I was recently introduced to a process called oil pulling which is a natural remedy for oral health. Oil pulling is the act of swishing a small amount of oil in your mouth to “pull” out bacteria and toxins. This ancient ritual dates back thousands of years to Ayurveda, an alternative system of medicine, rooted in India. Here’s some random information, Ayurveda means science of life (Ayur – life/longevity and Veda – science/knowledge). Oil pulling was introduced into the United Sates in the 1990’s and has grown increasingly popular among “greenies”.
What is oil pulling?
Oil pulling is the practice of swishing a tablespoon of oil around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes in the morning to “pull” out bacteria and toxins. It is claimed to whiten teeth, treat halitosis (bad breath) and improve overall oral health. Studies that have been conducted on the effects of oil pulling have confirmed that it reduces plaque and gingivitis. A quick search on the internet will lead to many personal testimonies of oil pulling treating everything from headaches and arthritis to asthma and diabetes. It is even claimed that oil pulling can reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. However, no medical research has been conducted to back up these claims.
How does it work?
Your mouth, the “gateway” to your body, houses hundreds of species of bacteria which are responsible for the formation of plaque, Oils contain antibacterial properties which are effective in killing the bacteria housed in your mouth before it forms into plaque. Swishing the oil around in your mouth and pulling it between your teeth allows it to penetrate deep into the crevices that a toothbrush simply cannot reach. The twenty minute time frame is crucial to allow the oil to seep into gum pockets and kill the harmful bacteria.
Oral health is linked to many conditions such as endocarditis (infection of the inner lining of your heart), cardiovascular disease, premature birth or low birth weight, diabetes and even eating disorders. By maintaining and improving oral health,oil pulling should theoretically prevent and treat diseases lying elsewhere in the body.
As for the detox powers of oil pulling, the thought process is that toxins are fat soluble and will therefore dissolve in the oil and be expelled from your body when you spit out the oil.
What type of oil is best?
The most often used oils are sunflower, sesame and coconut oil. Each has its own distinct antibacterial properties. Coconut oil is thought to be especially powerful because of its high content of lauric acid which has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature so this may take some getting used to, though it will liquify quickly upon putting it into your mouth. No matter the type of oil, use a high quality unrefined virgin oil.
How to Oil Pull?
This process should be done once daily, first thing in the morning before eating or drinking.
- Put 1 tablespoon preferred oil in mouth.
- Swish for 20 minutes, not vigourously or your jaw will hurt, just gentle swooshing making sure to pull oil between teeth. Do not gargle.
- Spit into trash can. Oil will be a white milky consistency. Do not swallow as you will be swallowing all the harmful bacteria and toxins you are trying to expell from your body. Also do not spit into sink.
- Rinse mouth with warm salt water to ensure all bacteria and toxins have been expelled.
- Brush teeth and floss as usual.
Tip: This can easily be done during your morning shower.
Oil pulling is a very simple, safe and natural oral care routine. While a few studies have shown oil pulling to be effective on oral health, the remaining health claims may seem logical but have not been proven. Oil pulling is a great “addition” to your morning routine and will likely result in some added benefits. It should however not be used as a replacement for brushing and flossing teeth or as a “cure” for disease or other health related conditions.
What are some natural remedies that you have used in your self care routine?