Although we see oil pulling popping up on many natural health blogs, this is actually an Ayurvedic tradition that has been around for ages. But does it work or is this just another hype or health craze invading our Western world?
Well, I have been doing this for a few months now and can definitely see and feel the difference. So let’s take a closer look at this wonderful method everybody is talking about.
What is oil pulling or oil swishing?
This inexpensive and easy method finds its roots in ancient Indian alternative medicine. It involves swishing pure oils around the mouth to reduce the amount of harmful bacteria and plaque. Bacteria create some sort of film on your teeth and use this to cling to the surface of your teeth. This film is what we call plaque.
When you swish oil around bacteria get stuck in it and dissolve in the oil. So every time you pull oil you are removing a large amount of bacteria and plaque.
In the nineties this method was introduced in America by a doctor named Dr. F. Karach. Since then it has been successfully used in the West to improve oral health and whiten teeth naturally. With more and more people turning to natural remedies to avoid harsh chemicals, oil pulling is on the rise to become the new oral health hype.
Oil pulling benefits
- Reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth
- Reduce plaque and gingivitis
- Reduce bad breath
- Clears blocked sinuses
- Whiten teeth
- Fight gum inflammation
- Healthier pink gums
- Reduce the risk of cavities
- Reduce symptoms of a hangover
- Soothes a sore throat and mouth infections
- Great alternative for mouthwash
I have been doing this for a few months now. My mouth feels clean and my gums are much healthier and pinker than before. They don’t bleed anymore when brushing my teeth and they seem to be less sensitive too. Even my teeth are getting whiter and the discoloring of being a coffee addict for years is finally fading.
Some people even report benefits that go further than just our mouth. They claim oil pulling helped them with certain skin conditions, arthritis, asthma, headaches, hormone imbalances, infections, and detox benefits.
Though I have been doing this for over 6 months, I only experienced a better oral health and my teeth getting whiter. As with many alternative therapies there are simply too few scientific tests being done to prove those claims. But if we think about how oil pulling works and can reduce bacteria count, I’m not surprised about those claims. Bacteria and infections can enter the blood through our mouth, so addressing these infection and removing harmful bacteria can definitely have an impact on our whole body.
Which oil should you use?
Oil pulling can be done with nearly all oils as long as they are of good quality and edible. The Indians used oils like sesame or sunflower because they were cheap and easy available back then.
I prefer to use organic coconut oil over other vegetable oils for its taste and added health benefits. Coconut oil is well known for its antimicrobial and thyroid boosting properties.
How to pull oil
Oil pulling is best done first thing in the morning before you brush your teeth and have your morning lemon water.
Oil pulling is extremely cheap, effective, and easy. Here’s how to do it:
- Swish a spoonful organic, cold pressed vegetable oil around in your mouth.
- If you use coconut oil preheat the oil until liquefied, this will reduce the gag reflex.
- Swish oil around for 15-20 minutes.
- Spit the oil out.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.
- Brush your teeth
Oil pulling is super safe and can be done every day to improve your overall oral health and whiten your teeth.
Before you start
There are a few more things I want to share with you before you start to pull oil on a daily basis.
DO NOT SWALLOW THE OIL!!! The oil is packed with bacteria and toxins.
DO NOT SPIT OUT IN SINK. Best is to spit it out in the trash instead of your sink or toilet to avoid greasy and clogged drains.
TIME SAVING TIP. You could oil pull while taking your morning shower or while reading the newspaper or making your lunch.
WORK YOUR WAY UP. The first few times your gag reflex may kick in. This will stop, so try to stick with it. The first time I was able to hold it in for about 5 minutes and gradually worked my way up to 15 to 20 minutes.
DETOX SIGNS. Some people report a detox reaction for the first few days. I personally didn’t have any of those, but I did some research and those reactions are normal and a good sign of your body eliminating toxins and bacteria. Those symptoms include a mild headache, congestion, and mucus drainage.
OIL PULLING AND PREGNANCY. There are conflicting opinions whether you should or shouldn’t pull oil while being pregnant. So my advice is to avoid oil pulling while pregnant until further research has been done in this field.
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What Research Says About Oil Pulling
- Oil pulling reduced counts of Streptococcus mutans bacteria – a significant contributor to tooth decay. Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics & Preventive Dentistry. 26(1):12-7, 2008 March
- Effect of oil-pulling on dental caries causing bacteria. African Journal of Microbiology Research, Vol 2:3 pp 63-66, MAR 2008
- Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis. Journal of Oral Health & Community Dentistry: 2007 ;1(1):Pages 12-18
- Effect of Oil-Pulling on Oral Microorganisms in Biofilm Models. Asia Journal of Public Health: 2011 May-Aug
- Oil pulling is as effective as mouthwash at improving bad breath and reducing the microorganisms that may cause it. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent. 2011 Apr-Jun;29(2):90-4
- Oil pulling benefits your mouth, in part, via its mechanical cleaning action.5 Researchers noted, “The myth that the effect of oil-pulling therapy on oral health was just a placebo effect has been broken and there are clear indications of possible saponification and emulsification process, which enhances its mechanical cleaning action.” Indian J Dent Res. 2011 Jan-Feb;22(1):34-7