Is Oil Pulling Beneficial to health??
by N J Howell
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What Is Oil Pulling? For those who may not be familiar with the term, oil pulling refers to taking a small amount of pure sesame oil or organic coconut oil in the mouth and then swishing it, and "pulling" the oil through the teeth. These oils are cleansing and have antibacterial properties and it is thought that regular oil pulling may help detox the body and strengthe the immune system. Beyond those general ideas, there are tons of ancedotal stories about different types of benefits that one may experience by engaging in 20 minutes of oil pulling every day.
As a health and wellness counselor from way back (not telling how many decades), I had heard of oil pulling. I had even tried it on the rare occasion. This year, I decided to give oil pulling a fair test after reading on a forum that someone credited this practice with correcting a gap between their front teeth. I have developed a gap between my two front teeth so, of course, this peaked my curiosity. I confess I took pictures and had planned to post them. Vanity got the better of me. I don't know who's mouth looks good that "up close and personal" but it isn't mine!. In any case, I tried oil pulling for four weeks. I had to stop then because I started a review process for another product and didn't want to taint the results. Here's what I did and what I noticed...
Oil Pulling Process: According to what I could find online about this holistic health practice, it seems that the optimal time to "pull" was 20 minutes. I simply couldn't manage that. First, the saliva was so prolific from the pulling (I used organic cold-pressed coconut oil rather than sesame oil for the review experiment but have since started using sesame oil) that I just didn't like that feeling. Also, coconut oil is a food so my natural tendency was to want to swallow it. I usually swished for about 5 minutes so I would assume my results were minimal compared to a 20-minute oil pulling session every day.
What I noticed from oil pulling - Those pictures I'm embarassed to post nonetheless showed change after just a week of oil pulling. I noticed that my teeth were definitely whiter. I also noticed that I didn't get plaque build up as quickly. If I did the oil pulling in the morning, for example, my teeth would feel quite clean til evening. That's different.
If I had the fortitude to do the full 20 minutes, I can imagine I'd see some amazing benefits. Alas, I don't see me doing a 20 minute oil pulling session every day so I'll take the benefits that come from an abbreviated experience.
Another potential benefit to oil pulling may be assisting the body to remove releasing mercury vapors from amalgam fillings. Gentle swishing for a few minutes after eating (because chewing increases the release of vapors for a while after the meal) might help to remove freshly releasing mercury. Just be sure not to pull aggressively, especially if you suspect a filling might be loose (and see a dentist, of course) and be sure not to ever swallow the oil after doing an oil pulling.
Speaking of organic coconut oil, there's an extracted version called MCT Oil that is being taken internally for reported health benefits. Extracted from coconuts, MCT oil is said to provide even more concentrated health benefits. However, not all MCT oil is created equal. There is something called Upgraded MCT oil and if I were going to try it, I'd try that. It's pricy so not everyone can afford it. I intend to try it one day though, in my bulletproof coffee. Right now, I'm using unrefined, organic, virgin coconut oil.
Dental Health Disclaimer: Oil pulling is not represented as replacement for any needed dental evaluation or treatment. There are dentists who use biocompatible materials and I recommend seeking those out. If you have amalgam fillings, I'd definitely recommend getting them out but not every dentist knows how to do this safely, to reduce the amount of mercury released into your body at the time of removal. Please do some homework and research to find a dentist who specializes in amalgam filling removals.