By Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for oral health and detoxification. It involves the use of pure oils as agents for pulling harmful bacteria, fungus, and other organisms out of the mouth, teeth, gums and even throat.
Other oils such as extra virgin cold pressed coconut, sunflower and olive oil have been used, although sesame oil is considered one of the best oils for this practice. I recommend alternating oils every couple of days to get the full benefit. Putting high quality organic oils into the mouth has a multi-effect outcome.
First, the oils mix with the saliva, turning it into a thin, white liquid. Lipids in the oils begin to pull out toxins from the saliva. As the oil is swished around the mouth, teeth, gums and tongue, the oil continues to absorb toxins, and usually ends up turning thick and viscous and white. Once the oil has reached this consistency, it is spit out before the toxins are reabsorbed.
Oil pulling may also increase saponification in the mouth, creating a soapy environment that cleanses the mouth as vegetable fat is an emulsifier by nature. Most interesting is perhaps the ability of oil to cleanse out harmful bacteria, as well as reduce fungal overgrowth. These oils also possibly help in cellular restructuring, and are related to the proper functioning of the lymph nodes and other internal organs.
• Prevention of diseases of the gums and mouth, such as cavities and gingivitis
• Prevention for bad breath
• Potential holistic remedy for bleeding gums
• Prevention of dryness of the lips, mouth and throat
• Possible holistic treatment for TMJ and general soreness in the jaw area
It is believed that these oils help the lymphatic system of the body as harmful bacteria are removed and beneficial microflora are given with a healthy environment to flourish. Because of this holistic perspective, oil pulling has been used as a preventative health measure for many other conditions.
Other possible benefits of oil pulling for overall health include:
• Migraine headache relief
• Correcting hormone imbalances
• Reducing inflammation of arthritis
• May help with gastro-enteritis
• Aids in the reduction of eczema
• May reduce symptoms of bronchitis
• Helps support normal kidney function
• May help reduce sinus congestion
• Some people report improved vision
• Helps reduce insomnia
• Reduced hangover after alcohol consumption
• Aids in reducing pain
• Reduces the symptoms of allergies
• Helps detoxify the body of harmful metals and organisms
A 2007 study looking into the effect of oil pulling (with sunflower oil) on plaque and gingivitis on oral soft and hard tissues. Results found that after 45 days of oil pulling, subjects showed a statistically significant reduction in gingivitis.
Another study , conducted in 2008 found a “remarkable reduction in the total count of bacteria” in the mouth, and an overall marked reduction in susceptibility dental cavities. The antibacterial activity of sesame oil was also studied and found to have an effect on the Streptococcus mutans in the mouth.
In fact, these studies showed an overall reduction of bacteria from 10 to 33.4% in participants, and after 40 days of oil-pulling, participants were found to show 20% in average reduction in oral bacteria. Moreover, half of all participants in this case study showed a drastic reduction in susceptibility to dental caries.