How To's

Oil Pulling — What the heck is it?

Celebs with dazzling smiles

Celebs with dazzling smiles — Gisele Bundchen, Gwenyth Paltrow, Shailene Woodley, Malin Akerman — are giving oil pulling the credit for their beautiful teeth, glowing skin and healthy bodies.  But what the heck is oil pulling?  We know it’s ‘hip’ — but is it legit or is it hype?

 Where did it come from?

Oil pulling is a growing trend but it’s certainly not new.  Stemming from Ayurvedic medicine which has been practiced for over 5,000 years, oil pulling traces its roots to the practice of oil gargling known as kavala, or the practice of holding oil in the mouth without moving known as gandusa.1 

Oil pulling as we know it today was introduced in 1992 by Dr. F. Karach, MD.  It involves the practice of swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth in the early morning, before breakfast (on an empty stomach) for about 20 minutes and then spitting it out.  

What is the "hype"?

Simple, but…perhaps a little odd, at least for the western world.  Also, it still begs the question, does traditional gandusa, kavala, or modern oil pulling actually give you that dazzling smile or provide incredible health benefits?  

There are a lot of claims about what oil pulling can do — everything from curing diabetes, clearing up acne, preventing heart disease to curing cancer — and to be honest, many of the claims are more anecdotal with not much scientific data to back them up.  

Modern science has, however, established a definite link between oral health and overall health — your mouth is considered a mirror of the general health of your body.  Recent studies show that oil pulling helps against gingivitis, plaque, and microorganisms that cause bad breath.2 3  We know that conditions like gingivitis and periodontitis are linked with other health conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  So yes, not only is oil pulling advantageous for your oral health, but having a healthy oral microbiome also benefits the rest of your body.

 How does it work?

Our mouths are home to billions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites and their toxins. It is these types of germs and their toxic waste products that cause gum disease and tooth decay and contribute to many other health problems including arthritis and heart disease.4 Each of these bacteria have a fatty outer coating, and when they come into contact with another fatty substance, such as oil, they have a tendency to stick to that substance (the process is called lipophilic).  The act of swishing and pulling gets the oil down into the hard-to-reach areas of the mouth that a toothbrush would miss and picks up the bacteria that may have otherwise remained hidden.  When you spit out the oil, you’re getting rid of all the bacteria and toxins with it.

 What it isn’t…

This is pretty amazing when you think about it — just swishing oil around in your mouth and trapping all that bacteria.  But don’t get too excited and think this is all you have to do for your oral health.  It isn’t a one-and-done replacement for your oral care!  You most definitely still need to scrape your tongue, floss and brush — adding oil pulling simply enhances your routine.

 Some important things to keep in mind…

Regardless of which oil (sesame, coconut, sunflower, etc) you choose for your practice, always use a high quality, organic (if possible) oil.  When done, do not swallow but spit into the toilet or trash (not into the sink).

To further ramp up the effects of oil pulling, try using DrTung’s Oil Pulling Concentrate — a time-tested remedy of 24 plants and herbs carefully prepared in organic sesame oil.  Sesame oil is specifically mentioned in Ayurvedic texts for its subtle, penetrating, preventive and balancing effects. Unlike some other oil pulling products, DrTung's Oil Pulling Concentrate is more than just adding a few essential oils to provide flavor, but rather is an ancient recipe of selected plants and botanicals chosen for specific treatment qualities.  Bonus:  this special, botanical formula is so effective it can reduce your oil pulling time down to just 5 minutes!

 The takeaway

Based on currently available research along with ancient Ayurvedic texts it can be concluded that oil pulling, when performed along with tongue scraping, flossing and brushing, has very promising positive results and should be an important part of your oral routine.5 

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