Oil pulling is a bit of a buzz word at the moment, so chances are you've heard about it. You might be wondering what it's all about though, so here's the deal...
Oil pulling is the practice of swishing oil around in the mouth to draw out toxins and is a traditional Ayurvedic technique, originating in India. Indians have long used oils for various things other than cooking, much demonstrated by my grandmother who would pin me down to put castor oil in my ears as a child, apparently to keep them healthy and reduce wax build up. I don't know if it actually worked, but I have vivid memories of the oil bottle coming out at bath time and the sensation of the cold oil trickling into my ears. It wasn't pleasant.
While the oil in the ears technique didn't quite take off in the western world, it seems that using oil in the mouth has piqued the interest of many people recently, with articles on the subject popping up everywhere and even new brands that have monetised the concept. This is probably largely due to the claim that this practice can help to whiten teeth in a natural way, however oil pulling can also improve oral health and assist in reducing headaches, acne and general inflammation in the body.
Naturally, all of these reasons to try oil pulling were pretty attractive so with that and the fact that my grandmother had been touting this remedy to me for years, I decided to give it a go.
What I used.
Although sesame oil is what was originally used for this practice, I'm a huge fan of coconut oil and I use it for a very long list of things which includes body moisturising, face cleansing, shaving and cooking, so it was a no brainer to use it for my oil pulling endeavour.
I use this cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil as it's great value for a large amount (seeing as I use it so much) plus it's worth noting that extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil is different from just the 'pure/organic' coconut oil. The cold pressed variety actually tastes more coconutty because it's unrefined (which will make for more pleasant swilling) and is just better quality oil as it hasn't been hydrogenated, making it much nicer for your body (inside and out)!
I swished 1 tablespoon of oil around in my mouth for 15-20 minutes every night before I brushed my teeth, for 21 days.
Since I was trying out alternative oral health, I also ditched my usual Colgate toothpaste in favour of Earthpaste. It's a natural toothpaste with just 7 ingredients: Purified Water, Redmond Clay, Xylitol, Essential Oil, Real Salt, Tea Tree Essential Oil and Menthol. The paste doesn't contain a foaming agent so you won't get a mouth full of white bubbles like you're used to and it's a brownish colour (due to the clay) so don't be alarmed. It comes in 5 flavours: Cinnamon, Wintergreen, Spearmint, Peppermint or Lemon and although you do have to get used to the taste, after a few brushes you won't notice much difference. I've actually forgotten what it's like to use regular toothpaste and I much prefer Earthpaste because I don't get that slimy film in my mouth after brushing anymore and my mouth feels much cleaner for longer.
I did miss a few days out of the 21 I did this for but I was pretty consistent with using the oil every evening for the past 3 weeks. I usually took a mouthful to swill around while I was in the shower, then brushed once I got out. One thing to note with Coconut oil is that you mustn't spit it out in the shower or sink because it can solidify and clog your pipes. I spat it out into a handful of tissue, then threw that in the bin.
Now for the good bit! The results...
I'll be honest. When I took my 'after' photo this morning, I wasn't expecting to see much difference at all. I was actually a bit worried about what I'd write in this blog if my teeth weren't much whiter. However, as you can see from the before and after pics below, I was very pleasantly surprised!
Not only have my teeth gotten whiter, they look healthier on the inside, too. I had some decay forming on my back teeth which has visibly reduced and my mouth and throat is much less dry when I wake up in the morning. I'm also prone to jaw ache if I eat gum for long periods and I realised the other day that this had lessened, so clearly the action of swilling the oil around in my mouth has strengthened the muscles. My lips are also in better condition (as you can see from the cracks in the before photo)!
I plan to continue with the oil pulling and using Earthpaste for the time being. It'll be interesting to see how my oral health continues to improve as I'd much rather use natural ingredients on my body wherever I can. I want to make my own toothpaste at some point, too.
If you want to try oil pulling yourself, here's what you need to do:
- Get some extra virgin cold pressed Coconut Oil (I use this one, however you can also use sesame oil)
- Put 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth at night time before you brush your teeth
- Swill this around for 15-20 minutes
- Spit out into the bin
You might need to build up to using 1 tablespoon and lasting for 15 minutes, but it's ok to take it slow. If you're having trouble with the taste or the texture of the oil, start with 1 teaspoon for just 5 minutes and increase from there.
Hopefully this has been helpful if you've been wanting to find out more about oil pulling. Let me know how you get on if you decide to give it a go.
If you've already tried oil pulling, what were your thoughts? Did you get the results you were hoping for? Let me know in the comments!