Have you heard of oil pulling? I hadn’t either until about a month or so ago when I saw this concept popping up quite regularly on the internet. Even the name is intriguing, so I decided to do some research and found myself giving it a go (and loving it!).
Where does it come from?
Sadly I’m a bit behind the times as oil pulling is actually a very ancient Ayurvedic technique that is thousands of years old. It’s a very simple and harmless technique that involves swishing oil around in your mouth to improve dental hygiene, as well as being said to remedy countless other health problems. The Ayurveda textbook, the Caraka Samhita mentions the following about oil pulling:
Keeping of oil gargle provides strength in jaws and voice, development of the face, maximum taste and relish of food. One does not suffer from dryness of throat, lip cracking and teeth become firmly rooted. The teeth do not ache or become sensitive and can chew the hardest food items.
How does it work?
Just like the name implies, oil pulling is said to remove the harmful bacteria from your gums. Oils are also lipophilic which means that they attract other oils, so the fat soluble toxins which are stored in our skin (eg. pesticides, heavy metals, hormones, additives, preservatives etc.) are pulled out. The immediate effect on our dental hygiene is easily recognisable, with whiter teeth, healthier gums and fresher breath. But how does this affect the rest of the body? Gums and dental health have been directly linked to heart health in numerous studies. Poor gum health allows toxins to penetrate the gums and enter the blood stream, therefore causing many health problems all around the body, not just in the heart.
Numerous studies have been conducted to test the effectiveness of oil pulling on dental hygiene, and have been found to support the oil pulling claims. One particular study took 20 adolescent boys and divided them into 2 groups (the control group, and the oil pulling group). The control group gargled with standard mouth wash, while the study group used oil for 2 weeks. The results showed a significant reduction in Streptococcus mutans in both groups over the study, supporting oil pulling as a mouth cleanser. You can read more about the study here.
While more studies on the other health claims of oil pulling need to be done, it certainly looks promising.
Oil pulling is super easy. On an empty stomach (before breakfast), just take about a tablespoon of oil and swish it around in your mouth for about 10-20 mins, sucking and pulling the oil between your teeth. There are many different recommendations for what oil to use, but traditionally sesame oil or coconut oil is used. Personally I use coconut oil as I like the taste better. After 10-20 mins the oil should become thicker and turn white, this is how you know it’s done. Spit it out in the sink, rinse your mouth out with water, and brush your teeth. Easy! It’s very important not to swallow the oil, as it now contains a high volume of toxins. It’s also a good idea to wash your sink out afterwards.
This may sound like it’s really gross, and to be honest at first it was. The first few days I had to control my gag reflexes, but by the third day I was fine with it. I’ve been doing it for over a week now, and it’s become part of my daily routine. 20 mins seems like a long time, but if you do it while getting ready for the day the time passes quickly.
In terms of results, I have noticed a dramatic improvement in my gum health and the feeling of cleanliness in my mouth. My teeth do appear whiter, and my gums are that nice light pink colour (the more dark pink/red your gums, the worse health they in). I’ve also noticed how much fresher my breath and mouth feels towards the end of the day, to what it normally feels like. While I haven’t yet experienced any other life changing health improvements, it’s only been a bit over a week so I’ll continue on with it and see how it goes. But the mouth improvements seems to be worth it all on their own. Much better than using chemical mouth washes.
If you want to learn more about oil pulling there’s a dedicated oil pulling website that explains everything, and you can download a free “How to do Oil Pulling” book.
I urge you to give it a go, even if it’s just for the sake of your own curiosity. You never know what it could do for you.
Love and light,