I think the first time I became aware of oil pulling was back in 2004, when people began writing into the Foundation asking what I thought of the technique. Suddenly, this "ancient" technique was the latest in "detoxing" protocols sweeping the alternative health community.
Being somewhat knowledgeable about detoxing, I had a fundamental problem with the theory behind oil pulling as it was presented, but found the testimonials on its behalf more than a little intriguing. My response at the time was not to dismiss it, but to put it on the back burner until it sorted itself out.
And now, some seven years later, I think my original read on the technique was correct. It definitely works, but the original explanation as a detox technique that "pulls" toxins out through the mouth is probably not correct. So, with that said, let’s take a look at oil pulling: what it is, how you do it, how it works, its benefits, and finally, some recommendations on how to potentially enhance it.
What is oil pulling?
The basic technique is simple. Upon waking, you take one tablespoon of sesame or sunflower oil in your mouth and swish it around. Then spit it out. The details, however, are a little more involved.
- You need to do it first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything.
- You need to swish for 20 minutes — give or take maybe three to five minutes. As it turns out, this is absolutely essential for the procedure to work. If you swish for much less than 20 minutes, it won’t work. If you swish for much longer than 20 minutes, you run the risk of reabsorbing the bacteria and toxins back into your body.
- Effectively, you want to swish until the oil turns from clear and thick to a thin, white, milky consistency.
- You want to swish the oil back and forth between all of your teeth and side to side across all of your gums. You want to hit the cheeks and soft palate. Like butter on an English muffin, you want to "press" the oil into all the nooks and crannies of your mouth — over and over again.
- Do not gargle with the oil. You do not want to risk swallowing it. Swallowing a little will not harm you, but repeatedly swallowing the oil after you’ve swished with it means you will be ingesting things that you’re trying to get rid of.
- Once done swishing, spit the oil out into the toilet or sink.
- Rinse, gargle, and spit out again
- Use a tongue scraper to remove the coating from your tongue.
- Finish by brushing your teeth and rinsing with a mouthwash if you like.
- Perform daily for approximately 40-50 days (three 8-ounce bottles of oil will do the trick), then as desired.
Where does oil pulling come from?
As it was originally presented to me seven years ago, oil pulling was an ancient Ayurvedic technique for detoxing that had been "rediscovered." It was effected by swishing vegetable oil around in your mouth to "pull" all manner of toxins out of your body and into the oil in your mouth, whereupon you then spat those toxins out. Or to quote from the Indian Journal of Dental Research, "It is claimed that the swishing activates enzymes and draws toxins out of the blood. The oil should not be swallowed as it contains bacteria and toxins." (1) As I said earlier, I had several problems with this description/explanation.
First, I wasn’t all that convinced about its ancient Ayurvedic roots. Supposedly, it is mentioned in the Ayurvedic text, the Charaka Samhita, but whether or not you actually find it there, seems to depend on the translation you read. In some translations, it seems to refer to simple gargling. Then again, how ancient it is doesn’t really matter. While it is true that there are many things that are old that are marvelously wise (like meditation and deep prayer), there are also many things that are very old that aren’t so nice (like human sacrifice). The age of a healing technique matters not at all. All that matters is whether it works or not.
On the other hand, everything I knew about detoxing (which is quite a bit) had a problem with the concept of oil pulling as a detoxing technique. Detoxing tends to be specialized. That is to say, it takes different techniques to detox different organs. For example, you use a different technique to cleanse the liver and blood than you do for cleaning out the intestinal tract. And you use a different technique for cleaning out the kidneys than you do for removing heavy metals. Nevertheless, there are a couple of techniques that serve as general detoxifiers (saunas and cold sheet treatments (2)), but these make use of the entire surface area of the skin and take substantially longer than 20 minutes. I just couldn’t accept the fact that oil pulling actually worked by detoxifying the body.
As for "activating enzymes," I had no idea what that even meant!
And yet, there was a substantial body of testimonials that indicated it absolutely was doing something to improve health. True there are no significant studies to support most of the claims, but let’s put studies in perspective for a moment. They are not all they are cracked up to be. As I’ve explained many times before, studies as designed by the medical community, which are subtractive by nature, don’t work well when it comes to multi-faceted, additive, alternative health programs. And for that matter, they don’t work all that well when it comes to medical matters either — frequently producing flawed and/or contradictory results. Indeed, medicine as a whole is much less scientific than you might think.
In any case, since I first became aware of oil pulling, the technique has amassed a pretty impressive list of testimonials on its behalf. And yes, I realize that just because you have smoke, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have fire. Sometimes it really is just smoke. Nevertheless, if you have smoke, it’s probably worth taking a look, just to be sure the house doesn’t burn down. So let’s take a look at some of the benefits attributed to oil pulling.
Reported benefits of oil pulling
According to an article on the Earth Clinic website (3), Oil Pulling is reported to cure: "Mouth & Gum Disease; Stiff Joints; Allergies; Asthma; High Blood Sugar; Constipation; Migraines; Bronchitis; Eczema; Heart, Kidney, Lung Diseases; Leukemia; Arthritis; Meningitis; Insomnia; Menopause (hormonal issues); Cancer; AIDS; Chronic Infections; Varicose Veins; High Blood Pressure; Diabetes; Polio; Cracked Heels."
Or as Dr. Karach, one of the biggest proponents of oil pulling says, "The Oil-therapy heals totally headaches, bronchitis, tooth pain, thrombosis, eczema, ulcers, intestinal diseases, heart and kidney diseases, encephalitis and woman’s diseases. Preventively the growth of malignant tumors is cut and healed. Chronic blood diseases, paralysis, diseases of nerves, stomach, lungs and liver and sleeplessness are cured." (4)
Now that’s an impressive list. And interestingly enough, there may be some truth to it — sort of. In fact, most of the benefits of oil pulling may actually be indirect results from the one benefit that it probably is truly responsible for: eliminating mouth and gum disease.
Gingivitis and periodontal disease
At any given time, there are more than 500 species of bacteria in your mouth — some beneficial, some harmful. It is these bacteria that form the sticky, colorless film on your teeth known as plaque, the "gateway" to many health problems. When mineral salts in saliva combine with plaque, hard deposits known as tartar or calculus, which can’t be removed by brushing alone, are formed on your teeth. Plaque can build up at your gum line, where even more bacteria can accumulate in the space between your gums and teeth. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate your gums and cause them to become inflamed and bleed (a condition called gingivitis). This causes your gums to separate from your teeth, forming spaces between your teeth and gums (pockets) that become infected.
The toxins produced by the bacteria and the infection in these pockets can also stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which your body turns on itself and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen, the inflammation and infection increase, and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. This is called periodontitis.
In periodontitis, the connection between the teeth, gums, and jawbone is broken down — in fact, your jawbone and the ligaments that hold your teeth to your jawbone are literally eaten away. If you think this is something you don’t need to worry about, think again! Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms (at first), so that many people are unaware that they suffer from it. About 75 percent of Americans have gum disease and don’t know it! The bottom line is that periodontitis results in loosening of the gums from the teeth, and eventually loosening of the teeth from the jawbone — not to mention bad breath and an increasing risk of life-threatening chronic illnesses, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Respiratory illness
- Heart Disease
Jon Barron is a researcher, author, lecturer and founder of Baseline of Health Foundation. He has wrapped his mind around every natural therapy known to man and brought it together in a whole body package--delivering a whole body “system” program, a high-end line of nutraceutical products, and cutting-edge functional foods and drinks for consumers to enjoy.
Combining his knowledge and research with modern science, he continues to pioneer the alternative health industry and help consumers world-wide with his free health information and natural health newsletter. You can also download a free copy of his cutting-edge health book, “Lessons From The Miracle Doctors” by visiting his website .
Jon Barron’s high-end line of health supplements for natural colon cleansing, immune system support, digestive health, and anti aging nutrition can be found at http://www.baselinenutritionals.com
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