Oil pulling has recently gained popularity as a healthy practice, but according to ancient texts, people have been using this technique for thousands of years to keep their teeth and gums healthy. In fact, studies are beginning to show that oil pulling can benefit a lot more than just your mouth.
No one knows for sure how long people have been practicing oil pulling, but it is described in the Ayurveda, an ancient text that detailed medicinal techniques used as far back as 3,000 years ago in India and surrounding areas. The Indians were convinced that oil pulling removed toxins from the entire body, not just the mouth, and could cure and prevent conditions from heart disease to acne as well as whiten teeth and prevent or even repair cavities.
Studies Confirm Benefits of Oil Pulling
Studies have shown that oil pulling reduces bacteria in the mouth that cause tooth decay as well as reducing microbes that inhabit our plaque and cause everything from gingivitis to bad breath. It stands to reason, though, that killing bacteria in the mouth may very well help to heal other types of infections including the colds and flu that affect us in winter months.
Different kinds of oil can be used in oil pulling, with the most popular ones being sesame and coconut oils. Most experts agree that the benefits of coconut oil make it an ideal choice for oil pulling. In addition to killing bacteria, coconut oil can also improve digestion, lower bad cholesterol, and balance hormones for a greater impact on the entire body as it is absorbed through the mouth and gums.
Actress and natural beauty Shailene Woodley is a fan of oil pulling along with other natural remedies using herbs and clay. She states that plaque is fat soluble, so that the oil dissolves and binds to the plaque to remove it. "It's amazing!" she gushes. "It really makes your teeth whiter." For her, oil pulling is part of a natural lifestyle that includes organic makeup and shampoo along with other sustainable products that won't harm the environment.
How to Use Oil Pulling
The recommended way to practice oil pulling is to put 1-2 tablespoons of oil in your mouth and gently swish it around your mouth and between your teeth for about 20 minutes. Food is Medicine blogger Dr. Axe recommends adding essential oils like cinnamon or peppermint to your coconut oil, which will absorb into your system for even more antioxidant benefits.
If 20 minutes seems like a long time to swish, starting with even 5 minutes can give benefits. Doing oil pulling as you do another routine activity like take a shower, put on makeup or read the newspaper may help the time pass faster.
When the time is up, be sure to spit the oil out into the trash. Swallowing oil will allow some of the bad stuff back into your body, and spitting into the sink can back up your plumbing when the oil cools and turns back into a solid. Oil pulling is safe for any age, even kids or during pregnancy. It is gentle and causes no harm or buildup in the body.