Several online stores are selling the herbal mouthwashes with the attached promise of stopping smokers’ addiction in less than a week by simply gargling the product for one minute any time they crave a cigarette.
The ‘magic’ mouthwashes, most of which are said to be made from a range of natural herbs including dandelion, licorice, star anise and chrysanthemum, are sold in plastic bottles of around 200 milliliters each.
Contacting one of the online stores selling a brand of the herbal mouthwash, one Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter was told that the product was only available via online or phone orders, as the physical shop was located in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.
|A bottle of the herbal mouthwash advertised as a super-effective aid to stop smoking
“Because our mouthwash is made from herbs, it’s not harmful to your body,” the telesales employee reassured the Tuoi Tre reporter. “The product has been certified by the Ministry of Health.”
According to the salesperson, an effective “course of therapy" requires two mouthwash bottles available at a price of VND390,000 (US$17.41) for two, with a discounted offer of VND700,000 (US$31.25) available to those who buy four.
Contacting another store that sold the same brand, the reporter was guaranteed that for smokers who had been smoking for under five years, one week-long “therapy course” of two bottles at VND195,000 (US$8.71) each would be enough to cure their nicotine addiction.
“For [those who have been addicted for] over five years, three bottles are required. Swish your mouth out with it whenever you desire a cigarette,” the salesman said confidently.
When questioned on the potential side effects from using the mouthwash, the employee quickly replied: “We only gargle and spit without swallowing, so there’s no need to worry.”
Arriving at the address listed on a website selling the product, the reporter met an employee who said the location was only used as a warehouse.
“Those with or at risk of high blood pressure shouldn’t use the mouthwash, as an abrupt stop could lead to hypertension,” the employee explained. “Alcoholic drinks should also be absolutely avoided while using the mouthwash.”
According to Doctor Le Khac Bao, lecturer at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy, a successful breaking of the smoking habit is the result of a number of factors, including the addict’s own understanding of the harmful effects of smoking, their self-determination, and the support and assistance of family, friends, and medical workers.
Using mouthwashes could be regarded as a form of medical assistance, Dr. Bao said, though it remained to be seen whether the therapy would be effective, as it had not been tested.
The doctor expressed his skepticism about the one-week period claimed by the sales staff for the mouthwash to eliminate a nicotine addiction, saying it would normally take at least two months for a complete cessation to be successful, even if the mouthwash is indeed legit.
Up until today, only three drugs have been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the treatment of nicotine addiction, which are the alternatives bupropion and varenicline.
Dr. Bao added that only heavy addicts should seek assistance from drugs, as light smokers should be able to simply stop based on their own willpower and determination.
Aside from the three drugs recommended by the WHO, any other type of herb, mouthwash, or pharmaceutical drug is not recognized in the treatment of nicotine addiction, according to Doctor Nguyen Huu Hoang at Phoi Viet Clinic for Respiratory Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City.
Dr. Hoang also said that it is advisable that addicts seek professional medical assistance only from qualified practitioners.