The Benefits of Oil Pulling

You may be surprised that minutes of swishing these essential oils can improve your oral health.

Before there were electric toothbrushes and mouthwash, there was oil pulling. Long used in the Ayurvedic medicine, oil pulling is the practice of holding natural oils in the mouth for long periods of time in order to cleanse it. Practitioners believed that this is one way to balance the dosha – bodily energies which manifest a person's physical, mental and emotional wellness. Doshas also reflects one’s vulnerability to diseases.

In oil pulling, coconut, sunflower or sesame oil are swished to treat mouth-related issues such as bleeding gums, oral odor, chapped lips, and throat dryness. The purpose of this is to get rid of oil-soluble toxins in the oral area. As coconut oil solidify below 24 C, blending it with sunflower and sesame oils will offer more thorough detoxification, as the mixture will not harden in the mouth.

There are two ways Ayurvedic practitioners performed age-old oil pulling. In Gandusha, you fill your mouth with oil and hold it in for three to five minutes. The oil is then spat out. In Kavala Graha, you swish your mouth with a comfortable amount of oil, which you hold inside your mouth for three minutes while gargling, then spit out.

How science backs oil pulling

In a 2009 study published by the Indian Journal of Dental Research disclosed that oil pulling helps in the reduction of plaque and gingivitis. During this experiment, 20 age-matched adult boys with plaque-induced gingivitis were divided to two groups. One was subjected to sesame oil pulling and the other, chlorhexidine mouthwash before brushing. While there was considerable reduction in oral plaque in both groups, researchers found out that oil pulling has similar efficacy with chlorhexidine mouthwash.

Another study in 2014 discovered that oil pulling helps in reducing oral malodor. This was published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research.

How to do modern oil pulling

Just like how cleansers lift deep-seated dirt on your face, oil pulling washes your mouth and cleanse hard-to-reach areas in a natural way. Other than providing an inexpensive alternative to oral health care, it was said to also assist those who suffer from hormone imbalances, infections, liver problems and asthma.

Oil pulling is done best in the morning before food or liquid intake. According to Wellness Mama, it is best done with two teaspoons of vegetable-based oil (which can be either coconut, sesame or olive). Swish it in the mouth for 20 full minutes before spitting out and rinsing well.

Why 20 minutes? According to the author of Oil Pulling Therapy, Dr. Bruce Fife, it is crucial to swish the oil long enough to break through the bacteria. However, don't overdo it; the oil will start re-absorbing the toxins and will get thicker as it gets mixed with saliva. It is difficult to make it to the full 20 minutes at first. Beginners can try swishing the oil for 5 to 10 minutes.

Things to avoid: Do not swallow the oil. It is full of bacteria that is not good for your body. Also, do not spit the oil in the sink. The toxic oil might thicken and clock your pipes which might then affect your septic system.

After spitting out the oil, rinse your mouth with warm water. At best, mix it with salt. This will get the remaining substances out of your mouth. Proceed to brushing your teeth to completely cleansing your mouth.

A long list of benefits

Daily swishing-and-spitting for a few minutes rewards you with a healthier mouth. You get whiter teeth, better-smelling breath, and stronger gums and jaws. It treats tooth decay, bleeding gums and cavities; soothes sore throat and heals cracked lips. Other than these benefits, this all-natural remedy offers a host of many uses not only for the mouth, but also for the whole body. Oil pulling can also prevent heart disease, boost your immune system, and even help you get clearer skin!

These are great reasons why you should start oil pulling today. Take that bottle of sesame oil, make a good swish, and experience a delightful change in your oral health!

Jonas Diezun

Jonas is Co-Founder at RADICE. He is an avid reader, soccer player and loves hiking in the Munich mountains. He usually writes about productivity, sleep and the science behind both. He studied at in Munich and New York, and worked in Startups. His best advice for sleep? Have a fixed routine and see sleep & recreation as the most important pillar for your health. It determines everything.
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