This post: An honest discussion about oil pulling health benefits.
I have to be honest: I find a lot of claims on oil pulling health benefits to be a bit far fetched. I’ve chunked every book I’ve read about oil pulling, simply because they taut oil pulling as a fix-all for everything from dental cavities to cancer. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do believe in holistic medicine. I believe in natural remedies. I’m convinced of the health benefits of virgin coconut oil.
What’s more, I started oil pulling about six years ago (+ still do it every day). But I’m sticking to my initial skepticism – oil pulling is not a cure all. It shouldn’t replace other mouth care habits, like brushing +flossing.
But it is a healthy habit. And there are oil pulling health benefits. This article is about the real improvements I’ve noticed in my oral health from oil pulling. I believe you will see health benefits from it too – but probably not everything the quack next door claims.
I’d love to hear your honest thoughts, questions, and experiences. Here are mine.
- What Is Oil Pulling Anyway?
- How Is It Supposed To Help?
- What’s the Best Oil To Use?
- This Is How I Do the Oil Pulling Thing
- What Are Some REAL Oil Pulling Health Benefits?
- When Should I NOT Oil Pull?
- Further Reading
I hope this article inspires you to do your own research + make an educated decision with your oral health.
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What Is Oil Pulling Anyway?
Oil pulling is an ancient practice that originates from Ayurvedic medicine in India. Essentially, it’s the practice of using an oil (typically coconut or sesame) as a mouth wash.
Specifics of traditional oil pulling include
- doing it on an empty stomach upon rising in the morning (some recommend doing it 3x a day!)
- swishing (or holding, depending on what you read) oil in your mouth, any where from eight to 20 minutes
- spitting the oil out in a trash can after you’re done because the oil has become toxic (do not swallow!)
That’s oil pulling in a nutshell.
How Is It Supposed To Help?
According to traditional Ayurvedic medicine, the process of “pulling” the oil through your teeth + swishing it around in your mouth does a number of things for the body:
- removes toxins from the blood stream
- eliminates bacteria, infection + mucus from the mouth
- triggers enzymes, which supports digestion + overall immunity
- strengthens teeth enamel
- removes plaque from teeth
- help balance the body’s pH
As I previously said, the claims of oil pulling health benefits are nearly endless. But the ones I mentioned above are the most common.
What’s the Best Oil To Use?
Traditionally, sesame seed oil is the oil of choice for pulling. However, in the United States coconut oil is most commonly used for oil pulling.
Other commonly used oils include sunflower oil, neem oil + olive oil. The important thing is that the oil used is organic + virgin.
This Is How I Do the Oil Pulling Thing
Like I said, I’ve been consistently oil pulling for about six years. Here’s a step-by-step of what I do:
- Upon rising in the morning (before I eat or drink anything), I spoon about one teaspoon of this oil into my mouth.
- I “pull” or swish the oil for at least five minutes. When I have the time + patience, up to ten or twenty minutes.
- I typically shower or read or do something while I’m “pulling” the oil, otherwise I’ll get tired of it + spit it out too soon. The longer the oil is “pulled” through the mouth, the better (within reason).
- I always, always spit the oil out in the trash when I’m done. I never swallow the oil, as it is full of all the yucky stuff it just cleansed from my mouth.
- Lastly, I rinse my mouth with warm water. This step is important, because oil pulling is basically a detoxing routine. My mouth always feels really clean when I’m done!
- Typically, I have to spit out mucus + blow my nose several times right after I oil pull, because it literally “pulls” mucus out of my sinus cavities. More on that below.
What Are Some REAL Oil Pulling Health Benefits?
So let’s talk about the oil pulling health benefits I’ve personally experienced. These improvements have happened over time – most of them took a year or more to notice, some things improved more quickly.
Clears My Sinus Drainage
This was the first thing I noticed when I started oil pulling every day. It pulls so much mucus out of my sinus cavities! This is gross, I know, but I generally have to spit out a lot of mucus after I oil pull, and then blow my nose several times.
Removed Stains on My Teeth
I wore braces for three years when I was a teenager, and ended up with some stains on my teeth after it was all said + done. Those stains, which were on my “eye teeth,” eventually lightened + completely faded over time with oil pulling.
Whitens My Teeth
Oil pulling really has whitened my teeth over the years. Not a Hollywood, bleached white; but a very natural, “pearl” like whitening.
Has Slowly Healed My Receding Gums
I’ve had some really bad issues with my gums as an adult, another gift from my years wearing braces. To give you an idea of how bad my gums were – before I started oil pulling, my dentist wanted to do a gum grafting procedure! (Can you say ouch?!)
Needless to say, I’ve experienced a lot of gum pain + sensitivity over the years.
The gum recession has been the slowest area to improve. But after several years of oil pulling, my gums are definitely healing, the recession has improved dramatically, and my mouth is much less sensitive than it used to be.
Those are the health benefits I’ve personally experienced with oil pulling. To me, the habit has been more than worth the time, money + effort I’ve put in.
When Should I NOT Oil Pull?
Here’s another honest thing you need to know – not everyone should be oil pulling.
Do not oil pull if you have amalgam fillings.
Holistic dentists warn against oil pulling if you have amalgam fillings. The mercury in these fillings is Lipophillic, which means it is attracted to oils and fats. Oil pulling will pull mercury out of the fillings, which will then be absorbed into your tissues. Not exactly that you want!
Wait until you have had your amalgam fillings removed – and replaced with resin or porcelain fillings – by a dentist before you try oil pulling.
Check out these articles to further explore opinions + facts regarding oil pulling:
- Bad Science: Oil Pulling
- Ayurvedic Basics of Oil Pulling
- The Truth About Oil Pulling: A Dental Perspective
- Could Oil Pulling Put You at Risk?
What questions do you have about oil pulling? Have you ever done it + noticed any health benefits?