I’m sure you’ve all heard about oil pulling. It has become fairly popular in recent years, but not everyone knows what oil pulling is, and why it can be so beneficial to your health. Here’s the scoop on oil pulling:
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is an ancient folk health remedy that has you swish or hold oil in your mouth for a short period of time (from what I’ve seen 15-20 minutes is the norm) which “pulls out” oral germs, bacteria and other toxins that you then expel from your body when you spit out the oil.
The Science Behind Oil Pulling
Oil pulling originates from Ayurveda, a holistic system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent and can be traced as far back as 5,000 BCE. They described an oil swishing which was called ‘Kavala gandusha’. They used this method as a way to detoxify the body and alleviate, and heal a multitude of diseases. According to this traditional medicine oil pulling can be used to cure not only oral health but problems with overall health as well. According to Ayurveda, oil pulling is believed to be able to “cure around 30 systematic diseases ranging from headache, migraine to diabetes and asthma.” Oil pulling has traditionally been used as preventative as well as curative, through the use of different gargling techniques and blends of oils and herbs .  Oil pulling has recently become very popular although most people are unaware of it’s origin as a traditional holistic treatment.
How to Oil Pull
Oil pulling is pretty simple. You just take a spoon full of a high quality, unrefined plant oil such as sesame oil, sunflower oil or coconut oil. I’ve found that most people opt for coconut or sesame oil. You put it in your mouth and start swooshing it around as you would normal mouthwash. Be sure to pull it between your teeth! You do this swooshing for 15-20 minutes and then you SPIT IT OUT. This is the most important step. DO NOT swallow the oil. The point is to expel all of the bacteria and toxins. If you swallow you’re just reentering the toxins back into your body with needless calories.
What are the benefits?
Although opinions are mixed on whether or not oil pulling actually offers any health benefits, people who use the oil pulling method swear by it. Oil pulling has been said to offer the following benefits:
1. Reduces germs that cause plaque and gingivitis and tooth decay
One study showed that oil pulling is effective in reducing an oral bacteria known as Streptococcus mutans which is a major cause of tooth decay and a bacteria that promotes the growth of plaque. This may be the reason that many people who swear by oil pulling say that they experience less plaque, gingivitis and have an overall healthier mouth after oil pulling.
2. Whitens teeth
Although there is no scientific evidence to back this claim up, just a simple Google image search will amaze you with the many people who experienced whiter, brighter teeth after adding oil pulling to their daily regimen. While you may not experience the same results, for those of you who enjoy a cup of coffee in the mornings, the oil may protect you from developing any further stains. So that’s a win in my book!
3. Reduces bad breath
I’m not really sure how people have measured this, but in doing my research nearly every person I’ve seen who swears by this method says that it helps with their bad breath and/or to get rid of morning breath. There are antimicrobial properties in oils such as coconut oil , which may be the reason that these bad breath causing germs are reduced after oil pulling.
This seems to be the most controversial of the claims. People who use the oil pulling method say that the detoxification has helped them clear eczema, clear acne, given them more energy, cure insomnia, and helped cure cold symptoms. These claims have been heavily disputed by some, and said to be a placebo effect by others, but nearly everyone agrees that oil pulling isn’t harmful so if you get results similar to the ones people have claimed then great, and if you don’t, no harm done. A win-win, and a reason for everyone to at least try it out and see if it works for you.
5. Bonus...It apparently is an effective hangover cure! From what I saw, the effectiveness of this hangover cure ranged from having the duration of a hangover "shortened"  to feeling "leagues better"  after just 10 minutes of oil pulling, and a lot of other varying results in between. So the next time you have a hangover instead of adding more toxins to your body using the "hair of the dog" method or loading up on aspirin try to oil pull and just maybe you will experience the natural hangover remedy you've always been looking for.
1. Singh, Abhinav, and Bharathi Purohit. “Tooth Brushing, Oil Pulling and Tissue Regeneration: A Review of Holistic Approaches to Oral Health.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 2.2 (2011): 64–68. PMC. Web. 20 Jan. 2015. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131773/
2. “Drsonicakrishan: Oil Pulling : Best Ayurvedic Treatment Guide for Oral Health & Detoxification.” Drsonicakrishan: Oil Pulling : Best Ayurvedic Treatment Guide for Oral Health & Detoxification. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2015. Available from: http://drsonicakrishan.blogspot.com/2014/05/oil-pulling-best-ayurvedic-treatment.html
3. Asokan S, Rathan J, Muthu M S, Rathna PV, Emmadi P, Raghuraman, Chamundeswari. Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent [serial online] 2008 [cited 2015 Jan 19];26:12-7. Available from: http://www.jisppd.com/text.asp?2008/26/1/12/40315
4. “Kent State University.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2015. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24328700>.
5. “The Beauty of Simple Aryuvedic Practices to Enhance Your Vitality (ojas) and to Serve as Steps to Aging with Grace and Beauty.” East West Aroma School. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.
6. Sinks, Tynan. I Tried Oil Pulling Because I Was Sick Of Hearing Everyone Else Talk About It. Http://www.xojane.com/, 24 Apr. 2014. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.
7. “HANGOVER CURES.” BeWellRun. N.p., 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.
Written by Nicolle Chase
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