I've long been a fan of coconut oil, but how can swishing it around in your mouth produce the miraculous effects often claimed? Seriously, sounds like ‘swishful’ thinking to me. Or so I thought.
Oil pulling is something I had read about here and there over the years. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to give it a go. When I started I had no idea how it would work or what I should expect. Since then I have read a whole book on it (yes it is possible to write an entire book on the subject, who would have thought?) and have been trying it for three weeks now.
So welcome to the first part of my blog series on the amazing coconut. I’m going to share with you some of the things I’ve learnt about oil pulling, including my recent experiences. I'm so excited, not only to be spreading the word about the incredible coconut, but also to be using myself as an oil pulling guinea pig.
Oil pulling has long been reported to help an extensive list of conditions, from allergies, asthma, insomnia and chronic fatigue to life threatening illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and infectious diseases. But how? Well, apparently, it has to do with the billions of bacteria that live in our mouths, feeding off the sugar and carbohydrates that most people love to eat. We know that these bacteria cause dental decay, but what happens when they enter the blood stream from a cut or ulcerated mouth? Even simply brushing your teeth can cause your gums to bleed. If we had a cut on our arm we would be concerned about bacteria entering the wound. Why not our mouths?
The age-old Ayurvedic tradition of oil pulling removes bacteria, not with magic, but with science. A fatty membrane surrounds the microorganisms in our mouths. Whilst oil and water do not mix, two oils easily combine, which is what happens when we move oil around in our mouths. The more we swish and swirl, the more the oil attracts the bacteria, which we then spit out. With a reduced toxic load the body has a greater ability to heal itself.
One of the most fascinating things I’ve read recently is the story of Dr. Weston Price’s research. He conducted many studies in which infected teeth were extracted from a patient and implanted into a rabbit. In almost every case, the rabbits developed the same illnesses as the person from whom the teeth had been extracted. We are not just talking about minor complaints, but conditions such as kidney and heart problems, stomach ulcers, ovarian disease and more. Interestingly, no infections occurred when healthy teeth were put into the rabbits.
One of the first questions people ask is; which type of oil should I use? My blog’s title is a bit of a giveaway as to which oil I prefer, but in fact you can use any oil. I chose coconut oil because of its health benefits (much more info in blogs to come) and its mild taste (depending on which brand you buy). I recommend using a good organic, unrefined product (I like Loving Earth). Bare in mind that coconut oil is solid at cooler temperatures so if this is the case you either have to melt it in your mouth (not my preferred option unless you like gagging) or melt it first. I personally put some boiling water in a bowl and place a small glass (the size of a shot glass) into the bowl. Place 2-3 teaspoons of coconut oil in the glass and it will melt within a few minutes.
Once you have your oil, follow these simple instructions:
1. Put the oil in your mouth and swirl it in a similar fashion to mouthwash. Try to get into every nook and cranny, even sucking it through any spaces between your teeth.
2. The oil will combine with your saliva and turn white. If you feel at any stage you have too much in your mouth you can spit a bit out and continue with the remainder.
3. Move the oil around continuously for 15-20 minutes (just holding it in your mouth won't achieve anything). To start off, I struggled with 5 minutes (who knew how many muscles your mouth had?), but I built up to 20 minutes after a few days.
4. Spit the oil out into a rubbish bag when you've finished (if you put it down the sink it will eventually clog up your pipes). Do not swallow it! You are trying to get rid of the germs, not ingest them.
5. Rinse out your mouth and have a drink of water.
6. Repeat 1-3 times a day. The more severe your health issues are, the more often it is recommended that you oil pull. You may find a level above which you feel benefit and below which you don't. Oil pulling before meals when the bacterial population of your mouth is greatest is a good idea, but not mandatory.
7. I find it handy to write a diary with how often and long I oil pull, noting any effects (positive or negative), so I can see patterns and determine what works best for me.
I know that some of you might be a little skeptical and I know it sounds a bit weird. You might be thinking that it’s ok for others to do that sort of thing if they want, but you’ll stick to more mainstream treatments, thank you very much. For years I’ve had it in the back of my mind that oil pulling is some sort of strange ritual, although I hadn’t dismissed it completely. I just wasn’t ready to try it. But now I’m really glad I got past that point and gave it a go. I didn’t know what to expect, but I decided that I needed to do it properly to see if it worked. Here are a few pretty convincing things I’ve noticed.
The first thing was that my mouth felt really clean, not something I‘d expected. I’d thought it would feel oily. Then after the first few days I went through what I assumed was a ‘healing crisis’. My bowels were rather ‘overactive’ (to put it delicately), and without getting too graphic, let’s just say I feel that I had a good old detox. Whenever our body starts getting rid of harmful intruders it is common to feel worse before we feel better. It’s what happens when the immune system is freed up from some of its work defending us; it has more time to detoxify and heal.
You may find this a little challenging, as I did, but the good news is that after a couple of days I started to feel great. I had significantly more energy and I was sleeping better. Things that had been slowly improving seemed to rapidly improve, such as an inflammatory condition in my foot. Then one morning I woke up with a really throbbing headache. I hate taking medication, but I was seriously considering it. Instead I ‘oil pulled' for twenty minutes, after which time my headache was only very mild. A few days later I had another one that vanished completely after oil pulling. Then one day I felt slightly nauseous, which again disappeared after a bit of coconut oil swirling. At one point I got a bit lazy and only did it once a day. I realized that I wasn’t sleeping as well as I had been, so I reverted to oil pulling twice daily. After a couple of days my sleep improved again.
I am not saying that oil pulling is a miracle cure for everything. I also know that my experiences could all be coincidences. But it doesn’t feel that way to me and I plan to continue. I’ll let you know how I go. In the meantime why don’t you give it a try? What have you got to loose? Worst case scenario you’ll have a much cleaner and healthier mouth. Bare in mind that one five-minute session every second day won’t cure any lifelong condition you may have. If you’re serious about it, you need to do it consistently. Be aware that the longer you have had the health issue, the longer it will take to improve. And of course it won’t magically fix everything. Having said that, just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean oil pulling should be underestimated. There is a solid scientific rationale for its effects and I, for one, have felt its benefits.
For more information I suggest reading “Oil Pulling Therapy. Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through OralCleansing” by Dr. Bruce Fife. Alternatively look online at www.coconutresearchcenter.org
May you be full of swishing coconut oil,