Oil Pulling

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One of the simplest habits to start implementing at home is one called oil pulling. This is an ancient Ayurvedic technique from India that goes back over 2,000 years.

Health benefits attributed to oil pulling (from Dr. Fife’s Oil Pulling Therapy) include:

  • Healthier teeth and gums
  • Whiter teeth
  • Relief from tooth pain and infections
  • Reducing or eliminating allergies and asthma
  • Improved sinuses (although the first few times can increase production and elimination of phlegm)
  • Improved digestion
  • Better control of blood sugar levels
  • Reduction of joint pain and arthritis
  • Improved skin (reduced acne, eczema)
  • Improved energy and quality of sleep
  • Assists in weight loss and metabolism support
  • Helps to normalize hormones
  • Reduced headaches and migraine

Many of the above benefits are reported through surveys and therefore anecdotal in nature (as is the case with many traditional remedies), and there are controlled studies as well - see below for links.

As this is a simple technique to incorporate into your home care routine, we encourage you to try it out for a month and see how it effects you! Our patients and staff members who have tried this technique have been very happy with the results and we have noticed whiter teeth, reduction of joint pain, and tighter gums as some of the most common benefits.

How it works:

As the oil moves around your mouth, it comes into contact with bacteria residing in the crevices of your gums, and in the pores and tubules within the teeth. The fatty membranes of these (mostly single-cell) organisms adheres to the lipids and is "pulled" out and into the oil. This is also why it is important not to swallow the oil after oil pulling!

How to do it:

  1. Place a teaspoon of oil in your mouth. (Once you have tried a few times, you can build up to a tablespoon.)
  2. Gently swish the oil around the mouth. Just do this for the amount of time you feel comfortable with, even if it’s just one or two minutes. It may be difficult at first, since the sensation of oil pulling is a bit strange. Eventually, you will be able to comfortably work up to the goal of 15-20 minutes. Do NOT swallow the oil, as it is full of all the bacteria that you’re trying to get out of your mouth. If you feel the urge to swallow, spit out the oil and either start again or try for longer the next day.
  3. Spit the oil out in the garbage (not in the sink, as it can clog the narrow drains).
  4. Rinse with water and then brush your teeth as usual.

Oil options:

Coconut oil – anti-microbial and has a subtle flavor. It is solid at room temperature so you can either warm it slightly before pulling or melt it by chewing the solid oil.

Sesame oil – the traditional Ayurvedic choice for oil pulling.

Olive oil, or any other cooking oil you have available (ideally organic).

Flavor additions

If you’d like to spice up your selection (especially with a mild flavor such as coconut oil), consider adding a few drops of an essential oil. Some suggestions:

Oregano – antimicrobial, antibacterial, tastes a bit spicy

Clove – sweet/spicy flavor, mildly analgesic

Peppermint – minty taste, cooling, and anti-inflammatory

Tea tree oil - antiviral, anti fungal, and antibacterial. Used therapeutically to address chronic gingivitis and gum disease

Neem - kills bacteria that cause pyorrhea and gingivitis, helps prevent decay

Cinnamon - antiseptic, antibacterial, boosts circulation

Thyme - balances saliva, decongestant

Myrrh - antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory

Eucalyptus - antiseptic, decongesting and analgesic

Helpful Resources:


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