So What's the Deal With Oil Pulling, Anyway?

By Camilla

Oil pulling is trendy. And I tend to be slightly turned off by health trends, because people just follow them blindly without even understanding WHY they're doing these crazy things. I especially don't like it when things are touted as "miraculous". But oil pulling has always been different for me. As soon as I learned about the ancient ayurvedic practice, it made sense to me. Like dissolves like, a basic principle, and much of the bacteria and toxins in our mouths are hydrophobic, meaning they can't be dissolved by water. Oil, on the other hand, can do a marvelous job of pulling those toxins out, should leave your teeth and gums healthier than before.

So what does the American Dental Association have to say about this? Well, nothing great. It's my personal opinion that the lack of structured scientific studies done makes it hard for the ADA to feel comfortable in promoting this 5,000 year old practice. They recommend ADA approved mouth rinses to combat plaque and gingivitis. But to be honest, this doesn't sit well with me. Those mouth rinses almost always leave my mouth burning and blistered. So if there is a different way to improve my oral health, I'm down to give it a try. 

The most common effects people seem to see are whiter teeth (huge bonus because I HATE conventional teeth whitening methods), healthier gums, and fresher breath. All things I am way into and all things I've seen when I regularly practice oil pulling. Others have reported improvements in skin, moods, energy levels, digestion, immune system function, and even hangovers! The jury's still out on those things for me, but I do feel like it's a valid substitute for harsh chemical mouthwashes.

I truly wish there was more scientific evidence behind this practice — you all know how I like my science. All of the personal anecdotes I've read indicate that it does a lot of good, and I can't seem to come up with a possibility for any real harm coming from it, which is why we've included it in our February health challenges. We want to try it for ourselves and come up with our own personal anecdotes. :)

So here's where I stand right now: along with regular brushing and flossing, oil pulling can't hurt. In fact, it may prove to seriously help a lot of the issues that I have dealt with. Kenza and I will report back at the end of the month with our own experiences!

Here's how you do it — take a teaspoon of good healthy cold-pressed oil, we like coconut oil because it tastes better and has antimicrobial properties due to the lauric acid, in the morning. Swish it around in your mouth gently for about 20 minutes (that sounds like a lot so we started with 5 and increased everyday by 5 minutes). I personally oil pull while doing the dishes, making coffee and breakfast. It makes it easier if I'm distracted. Spit everything out into the trash or outside — do not swallow or spit into the sink!! Rinse your mouth out with water and go on with your feeling proud that you got your oil pulling done for the day.

Do you guys pull oil? What oil do you use and what have your experiences been? Please share!