Oil pulling: No, it’s not a medieval form of torture though admittedly it sounds like it could be painful. Oil pulling is simply a concise term for swishing oil around in your mouth. Not painful at all! By most accounts, the idea originated in India and has been practiced there for a few thousand years. A Ukrainian medical doctor named Dr. F. Karach is credited with introducing the method to the Western world in the 1990s, but many folks still don’t really know what oil pulling is or why they should do it.
Testimonials and experts of all stripes attest that oil pulling helps improve skin conditions, eases headaches, lessens the effects of arthritis, balances hormones and cures liver problems. Which, in fairness, it may do. Few tests have been conducted and who knows what the healing potential may actually be. It’s not unusual for traditional remedies to be devalued until the scientific world finally puts its stamp of approval on methods that have been helping people stay healthy for centuries.
Does Oil Pulling Work?
What we do know is that studies on oil pulling show a “statistically significant reduction” in gingivitis-induced plaque after just 10 days of using the method. In addition, oil pulling has been found to reduce Streptococcus mutans bacteria, a major contributor to tooth decay. The most recommended type of oil is, no surprise, organic extra virgin coconut oil. A recent report published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine specifically recommends organic extra virgin coconut oil because of its high concentration of lauric acid. Lauric acid is a proven anti-inflammatory and an antimicrobial. Both traits are valuable for fighting gingivitis and other oral conditions. Other sources specifically recommended organic extra virgin coconut oil for oil pulling include natural health specialist Dr. Mercola and WebMD.
How to do Oil Pulling for Better Oral Health
Oil pulling is as easy as swishing mouthwash around in your mouth, you just do it a little longer. Try these tips for getting started:
- Oil pulling is best done in the morning before eating or drinking, but anytime is beneficial
- Use one to two teaspoons organic, unrefined extra virgin coconut oil
- Place organic extra virgin coconut oil in your mouth and let it melt
- Swish the oil through your teeth and around the mouth for about 5 minutes—eventually building up to 20 minutes. If your jaw muscles feel sore after pulling, you may be working too vigorously
- The oil will thin out and become milky white as it mixes with your saliva
- Avoid swallowing or gargling with the oil as it will be loaded with the debris and bacteria it pulled from your mouth and gums
- Spit out the oil when finished and rinse mouth thoroughly. A solution of warm water and baking soda is highly recommended for rinsing
Please note that oil pulling should not be considered a substitute for brushing and flossing, but as an addition to your existing oral health regimen.