Another ?new? ancient health practice has become popular in America. In ancient Ayurvedic medicine, oral health was managed in several ways, such as chewing on certain types of sticks and swishing with oil. How do you do oil pulling? Does it work?
What Is It?
Known more traditionally by the terms Kavala Graha and Gandusha, oil pulling is part of daily oral care. Gandusha refers to filling your mouth with oil and holding it there for several minutes before expelling it. Kravala Graha involves swishing and gargling with the oil. Among the oils used are sesame oil, sunflower, peanut, olive, and coconut oil. Sesame oil is the one most traditionally used.
How To Do It
To make kavala graha part of your daily routine, you?ll need to swish with oil twice per day. You?ll need to purchase a quality, refined sesame oil. It is typically available in health food stores. You may also find it in your grocery store or a vitamin and supplement shops.
- Put 1 – 2 teaspoons of oil into your mouth.
- Swish the oil back and forth, pushing and sucking it between your teeth for 20 minutes.
- Spit the oil out. Do not swallow it. It may contain yucky stuff from your teeth now, plus swallowing all that oil at once could upset your stomach.
- Brush well.
Does It Work?
This, of course, is the big question. Everyone?s favorite source of credibility policing, Snopes, says that medical benefits attributed to oil pulling?are unfounded. Yet, in 2009 a study was published which compared the effects of oil pulling with sesame oil on gingivitis versus chlorhexidine mouthwash. The study found a reduction in plaque, gingival scores, and aerobic microorganisms in the plaque of the people who used sesame oil. However, that study only included 20 teen boys and was not conducted over the long term.
PubMed has six studies related to claims about oil pulling, conducted by many of the same group of scientists based in India. All had outcomes in favor of the benefits of oil pulling, from reducing halitosis (bad breath) to eradicating streptococcus mutans in the mouth.
Most of the medical and dental sources we found said that while the medical benefits are likely untrue and the dental benefits have not been sufficiently proven, swishing with these food grade, refined oils twice per day is probably not harmful. Especially if you?re unable to see a dentist regularly, this practice might be something to add to a pro-active home oral care regime.
Really Not Harmful?
One study has been conducted questioning the possibility of oil pulling causing recurrent lipoid pneumonia. It is a type of lung inflammation caused by the inhalation of small amount of oil (whether from an external source or malfunction within the body) into the lungs. Typically it has been seen in commercial divers. It is treatable, but serious.
Another potential downside worth considering is the acidity of some oils. Sesame and coconuts oils are acidic enough (about the same as over the counter mouthwashes) that they may damage enamel when held in the mouth for such a long period of time — 40 minutes every day. This is of special concern if your overall diet also includes highly acidic foods, such as soda.
Its unlikely that oil pulling can treat health issues such as acne or cancer as some Web resources claim it can. The dental benefits, while not overwhelmingly proven by scientific studies, may actually be true. Be aware that using it is not completely without risk and, as always, talk with your doctor or dentist about it before starting a twice-a-day oil pulling practice.