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!
It supposedly has all sorts of benefits, according to Dr. Google and the Internet, many of which have nothing to do with the mouth. (Actually, I Swagbucks search to earn bucks on Amazon, do you?)
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*
- 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….
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 from a Rookie Perspective
- 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 (use the code STEWARDSHIP to get 10% off).
- 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 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!).
Update: Ten Years Later
I’ve now been oil pulling for ten full years, on and off, and I’m still a fan. In fact, I am a human experiment, as you can read about in my post on getting my wisdom teeth out without going under OR any pain meds.
I tend to oil pull now in the shower, and I have a jar of coconut oil in my bathroom (with a butter knife) to remind me and make it easy. Habits stick better if we make them obvious and easy! (Thanks to James Clear of Atomic Habits for those tips.)
The whole “solid coconut oil in your mouth is yucky” thing is something I’ve gotten over. I’m tougher now. 😉
One of the additional learning opportunities I had about oil pull was Bruce Fife’s talk entitled “Benefits of Oil Pulling for Greater Oral Health and Whole Being Wellness,” . Bruce is the author of Oil Pulling Therapy, and I share notes 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 in my other oil pulling post.
Now, back to the rookie evaluation:
What Does Oil Pulling Do?
Donielle of Natural Fertility and Wellness 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 support drainage pathways in 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.
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…
- Drainage pathways? 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 draining toxins 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.
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 Wildly Organic (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site)
- Refined Coconut Oil at Wildly Organic (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site)
- Virgin Coconut Oil at Perfect Supplements (use the code KS10 for 10% off)
- Gurunanda Pulling Oil Blend available at Amazon
- Wildly Organic Centrifuge Coconut Oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off)
Is There a HOLISTIC Dentist Hiding In Your Town?
Robyn Openshaw over at Green Smoothie Girl spent months calling every holistic dentist she could find in the U.S! She learned what services each of them provide, and made a special guide so you can find a holistic dentist who uses practices that are non-toxic, so you can avoid heavy metals, root canals, radioactive x-rays, and more.
She’s made all the information she gathered available for free in one amazing resource, The Insider’s Guide to Holistic Dentists.
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