There are many benefits to coconut oil pulling. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic medicinal practice, has been around for over 3,000 years, but has only started gaining favor in North America over the past two years. Many studies have been done to show that the practice is beneficial, and implementing into your daily hygiene routine may be worth considering.
The idea behind coconut oil pulling is a simple but effective way to rid the mouth of toxins and bacterial junk in combination with brushing and mouthwash use. It’s supposed to whiten your teeth, make your mouth feel fresh, and prevent oral diseases like gingivitis from happening.
How Coconut Oil Pulling Works
Here’s how it works: as you swish the oil in your mouth, toxins and bacteria get trapped within it; the longer it’s swished, the more that is drawn out. Eventually, the oil, after mixing with saliva, becomes a thick, mucous-like substance. It takes some adjusting to get accustomed to this texture in your mouth, but it gets easier the more you do it.
The actual practice involves taking a tablespoon of coconut oil and placing it into your mouth. Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature, so swishing it will be a little difficult at first, but the heat of your mouth will soon warm it up, so don’t be alarmed once it starts liquefying. Once it becomes a liquid, begin swishing it around your mouth and through your teeth; this will draw out the toxins and bacteria from all the little areas that brushing and even flossing might not get to. After 20 minutes, spit the liquid out.
You may find it a bit difficult to swish for that long, especially if you have a sensitive gag reflex, so try it for five minutes first if that’s the case—you’ll still receive the benefits even in that decreased time. If you’re worried about the oil clogging your sink, spit it into a tissue and throw it in the wastebasket.
Other oils also work for this, such as sesame oil (traditionally used in India) or sunflower oil, but these aren’t nearly as easy to handle as coconut oil because of their taste and texture. Coconut oil is much more pleasant to use.
Top Health Benefits of Coconut Oil Pulling
The benefits of oil pulling are numerous and have been documented for centuries. It was how teeth were cleaned and breath was freshened thousands of years ago, starting in India. But oil pulling benefits aren’t limited to the mouth; for example, it’s also thought that oil pulling can stimulate the lymphatic system, helping move toxins away from vital organs. You can also use coconut oil pulling for weight loss, to promote heart health, and to improve memory.
So even though the oil is in your mouth and you aren’t directly ingesting it, it has overall body benefits that far exceed simply keeping the mouth free from bad bacteria. A study published in the Indian Journal of Dental Research in 2009 found that oil pulling did a better job of reducing gingivitis than mouthwash. Some other coconut oil pulling benefits include:
- Killing the bad bacteria lurking in your mouth; the stuff that brushing and rinsing with mouthwash won’t get. Coconut oil has lots of fatty acids, including lauric acid, which does a good job of killing bacteria and viruses.
- Keeping your lips moisturized, especially in cold winter months. The oil is in your mouth, so naturally it will escape to your lips.
- Helping with periodontal disease by removing plaque and other junk from around your gums, greatly reducing the inflammation already present and/or preventing inflammation from even happening. Gingivitis, which is caused by plaque settling in along the ridges of the gums and then hardening into tartar, can be a growing concern as we get older, and can cause weakened gums and, in advanced forms, tooth loss.
- Making teeth whiter. After only a few days, people have reported having shinier and whiter teeth with a smooth just-after-the-dentist feel.
- Helping you get a better night’s rest.
- Improving kidney and liver functions.
- Improving digestion by balancing gut flora.
- Helping soothe a dry, irritated throat.
- Healing bleeding gums.
- Helping to prevent cavities.
Why it’s Best to Use Coconut Oil
Oil pulling can be done with other oils such as sesame and sunflower oils, but for the most part most people seem to enjoy using coconut oil because of its light taste and texture, though sesame oil is still the preferred oil to use among Ayurvedic practitioners to this day. Nevertheless, coconut oil is best to use, and here’s why. Overall, coconut oil is highly absorbable, meaning even though it’s only used in your mouth, it’s still being absorbed by the cells in your mouth and cheeks, which deliver the oil in minute amounts throughout your body. Once delivered, your body will reap the many benefits the oil has to offer.
Risks and Side Effects of Coconut Oil Pulling
Though there are many benefits to coconut oil pulling, one concern is that people will start to replace their usual treatments or upset their daily routine, even though those typical treatments might be more beneficial and effective. Let’s be clear: not brushing your teeth using a toothbrush and toothpaste and avoiding mouthwash and flossing is not a wise choice when oil pulling.
That said, there’s no danger to coconut oil pulling either. Yes, the coconut oil will clean your mouth and rid it of nasty bacteria, but that doesn’t mean it should replace your usual oral care regimen. Rather, it should become a part of your overall dental hygiene routine; that is, it should complement what you’re already doing. As long as it’s used alongside other treatments when needed, oil pulling is safe and a good addition to a healthy lifestyle.
Another concern is purity. Be sure to use a high quality/grade coconut oil, free of impurities and additives. A natural health food store is a good place to get a container of good quality coconut oil.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“The 7 Benefits of Oil Pulling,” Food Matters web site; http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/the-7-health-benefits-of-oil-pulling, last accessed February 19, 2016.
“How Oil Pulling Can Transform Your Dental Health,” Authority Nutrition web site;
http://authoritynutrition.com/oil-pulling-coconut-oil/, last accessed February 19, 2016.
“The Health Benefits of Oil Pulling,” Global Healing Center web site;
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/benefits-of-oil-pulling//, last accessed February 19, 2016.
“Oil Pulling: Benefits and Side Effects,” Live Science web site;
http://www.livescience.com/50896-oil-pulling-facts.html, last accessed February 19, 2016.
“20 Benefits of Coconut Oil,” Yahoo web site; https://www.yahoo.com/health/20-benefits-coconut-oil-103600792.html, last accessed February 19, 2016.