It’s been called ridiculous… gross… outrageous… crazy… impossible!
Those are just a few of the things people say when they first hear about this practice of detoxification that costs about a quarter a day. Yet this ancient Ayurvedic practice is becoming popular in many health circles to improve oral hygiene and fight illnesses like cancer, and there’s evidence it works.
Let’s have a look at the unique practice of oil pulling…
Oil pulling is a detoxification tactic that is clinically proven to promote cleansing and healing in your mouth. But it’s not just for dental health. Ayurvedic practitioners believe it may also heal a wide range of health problems including migraines, PMS, skin diseases, digestive troubles, and possibly even prevent cancer and heart disease.
At least that’s what the anecdotal reports say. However, testimonials from patients and oil pulling devotees don’t make for scientific studies that get published in medical journals. Still, oil pulling apparently does no harm, so you might want to try it for yourself. I’m on record as believing case studies – anecdotes, if you will – are important and valuable evidence.
What it is and how it works. . .
Oil pulling is the practice of swishing (not gargling) oil around your mouth. It sounds similar to using a mouthwash, but it’s a harder workout. You’re expected to push, pull, and draw the oil through your teeth for 15 to 20 minutes – far longer than the typical 30 to 60-second oral rinse.
The effect is supposed to be like a vacuum cleaner that sucks viruses, bacteria, and fungi out of your body. It “pulls” disease-causing bacteria and their toxins from your teeth and gums and is said to be far more cleansing than any toothbrush or mouthwash. (But this doesn’t mean you should quit brushing!)
After swishing, spit it into a paper towel and throw it away.
Never ever swallow it because it’s filled with toxins. Sesame and sunflower oils were traditionally used in oil pulling, but coconut oil offers the benefits of being a proven antimicrobial and consisting of 50 percent lauric acid, a valuable nutrient.
Microbes in your mouth cause
a wide range of diseases…
Your mouth is home to millions of microorganisms — some friendly, some not. In fact, there are more bacteria in your mouth than there are people on earth. And they include more than 600 bacteria species.
Your immune system is constantly fighting harmful bacteria – the menaces that cause tooth decay and gum disease and promote many other diseases. Oral bacteria have been plausibly linked to heart disease, cancer and even arthritis. They contribute to inflammation, which figures into almost all the so-called diseases of aging.
Consider these staggering statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC’s numbers suggest most people need dental help:
- 40 percent of all children over 12 have gum disease
- Nine out of ten people have tooth decay
- One-third of adults over 65 have lost all their natural teeth
- 50 percent of adults will have lost half their teeth by age 65
Advocates of oil pulling say it’s extraordinarily effective at removing bad bacteria and protecting your teeth and gums.
Compare it to your car’s oil, which picks up dirt and grime. When you change your car oil, the gunk drains out with the oil, leaving your engine clean. So, it runs smoother, lasts longer. That’s what you want for your teeth and body, too.
What to expect from oil pulling
The first thing most people notice when they start oil pulling is whiter teeth, healed gums, fresher breath, slowed inflammation, and healed oral infections. Bleeding gums may disappear, and tooth decay may slow down.
Your experience may differ from others. Many people report softer skin, better bowel movements, softer hair with less gray. . . and the list goes on. (This is already sounding too good to be true, but I’m tempted to try it.)
When it comes to specific health problems, there are also many reported benefits.
Oil pulling is said to relieve these problems
People have testified that oil pulling has helped heal various conditions including:
Besides those, observers have also linked the conditions below to oral health, so these may also be influenced by oil pulling:
|Preeclampsia & birthing difficulties
|High blood sugar
|Toxic Shock Syndrome
So, can oil pulling heal deadly diseases that challenge modern medicine? Well, the scientific studies don’t say for sure that it does. But…
These two men were
a century ahead of their time
One hundred years ago, two men discovered the link between dental and systemic health.
Dr. Charles Mayo (founder of the Mayo Clinic) and Dr. Weston A. Price believed that ALL oral infections affect you systemically – that is, they sicken the entire body, not just the mouth.
Infections in the mouth freely enter the bloodstream to cause havoc elsewhere.
Dr. Price and his research partner, Edward C. Rosenow, published more than 300 papers about this over the course of 56 years. Yet their studies have been suppressed and scorned for decades.
These pioneers also discovered that all root canals are havens for infection. Price performed experiments in which he pulled human teeth with root canals and planted them under the skin of a rabbit. The rabbit always died from the same disease the person suffered from.
Most people have no idea how significant their dental health is!
Is there any evidence to back up oil pulling?
Many people think oil pulling sounds so far-fetched, they’re surprised it’s actually a topic of research. Here’s what some of the studies say:
- A 2008 study found that oil pulling reduced the number of Streptococcus Mutans in dental plaque in just two weeks. (These are the bacteria that cause plaque buildup and tooth decay.)
- Another study compared the use of oil pulling with the mouth rinse Chlorhexidine. They both reduced gingivitis (gum disease). But oil pulling is much cheaper and a lot less nasty.
- Bad breath (halitosis) is caused by the chemical and gas odor of bacteria. Research found that oil pulling helped reduce bad breath.
Beats mouthwash, toothbrushing
A study reported in the Journal of Oral Health and Community Dentistry compared oil pulling to tooth brushing and mouthwashes. Participants in the study had mild to moderate gum disease and plaque buildup. They added oil pulling to their regular morning oral hygiene for 45 days… but just for eight to ten minutes, not the recommended fifteen to twenty. Plaque and gum disease markers were carefully monitored during the study.
This chart dramatically shows how the three techniques compared:
Oil pulling combined with mouthwash and tooth brushing beat mouthwash and tooth brushing alone for reducing plaque and gum disease. The reduction in gum disease is especially impressive. What’s more, if participants had pulled oil for the normal 15 to 20 minutes a day, the results might have been even more dramatic.
The researchers behind this study and others have cautioned that oil pulling should not be used instead of good oral hygiene practices but added to them because this practice does improve the results of mouthwash and teeth brushing.
Final tips before you give it a try…
Oil pulling is cheap. Your only expense is for the oil you use. It’s easy, too. Just swish one tablespoon of oil around your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes (just one teaspoon for children under age 12).
It doesn’t require fasting, dieting, big expense, or lots of muss and fuss. Maybe you can do other things while you’re at it, so it’s not down time.
Just remember the #1 rule: Never swallow your oil. (Don’t flush it down the toilet or spit in sinks or showers either, unless you want clogged pipes.)
Dr. Bruce Fife is the leading expert on this subject today. He’s treated many patients with oil pulling, reviewed the latest research, and compiled his findings in the book, Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body through Oral Cleansing. His book includes many anecdotal stories and some advanced techniques.
But his four basic “rules” are:
- Oil must be in the mouth a minimum of 15 minutes, swished (not gargled).
- Must be done daily for two months for best results.
- Can produce relief (and side effects) very quickly. You may experience a healing crisis, but that’s not harmful and means you’re getting rid of illness-causing microbes.
- Oil pulling can help a root-canalled tooth, but you should still consider extracting root canalled teeth. (See George E. Meinig’s book, Root Canal Cover Up.)
Now, about that healing crisis…
Some people can and do experience a healing crisis at the beginning of their oil pulling practice, others later, and some not at all. A healing crisis is a detoxification reaction to the natural healing that’s taking place. If it happens to you, don’t worry, symptoms subside as your body becomes detoxified.
This type of crisis is called a Herxheimer (or Jarish-Herxheimer) reaction, brought on by the rapid die-off of harmful organisms in the body, and it’s a risk with any detoxification procedure. One option is to slow down the pace of the detoxification (for example, do oil pulling every other night or even every two nights) so your body can flush the toxins out at a pace you can tolerate.
- 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 2008;26:12-7
- Asokan S, Emmadi P, Chamundeswari R. Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Indian J Dent Res 2009;20:47-51
- Asokan S, Kumar R S, Emmadi P, Raghuraman R, Sivakumar N. Effect of oil pulling on halitosis and microorganisms causing halitosis: A randomized controlled pilot trial. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent 2011; 29:90-4