Adventures in Coconut Oil – Oil Pulling
You know how some people think duct tape can fix anything? Well, crunchy folk think the same thing about coconut oil. And breastmilk. Maybe apple cider vinegar too, actually. Wait…has anybody ever combined those three ingredients?? Did I just cure cancer?!
All inappropriate kidding aside…coconut oil is one of my absolute favorite and most-used items ever. Although I don’t believe you should fall for all of the hot “new” trendy products that come along…sometimes there is a reason they are getting noticed. Coconut oil has been everywhere the last few years and I am thankful for that. I hope more people continue to discover its benefits and perhaps replace a few common store-bought, chemical-ridden products that don’t even work as well. A simple google search of “uses for coconut oil” yields over 13 million results! It is no secret that it is an excellent home remedy used by many people today, but did you know it has been a staple to cultures for thousands of years? The coconut tree is considered “the tree of life” in many tropical regions of the world because of its use in medicines and foods. This “superfood” is almost half lauric acid, as well as capric and caprylic acids which is known for its antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties to boost the immune system. It is also high in saturated fats, which has unfortunately got itself a bad name in past decades as meaning ‘will clog arteries” – purely a myth according to newer research. Check out this article for more information about the “Diet-Heart Hypothesis”.
I could easily make a “100 Uses for Coconut Oil” post here too, but I am instead going to focus on a few of my favorites here and there. My current new-found fave…oil pulling. This post tells you a little about it, but I updated my favorite way to oil pull that makes it even more amazing here.
Do what?? What does “oil-pulling” even mean?! Well, it means pulling, or swishing, oil around your mouth for a period of time, preferably 10-15 minutes first thing in the morning. It doesn’t have to be coconut oil, although this as well as sesame oil are considered the best for it. Sunflower and olive oils have also been used. No matter which oil you use, it must be high quality. This means you want to look for organic, unrefined, cold-pressed, extra virgin oil. Here is the coconut oil I use.
Almost as long as coconut oil has been found useful, so has coconut oil pulling for optimal health, beginning in India. Traditional Ayurvedic literature claims oil pulling is capable of improving oral health as well as a wide range of afflictions. When done regularly, this age-old remedy essentially detoxes you through your teeth and gums. Quick dental lesson: We have thousands of different bacteria, fungi, and organisms in our mouths. Some bacteria adhere to the teeth in a thin layer which is what we call “plaque”. This bacteria and others build up and create gingivitis, cavities, and bad breath. Swishing coconut oil in your mouth as a regimen catches much of this plaque and bacteria between your teeth, gums, tongue, and even throat, much like mouthwash claims to do. But this is natural! Many people believe oil pulling helps the lymphatic system since the “good” bacteria that remains can thrive. “Other possible benefits of oil pulling for overall health include:
- Migraine headache relief
- Correcting hormone imbalances
- Reducing inflammation of arthritis
- May help with gastro-enteritis
- Aids in the reduction of eczema
- May reduce symptoms of bronchitis
- Helps support normal kidney function
- May help reduce sinus congestion
- Some people report improved vision
- Helps reduce insomnia
- Reduced hangover after alcohol consumption
- Aids in reducing pain
- Reduces the symptoms of allergies
- Helps detoxify the body of harmful metals and organisms” (1)
So here’s how you do it:
1. Wake up. Stretch, yawn, pee. Whatever…just don’t eat or brush your teeth yet. And sorry, no coffee yet either! It is best on an empty stomach.
2. Put about a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish, swish, swish for 10, 15, or even 20 minutes. Hey, it’s a great reason to not talk to anyone for a while each morning. You could get dressed, unload the dishwasher, pack lunches, meditate…may as well make it a super valuable time! You really want to push and pull the oil through your teeth as much as you can.
3. Spit out the oil in the trash can, rinse your mouth with water, spit again, then brush your teeth. You may resume your regularly scheduled day. It is best to avoid spitting the oil in the sink since coconut oil solidifies at a certain temperature and could clog pipes.
4. Repeat daily forever. Voila! Perfect health! (Just kidding, of course…but thinking healthy thoughts while you’re doing it can’t hurt!)
The longer you “pull” the oil in your mouth, it will mix with your saliva and become thicker. Sometimes, you will even spit out some yucky, black stuff. That is why you should avoid swallowing your oil, as it becomes full of toxins. I read so much about oil pulling before trying it, but I was NOT prepared for the texture the first time I tried it. I put a heaping tablespoon full in my mouth and could not keep it in very long at all. So if you have a thing about textures, or a strong gag-reflex, too…please remember to ease your way into it! Start with very little oil just to get used to it, even if it is just for about five minutes. Then you can gradually add more oil and a longer duration. Give it time and commit to it for a while to accurately see how it works for you.
My Results So Far? While I am in no way able to prove or refute the efficacy of oil pulling removing toxins from your body, it makes sense to me since bacteria and infection can enter the blood stream through our mouths. I feel there is no downside and only potential benefits…so why not?! I have only been oil pulling on and off for about a year now. The big difference I instantly noticed is whiter teeth. I also feel more energetic and my skin is clearer when I keep up with it, and I have a healthy immune system (but that could be a number of factors including nourishing nutrition, Fermented Cod Liver Oil and essential oils). Always so many variables to health. Also, I tend to bite my lip often and end up with a canker sore in that spot. I started to get one and noticed that not only did the oil pulling help it feel better, it also went away later that day!
In any event, I intend to keep oil pulling for a while even if it is just for the dental benefits, and aim to squeeze in 20 minutes when I can. What do you think? Think you’ll try it with me, or have you already oil pulled for a while? Please share your thoughts, experiences, and questions below! I want to hear from you!