Holistic medicine takes the view that everything in our body is connected, from what we eat to our skin to our blood to our little toes. Oil pulling is an ancient practice that has recently popped up in the news, and it focuses on cleansing the mouth as a way to detox the whole body.
1. What is Oil Pulling?
It sounds a little exotic and painful, but oil pulling just refers to the practice of swishing unrefined oil around your mouth. The oil acts as a natural mouthwash, and evangelical oil pullers claim that it helps clean the mouth and gums, prevents oral disease, and also helps detox the body.
2. Where Did This Oily Mouthwash Come From?
It’s believed to come from Ayurveda, the traditional system of holistic medicine from India. Like yoga and meditation, oil pulling is a very old practice that has started to become popular in the West. It’s started to gain ground among those who want to “detox” their medicine cabinets with more natural remedies and ingredients.
3. Does Oil Pulling Actually Work?
According to Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Oil Pulling Therapy, the oil “soaks up or ‘pulls’ disease-causing bacteria and their toxins out from around the teeth and gums, cleaning the mouth far better than any toothbrush or mouthwash.” Since there hasn’t been extensive research done yet on the practice, many other health practitioners are wary of some of the lofty health claims attributed to oil pulling.
Personally, I oil pull a few times per week with coconut oil. I get great results and my teeth have never been healthier. But it wasn’t a very big step for me to take: I already use coconut oil as my facial and body moisturize and I’ve been using tea tree oil for years for any oral health problems.
4. What are the Benefits of Oil Pulling?
According to natural health practitioners, the benefits to oil pulling include:
- whiter, cleaner teeth
- better breath
- healthier gums and reduced gum disease
- prevention of sore throats and colds
There has also been some talk in the beauty world claiming that the detoxifying effect of oil pulling clears up acne and makes skin glow.
5. How to do Oil Pulling:
- Take one tablespoon of unrefined, cold-pressed oil (coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil).
- Put the oil in your mouth and swish around for at least 5 minutes. Try to work up to 15 or 20 minutes.
- Spit the oil (now cloudy) out into the toilet or into the trash (do not spit it into the sink and clog your drains).
- Rinse with salt water.
- Brush your teeth as you normally would.
- Rinse and repeat, everyday or every other day.