Okay, “oil pulling” sounds a little strange, and it really gives you no idea what it is or how it benefits you. I think they need to change the name, but so far, no one has asked me. Anyway, oil pulling has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and is now gaining some popularity in the West.
Oil pulling improves oral health by detoxifying the oral cavity, but it goes well beyond that! It improves the effectiveness of all of the systems of the body, helping to alleviate chronic illnesses that can be caused by poor oral hygiene. Bonus: it even makes your teeth whiter and shinier without all the chemicals your dentist might try to get you to use.
What is Oil Pulling and is it Healthy?
It’s so simple, you won’t believe it! You just swish coconut, sunflower, or sesame oil around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes. That’s it. (You agree with me about the name change, right?) I use coconut oil because I prefer the taste over the other choices, plus coconut oil has lots of other benefits: improves digestion, balances blood sugar, reduces cellulite, balances hormones, increases HDL while lowering LDL, moisturizes skin, and improves energy levels. I get all of those benefits when I pull oil because coconut oil absorbs so easily and quickly into the body.
How Oil Pulling Makes your Mouth Healthy
You know we have more bacteria in our mouths than dogs, right? It’s true, and it’s disgusting. That bacteria leads to tooth decay, cavities, gingivitis, bad breath, gum inflammation, teeth discoloration…you get the idea. All the stuff we are trying to avoid is caused by micro-bacteria in our mouths. The great news is that we can do something about this—and it’s easy and healthy!
Without any scary science, let me explain how oil pulling works. The oil attracts the bacteria in your mouth and it gets stuck to the oil. Once inside the oil, it dissolves. Pretty simple, huh? Basically, the oil detoxifies your mouth so that the healthy flora and healthy oral fluids can better do their work to prevent cavities and keep teeth and gums healthy.
What Can Oil Pulling Do for You?
In Ayurvedic medicine, oil pulling has traditionally been used for:
- Killing bad breath
- Reducing inflammation
- Whitening teeth
- Preventing cavities
- Curing tooth decay
- Healing bleeding gums
- Improving acne
- Boosting immune system
- Healing cracked lips
- Soothing dry throat
- Preventing heart disease
- Strengthening gums and jaw
Since this phenomenon is really just catching the attention of the scientific community in the West, most of the evidence is still antidotal, though there now have been several medical studies done on the benefits of oil pulling. One such study was reported recently in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. The article touts oil pulling as “one of the most effective natural health solutions…to prevent tooth decay and loss.” The authors also claim that it can cure more than 30 systemic diseases. (source)
According to Ayurvedic medicine, oil pulling does much more than improve oral health. One of the foundations of the ancient medical tradition is that the tongue is separated into invisible sections that rule different organs in the body, much like reflexology and acupuncture function. By detoxifying the organs, we detoxify our whole system, and with a simple technique that anyone can do.
Western medicine likewise has proven that the health of our mouth directly relates to the state of our general health. Ensuring that your mouth is clean and sanitized strengthens the various bodily systems, such as the circulatory system, which includes the heart, respiratory system, digestive system, and immune system. Both Eastern and Western medicine agree that the health of your body is directly connected to the cleanliness of your mouth. Who’d have thought?
How to Pull Oil
Just follow these simple steps to a healthier mouth and body:
- The best time to pull oil is first thing in the morning before you’ve eaten or drank anything. All that gunky bacteria thrives in our wet mouths as we sleep, so pulling oil first thing makes it more effective, although you can do it any time of day.
- Swish 1-2 tablespoons of coconut, sesame or sunflower oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes, much like you would mouthwash. You should do this gently so you don’t tire out your jaw. (It’s easy to start out swishing really vigorously and regretting it the rest of the day.)
- Spit the oil out in the trashcan. Never, ever swallow it. Doing that defeats the purpose of pulling oil because it puts all of that bacterium straight into your system. Also, some oils, like coconut oil, can eventually clog drains, so it’s better not to spit into your sink like you do when brushing your teeth. I personally spit it into the trash.
- Brush your teeth like you normally would. Have you tried my Non-Toxic Homemade Toothpaste?
- It’s recommended that you pull oil 3-4 times a week, but you can do it more often if you want to achieve results even faster.
Using Essential Oils in Oil Pulling
You know I’m always singing the praises of essential oils, and that’s because they provide so many health benefits and are so versatile. And here’s yet another way to use them! They add a nice flavor that can enhance the experience, and if you look any of them up on Pubmed.com you will find they have numerous benefits! Essential oils also get absorbed quickly into your body when put into the porous membranes of your mouth, so your entire system will get the benefits! But, in order to reap the therapeutic benefits, you need to use therapeutic-grade essential oils!
These are some of the essential oils I like to use when pulling oil. I use 3 or 4 drops per tablespoon of coconut oil.
- Cinnamon bark
I like to mix it up and use a different flavor each day so that I don’t get bored.
Some people wonder if oil pulling is safe and healthy. We’ve already covered the healthy part—it’s super healthy, not just for your mouth, teeth, and gums, but also for your whole body. As for being safe, of course, it is, as long as you do it as explained above. Even my holistic dentist recommends oil pulling, and I trust him implicitly. Go ahead and try oil pulling for yourself! You’ll be amazed by the results!