Oil pulling with coconut: study finds the ancient Indian technique really does have benefits for mouth health

{ Posted on Jul 03 2015 by admin }

Lauric acid in coconut oil has proven anti inflammatory and antimicrobial effects

The research, published in the Nigerian Journal of Medicine‘s March/April 2015 edition looked at 60 people between the ages of 16 and 18 who added oil pulling to their oral hygiene routine over a 30 day period. Their plaque and gum disease levels were assessed on days 1, 7, 15, and 30. After just seven days of oil pulling, levels of plaque and gum disease significantly reduced, and continued to decrease over a period of a month. The researchers, from Kennur Dental College in India, said: ‘Coconut oil is an easily available edible oil. It is unique because it contains predominantly medium chain fatty acids of which 45-50 percent is lauric acid. Lauric acid has proven anti inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.’

So, What is exactly oil pulling?

Oil pulling is increasingly being added to people’s morning brush and floss routine, but has been a traditional remedy for 3000 years in Ayurvedic medicine – the ancient Indian healing system. It involves taking a teaspoon of oil and swishing it round for five to 20 minutes before spitting it out and some of the further benefits attributed to it in Ayurvedic medicine include glowing skin, fresher breath and a better ability to fight colds, exhaustion, and dark circles under the eyes (we haven’t got any studies on those though).

What do the experts think?

Deepa Apte, ayurvedic doctor and director of Ayurveda Pura Spa in London says ‘Gandusha is the Indian/Sanskrit name for oil pulling and literally means pull out toxins from the stomach and spit them out.’
US dentist Dr Jessica T Emery, founder of Sugar Fix Dental Loft in Chicago and an oil-pulling devotee wrote on her blog ‘Most microorganisms in the mouth consist of a single cell. Cells are covered with a fatty membrane which is the cells skin. When these cells come into contact with oil – a fat – they naturally adhere to each other.’
Leading UK dentist Dr James Goolnik, founder of Bow Lane Dental in Central London and previously voted the most influential person in UK dentistry, says ‘oil pulling is likely to lessen the bacterial load in the mouth but long term oral health benefits have not been shown. I wouldn’t recommend it as a replacement for your oral care and hygiene.’

How to oil pull?

Oil pulling must be done on an empty stomach; at least four hours after eating, and an hour after drinking water or clear liquids. Wait two hours after drinking juice or any other heavier liquid.
Dr Apte has the following instructions:
1. Brush and floss your teeth
2. Take a teaspoon of your chosen oil (coconut or sesame work well)
3. Hold the oil in the mouth for 5-20 minutes, swishing it around and moving it in the mouth as much as possible
4. Spit out the oil (down the toilet or in the bin)
5. Rinse the mouth with hot water

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