What the Heck Is Oil Pulling?
First off, breaking up a tablespoon of solid coconut oil in ones mouth is a horrific and nauseating experience. It does not get easier, and starting with liquid coconut oil is only slightly better. But I’ve been doing this daily for a week, because Leandra and the Internet told me to.
Over the past month, my Facebook feed’s been saturated with posts either celebrating or snickering at the practice known as oil pulling. And while I rarely take my wellness cues from sites like Access Hollywood, in the name of science and Man Repeller, I stepped up.
The actual health claims for oil pulling include curing systemic diseases like diabetes and eczema, as well as oral concerns like bad breath and gum disease. As someone who’s dealt with dry mouth and seems to get a sore tongue every winter (thanks to the irresistibility of clementines and my inclination to eat as many as possible in one sitting) it seemed reasonable to give this mythical if not disgusting sounding pulling-o-the-oil a go. The practice entails swishing a mouthful of oil (organic unrefined coconut or sesame seem to be the most popular) for five to 20 minutes in the morning, spitting it in the trash, and then brushing your teeth.
After a week, I eagerly surrounded myself with clementines, blood oranges, navel oranges, Sumo citrus (holy moly who invented this perfect fruit and how did I not know about it before?) and grapefruit to see if oil pulling cured my citrus woes. My tongue’s been sore ever since.
BUT! I do think oil pulling’s helped with dry mouth, and my actual tongue looks healthier (I tend to have a film on my tongue most of the time. Gross, I know, but we’re all friends here, right?) Granted, swishing anything aside from sugar water for twenty minutes is likely going to be good for your mouth, stimulating your gums and freeing food debris. But if you decide to use coconut oil, the anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal benefits from its lauric acid can’t hurt. In fact, lauric acid is used to treat fever blisters, cold sores and oral thrush. So horray. Triple threat.
A miracle cure for all that ails us, however? Very few natural remedies provide that immediate miraculous fix. And maybe it’s the over-zealous tone of these recent pop-health stories that frustrates me. Herbal or natural remedies often take months of consistent use to see a result…which is also why I’m carrying on with this oil swishing business for a few more weeks. I’ll let you know how it goes.
But in the mean time, what do you think? Have you tried oil pulling? Did it make you gag or clear your eczema? And if you do find these types of health tips online, shared with the frequency of an Upworthy Article, how many have actually made it into your daily routine?
– Kate Barnett
Image via The Daily Mail