I can’t scroll through my Facebook news feed without seeing an article about oil pulling. For months I have had friends emailing me links, texting me links or bringing it up over lunch. I have skimmed most of the articles and listened intently and intrigued as my friends described their experiences.
However, until today, I had never tried this “magic cure all” for myself. I admit, I was very skeptical… and a little grossed out by the thought of swishing anything in my mouth for 20 minutes, never mind oil!
I am totally sold! I swear my mouth has never felt so clean! It’s been 12 hours since I spent 10 minutes swishing and “pulling” coconut oil through my mouth and my teeth still feel smooth and fresh!
While I can not personally attest (yet!) to the supposedly amazing benefits of oil pulling, it is hard to argue with thousands of years of Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic system of medicine that developed 3,000 to 5,000 years ago. Oil pulling’s roots are found in this ancient Indian medicine, where it’s practitioners used oil pulling, chewing sticks and herbal tree leaves, to keep their mouths clean and healthy, according to the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. Today, advocates of the practice claim oil pulling can cure everything from gingivitis, hangovers, diabetes, acne and…. cancer??
According to numerous sources, benefits of oil pulling may include:
- Helping to cleanse the mouth of harmful bacteria reducing the amount of fungal growth
- Helping to reduce the germ count which is found in the mouth saliva and teeth plaque
- Helping to strengthen the gums, jaws and teeth
- Helping to prevent gum disease, cavities and even gingivitis
- Helping to prevent bad breath
- Provide a holistic method and remedy for dealing with bleeding gums
- Helping to prevent dryness of the mouth, throat and the lips
- Helping to prevent general soreness around the area of the jaw
Michelle Hurlbutt, RDH, MSDH, an associate professor of dental hygiene at Loma Linda University in Southern California, told The Huffington Post that:
“…while dental hygienists would never recommend oil pulling as a comprehensive dental hygiene regimen, it can be a good way to supplement recommended practices like tooth brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist. … [Oil pulling] should not be used to treat oral disease such as gum disease or tooth decay,” Hurlbutt told The Huffington Post. “It’s more of a preventive rinse that could be used adjunctively with your regular mouthcare routine.”
Many believe that the benefits of oil pulling go far beyond the mouth:
- Relief for migraines and headaches
- Reducing arthritic inflammation
- Helping to reduce the signs of eczema
- Helping to reduce insomnia
- Reducing the effects of a hangover after consuming too much alcohol
- Helping to support the normal function of the kidneys
- Helping to reduce the symptoms of bronchitis
- May help to reduce pain
- Some oil pullers have even reported that it helped to improve their vision
Unfortunately, there is little scientific evidence to back these claims up. Nonetheless, the internet is infiltrated with blogs, news articles, and tv spotlights featuring oil pulling. There are hundreds of testimonials online from people who experienced many of the benefits listed above as well as help with arthritis, asthma, hormone imbalances, infections, liver problems and more. At least one study has shown oil pulling does significantly reduces the strep mutans bacteria in plaque and saliva that causes cavities.
That being said, the logic behind oil pulling is that the oral health affects everything! An interview conducted with Dr. Sanda Moldovan, a periodontist in Beverly Hills and a certified nutritionist (with a Masters in oral biology) who teaches at UCLA’s dental school, found that:
“When we improve oral health, we improve so many other things in the body… People with bad oral hygiene have higher incidence for cardiovascular issues such as heart attack and strokes, and a higher incidence for pneumonia. Men with periodontal disease have a greater risk of erectile dysfunction. Even with diabetes, improved oral health can help control problems in diabetic patients. Also, pregnant women with gum disease have lower birth-weight babies. Yes — everything is connected.”
So can we just brush better and get down and dirty with our floss… like the dentist always told us to do??
Yes and no. People tend to be lazy. How many times have you gone to the dentist and been told you have been totally missing one section of your teeth? How often do you actually floss… morning and night?! Do you clean your tongue? Do you swish regularly with an antiseptic mouth wash? If you are anything like me, your answer is probably no. So why not ensure your mouth is extra clean even when you forget the extras you know you are supposed to do and swish away with some oil while taking a shower or folding laundry or preparing breakfast. In twenty minutes you can have a mouth that is essentially scrubbed clean from the “soap like” action of the oil pulling. The results are worth it!
“When there is a healthier mouth, there is less inflammation in the body, and overall then everything can heal, the skin is better, you’re in a better mood, you have more energy, because gum disease — if you have all this infection in the mouth, your body is constantly trying to fight this bacteria to keep it from entering your body,” Moldovan said. “That is stressful for us. That chronic infection in the mouth, once it improves because we have better oral hygiene, we feel better and look better.”
Based on my personal experience and research, I plan to continue oil pulling as often as possible. I will probably continue to use Coconut Oil versus Sesame Oil (only use organic oils! preferably unrefined!) but only because of my flavor preference. Olive oil can also be used but for some reason this completely weirds me out. I already use coconut oil on everything and believe in its health benefits, so for me it makes the most sense. I also love that it is naturally anti-microbial so that even if all of the oil pulling hype turns out to be just that, at least I know my mouth will be clean!
I am excited to report back in a few weeks to let you know if my teeth are whiter, my breath is fresh and my mouth feels cleaner!
Wanna try oil pulling for your self?
Follow the five easy steps below and then comment to let me know what you thought!
How to Do Oil Pulling:
Simply take a tablespoon of whatever vegetable based oil you choose (Coconut, Sesame or olive) and swish it around in your mouth for 20 minutes. Do not swallow it! Work it between your teeth and swish it against your cheeks similar to how you would with mouth wash. You can easily carry on your morning routine: shower, laundry, preparing breakfast, etc, as you do your daily oil pulling. Morning is generally considered the best time to do this, preferably before eating or drinking anything, to achieve maximum benefits.
- Put 1 tablespoon of oil into the mouth. (I used 1/2 tablespoon of Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil for my first time)
- Swish for 20 minutes. “Apparently the timing is key, according to Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Oil Pulling Therapy, as this is long enough to break through plaque and bacteria but not long enough that the body starts re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria. The oil will get thicker and milky as it mixed with saliva during this time and it should be creamy-white when spit out.” – Wellnessmama
- Spit oil into the trash can. Don’t spit into the sink! And definitely DO NOT swallow the oil as it is hopefully full of bacteria and toxins that are now not in you mouth!
- Rinse well with warm water.
- Brush well. Preferably with a natural toothpaste or one with an added sensitivity compound.
Recommended Products to use for Oil Pulling
Spectrum Coconut Oil Unrefined Spectrum Unrefined Sesame Oil
- Are you a long time oil puller? First timer?
- What oil did you use?
- Did you see any immediate results?
- What do you think about all the health claims for this practice?
Note: As always, you should talk to your doctor before trying new remedies or supplements.