pulling or oil swishing is an ancient Ayurvedic practice whereby
sesame seed or coconut oil is placed in the mouth and swished or
pulled through the teeth. The practice dates back 2,500 years but has
recently become more popular. The technique is simple. A tablespoon of
oil is placed in the mouth and swished around for 20 minutes. Spit it
out and thatís it. According to Ayurvedic practitioner Jamie Durner,
oil pulling should be done first thing in the morning and on an empty
stomach for best results.
that the practice has numerous health benefits. "Oil pulling is
just one of the daily techniques we use to rid the body of
toxins," says Durner. "Oils are lipophilic, meaning they
attract oils and fat-soluble toxins and basically they pull them out.
This is what oil pulling does, and it is especially helpful because
the mouth is where digestion begins. Oil pulling helps to gently wake
our digestive system. Since the tongue is seen as a receptacle that
connects to all the organs of the body, oil pulling can also encourage
organs to remove toxins as well. Ancient Ayurveda text say that it can
help anything from migraines, diabetes, asthma, skin conditions and
Dr. Mark Crego
says that although there have been no formal studies done by the
American Dental Association, there may be something to it. "Itís
a natural ingredient that probably helps to keep the mouth clean and
prevent the proliferation of bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and
gum disease. It coats the teeth and can help to prevent plaque
buildup. It works a lot like tarter control toothpaste," he says.
Crego has a few
patients who are "pullers," but he has not noticed a
significant difference between their dental health and anyone who does
a good job of brushing and flossing. "Itís a different way to
get the same results," he says. "If a patient asked me what
I would rather have them spend that kind of time on, I would have to
say brushing and flossing."
Mullen not only has patients who practice oil pulling, but she has done
it herself. "I am not a regular puller, but I have tried it. We
all know that when something is dissolved it is easier to remove.
Bacteria has a fatty outside that the oil will dissolve and thus pull
out more easily. Most systemic conditions like asthma have an
inflammatory component. There is the idea that the mouth drives
systemic inflammation. If you decrease the bacterial load in your
mouth, you decrease systemic inflammation. That is why people who
floss have better cardio vascular health. If you decrease mouth
inflammation by removing bacteria, you are giving yourself a break on
inflammation in the body. Then any inflammatory condition would
respond more positively," Mullen says.
It sounds good
in theory, but Durner warns that oil pulling is not a magic bullet to
better health. "Ayurveda takes a holistic approach, and this is
just one of the tools we use to rebalance a personís health,"
Miracle of Coconut Oil
thought coconut oil was bad for you, youíre not alone. Many
people remember the bad press coconut oil received for its use
in movie theater popcorn. That oil, however, was hydrogenated or
partially hydrogenated, a process that gives food products a
longer shelf life. In turn, it became a trans fat, which can
lead to higher cholesterol levels and heart disease.
coconut oil has risen to near miracle-drug status. Thereís
been a lot of hype about coconut oil, and it seems almost every
day someone comes up with a new use. Either as a skin cream,
hair conditioner, to lighten age spots, bath oil, cold sore
cure, a way to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of
Alzheimerís, or even a bubble gum remover ó it appears thereís
nothing this oil canít do.
to Ron Sjoquist of Good Harvest Market in Pewaukee, sales of
coconut oil have doubled in the last two years. "We carry a
lot of brands. Some of the best are Dr. Bronnerís, Spectrum
and Nutiva. Ziggy Marley even makes flavored coconut oils for
cooking," says Sjoquist.
Green, owner of The Natural Food Shop on S. 13th St. also
recommends Nutiva, Wilderness Family Naturals and Now, but he
says that the method of extraction is more important than the
brand. "Basically, there are three kinds of coconut oil.
The highest quality and most expensive is raw centrifuge
extracted oil. Sixteen ounces of this oil sells for $16.95. The
next best is cold pressed and unfiltered, which costs $8.99 for
12 ounces. Finally, we have the ultra-clean expeller-pressed
coconut oil, which costs $9.50 for 16 ounces."