Like most of my clients, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about when I suggest oil pulling. If you saw our Tip #72 on the health benefits of oral hygiene then you heard us mention it. We promised we’d do a deeper dive into it, and today’s the day.
Holistic dentistry and our health
David and I have changed to a holistic dentist in the past years. He says our teeth and gums look very healthy, despite David having had some pretty big teeth problems in his past. I think all the changes he’s made to his health have manifested themselves in the health of his teeth and gums.
After researching the additional oral health benefits of oil pulling, I think I’ve got him convinced he needs to start doing this too. We know that the health of our mouth affects the health of the rest of our body.
What is oil pulling?
So what exactly is oil pulling? Oil pulling is the practice of cleaning the mouth with oil. It’s not entirely clear how oil pulling works, but it’s believed to “pull” bacteria from the mouth.
You use a tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil (I prefer coconut oil) and swish it around in your mouth for up to 20 minutes. You then spit it in the trash to avoid clogging the pipes.
The health ritual of oil pulling is credited to Ayurvedic medicine, which is an ancient medical system from India that dates back about 5,000 years.
I was first introduced to Ayurvedic medicine when I went to India in 2008 and had an Ayurvedic massage. It didn’t seem like it was doing much at the time I got it, but the next day all my aches and pains had gone away, and I felt amazing. I became a believer. I’m always interested in natural remedies that improve your health, and this one is no exception.
How oil pulling works
Many theories exist for how oil pulling works, but the exact mechanism of action is not known. One theory about oil pulling is that the oil produces a soap-like effect and cleans the teeth and gums. Another theory suggests that the oil reduces plaque buildup and makes it harder for bacteria to stick.
According to articles in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine and the Journal of Health Sciences Review, other theories suggest the oil may have an antioxidant or antibiotic-like effect.
Although research can’t seem to agree on how it works, there is a lot of research that shows it does work. Some studies showed that participants lowered their streptococcus mutans count after as little as 15 days of practicing oil pulling. Another group had the same results using a strong mouthwash, but we don’t recommend that as the side effect can be high blood pressure.
I’ve seen that for myself. Studies prove that mouthwash can raise your blood pressure. My dad used mouthwash every day for years and he was having problems with high blood pressure. We had him stop using the mouthwash, and in just a few days, his blood pressure came down. That’s not a specific study but it was good enough for me. We’ve all since stopped using mouthwash.
The health benefits of oil pulling
Reduces harmful oral bacteria
Probably the most important health benefit of oil pulling is that it helps reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth. We’ve talked a lot about bacteria in the gut, and how to improve the good bacteria and remove the bad bacteria. It’s critical to almost all of the systems in the body. So it truly makes sense if we have bad bacteria in our mouths that it is eventually going to affect our gut.
According to the National Institutes of Health, your mouth is home to about 700 species of bacteria and fungi. Up to 350 of them may be found in your mouth at any given time. Some are helpful, but others –such as Streptococcus mutans –can cause tooth decay, dental cavities, and periodontal (or gum) disease.
Keeps gums healthy
The next benefit is that oil pulling helps keep gums healthy. For all the reasons mentioned above, it can improve gum health even if you have a mild form of gum disease like gingivitis. Gingivitis happens when plaque and bacteria build up and cause infection, resulting in red, swollen, and bleeding gums. If left untreated it can lead to periodontitis.
Studies showed that oil pulling helped reduce plaque after just one month. John Douillard, a certified Ayurvedic practitioner, explained it this way: “Oil can become a powerful antiviral and antibacterial agent when it mixes with the digestive enzymes in your mouth. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a fatty acid that morphs into an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory substance when mixed with saliva.”
Oil pulling may also help because it moisturizes the gums and increases saliva production, which can reduce oral bacteria.
Freshens bad breath
Another benefit is that oil pulling helps freshen bad breath. It’s estimated that 50 percent of people in the United States suffer from halitosis, better known as bad breath. Halitosis happens when food lingers in your mouth and rots, causing a foul smell and helping harmful bacteria grow.
Studies showed that swishing with oil once daily for two weeks produced a significant decrease in microorganisms known to cause halitosis. Results were similar to those who used an antiseptic commonly used to treat gingivitis.
Since we’re convinced that oil pulling kills bad bacteria, it makes sense why it would make your breath fresher.
Health benefits beyond the mouth
According to the International Journal of Health Sciences, some Ayurvedic practitioners claim that oil pulling offers benefits beyond oral health, like reducing headaches, asthma, and diabetes. Bacteria can find their way through the teeth and gums into the bloodstream.
Once in the bloodstream, this bacteria can cause infection and inflammation in other areas of the body. And we know what happens when you have inflammation in the body. You can end up with many health conditions like David did before he eliminated it.
Additionally, there is anecdotal evidence that oil pulling may be a natural and effective way to whiten your teeth.
How do you do oil pulling?
So if you’re sitting there thinking I might like to try this but I don’t have a clue how to do, it I’ll share what I do. You can google it and see how others do it as you may prefer their procedure.
Here’s what I do:
Make the coconut oil molds
I take ½ cup extra virgin coconut oil and melt it in a saucepan on the stovetop. Once melted, I turn off the heat and add 5-10 drops of my favorite essential oils (I use peppermint and cinnamon).
Pour the oil into a silicone mold. Some people use one that they have for mini muffins. Put the mold into the refrigerator until it goes solid again, and then put them into a mason jar to store.
Doing the oil pulling
Since my molds make quite large portions, I bite it in half when I’m ready to do it. I do my oil pulling first thing each morning. I simply swish it in my mouth until it melts. This takes a few minutes to melt all the way, and be forewarned, the hardest thing to do is not swallow it.
After it becomes a liquid again you simply swish it around for 10 to 20 minutes. This is a good time to do some multitasking. I usually do this while I’m on the red light, but you can be doing anything while you’re pulling.
Make sure you spit it into a trash can. Don’t use a sink or toilet as it will clog it. Afterward, rinse your mouth with water.
Be prepared that it’s hard to get used to having that oil in your mouth, but once you’ve done it for a few days it’s not too bad. You can actually feel the freshness in your mouth when you’re done.
An easy, affordable way to improve teeth and gums
I know, this is one of our stranger tips! Oil pulling might sound a little crazy, but it is truly much better for your health than swishing around a toxic mouthwash. Hopefully I’ve convinced you it’s worth a try.
I’ve only started doing this one recently, and I only do it twice a week. Some of the people I follow suggest doing it 4-7 times a week, but I’m just not there yet. I know I need to do more to improve my gums so I’m committed to making this a daily habit. I just haven’t found a way to do it yet.
David and I do plenty of things that aren’t necessarily fun or easy for our health’s sake. Oil pulling is fairly simple in comparison to some of them. And, after reading all of the studies that show how effective it is at reducing oral bacteria, it seems like an easy, cheap way to improve my teeth and gums.
Oil pulling and hair analysis
If you don’t know if you’ve got bad bacteria, then a great way to find out is with hair analysis testing, an amazing, informative service now offered at More Than Healthy. With just a few strands of your hair, you receive a full report looking at toxins, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, electromagnetic frequency exposure, chemicals, radiation, parasites, immune factors, and foods you should avoid.
Go to our website to learn more. You can schedule a local hair analysis or order it online to be mailed to you today.
As always, we enjoy hearing from you. If you have any questions about hair pulling, or any other health questions, you can find us on our social media pages on Facebook or Instagram (@morethanhealthyliving). We try to respond to all questions.
We’d love to become your health coaches as you work to become “more than healthy” and achieve optimal health. Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you next week.
Note: Remember, we’re not doctors. We’re just sharing with you what’s worked for us on our health journey. You will want to consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet and supplementation.