A few thoughts ran simultaneously through my head the first time I read about oil pulling:
- What a crackpot idea
- Um, gross!
- This is not something I will ever try
Yet here I am, trying yet another gross crackpot idea that has to do with food!
Oil pulling is the practice of putting unrefined oil in your mouth and swishing it around for 10-20 minutes, then spitting it out.
See what I mean? Gross!
For me, I’m looking to achieve some mouth-related relief from oil pulling, which seems slightly less crackpot to me if only because clearly the oil is in the mouth, so could perhaps have an effect there.
A few circumstances collided to result in my oil pulling attempts, in case you were wondering what in the world changed my mind:
- I’ve been having some serious tooth sensitivity to cold (air or liquid) and sweets, like dates or heavy frostings, probably because of the tax on my body from pregnancy and breastfeeding, and maybe because of no. 2…
- I keep forgetting/running out of time or hands to brush my teeth. I blame blogging, babies, and the fact that I’m not a morning person.
- Renee Harris, boss lady at MadeOn Hard Lotion and a friend of mine, issued a challenge to pull oil for 30 days, and she kind of personally asked me if I was going to do it. *peer pressure* Here’s her post on the basic premise of oil pulling. You might also be interested in the original post I read at The Nourished Life with Elizabeth’s anecdotal success story.
- I realized oil pulling was something I could try without buying anything new or doing a bunch of research or time making a recipe for something, so….
Renee shares briefly how to do oil pulling as well, and I’ll chime in with my tips. I’ve been doing it faithfully every day for about 9 days now (confession: I missed at least one day, maybe two, but this is a pretty good track record for me!)
Oil Pulling Tips
- You will definitely think it’s gross at first. Give yourself a few minutes, get busy doing something, and you’ll forget about it/get used to it.
- You might feel like your mouth is going to get too full as saliva joins the oil. Gross, again. Don’t swallow, whatever you do. Just trust me – your mouth won’t continue to add saliva the whole 20 minutes, and you won’t drown. Trust me.
- Solid coconut oil, while it does melt rather quickly in the mouth, doesn’t quite melt quickly enough. Grossness factor elevated. If you can, put a jar of unrefined coconut oil on your stove while you cook and let it melt, since the liquid form is ever so much more palatable. (Here’s one source for quality coconut oil, and you can get a free book all about the other benefits of coconut oil if you’re a first time customer.)
- Figure out when to do it so that no one has to talk to you. Oil pulling is apparently best done in the morning, but if that’s not possible, don’t sweat it. I’ve used two different times to make it work: during a shower and while working on the computer at night, after everyone has gone to bed.
- We are always running out of spoons around here. I’ve tried to use a clean one to pull oil, since I have to dip it in the coconut oil, and then after I swish water around my mouth, I use the same spoon to take my fermented cod liver oil. See how much I overthink efficiency? Just thought I’d share.
- You are supposed to brush your teeth right after pulling oil, which is good (see no. 2 above).
- Set a timer so you don’t have to think about how long it’s been (or get caught up in what you’re doing and “pull” for too long!).
HealThy Mouth Summit
Fife’s is the only talk I’ve found time to listen to in full, but I was fascinated the entire time. I need to take more long, solo drives with an iPod (and maybe see if my library has his oil pulling book link goes to Amazon, for all my free time)!
See my notes on Bruce Fife’s talk entitled “Benefits of Oil Pulling for Greater Oral Health and Whole Being Wellness” in my other oil pulling post.
Does Oil Pulling Detox your System?
Donielle of Naturally Knocked Up saw me gabbing about oil pulling on Twitter (where I microblogged my first disgusting attempt) and wondered if it was okay for me to do this because I was still nursing Jonathan at the time. Although I’m really only interested in stronger, healthier teeth and gums and getting rid of that sensitivity, apparently oil pulling is supposed to detox your entire body. This seems odd to me…
Here are some other claims about what oil pulling can help:
- ulcers and diseases of stomach, intestines, heart, blood, kidney, liver, lungs
- women’s diseases
- growth of malignant tumors
- chronic sleeplessness
This is where I get skeptical. But fascinating, nonetheless.
UPDATE: New oil pulling information post with notes from a talk by Bruce Fife, author of Oil Pulling Therapy – including the history of oil pulling, how Dr. Weston A. Price proved that the health of the body is very related to the health of the mouth, Fife’s oil pulling tips, and a word from some naysayers…Read it HERE.
Is Oil Pulling Effective?
Of course the biggest question has to be, “Does it work?”
My tentative response is, “Yes, but more research needed.”
You see, I really WANT this to work quite badly, because my teeth hurt. And it’s gross and makes my husband think I’m getting even weirder, so it would be nice to get the reward for my hard work.
In that light, I’m just not a very objective observer.
- I swished cold water around my mouth immediately before and after pulling oil, and there was a marked difference afterward – less pain.
- Teeth whitened? Who knows. I hardly ever see myself in a mirror these days…
- Detox? You know, I just realized something. I thought the ol’ armpit stink I mentioned Monday was pretty much taken care of, but yesterday – after I missed a day or two of oil pulling – I was more stinky than usual. So maybe I was detoxing via my mouth while I was “pulling” and then back to the ‘pits when I wasn’t. Then again, maybe I was just desperately in need of a shower (see how much you’re learning about my lackadaisical personal hygiene this week! Sheesh!).
- I might – might! – have less tooth sensitivity in general. I haven’t winced in pain since I started, but I’ve also probably been babying the side that hurts the most. Pain is so subjective and difficult, for me at least, to measure from day to day. Flossing still presented a problem on certain teeth.
I’m happy enough with the results and curious enough to continue oil pulling. I’ll try to shoot for mornings but utilize evenings if I miss. Watch Facebook and Twitter for my progress because I’m always on the look-out for ways to naturally improve my oral hygiene!
Virgin, unrefined coconut oil tastes like coconut where refined does NOT. As long as your refined oil is from a trusted source, you could use that if the coconut taste bothers you.
- Virgin Coconut Oil at Mountain Rose Herbs
- Refined Coconut Oil at Mountain Rose Herbs
- Vitacost brand Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
- Vitacost brand Refined Coconut Oil
- Gurunanda Pulling Oil Blend available at Amazon
- Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions
- Green Label Refined Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions
Other oral health posts:
- Find a safer toothpaste – all about fluoride and more
- Natural Toothpaste Reviews
- Learn to Brush Your Teeth Like an Adult: Bass Brushing System
Disclosure: I am an affiliate of MadeOn and Amazon and will earn commission from any sales made there after starting here. Swagbucks will build on the person whose link you click on, so that helps me, too, but you can also benefit by sharing Swagbucks with others. I’m saving up Amazon cards for Christmas! Tropical Traditions gives gift certificates if I refer new customers…and you can sign up for that program too, whether you have a blog or not! See my full disclosure statement here.