The practice of oil pulling was introduced to me by an allopathic practitioner. I had been sick for a number of weeks and aside from a standard course of antibiotics, western medicine had left me needing answers. So off to an alternative doctor I went.

As a long time critical care nurse I tend to look at all medical suggestions whether they be eastern or western with the same slant of the eye.

The allopathic doctor seemed to think I was having a toxicity issue, and after a 3 week sickness,  and a long course of pharmaceutical medications, I was inclined to agree with this assessment.

I was sent home with a list of suggestions, one of which was oil pulling.

Lets start with the basics.....What is is?

If you Google the topic, a long list of videos on you tube will be there waiting for you. There are many claims, including relief of allergy symptoms and whitening the teeth.  Interesting, but I wanted more than a superficial understanding so I pushed on to find that oil pulling is part of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is an ancient set of practices. Ayurveda is approximately 5,000 years old and was practiced by the Vedic culture of India. Although uncommon among western medical practitioners, it is highly sought out throughout India.

How do you do it?

Its pretty basic, pick an oil (sesame and sunflower are both common I choose coconut for the taste), put it in your mouth, then swish it for 15-20 minutes and then spit it out (in the toilet as not to clog your drains). Brush and floss after.

What are the benefits?

The theory goes that the oil and the swishing creates a vacuum that picks up excess bacteria that is then trapped by the oil and expelled. Thus creating a healthier mouth.

Does it work?

As your loyal Guinea Pig, I committed myself to the practice. Each morning for the last 14 days I take a healthy scoop of coconut oil and I set my timer for 15 minutes. So what happened? I am pleased to report that I have had a reduction in my regular general feelings of what I call "disgusting mouth". I floss and brush as well, up to three times a day, and after oil pulling for just a few days my teeth actually felt more clean. In addition to that, I have had a number of small annoying dental issues that need fixing now that I have dental insurance again, and the oil pulling has decreased the discomfort from these unaddressed issues. I grind my teeth at night, and and have recently developed TMJ(temporomandibular joint disorder). Dare I say that after 7 days of the oil pulling practice the TMJ has all but stopped, also the headaches from grinding at night have disappeared.

Is it for me?

Oil pulling is cheap and can't hurt, so why not try it? It convinced me, maybe you too will have a positive story to share.

woman oral
Credit: Paulina Vyhmeister