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Oil pulling: A New Health Trend That Has Real Benefits

When scrolling through twitter the other day, I saw a tweet that said: “I’ve been oil pulling with coconut oil for a week and my teeth are already so much whiter!” As someone who likes to take care of my teeth, I immediately went to google to see what oil pulling was.

At first, I was pretty disappointed with what I found. The claims I saw were in line with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop quackery, reminding me of Goop’s assertion that putting a rose quartz egg in your vagina could “strengthen your feminine energies.” There were a lot of claims that swishing coconut oil around in your mouth once a day would “draw toxins out of your body,” improving not only your oral health, but your health overall. Immediately, that sounded like, well, bullsh*t. There’s no way, I thought to myself, that swishing a little oil around in my mouth will magically pull toxins out of my body.

As I kept searching for some real science, the articles I found just got more and more ridiculous. One person said that she had to stop oil pulling because she kept throwing up at the thought of all the toxins in her mouth. Another claimed that it’s dangerous to oil pull while pregnant because those toxins could be swallowed and would then harm your baby.

Still not ready to give up on oil pulling, I kept searching for some actual benefits of this method. Finally, I found what oil pulling really does. WebMD has a pretty good article on the real health benefits of this trend. I discovered that oil pulling can get rid of plaque, fight gingivitis and because of the anti-bacterial acid in coconut oil, it even makes your breath smell better. Also, although there have been no studies on the teeth-whitening effects of oil pulling, many people report whiter teeth after oil pulling on a regular basis.



So, now that we know what it can do for your mouth, here’s how to oil pull. Start by finding some cold-pressed, organic coconut oil. Viva Naturals is my favorite brand, and it’s available on amazon prime. If you don’t like coconut, well, sorry. You can use other oils like sunflower or sesame, but coconut is the only one that contains the acid that will help maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in your mouth.

Once you have your oil, you can try oil pulling. The best time of day to do it is in the evening after brushing your teeth. Most sites recommend using a tablespoon of oil, but that can be kind of a lot, so you should probably start with a teaspoon or less, working your way up to a tablespoon over time. After measuring it out you put it in your mouth, wait 15-20 seconds for the oil to melt, and then swish it around in your mouth. Two to five minutes of swishing should be plenty, and then you just spit it out (into a trashcan, because the oil will re-solidify and clog your sink) and then, if you want, you can rinse your mouth with warm water. Personally, I love the taste of coconut, so I don’t bother with that last step.



Remember, because this is an actual method for maintaining your mouth’s health, it may take a couple weeks for you to notice any benefits from oil pulling. That’s a sure sign of a serious health tip, though: it will not promise you instant results. Anything that’s worth doing is going to take a while, and yeah, oil pulling is one of them. The advantages are worth it though, and your mouth will definitely thank you for spending a couple minutes a day swishing a little coconut oil around in your mouth.

When setting out to try a new health trend, it’s always important to go out and do your own research before you attempt it yourself. This is both to make sure that what you’re doing isn’t harmful, but also because it’s important to be realistic in what to expect from a new health routine. Many recent health trends, like detoxing, which claims that you can remove unhealthy chemicals from your body, leading to weight loss and “glowing” skin, just by drinking juice or lemon water or skinny (laxative) teas, are completely unsupported by science and are probably just trying to prey on your insecurities. Juice cleanses might not really heal all that ails you, but scientific studies have shown that it leads to bloating and diarrhea. Anything that tells you it’s an instant cure-all is actually just a sure-fire fake. Other trends like face peels can harm your skin and make your even stretch your pores. Even using coconut oil on your skin (especially the skin of your face) isn’t all it’s made out to be, because coconut oil cannot penetrate the skin barrier, meaning it can actually clog your pores.

A real health regimen will probably have likely only work to alleviate a certain concern, and won’t make you instantly gorgeous or “healthy” by getting rid of wrinkles or stretch marks or inches off your waistline. Oil pulling is one of those methods. Like working out or eating healthier foods, it’s something you have to commit to in order to see real benefits. If you really commit to oil pulling, though, your mouth will definitely thank you.

Emma Hynes

Cincinnati '22

University of Cincinnati - History and Political Science major Activist with a focus on lgbt people and people in poverty. Trans inclusive feminist. She/Her pronouns
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