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Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic hygiene practice that originated thousands of years ago in India. It requires you to swish a spoonful of oil in your mouth for approximately 15-20 minutes and then spit it out. This action is known to draw impurities including food, bacteria, fungi, and viruses from your mouth.
But maybe like others, you want to know… does oil pulling really work? Is there any validity as an oral hygiene practice?
Ayurvedic doctors and practitioners claim that oil pulling:
- Purifies the mouth
- Reduces the chance of gum disease
- Whitens teeth and freshens your breath
- and a whole lot more…
Yet, non-believers claim that oil pulling may be a waste of time and you can just as easily get these same results from toothpaste and mouthwash. (But most mouthwash brands contain fluoride which is a known neurotoxin.)
But those who support the practice say that besides cleaning the mouth, oil pulling can help you improve your general health. They will tell you that it can help cure a variety of minor yet annoying conditions like:
- Dry skin
- Mouth thrush
- Digestive issues
- Even dandruff and much more
In other words whether oil pulling has benefit depends on who you ask. The majority of dentists, and likely medical doctors will likely dismiss the idea. But keep in mind there is a financial agenda to this question for them.
Always keep in mind that the more natural ways you have to keep yourself in good health, the less likely you will need to rely on asking their opinion…
Does Oil Pulling Really Work?
Now that you understand more about what oil pulling is and its health claims, let's explore the science of how it works.
First off, oil pulling has stood the test of time. It is described in the ancient Ayurvedic texts as far back as 5000 years ago. The theory behind pulling oil (like soap) is that oil is a fat-based cleaner. The fat molecules from the oil draw pathogens and toxins from your saliva.
If soap is made from fat, then it makes sense that when oil meets the saliva in your mouth it works in the same way. There are lots of studies on fatty acids and their effect on bacteria.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27084861 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11890570https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3853744/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25838632 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21911944http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v213/n6/full/sj.bdj.2012.856.html?foxtrotcallback=true
Additionally, the oil used for oil pulling often has phytochemicals from the plant, and often those chemicals will kill bacteria as well.
Oil Pulling Directions
More Tips on Oil Pulling
Oil pulling works best if you practice it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. It takes between 15-20 minutes so if you are short on time, then do it before you jump into the shower. By the time you shower, dry off, and dress, your mouth purifying ritual will be complete.
You can oil pull more than once per day. As oil pulling poses no health risk, what's stopping you if you are oil pulling to treat certain problems like candida in the mouth and digestive tract. A more frequent ritual could actually speed up the yeast-cleaning process.
Avoid spitting your used oil from oil pulling into the sink or toilet. It may mess up the functioning of your septic system if it's done for an extended period of time. It's best to spit the oil into the trash than risk a septic repair as a result of trying a new holistic health practice.
Some holistic health experts say that 20 minutes, no more and no less, is the ideal window of time to oil pull. In this amount of time, the consistency of the oil will be thin and watery. There are few clinical studies on oil pulling, but the idea is you want to spit the oil out before it begins to be reabsorbed by the body. You want to pull and swish the oil just long enough for the oil to do its job, then spit out the waste rather than re-ingest it.
What Kind of Oil Should I Use?
When choosing an oil, the most important thing is that it's unrefined or “virgin”. You want oils made from seeds or nuts for the best results. Avoid any processed oils made from vegetables or corn.
A Few Oil Pulling Favorites
Besides having superior cleansing properties, coconut oil has a pleasant flavor. It is a saturated fat known to have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial properties. It can even kill the streptococcus mutans bacteria which can cause tooth cavities.
Coconut oils is not only beneficial for oil pulling, you can also eat it for health benefits. It's known to balance gut flora, and kill intestinal yeast to promote healthy digestion.
Just make sure you don't swallow the same oil you use to pull toxins from your mouth. You do not want to ingest the dead bacteria you just purged from your mouth.
Unrefined sesame oil is the traditional oil used in Ayurvedic practices dating back thousands of years. But I've often wondered if this was just because of availability rather than for any particular reason.
Maybe it's because Sesame oil is high in vitamin E and has a positive effect on the endocrine system. Sesame oil has a reputation of its ability to heal skin. This is why you see Vitamin E in many skin creams, ointments and lotions. For this reason, you can even use Vitamin E oil safely for oil pulling.
Organic, unrefined olive oil is antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic in nature. When part of a regular the diet, olive oil has been shown to cut diabetes risk by half.
It is also known for reducing inflammation in the body and even kill cancer cells. If you don't like the taste of olive oil because it can be bitter, know that it goes away after a few minutes of swishing.
Are there any risks, cautions or contraindications with oil pulling?
The only risk is that there is a very minute chance that you could accidentally inhale the oil particles and cause pneumonia to develop in the lungs. The likelihood of this happening is the same as ingesting any type of drink or food. Very small.
So, for this reason, don't pull oil when you are trying to talk to people, or you are busy with activities.
To reduce this risk, avoid oil pulling if you have any type of respiratory condition, like a cold, or allergies. You don't want to cough, sneeze, laugh or gasp while the oil is in your mouth.
Oil pulling while jogging, exercising or even just going for a walk, would be a bad idea.
The Health Benefits of Oil Pulling
According to Ayurvedic practitioners the benefits of oil pulling take at least 3 months to be fully experienced.
Oil pulling generally has a positive effect on immunity. It takes time for the body systems (digestive, endocrine and immune) to adjust due to the reduced pathogen load.
What Health Conditions Can Oil Pulling Help With?
As stated above, clinical studies are lacking within the medical community. A Google search will reveal many personal endorsements of oil pulling by people claim oil pulling had a positive effect on their health.
You can find many personal testimonials that include relief from:
Oil pulling kill viruses and bacteria that cause canker sores and other mouth sores to develop. Make sure to use a cold-pressed, organic nut or seed oil like coconut or olive.
Oil pulling can lower the likelihood of mouth infections by destroying the viruses, fungi and bacteria that live in the mouth and cause them.
Especially coconut oil works to kill the bacteria streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities in the teeth. (Your dentist doesn't want you to know this because it could put him or her out of business!)
Gum irritation and infection
Anything that removes pathogens from the mouth can reduce the likelihood of developing gum irritations and infections. Holistic health practitioners know that oil pulling can help with this.
Fungal Conditions of the Skin
Did you know dandruff is a fungal infection of the scalp? Dandruff is itchy and results in flaking and irritation. It can even sometimes have an odor.
When done regularly, oil pulling can destroy the yeast that causes dandruff to develop. It also can reduce yeast and help with other fungal conditions such as:
- Jock itch
- Vaginal yeast infections
- Mouth thrush
- Athlete's foot
Other conditions helped by daily oil pulling for an extended period of time, include:
- Heated skin conditions like Acne
- Hormone imbalances
- Digestive system issues
- Intestinal parasites
Oil pulling is also said to have these body benefits by those who practice regularly:
- Softer, healthier skin
- Prevents and heals skin infections
- Softens, moisturizes and improves hair
- Reduces the likelihood of colds and flu
- Fresh breath and whitens the teeth
- Healthy gums
- Heal and prevent cavities
- Improved digestion and intestinal health
- Curbs hunger and cravings resulting in weight loss
- Reduces inflammation, especially in the GI tract
- Improves allergies
- Lowers chances of ear infection
- Improves asthmatic conditions
- Lowers risk of diabetes
- Relieves hangover
- Helps lessen susceptibility to migraines and headaches<
Oil pulling has stood the test of time. It's amazing how many ancient cultures had knowledge that we are just now discovering. Oil pulling has been shown to improve not only oral health, but overall health by pulling toxins and viruses from your body. While mainstream dentists and doctors may dismiss the idea that it actually works (even though there have been many studies), the best way to know is to try it yourself.