I’m a detox junkie. Ok, not really. Well, maybe. But I do love practices, foods, and other things (like this) that help me feel my best and keep my system firing on all cylinders. Particularly those things that naturally remove some of the nasties that are picked up on a daily basis simply by living and breathing.
When I first stumbled upon the practice of oil pulling, I was intrigued. Particularly, since it involved my bestie, coconut oil. We’re inseparable. No really.
What is oil pulling?
In a nutshell, it’s an ancient Ayurvedic practice for detox and rejuvenation where you swish oil in your mouth for a set amount of time and then spit it out. Anedcotally, the benefits I read seemed worthy of a try. People gushed over improving dental health, sinus problems, allergies, skin breakouts, arthritis, headaches, and hormone imbalances, among others. What the hell, right?
Old school oil pullers traditionally used virgin sesame oil or sunflower oil, but more mainstream peeps seemed to tout coconut oil as a better option, simply because of its inherent antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and enzymatic properties. This provides the added benefit of killing any unwanted bacteria that may be residing in your mouth. Plus I’m addicted to the stuff and the taste is muuuch more pleasant than the others.
What are the benefits?
Now while there are all kinds of health claims around oil pulling, from weight loss to curing diabetes, I’m a facts kind of gal, and prefer to see these claims backed up by data. Naturally, the studies that I was able to locate centered around vastly improving dental health. Of course, a healthy mouth is directly correlated with a healthy bod, so all of the anecdotal happy endings have some validity.
Here’s what the data told me about oil pulling:
- It kills bacteria: In this study, published in 2008, oil pulling using sesame oil caused a reduction in the number of Streptococcus Mutans found in the plaque in as little as 2 weeks in 20 adolescent boys. Streptococcus Mutans is the primary cause of plaque buildup and tooth decay.
- It reduces plaque and gingivitis: This study compared oil pulling and chlorhexidine mouthwash (which is loaded with chemicals) in adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). Both oil pulling and chlorhexidine were effective against gingivitis. Now I ask. Which one would you choose?
- Improves stinky breath: This seems like the most obvious result. Many times, bad breath is linked to bacteria that have taken up residence in the mouth. When you reduce the bacteria, the incidence of bad breath goes down. This study proved just that in – you guessed it – 20 adolescents.
How do you oil pull?
Spoon ½ to 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth and begin swishing. If it’s cold, it will melt. This is the step that wigs people out the most. I cannot tell a lie, it feels weird at first but you get over it.
Swish the oil around your mouth for 5-20 minutes. Yes, 20 minutes is a long time and your mouth does get tired. Start with 5 minutes and work your way up to 20. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was your amazing new found dental health.
Spit the oil in the garbage (not down the sink drain – it will solidify and clog – trust me) and brush your teeth. Don’t swallow it. Remember, it’s “pulled” all of those nasties out of your mouth – you don’t want to ingest that.
Carry on your merry way.
How to Supercharge Your Oil Pulling With Essential Oils
Here are some of my top essential oil choices for oil pulling:
- Lemon: Helps to whiten teeth
- Peppermint: Freshens breath and supports gum health
- Thieves: Has purifying properties and supports gum health
- Frankincense: Eases mouth discomfort and supports gum health
- Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree Oil): Has purifying properties and supports gum health
- Oregano: Has purifying properties
A little goes a long way, so one drop of essential oil can really go the distance. Start with 1 drop of essential oil to 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. If that’s too strong, dilute it to 1 drop for every 3 tablespoons. I like to pre-mix in a glass jar like this ahead of time so there’s no early morning mixing involved. One less thing to do is always a good thing.
Now the thing to remember is this…not all essential oils are created equal. Many that you get in the health food store or Amazon could potentially be cut with synthetics – which is why the prices vary so greatly. This not only sucks because you THINK you’re getting something super awesome (and you’re not), BUT it can also be really dangerous. I’ve heard horror stories (including a very close friend of mine) of people having reactions to essential oils purchased from “reputable” sources.
Like my food, I want to know exactly where my oils are coming from – especially since I’m using them on my children, on my body, and for therapeutic purposes – not just to make my dish soap smell nice. This is the only brand of essential oils that I trust and use with my family. The bonus – I get them at wholesale – a whopping 24% off!
My oil pulling results
Since I began oil pulling about 6 months ago, I’ve noticed an improvement mostly in my dental health, primarily:
- Vast reduction in plaque build-up
- Whiter teeth, sans Crest White Strips (side note: don’t use those – they’re chock full of chemicals)
- Less gum bleeding
And the bonus…clearer skin, baby!
Not too shabby for something you can do while doing a million other things (for your multi-taskers, out there). Well, besides having a conversation. That’s hard, unless you know sign language or don’t mind random oil spills throughout the house. My loves know better than to pick my brain during the first 20 minutes of my day when I’m in the zone.
I kinda like it that way. Silence is golden.
Have you tried oil pulling? If so, what results have you noticed in your health? I’d LOVE to hear! Please leave a comment.