Listerine as only a mouth wash as currently advertised would probably have the same deleterious effects. So I don't think this is the reason.

2. The taste of the original Listerine was so bad nobody wanted to use it anyway. Well, maybe, but in that time period people regularly "enjoyed" Horehound Drops and Moxie Soda, so I don't think taste was a deterrent to gargling with Listerine.

3. Gargling with Listerine is so effective that that use would seriously and negatively impact the company's ability to market multitudes of other cold and flu remedies that are much more profitable.

My money is on 3.

-Steve

P.S.: This past year especially, with the advent of "Swine Flu", health organizations and the media constantly recommend that we wash our hands frequently to prevent the spread of flu and colds. Surgeons scrub their hands before surgery. Doctors do the same before and after examining a patient. See http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HandWashing/ and http://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/en/.

These actions DO NOT kill any microbes, especially viruses. But the washing DOES remove the microbes before they infect tissues.

This, I think, is the action of gargling with Listerine. It removes the microbes before they have a chance to infect the tissues.

Also, a cold is caused by the infection of the tissues by a virus. But many of the uncomfortable symptoms of a cold are caused not by the virus, but by secondary infections of bacteria that are incubated in the warm excess mucous the virus induces the tissues to excrete. Gargling with Listerine removes the excess mucous and the microbes living and reproducing in it, reducing or eliminating the symptoms caused by them.

Now that we're facing a real threat of losing thousands of lives to "Swine Flu" this coming Fall and Winter (if attempts at making an effective vaccine in sufficient quantities is unsuccessful), wouldn't it make sense to hedge our bets by gargling with Listerine?

Further, why doesn't the US Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization do more research on how to prevent diseases along these lines and develop more low cost and/or home made products like Listerine? The pharmaceutical industry has VERY LITTLE motive to do so because they make much less money by PREVENTING or CURING diseases, they make much more money by TREATING diseases.