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Health, Home, and Happiness: Oil Pulling to relieve chronic conditions and whiten teeth

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oil Pulling to relieve chronic conditions and whiten teeth

In looking up natural remedies for keratosis pilaris for a friend I saw the subject of oil pulling come up. Curious, I googled around and found that it's the kind of holistic treatment that I like- minimal possibility of side effects, inexpensive, not time consuming.

What is oil pulling?
 It's essentially swishing oil around in your mouth to pull out toxins from your body, which clears up many chronic conditions.  Because of my love of coconut oil, I tried that. I was a little squeamish to actually put the whole recommended tablespoon of oil in my mouth so I just used a teaspoon, chewing to melt the coconut oil.  It's kind of weird to get used to, but doable. Then I swished for about 5 minutes, spit, and brushed.  My mouth feels cleaner afterward, and I notice a little more phlegm running down the back of my throat (a sign of cleansing, I think) after.  If I could remember to consistently do this daily or even every other day, perhaps I'd know if it cleared up keratosis pilaris for me or not ~grin~. 

The theories
With holistic methods (or anything, actually) I'm always interested in knowing the reasoning behind the treatment.  There are a few different theories behind why oil pulling works, here are the ones I came across that seem plausible.
  • Oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which cleans out the mouth naturally.  Because everything in our bodies is tied together, a clean healthy mouth supports a clean healthy body.  A chronic condition may be a symptom of another underlying problem, such as buildup of toxins within the mouth/digestive system.
  • The oil actually is pulling toxins out of the body through the mucous membranes in the mouth.  
  • Chronic conditions are a oil deficiency, and the essential fatty acids are being absorbed sublingually, correcting the deficiency.
Some of the chronic conditions that may be helped by oil pulling:
  • Keratosis pilaris (those little bumps commonly on the back of the arms)
  • Eczema
  • Migraine headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Discolored teeth
  • Gingivitis
  • Acne
If you think about it, these conditions are most likely a symptom of an underlying problem.  As with a lot of holistic treatments that address the root of a problem, you're likely to get worse before you get better.  I noticed that I got more phlegm in my throat after oil pulling at first.  Presumably this is from toxins being released.

There seem to be differing opinions on how long to 'pull' (I don't know why it's not called swishing) for, from pulling for no longer than 3-4 minutes so as not to re-absorb the toxins that were pulled out, to pulling for 20 minutes to fully benefit from the treatment. I decided 5 minutes seemed doable, so that's what I started with.

While you may feel silly doing it (my children find this highly amusing), doing this daily for a couple weeks or so doesn't seem to have many downsides if it clears up a lingering chronic condition without side effects.

More cheap-and-easy natural remedies:
Garlic Ear Oil for Earaches
Tea Tree Oil for Mastitis
Plain Water for Pink Eye
An elimination diet for a breastfeeding mother to clear up baby's rash (okay... perhaps not completely easy!)

Have you tried oil pulling before?

Are you using Swagbucks to search and win yet?  I use mine for Amazon certificates to fund my reading habit.

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Blogger Patiences said...

My dad and sister used to do this (I think he still does) and they swore by it.

February 15, 2010 at 6:07 AM  
Anonymous Louisa said...

This is so interesting, thanks for posting about it.....I am taking a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the evenings to help my liver and will def. be doing some oil pulling for my root canal, but prob. with coconut oil too. I like the idea of teeth whitening, but I have had yellow teeth ever since my adult teeth came through, surely you are talking about whitening stained teeth from coffee or smoking or are you actually talking about whitening yellow teeth that have been YELLOW like from the beginning of time??? ;) would love to see the links you came across on your research

louisa x

February 15, 2010 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger Cori said...

I read that you could do it in place of brushing your teeth as well as to clear up things like you mentioned. I like to do it while I'm in the shower. With 4 kids it's hard/impossible not to talk to anybody for 20 minutes, so the shower-get dressed time is the closest I get to that!

February 15, 2010 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Steph said...

Do you think that just rubbing a little coconut oil on the bumps on your arms could work too? Every female in my family has them but there is no way we could swish oil as we also all have a very sensitive gag reflex (we can't even brush our teeth without gagging!)?

February 15, 2010 at 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Louisa said...

so I found a very interesting site:

wow, I am a convert, I will try it tomorrow morning, thanks for the nudge in the right direction!

Lou x x x

February 15, 2010 at 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Louisa said...

so I found a very interesting site:

wow, I am a convert, I will try it tomorrow morning, thanks for the nudge in the right direction!

Lou x x x

February 15, 2010 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Michelle (She Looketh Well) said...

Hi there, as someone who has had little white bumps on my arms since childhood I would like to suggest skin brushing. Since I began this several months ago my bumps are gone! I had totally forgotten about them until one day I read skin brushing works for that. I looked (as I had already been brushing) and they were gone! Can't hurt, right?

Thanks for you website, extremely helpful!

February 15, 2010 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Cara said...

I'm glad you all think this is interesting too.

I can't remember exactly where I heard about it. I think Google found a bunch of different discussion groups with 'anecdotal evidence'.

The skin brushing is a good idea, I have a soft brush I could use for that.

Great idea to do the pulling/swishing while in the shower! I usually have kids in there with me too :oP

And if you have a strong gag reflex, I do think this would be super hard to do!

February 15, 2010 at 4:04 PM  
Blogger Cara said...

Oh, but coconut oil topically might work, I use coconut oil as my 'lotion' lately and it seems to work well.

February 15, 2010 at 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Alison @ Hospitality Haven said...

Wow! Very interesting. I haven't noticed any chronic conditions, but this might be interesting to do anyway! I'm glad you posted about it.

February 15, 2010 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I read about this a week ago & started doing it then (can't hurt & might help, is what I figure) I take about 2 tsp. of coconut oil, put in small glass jar & heat in small pot of water on the stove (the water I'm heating for my cup of morning tea). Once it's melted (don't let it heat too long!) I swish for 20 minutes & then rinse with water & mouth wash. Sometimes it's hard to hold it in there for so long (the mouth starts feeling very full), but I manage. Don't know but I think I feel better afterwards (have been struggling with a cold all week).

February 16, 2010 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Never heard of this but it doesn't really surprise me either. I used to use teatree oil - definitely not as pleasant a taste as coconut oil though - lol! And my kids were always amused at my facial expressions!

February 16, 2010 at 9:07 PM  
Blogger Laura @ Rejoicing Evermore said...

I have done oil pulling and love it, my teeth stayed clean longer, they were getting whiter.. Unfortunatly I didn't keep up with it for any longer than 2 weeks. I really need to get back into it!

I used Extra Virgin Coconut oil, I believe it is the best for that. :)

February 18, 2010 at 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great resource!

February 26, 2010 at 2:11 AM  
Anonymous Jane said...

Hi all - I read a bit about oilpulling a couple of months ago, and decided the gross factor would simply take it beyond my level of tolerance. Then reading these comments yesterday induced me to try it. I started yesterday with unrefined sesame oil, and there is actually no gross factor at all!! I was amazed to find my teeth were noticeably whiter after the very first time!! I'm excited by this as my immune system took a major plummet a few years ago with glandular fever, and I haven't been able to get back on top of things. This has given me hope, together with discovering Sally Fallon etc. Cara - LOVE your website!! I just found it a few days ago and have been reading up stuff. How good is it to find real comments by real people!! Blessings to you all - Jane x

March 3, 2010 at 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just curious, is it safe to do while pregnant? I would love to do this, but with it pulling some toxins free, was worried about doing it while pregnant. Thanks!

March 13, 2010 at 8:00 AM  
Blogger Cara @ Health Home and Happiness said...

I personally would be comfortable doing this while pregnant, but you might want to run it by your care provider just in case :)

March 13, 2010 at 3:54 PM  

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