What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling seems to be one of the latest and greatest craze, said to benefit oral health and systemic health. What is oil pulling? Where did this craze come from? What are the benefits, and are they real?

What is oil pulling?

Oil pulling is done by placing about a tablespoon of cold pressed organic oil (sesame, coconut, sunflower or olive oil) into your mouth and swishing the oil around for about 10-20 minutes, then spitting it out. First, the oils mix with the saliva, turning it into a thin, white liquid. Lipids in the oils begin to pull out toxins from the saliva. As the oil is swished around the mouth, teeth, gums and tongue, the oil continues to absorb toxins, and usually ends up turning thick and viscous and white. Once the oil has reached this consistency, it is spit out before the toxins are reabsorbed.

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for oral health and detoxification. Benefits of oil pulling not only occur in the mouth, but supposedly, throughout the body, in many ways. It's well known that Vitaman E oil is used to help sooth gums and clove oil is used to help with tooth aches, so why not use unrefined oils, such as coconut or sesame, to help improve your oral health? Even though, there is a lack of scientific research and proof, many people have reported several benefits of this craze.

What are some of the oral health benefits of oil pulling?

  • Inhibits the growth of many bacteria found in the mouth
  • Moisturizes the mouth (dry mouth is a leading cause of tooth decay and gum disease) – also moisturizes lips
  • Prevents halitosis (bad breath)
  • Mentions of strengthening teeth, gums and jaw muscles (possibly also help with TMJ)
  • Natural tooth whitener

Possible benefits of overall health:

  • Migraine headache relief
  • Decrease sinus congestion and allergy symptoms
  • Helps detoxify the body of harmful metals and organisms
  • Aid in pain relief

So, how do you "oil pull"?

  • Brush and floss your teeth as normal
  • Take one tablespoon of oil (such as coconut, sesame, sunflower, etc.)
  • Swish for about 10-20 minutes
  • Spit out oil, then rinse mouth with clean water

With so many people becoming more conscious about their health these days, a lot of them are trying more holistic approaches to better health. Even with a lack of scientific research on oil pulling, many people are trying this method to help improve their oral and overall health. There have not been very many reports of negative oil pulling side effects, so this "craze" may really be worth the try. It has been shown that swishing with some of these unrefined oils, causes a decrease in the production of certain bacteria that lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Don't let oil pulling become your only means of preventative dental care, but it may help to add it to your daily routine.

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