Have You Tried Oil Pulling Yet?

You May Want to Consider Oil Pulling If You Need Help with Any of the Following:

  • receding gums or gum disease, excess tartar on your teeth, bad breath, teeth stained by coffee, tea or cigarette smoke
  • health issues caused by excess phlegm and mucous in the body, such as: asthma, allergies, hay fever, diabetes, snoring, insomnia, sleep apnea, candida, etc.
  • joint pains and muscle aches
  • cold, flu, or sinus infection resolution
  • random health issues including, but not limited, to: parasites, joint issues, back pain, hair loss, acne and other skin issues,  gray hair, dark circles under the eyes, etc.
  • smoking cessation: oil pulling can reduce your craving for cigarettes

One of my favorite daily health practices is OIL PULLING, a simple, inexpensive Ayurvedic practice that is both preventive and curative.   Oil pulling is the practice of putting a tablespoon of your favorite organic oil in your mouth and swishing it between your teeth for 15-20 minutes, then rinsing with warm salt water.  This may seem like a solid chunk of time, but if you create a ritual around it, like cleaning your kitchen while oil pulling, it can be a very pleasant start to your day.

Nowadays we know that there are illnesses that can start with bacteria or viruses in the mouth that, if untreated, may penetrate deeper into the body. So at the very least, good oral health is essential for optimal overall health. On a purely dental level, daily oil pulling can clean tartar off your teeth in 3-6 weeks, cure most gum diseases, and also whiten teeth to a natural level of white.  This contrasts with the whitening procedures offered by many dentists that are not only costly, but can often ‘over-whiten’ teeth, making patients self conscious of smiling because their bright white teeth look unnatural.  With regular oil pulling, brown spots in between teeth get much lighter and sometimes even disappear completely.  I also suggest this practice to both children and adults who wear braces.  The daily practice of oil pulling can save you from needless cavities because it will get rid of any bacteria that your brushing may have missed.

Beyond the dental and periodontal issues, oil pulling works for a myriad of ailments from hastening the recovery from a sore throat and clearing the body of phlegm to clearing parasites and improving allergies or hay fever.  Because it clears phlegm and mucous from the body, oil pulling often improves skin conditions, ranging from acne to eczema.  It is also terrific for any kind of muscle, back or joint pain in the body, as the Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) from the oils used to pull are absorbed into your system much faster than taking a capsule.  

The only downside to oil pulling is that some people may experience a detox effect in their first week of daily pulling.  Some people do not experience detox symptoms, but if you do, they typically run the gamut of minor headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea and facial pimples.  This stage generally passes quickly, but do note that the more toxic one is, generally the stronger the detox effect!

To entice you into giving this practice a try, I offer you three different success stories of oil pulling before I describe exactly how to do it:

Case 1 – Avoidance of Root Canal:  I came home from work one Friday night and the handyman in my building, Carlos, was talking to the doorman.  Carlos was groaning a bit and holding his right cheek and jaw with his hand. I overhead him telling the doorman that he was supposed to have a root canal but that his dentist said that Carlos had tonsillitis, and sent him home to recover until Tuesday, when the root canal was re-scheduled.  I started to tell Carlos about how to oil pull but his eyes glazed over as I described the process, so I asked Carlos to come to my apartment, gave him a tablespoon of sesame oil and had him oil pull for twenty minutes.  Then I gifted him a Tupperware full of oil and recommended that he oil pull 3x a day until he saw his dentist.  When I saw Carlos the following week, I asked him about his tooth. He smiled brightly and gave me the thumbs up.  I asked him how the root canal went and he replied, “Oh, I didn’t need to have it.  My pain is totally gone and my tooth is fine.  It’s a miracle!”

Case 2 – Curing of Gum Disease:  I was treating my 57-year old female acupuncture patient, Katherine, for a sore neck and stress relief, when she mentioned that she needed periodontal work done.  “My periodontist is very upset with me and yelled at me,” Katherine said. “He says I have 6mm pockets that can only be corrected by surgery and I need it right away but I don’t have the money right now.”  (Periodontal disease is measured in pocket size, and anything greater than 5mm is considered to be severe.) Periodontal surgery is not only painful but also expensive, so I suggested to Katherine that she try oil pulling, particularly as she had a 6-week window before her surgery.  Intrigued when I told her about Carlos’ success with his root canal, Katherine said she would give it a try.  When I saw Katherine a month later, she reported that after daily oil pulling, the pocket sizes of her gums had gone down to 4mm and she told her periodontist that she wanted to wait on the surgery.  Katherine continued with the oil pulling and after 3 months, her gums had completely healed. 

Case 3 – Clearing of Hay Fever and Allergies:  Maria was a 70-year old woman in good health except for the fact that every year she had terrible seasonal allergies and hay fever that affected her twice a year.  Her eyes would become bloodshot and itch all day long.  And much to her family’s dismay, she would make horrible noises as she tried to clear the mucous out of the back of her throat, almost constantly.  She was miserable.  I treated Maria with acupuncture, but she didn’t like to take herbal supplements, so I suggested that she oil pull.  Now, oil pulling for allergies and hay fever doesn’t necessarily bring an immediate result, though for some people it does.  However I enticed Maria to try oil pulling with the prospect that she had nothing to lose by attempting it, but whiter, tartar-free teeth.  So Maria started oil pulling each morning for twenty minutes and found that she liked to clean her kitchen each morning as she did so, and liked that she had created a peaceful morning routine for herself.  After three weeks, Maria’s eyes were whiter and she noticed a reduction in itching and overall mucous level in her body, as evidenced by less hacking and nose blowing.  Eight months later when Maria’s seasonal allergies would normally hit her again, she experienced NO hay fever or allergies.  Needless to say, Maria was thrilled. 

Which Oil to Use:   You can use any oil, as long as it’s organic, though I recommend that patients use either sesame oil or coconut oil to start with, because they’re the most palatable.  Please make sure all oils you use are organic.  Other oils you may want to try are olive oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, cod liver oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, canola oil, flax seed oil and black seed oil.  If you use sesame oil, use the golden brown sesame oil, not the dark toasted kind.  Children tend to prefer the coconut oil.  If you take up a daily practice of oil pulling, try to rotate the oil you use every 6-8 weeks, because the positive effects of this practice seem to be better sustained with oil rotation.

How to Oil Pull:

  1.  First, brush your teeth.  Some people skip this step, but I find it helpful. Put 1 tablespoon of organic oil into your mouth (see above for list of oils).  
  2. Swish the oil through your teeth.  Swishing the oil through your teeth actually gives your jaw and facial muscles quite a workout, so you may want to start out at just 5 minutes per day and slowly work your way up to 15 minutes per day in successive oil pulls.  Do not swallow!  (Bacteria, parasites, mucous and other toxins are now in the oil.)
  3. Spit oil into sink, or toilet if you suspect that you have parasites.  You will notice that the oil that you spit out will have turned white.  This is normal.
  4. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times and spit into sink.  Your teeth will feel cleaner already.
  5. Repeat several times a day, particularly if you have had positive results and you would like to accelerate the benefits of this practice.
  6. You can rotate types of oil you use every 6-8 weeks.  Some people find that the teeth whitening effect only lasts about 6 weeks, unless you rotate the oil you use to pull.

Optional for those who have a sore throat cold or flu:  Add a drop of oil of oregano or olive leaf extract (both are anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial) into your tablespoon of oil and do the oil pulling 3-5x a day for about 5 minutes each time. The flavor may be too strong for some, but it is excellent for the immune system and if you’re trying to get over an illness you will generally find that it resolves much more quickly with oil pulling.

Optional for those who are experiencing detox symptoms from oil pulling: Add a drop of peppermint oil into your tablespoon of oil.  Peppermint oil is particularly good for reducing any nausea resulting from oil pulling.

Final note on what time of day to oil pull:  When you first try oil pulling, you may not want to try it too late in the day.  Some of my patients have reported that it gives them so much energy that it’s too hard to sleep.

Everyone has a different experience with oil pulling.  Some people notice that it helps with a wide range of health issues, while others feel it only helps their teeth and gums, but it’s best to try it and find out for yourself!

If you’ve read this article and end up trying oil pulling, let me know how it goes.  You can write me at turtlebayacupuncture@gmail.com.  You can also like The Healing Power Hour fan page on Facebook, so you can be notified when the next blog post is up!