Am I the only one who had never heard of this? Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic method of detoxing the body. It involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil around the inside of your mouth for 15-20 minutes, every morning. The coconut oil pulls bacteria and other toxins from the body. As the blood circulates, it passes thru the mouth and the oil does its thing. Then, you spit it into the trash (not the sink – it might clog), rinse with salt water and brush your teeth. (Be careful not to swallow it, since it contains toxins.)
Gross, right? But it has been credited with improving health – and not only in your mouth. Testimonies I read began with improved oral health – everything from teeth whitening and decreased plaque build up to regrowth of receding gums. Some even claim it heals cavities or, at least, prevents them. But the theory is that your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body. People who swear by oil pulling report less joint pain/stiffness, less sinus infections, better managed chronic pain, less migraine headaches, improved skin and increased mental alertness, among other things.
Scientifically, evidence supports the fact that fatty acids attract bacteria and pathogens. A chemical in coconut oil, called Lauric acid, is antimicrobial and antibacterial. It kills bacteria, viruses and fungi. The theory is that, in 15-20 minutes, all of the blood in your body circulates thru your mouth.
The best oil for pulling seems to be unrefined, organic, cold pressed coconut oil. Some people use different oils as well. You can even get coconut oil flavored with mint, just for this purpose (who knew?) I even came across one woman who mixes coconut with other essential oils and makes cute little dinosaur shapes, using a chocolate mold.
Experts recommend oil pulling while you shower, fold laundry, check your eMail, or some other chore, to pass the time. If your jaw gets tired from all that swishing, take little breaks and just hold the oil in your mouth until ready to continue. I did not find any negative side effects or other risks associated with the practice – other than the initial, repulsive feeling of placing a spoonful of solidified grease in your mouth. But I plan to ask my dentist about it at my next visit.
Amazon sells books about oil pulling and the reviews of the practice are impressive. In recent years, coconut oil has received a great deal of attention for it’s potential as a healthy alternative to other oils. Maybe this is a way to enjoy the benefits without actually ingesting all those fatty calories? Something to think about!