Have you heard of oil pulling? You may easily have, thanks to advocates such as actress Shailene Woodley, who described it as “amazing” to Into The Gloss. She explained that oil pulling is “where you swish coconut or sesame oil in your mouth when you wake up and spit it out.”
However, oil pulling certainly didn’t originate with the Divergent star; it has a long history going back thousands of years. That has given people plenty of time to discern this technique’s benefits.
Where did oil pulling originally come from?
Oil pulling had its genesis in India and, to be more exact, ancient texts describing practices of Ayurveda, a holistic medicinal system formed about 3,000 to 5,000 years ago. Oil pulling is one of those practices, which was originally used with sunflower and sesame oils to prevent an array of conditions described by Live Science – including bleeding gums, throat dryness and cracked lips.
The Ayurvedic healthcare tradition cites “doshas” – bodily energies determining an individual’s prakruti. This refers to a physical, mental and physiological character and how vulnerable this person is to disease. Doshas can, so the tradition says, be imbalanced by factors like unhealthy diet, weather, stress and difficult relationships. Such unbalancing can increase disease susceptibility.
Is oil pulling still considered healthy?
The development of modern medicine has rather sidelined the practice of oil pulling. However, it has recently come back into fashion due to advocates like Woodley. It is interesting that, as bestselling author Dr. Joseph Mercola notes on his website, Ayurveda practitioners advise many habits – including getting good sleep and maintaining reduced stress – still widely acknowledged as healthy.
Still, does oil pulling really stand up to modern scrutiny? Mercola, who has been consistently oil pulling for years, calls it “an effective mechanical method of cleansing your teeth and the smallest crevices along your molars that the bristles of your brush cannot reach.”
Nonetheless, you should resist using it as a complete replacement for sessions of tooth-brushing. Dentist Dr. Corbin Brady has told Live Science that doing this “would definitely increase your risk of getting cavities”. Hence, you should instead make it part of a broader oral health regime.
How should you try oil pulling?
The benefits you reap from oil pulling could strongly depend on the exact method of oil pulling for which you opt. While sesame and sunflower oils have, in the past, often been put to the purpose of oil pulling, Mercola points out that “those are high in omega-6 fats, which you likely get enough of each day”. He recommends “virgin coconut oil” as an alternative.
You should certainly aim to use unrefined coconut oil in place of fractionated coconut oil – otherwise called MCT oil – which, while made from coconuts, lacks lauric acid. This kind of acid has not been processed out of unrefined coconut oil – which, as a result, is more antimicrobial and so better for oil pulling. Fortunately, this form of oil is in The Big Fruit oil pulling products.