I first discovered the joys of coconut oil when Keith and I started our journey into the Paleo eating plan. It was a recommended alternative in cooking to butter or other fats and so we bought a jar and started using it in our cooking. Then my mother-in-law mentioned that not only did she use it in her cooking, but she often used it as a makeup-remover or in place of facial lotions. My love for the stuff was cemented when I got a painful sunburn on our trip to Mexico last year. I rubbed coconut oil into the burn, went to bed, and it was almost completely gone the next morning!
But then I started to see things online about a mysterious thing called “oil pulling” that was being credited for solving just about everything except world peace. What could this magical cure-all possibly be? So the other day armed with some spare time and intrigue, I did some research. Since the list of potential benefits is high and the cost is low, I decided it was worth giving it a try so this past Friday night I purchased a gigantic tub of coconut oil from CostCo for $14 and Saturday morning I started my regimen. But I’m getting ahead of myself and you’re probably thinking, what the heck IS it? I’ll give you a brief run down.
What Is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is a practice supposedly rooted in some ancient medicinal practice from Asia. You swish the oil around in your mouth and it supposedly absorbs or “pulls” all the toxins from your mouth into the oil, then you spit it out. You’ll want to use the highest quality oil you can find, of course as it is the purest and has the most benefits. And just what benefits does this practice have? Well, here’s a list of what I’ve found online:
* Helping to strengthen the gums, jaws and teeth.
* Helping to prevent gum disease, cavities and even gingivitis
* Helping to prevent bad breath
* Provide a holistic method and remedy for dealing with bleeding gums
* Helping to prevent dryness of the mouth, throat and the lips
* Helping to prevent general soreness around the area of the jaw (such as TMJ sufferers)
* Relief for migraines and headaches
* Reducing arthritic inflammation
* Helping to reduce the signs of eczema
* Helping to reduce insomnia
* Reducing the effects of a hangover after consuming too much alcohol
* Helping to support the normal function of the kidneys
* Helping to reduce the symptoms of bronchitis
* May help to reduce pain
* Some oil pullers have even reported that it helped to improve their vision
- Oil pulling is apparently most effective when you do it first thing in the morning before you eat, drink or brush your teeth.
- Take a teaspoon (approx) of coconut oil and stick it in your mouth. (I stick it in there in its room temperature state and it quickly melts in your mouth. However, it does make me gag a little at first, so if you have serious texture issues, you might want to melt it for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)
- Set a timer for 20 minutes (no more, no less) and swish the oil around in your mouth. (This would be a great time to take a shower, read your morning devotional, cook breakfast check your email, whatever. Doing an activity makes the time pass quickly!)
- At the end of 20 minutes, spit it into the trash can. DO NOT SWALLOW (remember, it’s got all those toxins in it!). DO NOT SPIT DOWN THE DRAIN (or your drains will quickly clog.)
- Brush your teeth and go about your day.
- Repeat each morning.
Opposition and Disclaimers
Because I do my research carefully, I checked out both sides of the story before trying it, or bringing this blog to my readers. And just as there are millions who claim it heals everything from acne to cancer, there are an equal number of folks who say it’s total malarkey. I checked out what Snopes.com had to say (they think it’s neither helpful nor harmful) and also found this blog of a girl who had a crazy-bad reaction after “pulling” for 2 days with coconut oil (she had done 2 treatments a day, so 4 treatments). Other folks have said that while they had a reaction to or couldn’t handle the texture of coconut oil pulling but have had positive results with safflower, sunflower or olive oil (the blog author referenced above switched oils and did fine!). However, a note of caution, the Paleo guidelines recommend you avoid safflower and sunflower oils at all costs, so there’s that to consider too.
Granted I’m only a few days in and I don’t have any particular horrible maladies. I’m not sure that it will really affect the dry scalp that I battle in the winter (although I certainly hope so) and while I do think that my teeth look a tiny bit whiter, that could really honestly be the power of suggestion. But here’s what I DO know. My mouth feels cleaner than it’s ever felt. Like straight-from-the-dentist clean. And it lasts most of the day even after I’ve eaten. And it’s amazingly relaxing. I’ve been using the time spent oil-pulling to read my Lenten devotional and pray and that combined with the swishing is such an amazing way to start my morning. So if I have a super clean mouth and a relaxed mindset going into my day, that’s enough reason for me to keep doing it.
I guess the bottom line is that oil-pulling, like ANY out-of-the-ordinary health practice, probably isn’t for everybody. Listen to YOUR body! If you have a particular health condition you might want to check with your doctor (or dentist as well in this case) to make sure they don’t know of anything that might conflict or react with your medicines or illness. And know that results can vary….something that cures one person might not cure another, etc. But so far…my experiences have been positive. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you tried it? Liked it? Heard of it? Hated it?