It’s 2018 and navigating the latest beauty trends has never been more complicated. More women are opting for DIY methods when it comes to their beauty rituals and for holistic home-remedies and non-toxic cosmetics. In the midst of this quiet revolution towards “natural beauty,” we’ve seen the re-emergence of Aryuveda, a system of alternative medicinal practices that originated in India thousands of years ago.
Perhaps the most infamous (and elusive) of these ancient practices is known as “oil pulling.” You may have already heard of oil pulling thanks to celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley who are at the forefront of the new-age wellness movement. If you are interested in learning more and trying out this trend, we’ve included everything you need to know about oil pulling in this guide.
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling (also known as "kavala" or "gundusha”) is an oral hygiene remedy that is supposed to act as a natural alternative to your everyday mouthwash. Imagine if Listerine was formulated without the chemicals and offered a whole bunch of health benefits instead, and that essentially encapsulates the art of oil pulling. In Aryuvedic tradition, oil pulling was performed on a daily basis to maintain healthy oral hygiene and manage various diseases.
Benefits of Oil Pulling
The Aryuvedic tradition believes that when the enzymes in your saliva come in contact with oil, they have the ability to detoxify various organs in the body through the tongue.
Theoretically speaking, the cleansing action of oil pulling is very similar to the way in which oil cleansers remove makeup from the skin; just as oil cleansers will wash away impurities without removing the skin’s natural moisture content, oil pulling will dissolve the bacteria and plaque without disrupting the health of your teeth and gums.
So when you rinse your mouth with oil, you are supposedly not only removing toxins from the tongue and teeth, but from the kidneys, lungs, liver, heart, small intestines, stomach, colon, and spine too. When performed correctly, the oil pulling is said to attract and remove fat-soluble toxins, which helps promote healthier organs and treat various ailments including headaches, acne, asthma, and diabetes. The oil is also supposed to protect the oral cavity and reduce the growth of bacteria and plaque leading to whiter teeth, fresher breath, and healthier gums.
How To Choose The Best Oil For Oil Pulling
When oil pulling, it is recommended to use one 100% pure oil; sesame oil, sunflower oil, and Coconut Oil are the most popular oils used for oil pulling as they have all demonstrated the ability to reduce plaque, signs of gingivitis, and various forms of bacteria. Coconut Oil, however, is hands down the best oil for oil pulling because of its cleansing, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. Coconut Oil is also rich in lauric acid, which makes it especially effective for cleansing and even better for reducing plaque build-up. Plus, Coconut Oil’s slightly nutty taste is much more pleasant than other types of oils. This stuff is going to be in your mouth for 20 minutes—trust us, you want it to taste as pleasant as possible.
In one study, Coconut Oil was shown to have a notable plaque reducing effect with results comparable to chlorhexidine (an antibacterial ingredient commonly found in mouthwash). Plus, you won’t have to worry about the side effects sometimes caused by the antiseptics found in traditional mouthwashes. Why risk staining your teeth or messing up your taste buds with a cheap drugstore mouthwash, when the benefits of oil pulling could be comparable?
When choosing your Coconut Oil, check the ingredients label and be sure it only contains one ingredient: pure, unrefined coconut oil. Also, always read the product specifications on the label. For maximum benefits, your coconut oil should be:
- 100% Pure
Coconut Oil is one of the best multipurpose beauty products that every girl should have on their top shelf — so even if you decide that oil pulling isn’t for you, you can still use the Coconut Oil on your skin and in your hair for its amazing moisturizing benefits.
How To Oil Pull
The procedure of oil pulling can be completed in four simple steps:
- Take 1–2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil and swish it around your mouth for approximately 20 minutes.
- Once it has emulsified into a milky white substance, spit the oil out into the garbage. Avoid spitting into sink or while in the shower, as Coconut Oil can coat and clog your drain.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water, followed by your regular brushing and flossing routine.
- Repeat daily for 2-6 weeks to see visible results.
Does Oil Pulling Work?
While there may be plenty of anecdotal evidence in regards to the power of oil pulling, there have only been a few modern scientific studies that truly put this procedure to the test. So if you are looking for a miracle cure for your migraines, breakouts, or any other persistent medical condition, oil pulling may not give you the most promising results. With that being said, some scientific studies have shown that oil pulling could still be worth adding to your daily oral hygiene routine.
Since there aren’t enough conclusive studies about the about the other benefits of oil pulling, researchers and medical professionals remain skeptical about whether the procedure is effective as a treatment for cavities and chronic ailments. But based on the existing studies in oral hygiene, oil pulling definitely shows some promise and could be worth exploring if you want to take your existing dental routine to the next level.
The Health and Beauty Benefits of Oil Pulling
Oil Pulling For Oral Hygiene
In one study, Coconut Oil was shown to have a notable plaque reducing effect with results comparable to chlorhexidine (an antibacterial ingredient commonly found in mouthwash). Thanks to the antibacterial benefits of Coconut Oil, you may also notice an overall improvement in bad breath. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the side effects sometimes caused by the antiseptics found in traditional mouthwashes. Why risk using a cheap drugstore mouthwash, when the benefits of oil pulling could be comparable? With Oil Pulling, you won’t have to worry about any of the side effects that could occur with mouthwashes like staining your teeth (or dentures), ruining your tastebuds and sensitivity to taste, increasing risk of tartar formation, mouth dryness, stinging, or discomfort.
Oil Pulling For Remineralizing Teeth
In order to fight off cavities and prevent premature tooth decay, you need to ensure that your teeth are gaining enough minerals through your diet. A diet that contains a significant amount of bread, sugary or processed foods will promote a process called demineralization: which essentially means your teeth will lose their mineral content. On the other hand, when you eat foods that are rich in vitamins K2, D, A, and Magnesium, this will help promote the remineralization of your teeth and prevent premature tooth decay and cavities. Because Coconut Oil does not contain the vitamins or minerals needed to promote the remineralization of your teeth, oil pulling alone cannot prevent the formation of cavities—especially if you are not maintaining a regular dental hygiene routine and healthy diet to begin with.
Oil Pulling For Weight Loss
According to the Aryuvedic tradition, oil pulling is theoretically supposed to cleanse the oral cavity of toxins as well as have an anti-inflammatory effect within the entire body. While there isn’t an extensive amount of research on the weight-loss benefits of oil pulling, reduced inflammation in your bodily organs could potentially help decrease the feeling of bloating and water retention. With that being said, Coconut Oil is incredibly rich in fatty acids and has a variety of health benefits when incorporated into your diet.
Oil Pulling For Acne and Breakouts
Many proponents of oil pulling suggest that it could help reduce acne by clearing the body of toxins and bacteria, however, there hasn’t been any substantial research to support this theory. According to science, it’s impossible for bodily toxins to travel from the bloodstream to the mucous membrane in the mouth. If you are looking for a tried-and-true, long term solution for persistent acne or even the occasional breakout, then you are better off consulting your dermatologist and opting for clinical ingredients like retinoid and benzoyl peroxide. With that being said, incorporating food-grade Coconut Oil into your diet and making healthier food choices could be worth exploring if you suspect that your breakouts are caused by your eating habits.
Oil Pulling For The Common Cold, Flu, and Overall Immunity
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that the mouth is breeding ground for bacteria. As we all know, when bacteria finds its way into your body, this can lead to a variety of health issues. Since Coconut Oil is rich in anti-bacterial lauric acid, oil pulling could help with maintaining your overall health by preventing bacteria from entering the body.
To Swish Or Not To Swish: The Safety and Side Effects Of Oil Pulling
While oil pulling has a wide range of health and beauty benefits, here’s everything you should about the side effects and safety of the procedure:
If you accidentally inhale the oil when pulling, this could lead to lipoid pneumonia, the inflammatory condition that occurs when fat particles make their way into your lungs. Some symptoms of lipoid pneumonia include chronic coughing, increased body temperature and reduced appetite. To reduce the risk of lipoid pneunomia, oil pulling is not recommended for children (as they might accidentally swallow the oil during the process). When performed correctly, oil pulling is completely safe for teens and adults, including pregnant or breastfeeding women.
When oil pulling alongside your regular oral hygiene routine, you may find that this results in dryness of the mouth. Since brushing and oil pulling both help to cleanse the oral cavity, any excessive dryness would be a normal side effect and worth the teeth whitening benefits. In order to counteract dryness, be sure to stay hydrated and drink 6-8 glasses of water throughout the day.
Jaw Aching or Stiffness
While a traditional mouthwash only takes 30 seconds to use, you’ll need to swish for approximately 20 minutes on a consistent, daily basis in order to see the visible results of oil pulling. When compared to Listerine or other liquid mouthwashes, Coconut Oil is a substantially heavier substance that truly requires a greater amount of jaw stamina to swish. If you are willing to power through the lengthier and more strenuous process of oil pulling, you may experience aching or stiffness until your jaw adjusts to its new workout routine, but the results are worth it!
Upset Stomach or Nausea
While Coconut Oil in general is safe to ingest, proceed with caution and be sure not to accidentally swallow any of the oil while swishing, otherwise, you’ll be ingesting the very toxins you are trying to remove. If you happen to ingest any of the oil during the pulling process, you will be swallowing a significant amount of oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, and other forms of build-up accumulated in the mouth, which means your stomach may potentially have a reaction as it attempts to breakdown these particles it doesn’t normally digest. In these cases, you may experience a temporary feeling of nauseousness or indigestion. To avoid accidental ingestion, try reducing the serving of Coconut Oil and swish with a slow but steady movement.
Loss of Appetite
When performed properly, oil pulling doesn’t directly reduce your appetite, however, if you consistently ingest the oil, this may result in a loss of appetite—especially if you are using Coconut Oil, which is thermogenic and high in essential fatty acids. Some may find that if they oil pull in the morning, other side effects (i.e. jaw aching, stiffness, nausea, upset stomach, etc.) could reduce their desire to eat breakfast immediately afterwards. If breakfast seems less appetizing after oil pulling, a green breakfast smoothie will keep you nourished and an herbal tea will help alleviate an upset stomach. If the side effects persist, then you may want to incorporate oil pulling into your nighttime routine instead.
Oil Pulling FAQ
What’s the best time of day for oil pulling?
Oil pulling should ideally be performed in the morning on an empty stomach before breakfast.
What is the best oil for oil pulling?
The best oil for oil pulling is Coconut Oil and will offer the most oral hygiene benefits thanks to its lauric acid content.
What are some alternatives to Coconut Oil for oil pulling?
Some Coconut Oil alternatives include MCT oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil.
Do you recommend gargling with the Coconut Oil?
Gargling Coconut Oil is not recommended because it increases the risk of accidentally ingesting the oil. Swish the Coconut Oil near the front end of your mouth and away from the back of your throat.
Do I have to oil pull for 20 minutes?
It can take some time to get used to oil pulling for the full recommended 20 minutes. If your jaw begins to ache or feel stiff, stop swishing, let the oil rest in your mouth (without swallowing) and then resume pulling when ready.
How do I rinse my mouth after oil pulling?
After oil pulling, rinsing the mouth with warm water and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt to help clear out any remaining residue and/or bacteria.
Do I need to brush my teeth after oil pulling?
After oil pulling, it is important to thoroughly brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste to avoid ingesting the leftover toxins.
If I have dental fillings or dentures, is it safe to oil pull?
While there should be no concern, we recommend consulting with your dentist about whether you should incorporate oil pulling into your oral hygiene routine.
We hope we've inspired you to try this new trend in natural health. Do you oil pull? What is your experience? We'd love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Jynessa Marczuk