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What’s the Big Deal With Oil Pulling?

Let’s start by noting that this is not intended as medical advice. I’ve included some links so you can get what information you can on oral health and oil pulling, but I’m not a doctor, dentist or anyone else who can tell you what will benefit your health. Get your salt shaker and take it along, one grain of salt as necessary as you read.

Oil pulling has become pretty popular lately. All kinds of health benefits have been claimed by proponents. I do it occasionally, and I have friends who do it. Is oil pulling really that wonderful?

Oil pulling is simple but a bit time consuming. Most sources say you should put some sesame seed oil or coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around for 20 minutes for the best benefit, then spit into the trash. This isn’t easy to do, especially if you try in the morning when the kids are up and full of questions. Even five minutes has an effect in my experience, however.

In my experience, it’s pretty good. I don’t know about all the wondrous health claims some people make, but I do think it helps whiten teeth and helps get more stuff out of gums. I don’t believe the bit about pulling toxins from the body. I think any health benefits may come from having a cleaner mouth, which your dentist should agree means better overall health – just take a look at the connection between oral health and heart disease or diabetes.

This does not mean oil pulling will help you with these problems. It only means that you should pay attention to your oral health to benefit your overall health. Don’t neglect brushing, flossing or routine dental care.

Oil pulling looks promising for the reduction of Streptococcus mutans. This may be due more to a saponification and emulisification process rather than anything antibacterial. Studies so far have been small, so there’s a long ways to go in terms of proving any benefit. I also saw a headline on Pubmed about oil pulling being associated with lipoid pneumonia (caused by breathing in small amounts of the oil), but no abstract. Still, it’s good to be aware that it may not be entirely harmless.

This article on it on Jezebel is interesting too, especially the section with opinions from a periodontist.

Please don’t assume that oil pulling will solve all your health problems. There’s a lot being said about it that has not been proven. By the same token, it strikes me as a simple thing to try if it interests you and you don’t expect miracles and understand the risks.