The centuries-old tradition of oil pulling originally came from India, but has become quite popular in America in the past 20 years. Sesame Oil was the original oil of choice for this morning practice, but coconut oil has quickly become the most popular oil to use, mostly because of its taste and easy availability. So what is oil pulling and what aspects of health does it improve?
Basically, oil pulling is swishing around a teaspoon or tablespoon of oil in the mouth for about 15 to 20 minutes each morning. This practice may sound easy, but most people have to work up to the 20 minute time period. Many will gag when spitting out the oil, which is why it is important to always do it on an empty stomach. Experts also suggest that the oil should be spit into the trash instead of the sink drain (to prevent clogging) and a light rinsing of water immediately afterwards helps to eliminate the rest of the oil.
So why would anyone choose to do something so strange and downright gross? Well first, many studies have proven its benefits to oral health. Because swishing with coconut oil reduces plaque and bacteria in the mouth, researchers are touting it as a safer, more effective way to prevent periodontal disease than mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine and phenol, which can actually stain the teeth. There are many stories of the overall health benefits of oil pulling, soothing sore throats, clearing acne and improving the immune system just to name a few. To be sure, this is one practice that takes weeks, even months, to establish a morning routine and see the overall benefits.