You’re probably in one of two camps when it comes to oil pulling: either it’s a cure for all that ails ya, or it’s fucking stupid.
I have to admit I was in the fucking stupid camp but always had a nagging little voice at the back of my head wondering whether there was something to it.
In the interests of full disclosure, I am a believer in evidence-based science. I think David Avocado Wolfe is a dickhead and, although I activate my nuts, I don’t care for Pete Evans.
But I’m also into any putting stuff in my body that is good for me, and I’ll try anything out. When I was at a lunch recently and a lovely guest speaker who seemed to know what she was talking about recommended oil pulling, it switched on a little light bulb in my head and I became curious.
And because I had consumed a fair whack of champagne at said lunch, I decided to investigate further the next day to – ah – refresh my memory about all the benefits.
The ‘benefits’ of oil pulling
Unfortunately, every single article I could find was full online was full of a fuck-tonne of bullshit instead of any scientific rigour. *Sound alarm bells here.*
But the gist of them was that oil pulling is great for oral health – that is, preventing tooth decay and gingivitis, whitening teeth, and curing bad breath. That bit makes okay sense. Coconut oil is thought to have antibacterial properties (although the internet likes to argue about that too) so I get that.
Other claims that start to get a bit cuckoo, courtesy of Dr Axe* include:
- boosts immune system
- improves acne
- strengthens gums and jaw
- prevents heart disease
- heals cracked lips.
Now, clearly the cracked lips are cured when the oil touches them, so a Chap Stick could do the same job. I’ve never found having weak gums a problem and my jaws are strong enough to chew through tacos so I’m all good there. The others seem to be without any scientific basis, except that tooth decay can cause heart disease, so oil pulling won’t prevent all heart disease, but it may contribute by helping you avoid the decay that could eventually cause your heart attack.
Anyway, I decided to try out oil pulling for two weeks to see if it did anything, fully ready to point and laugh at it.
How to oil pull
I did my research on how to get started with oil pulling, and if you’d like to give it a go too, here’s what you need to do:
- Get 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil into your gob first thing in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat or drink. (During my two weeks the weather went from liquid coconut oil to solid coconut oil in Brisbane. Either way works – if it’s solid it will melt in your mouth pretty quickly.) Everyone on the internet said this is pretty gross but I didn’t find it that bad.
- Swish the oil around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes. Or as long as you can stand it at first and build up to that time. Again, the internet will tell you this is really hard, but it really isn’t. Just don’t swish too vehemently because you’ve got it in there for a long time and you don’t want to wear out your jaw. The volume will pretty much double over that time because of all the saliva you’re releasing (or ‘toxins’ as some would have you believe).
- Spit out the oil into the bin. Not the sink – you’ll clog it up with fat and have a massive plumber’s bill.
- Rinse your mouth with salt water for extra antibacterial blah blah…or normal water if you don’t care. I did the salt water thing because in for a penny…
- Brush your teeth.
- Repeat 3-5 times a week.
Okay, I have to come clean. When I first planned on writing this article it was going to be super short. It was just doing to say ‘oil pulling is bullshit’. But I have to admit that after two weeks, my mouth does feel cleaner, my teeth are a bit whiter, and my breath is fresher.
And deep into my second week I downed an entire bottle of cheap bubbles on my own and woke up with that foul post-spumante breath – and oil pulling for 20 minutes sorted it right out. Amazing!
Is oil pulling the life saving health solution some claim it to be? Probably not, but there’s nothing wrong with a fresher mouth, right?
So I’ll probably keep doing it when I remember, because it doesn’t hurt. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried it. What was your experience?
* Just quietly, I don’t think Dr Axe is a real doctor.