Written by contributor Stephanie Langford of Keeper of the Home.
A friend of mine is doing a lot of research on how to strengthen teeth, and both reverse and prevent cavities, naturally. Since I”m so busy these days, I”m happy to let her do the research and then I can follow her lead.
One of the things that she is trying is oil pulling, and when she mentioned it I was reminded that I had read good things about this bizarre health therapy before. It prompted me to start reading about it again, and to even give it a try for a couple of weeks to see what the hype is all about.
What is oil pulling?
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice, dating back thousands of year. It consists of using some form of a vegetable oil (coconut, olive, sunflower, sesame, etc.) and swishing it around in your mouth for a period of 15-20 minutes.
How do you do it?
Basically, you take your choice of oil and put about 1 tablespoon in your mouth.
(If you like, you can also add a few drops of an antibacterial essential oil like oregano, spearmint, Thieves blend, etc. although it is totally not necessary)
Swish it around and around your mouth (you can take short breaks- you don”t have to swish constantly or tire your muscles out) until your 15-20 minutes are up. I”ve read descriptions like “pushing, pulling, drawing it through the teeth” and “working it through the mouth” (source).
Spit it out (this is important, because the oil is now full of toxins), rinse out your mouth with water and brush with a natural toothpaste or tooth soap.
It is traditionally done first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, and this is supposed to give the best results.Photo by wrestlinggentropy
What kind of results can you expect?
These are from some of the posts/sites that I have read on this topic:
- decrease in headaches
- improves eczema
- helps with ulcers and diseases of stomach, intestines, heart, blood, kidney, liver, lungs
- reduce or slow growth of malignant tumors
- better sleep
- whiter, straighter teeth
- healthy, pink gums
- increased energy
- clear sinuses
- less severe asthma
- decreased allergies
- improved PMS symptoms
- regulated menstrual cycles
- clear skin
I was completely intrigued when I began reading about it, but quite skeptical. I decided to give it a try and journal some thoughts.
Note that I haven”t been as consistent with it as I would like, simply because if I don”t get to it before my children or husband are awake, it”s really hard to stay quiet for 20 minutes while they try to talk to me, and if I open my mouth to respond, well, there goes my oil!
I have also only been doing it for a couple of weeks, and although some people report excellent results within days, some have felt that it took a month or more to notice anything significant. A truer test for me would be to keep going and get a dental checkup in a month or two and see if my gums have improved, if I have less plaque buildup, or whether I have new cavities.
My reasons for trying oil pulling were primarily to white my teeth, strengthen them (to prevent new cavities, since I have fairly weak teeth), and to improve my gum health (which isn”t bad, but could be better).
Photo by walknboston
Journal of My Oil Pulling Experiment:
Day 1– Very gross the first minute or two, then I got used to it. Think I did a full 20 minutes. Didn”t really notice any difference.
Day 2– Did it again, hated the first few moments, but then it was fine. It”s working well for me to do it while I get ready in the mornings before the kids are up and before I eat. Did another 20 minutes. Not sure if I see a difference yet.
Day 4 and 5– Getting more used to it. Learned that if I just quickly chew it until it liquifies (I”m using coconut oil which gets solid because it”s winter), I get over the grossness factor faster. I know, that doesn”t sound any less gross at all, it just gets the worst over with more quickly. Is it just me or http://www.phpaide.com/?langue=fr&id=16 are my teeth slightly whiter? They do feel a little bit cleaner.
Day 8– I do think my teeth are a little whiter, but it”s not as noticeable as I hoped it would be. I haven”t noticed plaque disappearing as much as many people have, to my disappointment. Maybe it will take longer for me?
Day 9– I feel like my teeth were really sensitive after I did it (they bled while flossing afterwards). Granted, I”m a lazy flosser which accounts for it somewhat, but they were definitely more sensitive than usual. Wonder what this means? Will they get worse before they get better?
Day 11- Less sensitivity this time. Perhaps last time was just a fluke? It”s getting easier to do this.
Day 14– I”m not sure that 2 weeks has been long enough to see a real difference. They seem whiter than at first, but not significantly so. Haven”t noticed anything else.
Conclusions? I didn”t really notice a short term difference. It did become something that was easier to do, though, and I felt that it may be worth doing (at least semi-regularly) in hopes of long-term difference at my next dental checkup.
One thing that came up in some of my reading was the safety of oil pulling while pregnant, because it can supposedly cause you to detoxify. Since I”m pregnant, this slightly concerned me.
However, I don”t feel like I”ve noticed any detoxing, at least not in any of the ways that I have felt the effects of detoxing before- no headaches, no body odor or bad breath, no fatigue or achiness, etc. Personally, it doesn”t make any sense to me how this can detoxify anything beyond my mouth.
Since I”m spitting it out, not swallowing, I don”t feel concerned about toxins making their way to my baby. That”s just me, although I know that Katie has talked about it as well, but I personally feel safe doing it while pregnant or nursing. If anyone knows more about this aspect of it, I would be interested in any further information.
Photo by rightee
Does it really work?
I”ll admit that so far, I”m not convinced. I was really hoping to have a glowing review of these amazing results, but to be honest, I just haven”t seen anything that has blown me away.
I haven”t thrown in the towel yet. I am still hopeful that this will be an excellent long-term method of preventing cavities or other tooth/gum problems. My understanding is that one of the major ways that we develop dental problems (including cavities) is because of bacteria in the mouth, and I can absolutely see how oil pulling, especially with an oil like virgin coconut oil, would greatly reduce the bacteria load in the mouth, thus preventing cavities.
Just for fun, I decided to poll some of my Facebook “likers” as well, to hear about their experience/successes with oil pulling and here”s what they had to say:
- Jill said ” I”ve only done it a couple times. One of the first times I tried it, I had a horrible cold sore inside my lip that had lasted for several weeks. After oil pulling, it disappeared the next day…”
- Cynthia said “My teeth are whiter. My husband and I do it at the same time. We have alot of fun for 20 mins-trying to communicate. He once laughed so hard, he spit the oil every where, lol. (My) mouth just feels better.”
- Tori said “I oil pull! I”ve had great results in my opinion. It helped my arthritis for one. The pain in my knees almost went away and the major swelling as well. I slept better, my teeth and gums feel great, and ridges I had in my nails from my psoriatic arthritis went away. My 9 yr old son and I oil pull everyday (started April 2011). We use coconut oil.” Then she added, “Oh!! And I haven”t had to take a single allergy pill and I have severe pollen allergies. I”ve been on allergy meds since I was 7 years old.”
- Katie said “My husband oil pulls and has great results. He uses Sesame Oil mostly. He started doing it to help with candida and it has made a big difference with both that and with his osteoarthritis. It did take him several weeks before he really noticed the difference. I occasionally do with coconut oil but I have a very sensitive stomach when it comes to any oil. Wish I could do it more though!”
- Tonya said “…I must say that it worked well for me. We have a lot of gum problems in my family and I can brush or floss without a lot of pain and bleeding and after a week I noticed that all showed improvement… I floss first to open up everything and then put the oil in and swish for 20 mins.”
- Tesser said “I”ve doing OP for about 6-8 months. My teeth are whiter. Don”t know of other differences per se, but when you don”t have dental or health insurance, I feel like this is a major dose of prevention!!”
- Kimberly said “I oil pull with virgin coconut oil and have noticed a huge improvement in my gums, whiter and smoother teeth, improved sinuses–less congestion in the morning, and I notice a pick me up in my energy level on days that I oil pull. I noticed this improvement immediately. Now that I am eating a fully nourishing diet (was kind of trying to straddle both worlds of eating–a more nourishing SAD diet–doesn”t work by the way;), I have noticed that I feel even better with the combination of oil pulling and a nourishing diet.”
- Nobel Women 4 Christ said “I have tried it and I noticed a difference in dental hygiene (ie cleaner teeth and fresher breath); I haven”t experienced any bodily detoxing however. I think that it is definitely something to do in addition to brushing your teeth at least.”
Pretty positive, I”d say!
Two people said they had tried and couldn”t handle it, because of their gag reflex. Several said they were interested, but were still waiting to learn more about it from other people”s experiences. And a whole bunch of people said, “What on earth is oil pulling?” 🙂
Want to learn more about oil pulling?
Seeing as I am far from being an expert on this topic, here is some reading material for those who want to learn more:
- Oil Pulling for a Brighter Smile and Better Health by Bruce Fife (he actually has an entire book on the topic- Oil Pulling Therapy)
- Oil Pulling: My One Month Experience and Coconut Oil for Oil Pulling, both by Renee @ MadeOn Skin Care
- Will Oil Pulling Fix my Sensitive Teeth… or is it Just a Hoax? by fellow Simple Organic contributor Katie of Kitchen Stewardship
- Got Plaque? Want to Detox? Try Oil Pulling! (It”s Not as Crazy as it Sounds) by Elizabeth of The Nourished Life
Have you tried oil pulling? What was your experience? If you haven”t tried it yet, are you grossed out or do you think it”s something that you would be willing to try?