A Comprehensive Guide to Oil Pulling
For thousands of years, oil pulling has been used to aid with an array of illnesses and maladies. It is an interesting method that has been purported to be beneficial for numerous areas of well-being. However, before diving in, take a few minutes to get the facts to ensure it is an ideal option for boosting health.
What is Oil Pulling?
This method stems from the traditional Ayurvedic medicine system. Historically, it was used as a way to promote greater oral health. Initially, sesame and sunflower oils were used to prevent tooth decay, bad breath, to strengthen the teeth, jaws and gums, to prevent bleeding gums, to soothe a dry throat and to moisten cracked lips.
There are two ways to utilize this practice known as Kavala Gaha and Gandusha. With Gandusha, the person fills their mouth with oil and holds it in place for up to five minutes. After this time, they spit it only. With Kavala Gaha, a smaller amount of oil is used so that it is more comfortable, then after about five minutes, the person gargles and then spits it out.
This ancient method has not changed much from its roots thousands of years ago. Those using it still use a proper oil and keep it in their mouth. The primary differences today are that it is often recommended that people swish the oil instead of just holding it in their mouths, and to do it for an average of 15 minutes instead of five minutes. It is believed that the swishing of the oil for the entire time helps to better draw out toxins.
How Does It Work?
The primary purpose of pulling is to eliminate any oil-soluble toxins that are present in the body. The oil pulls any debris, bacteria and other impurities and toxins from the oral cavity, helping to ensure that it is clean. It is believed that by cleaning the mouth, this benefit essentially works throughout the entire body, helping to alleviate toxins throughout.
To effectively use this method, place one to two teaspoons of oil into the mouth. Let the oil soften for a minute and then start swishing. Make sure to swish side to side around the total mouth. Each pulling session should last 15 to 20 minutes.
Exploring the Benefits
There are many reasons why someone might want to consider pulling to enhance their well-being. The following are considered to be the benefits of this practice:
• Whiter teeth
• Gingivitis and cavity prevention
• Alleviating headaches
• Body detoxification
• Reduced pain
• Stronger gums, teeth and jaw
• Alleviating bad breath
• Improved sleep quality
• Enhancing skin health
• Inflammation reduction
• Boosts energy
• Heightens immunity
• Decrease tooth sensitivity
Best Oils to Use
There are several types of oils one might use for pulling. The following are considered to be the most widely used:
• Coconut oil
• Safflower oil
• Sunflower oil
• Sesame oil
• Olive oil
When determining which oil is best, consider personal preferences. After determining which type to use, it is important to look for a quality brand. Brands that are inferior may contain various additives that could pose dangers to a person’s health, such as lead, arsenic or mercury. Those who want to do pulling regularly should do their homework and choose a brand with a high purity level.
Tips for Utilizing this Method
There are several tips people should keep in mind to make sure that they get the most out of their pulling sessions. It is also important to note that they should spit the oil out into a trashcan. Spitting into a sink or bathtub could lead to clogs in the pipes. The following are tips for effective pulling:
• Conduct pulling on an empty stomach, making morning the best time to do it.
• If it feels like the standard amount of oil is too much, use less and work up to the standard amount over the course of a few weeks.
• When first starting, the mouth and jaw may get tired with the constant swishing, so if this happens, take a break and just let it sit for a minute before resuming swishing.
• It is important to pull for long enough to ensure that the saliva enzymes and oil interact.
• If the oil someone chooses is solid, allow it to melt before putting it into the mouth.
• Do not gargle with the oil but keep it in the front of the mouth to make the process more comfortable.
• Keep busy while pulling to make the process go faster.
• After pulling, rinse the mouth well with salt water.
• After rinsing, floss and brush the teeth to get rid of any excess oil left in the mouth.
Possible Side Effects
Like all things, side effects are possible when someone uses pulling. It is important to know what these are so that people can adequately prepare before getting started.
If oil gets into the lungs, lipoid pneumonia is possible. Not gargling the oil and keeping it toward the front of the mouth can help to prevent this from happening. Common signs of this pneumonia may include chronic cough, chest pain and having a hard time breathing. In most cases, not allowing any more oil to get into the lungs and alleviating inflammation allow people to recovery, but some people might need respiratory and oxygen therapy to promote recovery.
The following side effects are also possible when pulling:
• Dryness of the mouth
• Coughing up mucus
• Diarrhea and upset stomach
• Nausea and vomiting
• Stomach cramps
• Feeling like someone has a hangover
• Stiffness in the jaw
• Loss of appetite
• Increase in cavities
• Flu-like symptoms
• Feeling thirsty
How to Avoid the Possible Side Effects
The side effects that can occur with pulling are something many people are able to avoid or overcome relatively quickly. If dry mouth or feeling thirsty is an issue, making sure to stay hydrated and rinsing the mouth well following a pulling session tends to work well. Following a session, sucking on a sugar-free hard candy also helps since this stimulates saliva production to moisten the mouth.
Upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramps are usually associated with accidental ingestion of the oil. Start with a smaller amount of oil that is easy to keep toward the front of the mouth. Always ensure that the mouth has only the amount of oil that it can comfortably handle and avoid gargling. The key is to be mindful and not allow any ingestion of the oil.
The coughing up of mucus is not uncommon and it may be associated with the oil in the mouth thickening the mucus that is already present in the throat. Making sure to keep mucus as thin as possible at all times may help with this. Staying hydrated and keeping the environment slightly humid with a humidifier can also be beneficial for this.
The feeling of having a hangover is believed to be associated with carbohydrates. Reducing how many carbohydrates a person eats regularly may aid in reducing this side effect.
The jaw stiffness is associated with the constant swishing. It is normal to have this when a person first starts pulling. With time, the muscles in the jaw get used to it and the stiffness starts to go away.
An increase in cavities is generally only seen in those who use pulling as a substitute for normal oral hygiene. As long as someone continues to floss, rinse and brush as usual, this is generally not a problem.
The flu-like symptoms are believed to be due to accidental ingestion of oil that contains the bacteria it has pulled from the mouth. Making sure not to swallow any of the oil can aid in reducing this effect.
What Dentists Have to Say
Dentists are not telling their patients that this method can be used in place of regular dental hygiene. However, many do state that this method may be beneficial when added to a traditional routine of brushing, rinsing and flossing. In this case, using pulling once a day for about 15 minutes is typically suggested.
Dentists might recommend pulling to their patients because it aids in balancing the mouth’s microflora, helping to reduce the risk of various dental issues, such as gum disease and cavities. It may also help to reduce the toxins that have accumulated in the oral cavity due to factors, such as eating processed foods or insufficient dental hygiene.
A number of studies have been done looking at this method and oral health. One looked specifically at cavities and pulling using sesame oil. It concluded that after 40 days of pulling, the bacterial count in the mouth reduced by approximately 20 percent and the severity of the participant’s cavities also lessened. Multiple additional studies have come to similar conclusions.
Oil pulling has become a very popular natural health remedy over the last few years. With this wealth of information, it is easier to determine if it is an optimal method for those seeking alternative way to promote a greater sense of well-being.
It is always recommended that you seek the advice of a medical professional before undertaking any type of treatment.
Below is a video from Dentist discussing Oil Pulling