What Is Oil Pulling and Does It Really Work?

by Natalie on April 11, 2013

A very bizarre practice sweeping the world of natural health as of late (actually, it may have been around for ages and I’ve only just cottoned on) is the controversial Oil Pulling Therapy. I had heard whispers of it here and there but it wasn’t until I recently watched an entire Oil Pulling segment on one of my favourite medical shows that I realised – a) there might just be some solid evidence that this concept works, and b) if it has already gone mainstream then I seriously need to catch up. So I figured I’d do some research to see whether I should consider swishing oil around in my mouth every day and if it would be worth my while. Here’s what I found out…

What is Oil Pulling?

Quite simply, Oil Pulling is an ancient detoxing ritual that involves swishing oil (anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon) in the mouth for roughly 20 minutes and then disposing of it. The oil is worked from side to side, back and forth, through the teeth and all around the gums. The idea of this is that as the oil is travelling around it is ‘pulling’ toxins, bacteria and waste from inside the mouth and body and collecting it in the oil so that it can be eliminated.

What Are The Health Benefits of Oil Pulling?

One of the most widely acknowledged benefits of Oil Pulling (even recognised by some dentists) is its ability to improve oral health. Daily Oil Pulling can help to get rid of bacteria in the mouth, eliminate bad breath, and can treat and prevent things like gingivitis and gum disease. It has even been known to whiten teeth! So it’s basically like a mouthwash and whitening gel mixed in one, minus the harsh chemicals.

Aside from dental health, the more debatable issue is the ability of Oil Pulling to cure a large number of other health ailments. Apparently it can assist in the treatment of everything from; skin conditions like eczema and acne, digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and joint pain, insomnia, hormone imbalance, sinus infections, thrush, and many more. It is hard to say whether Oil Pulling has a significant effect on these conditions, but I’m definitely intrigued after learning that there are some really strong arguments for it and that most health gurus are giving it a big thumbs up… so I’ve already started pulling!

There’s a good book here that tells you everything you need to know about the theory of Oil Pulling and exactly how it can benefit your health – Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing.

What Oils Can be Used?

Oil Pulling is best carried out early in the morning on an empty stomach before eating breakfast. This is also the time when your mouth contains the highest level of bacteria. Most vegetable oils that are organic, virgin, and cold-pressed can be used during Oil Pulling and you’ll most likely have some already lying around in the cupboard so you won’t need to spend any money. You can either choose one oil or use a combination of different types but try not to use refined, processed or tainted oil, as it should be as pure as possible. Here are some oils that are believed to be most effective:

  • Coconut Oil
  • Caster Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Flax Seed Oil
  • Oregano Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Hemp Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Grape Seed Oil

Are There Any Side Effects?

The act of Oil Pulling is completely harmless and doesn’t have any adverse side effects. Some people find that on their first few attempts, holding the oil in their mouth triggers the gag reflex and makes them feel a little queasy, but this sensation normally subsides and the more you practice the more your body becomes accustomed to it. You should be really careful not to gargle or swallow any of the oil as it will have gathered toxins throughout the swishing process and the idea is to remove them, not re ingest them. You should always thoroughly wash your mouth out and brush your teeth after every oil pull. It is also a good idea to spit the oil in the bin or toilet rather than your sink as oil residue can build up in the drain.

It might sound difficult to find the spare time to sit and complete this exercise, but you can be Oil Pulling while doing most other activities or chores around the house. Try taking a shower, reading a book, watching the morning news, making breakfast, or preparing your lunch for the day while you’re pulling ;)

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