What happens in the mouth can affect the entire body. So if you are trying to improve your oral hygiene and overall health, Oil Pulling might just be what you need. It is believed that all diseases start in the gut or in the mouth. Sir William Osler, a very famous Canadian physician and one of the four founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital, wrote back in the early 1900s that the mouth is a mirror of the body.
Our tongue and teeth are important meridian pathways (energy channels) that interconnect our organs. The following tooth meridian chart shows how each tooth is correlated to an organ in our body. If you are experiencing any health problems with any parts of your body, it is good to consider the source as well and try to cure the root cause of the problem. By removing toxins, infections and bad bacteria from the tongue and the teeth, we can free the blockage from these pathways and help other body parts heal.
So what is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling, also known as “ Kavala Graha” or “Gandoosha” is an ancient Ayurvedic oral cleansing and detoxing technique where certain oil is swished around in the mouth on an empty stomach for 15-20 minutes. It is known to have started thousands of years ago in India and according to ancient Ayurvedic texts, oil pulling may solve about 30 systemic health issues by detoxing the mouth and teeth. Studies have shown that swishing oil activates enzymes and draws toxins out of the blood. It is an easy daily detox to stay ahead of the bad bacteria in your mouth.
You probably know that “ like dissolves like” and “oil repels water” so the bacteria in our mouth are safe from saliva but they dissolve in the oil because the membrane around bacteria is fatty acids and mixes with the oil easily and when you spit out the oil you swished, you remove all the plaque, bacteria and toxins from your mouth. Plaque is not just some leftover food on your teeth…plaque is a naturally constructed biofilm in which the thickness of the bacteria gathered on top of the teeth can reach 300-500 cells. These bacteria accumulations (plaque buildup) can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
A practice that was once considered folk medicine is now backed by science. It is excellent as a preventative measure as well as a remedy. Indian Journal of Dental Research has published multiple research studies that have proven oil pulling to be effective in promoting oral health and lymphatic drainage as well as treating bleeding gums. It can also prevent and reverse tooth decay and reduce halitosis. Having a healthy and normal oral flora can help improve many other diseases including skin conditions, heart failure, dementia, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, liver problems, hormone imbalance, headaches and infections (see references to studies at the end of the post).
Dr. Bruce Fife author of “oil pulling therapy” shares how oral bacteria and insulin resistance have direct relation. And tests have been done after patients with dementia passed away and they have found the bacteria that had caused dementia in the brain were also found in patient’s mouth.
This study shows that Oil pulling is safe and effective in reducing halitosis is pregnant women who don’t want to go through the chemical plaque removal during pregnancy.
Oil pulling can be done daily up to 2-3 times a day for severe infections and health issues. If you are in good overall health, once a day will be enough to maintain a healthy oral flora.
How to perform Oil Pulling?
Sesame oil, Rice Bran Oil or coconut oil are the recommended oils for this purpose. Sesame oil has a high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids and is a good source of vitamin E and anti-oxidants. Coconut oil tastes better and it is easier to start with if you are not used to oil pulling. Besides, coconut oil is anti-microbial and anti-fungal and it has a natural tissue healing property so it heals gums and membranes. Scientists from Ireland have shown that digested coconut oil can attack the bacteria that cause caries.
1. Put a tablespoon of oil in your mouth in the morning before you eat or drink anything and before you brush.
2. Swish oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes but not longer…You can start with lower time and build up to 20 minutes over a few days while you get used to it.
3. Swish the oil from side to side and try to sip and suck it through your teeth in a gentle way (if your jaws get tired, you are putting too much effort into it).
4. Once done, spit out the oil in the trash can. The viscous oil should be thin and milky white (don’t spit it out in the sink as it will clog your pipes when it solidifies).
5. Rinse your mouth a couple times with warm salt water or warm plain water. Salt will help eliminate the toxins and bacteria residue. Plain warm water will work too.
6. Brush well as usual.
Here are some tips to make your oil pulling experience easier and more enjoyable:
You can use the coconut oil while it is solid and chew until it melts and turns into liquid and then start swishing…some people find this easier as the oil texture is easier to handle when it is solid. This is also good for those who don’t have time to melt the oil.
DO NOT use Microwave to melt the oil. The radiation from the microwave can alter and destroy a lot of the oil’s good properties and the radiation itself can cause many health issues (I will have another post on why you shouldn’t use microwaves at all). If you want to melt the coconut oil, put the solid oil in a shot glass and put the shot glass in a bowl of hot water or just put the oil in a milk warmer on low heat on the stove. It melts within seconds.
I had no problem swishing the oil for 20 minutes but I know some people might experience a gag reflux. If that is the case for you, just keep the oil in your mouth without swishing it until you are used to the texture and then start swishing…anytime you feel you are going to gag, stop and just try to hold the oil in your mouth…start swishing when you feel ok again.
No matter what happens, DO NOT swallow the oil. This oil has dissolved and pulled out plaque, tartar, bacteria and toxins…I’m sure you don’t want a strong dose of toxin straight in your digestive tract.
Try to do something while you are oil pulling…that way the time flies and you won’t even notice it. Take a shower, prepare breakfast or read my other blog post on the caffeine free coffee. :-)
Don’t take too much oil to start with…the volume will increase after it mixes with your saliva so keep room for the expansion…1-2 tablespoons is what I take. Try different amounts each time until you find the amount that works for you.
What did I experience after a week of oil pulling?
My teeth were getting noticeably whiter and I had less build up and food residue when flossing. My teeth felt smoother on the surface. I noticed an improvement with my dry mouth and dry lips and I didn’t have to use my lip balm as often throughout the day. I had a minor gum irritation caused by my Invisalign which healed completely after just a few days of oil pulling.
By listening to others who have done oil pulling consistently, I have noticed that the long term benefits can vary significantly from one person to the next. What health benefits one might experience is dependent on what health issues one might have.
Just make oil pulling part of your daily oral hygiene routine for a while and see how it can help you. Feel free to share your results.
2. Sheikh FS, Iyer RR. The effect of oil pulling with rice bran oil, sesame oil, and chlorhexidine mouth rinsing on halitosis among pregnant women: A comparative interventional study. Indian J Dent Res