Oil pulling is one of our top ten uses for coconut oil, but it also the one that many people don't know about, or maybe are intimidated by…
So what is oil pulling? And how exactly do you do it?
Does it really whiten teeth, improve oral health, and benefit the whole body? Or is it just a bunch of hippie-dippy hype?
Here’s all you need to know.
What is oil pulling?
Oil pulling involves swishing a tablespoon or so of oil (usually coconut or sesame oil) around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes.
How to oil pull.
Coconut and sesame oil are the two most popular oils to use for oil pulling.
We, of course, prefer coconut oil. Not only for the great taste, but also because it is naturally anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antimicrobial.
When to oil pull
It should be done first thing in the morning before eating breakfast or brushing your teeth.
How long to oil pull
Ideally for 10-20 minutes. But I suggest you build up to this. Start with 2 to 3 minutes to get used to it, and gradually increase the length of time until you can manage 20 minutes. I like to pop it in and jump in the shower while swishing.
What to do after you’re done
After you're done, spit it out! Never swallow the oil! It’s now filled with all of that yucky bacteria!
It's best to spit the oil into a tissue & putting in the bin. Please don't spit oil down the sink as it can clog drains.
Straight after pulling, brush your teeth as normal.
How often to oil pull?
Daily if possible! Or 3-4 times a week if that is all you can manage.
Why do people do this?
Oil pulling isn’t some new trend. It’s actually been a popular Ayurvedic practice for at least 3,000 years, and continues to be popular today thanks to two big, supposed health benefits:
Our mouths are home to billions of bacteria, as well as viruses, fungi, and toxins. These micro-organisms can cause gum disease, chronic low-grade infections, cavities, and tooth decay.
Since these micro-organisms are usually single-celled and surrounded in a fatty membrane, they naturally adhere to the oil as you swish it around your mouth. So when you’ve done your oil pulling, spit the oil out & they’re expelled along with the oil.
Overall health and wellness
Oral health significantly impacts many other aspects of overall health:
- Chronic inflammation: Chronic but small-scale oral infections can cause chronic inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation increases the risk of almost all diseases, from heart disease to autoimmune conditions, arthritis, and diabetes.
- Heart disease: The bacteria from gum inflammation and periodontal disease can enter your bloodstream and travel to the arteries in the heart and cause hardening of the arteries. This increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The inner lining of the heart can also become infected and inflamed.
- Alzheimer’s: It’s thought that certain types of oral bacteria that enter the brain may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Diabetic complications: Inflammation of the gum tissue and periodontal disease can make it harder to control blood sugar and make diabetes symptoms worse.
So does oil pulling work?
There are quite a few studies that have been done on the effectiveness of oil pulling on oral health.
There are published studies that have found oil pulling to be as effective as chlorhexidine (a common germicidal often used in mouthwash) in the treatment of bad breath. Another found that after 45 days of oil pulling, subjects showed a statistically significant reduction in gingivitis. Others found that oil pulling reduces plaque and bacteria in those with gingivitis, that it reduces streptococcus bacteria in the mouth, and helps reduce the risk of dental cavities.
No studies have yet been published on the effects of oil pulling on overall health and wellness, but we can assume those benefits given the intimate connection between oral health and the ailments discussed above.
Tried oil pulling but struggling?
Try adding a drop of your favourite essential oil to the coconut oil. Mint is the obvious choice, or you could try cinnamon, clove, or myrrh, all have oral health benefits. Just make sure your essential oils can be ingested & dose accordingly.