What Exactly Is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic medical practice which has recently been repurposed as a modern health trend. Practitioners use a technique where they swish oil in their mouths for a prolonged period of time. The “pulling” part describes the toxins that are pulled out of the body in the process. Enthusiasts swear by this practice as a means of removing impurities from the body and promoting oral hygiene, amongst many other benefits.
The History of Oil Pulling
Oil pulling has its origins in Ayurvedic holistic medicine dating from 3000 to 5000 years ago. In those days it wasn’t just used for its physical benefits. It was also a way to align doshas, bodily energies which determined a person’s mental, emotional and physical well-being. Factors such as stress and a bad diet all had an effect on the balance between the body’s doshas, leaving it vulnerable to disease, so oil pulling corrected these miss-alignments. Oral health benefits were also anticipated, with sunflower and sesame oils commonly being used as a way to prevent bleeding gums, decay and throat dryness, as well as strengthening teeth, gums and the jaw.
How Is It Used Today
In today’s day, people still swill oil in their mouths for numerous holistic benefits. The big emphasis is on oral health and detoxing the body. Popular oils include sesame, olive, palm, and coconut. These oils are sometimes blended with turmeric or other herbs to enhance the effects. One tablespoon of oil is swished in the mouth and sucked or pulled through the teeth for 10-20 minutes before spitting it out into a sink. It is believed that holding oil in the mouth for a prolonged amount of time will draw out impurities, including bacteria that have been building up inside the body. It is claimed that the technique can reduce inflammation and have a beneficial effect in terms of headaches, hangovers, skin conditions and asthma. The main beauty benefits seem to be whitening your teeth and improving your skin as a result of the internal cleansing oil pulling promotes.
The problem is that many of these benefits appear anecdotal and lack scientific evidence. The theory is that oils are lipophilic, meaning they attract other oils, and can draw out many fat-soluble toxins (heavy metals, parasites, environmental toxins, additives, etc) that water cannot. If used as a way to clean your mouth, oil pulling clearly does have a preventative benefit. However, it is not a cure for established problems such as serious gum disease. It can’t heal cavities, but since it does reduce cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth, it could slow down the process and save your mouth from future problems. Since good oral hygiene is connected to health in other parts of the body it can’t do any harm to try it.
The danger occurs when practitioners use oil pulling to replace standard teeth cleaning practices. Therefore, it should only be used as a supplement to regular tooth brushing and flossing.
The message seems to be: don’t expect a miracle, and certainly, don’t expect it to cure diseases in any part of the body. However, used in combination with standard oral cleansing, oil pulling can freshen your breath and have a great psychological impact by improving your mood and health as a result.
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