Oil pulling has been around for centuries, but there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of it.
Oil pulling — the practice of swishing natural oils like coconut or sesame around your mouth — is said to improve oral health as well as a whole host of other conditions according to ancient Ayurvedic medicine.
As strange as it may sound, oil pulling has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity as a natural detoxing ritual.
Not very different from the idea of mouthwash, the oil is supposed to attract or “pull” the odor and disease-causing bacteria and germs in the mouth. Rather than using harsh ingredients like the alcohol in many drugstore mouthwashes, the oil does this naturally.
How do you do it?
Like many natural remedies, the practice is pretty simple. Select your favorite natural oil like coconut, sesame or sunflower oil. Ayurvedic literature recommends sesame.
Then, take about a tablespoon of the oil and hold it in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. That’s it. You can swish the oil — but very gently. It’s not necessary to do the vigorous swishing that you do with your regular mouthwash.
Be sure to spit out the oil when you’re finished — don’t swallow it.
Why should you do it?
According to the US National Library of Medicine, Ayurvedic medicine has treated more than two dozen different diseases and health conditions with oil pulling.
A few of the more common benefits associated with the practice are:
- Helps with asthma
- Provides energy
- Helps with diabetes
- Improves migraines
- Reduces headaches
- Whitens your teeth
- Detoxifies your body
- Clears skin
- Improves oral hygiene
- Fights gingivitis
- Reduces plaque
- Treats bad breath
- Fights tooth decay
Is there any science to back it up?
In a study conducted by a dental college in India, twenty adolescent males with plaque induced gingivitis were split into two separate groups. One was given chlorhexidine — the active ingredient in most over-the-counter mouthwashes, and the other did oil pulling.
After the study concluded, the young men who had oil pulled were shown to have a significant reduction in plaque when compared to the group that had used mouthwash.
The oil pulling group also showed a reduction of the bacteria responsible for tooth decay.
While the tradition of Ayurvedic medicine strongly supports all the claims of oil pulling, the only aspect that modern medicine has tested are the oral hygiene claims.
To your improved oral health.
Oil pulling has been shown to be an effective alternative to harsh chemical mouthwashes when it comes to fighting mouth bacteria and tooth decay. It can be a little difficult to get used to at first, as you are supposed to hold the oil in your mouth for a much longer period than you would mouthwash.
You can begin with smaller amounts — around a tablespoon. And there’s no need to actively swish and wear out your jaw for the entire 15 to 20 minutes — simply holding the oil in your mouth is effective enough.