Oil Pulling: to Pull or Not to Pull

Have you heard of oil pulling, but aren’t exactly sure what it is or why you should jump on the trendy bandwagon? Oil pulling has actually been around for thousands of years. It is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique of swishing oil around in your mouth every morning on an empty stomach for 10 -20 minutes. Essentially, you are pulling the oil in between your teeth to clean your mouth.

By swishing the oil around in your mouth, it reportedly helps with drawing toxins out of your body primarily in your mouth. In addition to drawing toxins out of your body (yes please!), oil pulling may help with gingivitis, plaque, and reducing harmful bacteria, which causes bad breath and a whole host of other things. Some other possible benefits may include migraine headache relief, reduction of inflammation from arthritis, and even better sleep. Patients of mine have also reported that it has helped with whitening their teeth.

To some, oil pulling is a pseudoscience. Critics say that if you swish anything liquid around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes, you will dislodge food and bacteria, which help to clean your teeth. Others say that it does help with cleansing your mouth, but it is certainly not the “cure all” for migraines, arthritis, hormonal imbalances, or even cardiovascular disease.

As with anything, the choice is yours as to whether or not you try oil pulling. Personally, I actually crave it! My mouth feels so clean afterwards. Try it when you’re up reading or checking emails in the morning. Use about 1 tablespoon at a time (less if you are just starting out). It will take a little bit of getting used to – especially the texture! I recommend using coconut oil, sesame oil, or even ghee. Coconut oil, in particular, is very good at destroying microbes, which can be harmful. Make sure you spit it out when you are done! If 20 minutes sounds like forever, then start with 3-5 minutes at a time. Do what you can.  A great way to multi-task is by grabbing your spoonful before heading into the shower. Also, try not to “swish” too vigorously. Your mouth (and jaw) will get tired pretty fast.

Happy pulling!