Lately it seems like everyone is talking about oil pulling. Everywhere you look, another website is tackling the oil pulling with the typical “it’s the new celebrity craze,” “the hot new beauty trend,” "A-list celebrity's secret weapon.” Ugh, put me out of my misery.
But then Baze shot me an email suggesting that I try it out. Little does she know that I will do literally anything my editors tell me to, I mean, one time I wore a skirt. So off I went to my local witch doctor pharmacy to pick up my very own jar of coconut oil.
But what IS oil pulling? Good question. Basically, you take a big tablespoon of oil, usually coconut (sesame works too) and swish it around your mouth for around 20 minutes, and then spit it back out. But why, you ask?
Your body stores toxins in your salivary glands. When you oil pull, you increase the production of saliva and the toxins in your saliva get trapped in the oil, which you end up spitting back out. Easy! Not only that, but it is said to strengthen teeth and gums, whiten teeth, help with halitosis, help you sleep, and is even a hangover cure!
Every time I read this laundry list of benefits, it’s always followed by something about how there has not been any rigorous scientific testing on the subject, but there’s no harm in doing it. So, um…k?
Truth be told, I was actually very into the idea of trying out oil pulling because I kept reading about its detoxifying properties. I am always down to try new ways to detox because I am a very toxic person. All of the experiences I read about oil pulling ranged from it being a huge success to “I couldn’t get through more than three days and it made me puke.” I even know a few people personally who tried oil pulling and hated it, citing it as one of the grossest things they’ve ever done, so I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the experience. But onward I went, because I was doing it for science! Or, beauty, rather. Whatever, I was doing it for xoJane.
Turns out, people were being real dramatic because oil pulling is no sweat. The first thing I did when I unscrewed the jar of coconut oil was bring it to my nose to take a big whiff. I don’t know why, but the first thing I do when I’m holding something I’m unfamiliar with is smell it. It’s not always the best idea when it comes to things like…glue. But to my surprise, the coconut oil smelled really good, sort of like sugar cookies, so that put my initial apprehension to rest.
I scooped a big tablespoon of oil out of the jar, and then spooked myself and emptied half of the oil off of the spoon, fearing I was going to overdo it too soon. The oil starts off as a solid and then becomes liquid as it mixes with the saliva in your mouth. It definitely feels weird to have a big, slippery, soft ball of oil in your mouth and having to hold it there, but you get used to it quickly. The oil is virtually tasteless, which is a plus. In the beginning, I had to be careful not to space out and swallow the oil, as swallowing the toxins you’re trying to remove would be completely counterproductive. By the third or fourth day of oil pulling, I was used to it and could go about my day with a mouth full of coconut oil.
Once the oil goes from a solid to a liquid, it starts to get thicker as it pulls in your saliva and toxins, and almost doubles in size. By my third day, I was starting to get really ambitious with the amount of oil I was cramming into my mouth. I hadn’t taken into account the fact that the oil was going to expand, and had to spit a little bit of it out about halfway through, or risk spewing it everywhere as the oil expanded.
TIP: Make sure you spit out the oil into your trash can instead of your sink. The oil could build up in your drain and cause blockage (I kept forgetting this and spit it out in my sink every single time. Do as I say, not as I do! But you knew that by now.)
SO DOES IT WORK?
So the main and most measurable benefits of oil pulling have to do with oral health, ridding your mouth of bacteria, whitening teeth, strengthening gums, etc. I’m a huge freak about teeth, so I was sort of hypersensitive to all of this. Do my teeth look whiter? Marginally. We’re not talking 50 Shades of Bleach, but as someone who starts off every morning with a big fat black coffee, I need all the help I can get and oil pulling does seem like it’s starting to make a dent. Oil pulling is a much more gentle, much less expensive alternative to drug store teeth whitening which is pretty cool (how do you guys whiten your teeth? Tell me in the comments and I’ll do it.)
My teeth FEEL way cleaner, and I don’t think that’s just the placebo effect. I love me some brushing and flossing and oral health realness, but you really can’t beat the clean you feel after having a big ball of coconut oil splashing around your mouth for 20 minutes. For that alone, I would (and will) keep up with this.
Sleeping: Um, maybe? That would be better tested by someone with a more normal sleep schedule than me. There’s nothing normal about my sleeping patterns so I kind of just tend to get it where I can.
HANGOVERS: I’ve heard a lot about how oil pulling can “cure” hangovers, but I was pretty skeptical. I haven’t been drinking all that much lately so I thought I wouldn’t be able to test this out. I thought wrong. I ended up overdoing it one night (Me? Never.) one night last week and lucky for us all, I oil pulled my way through it.
I definitely hit it a little harder than usual the night before and, while I’m not saying that oil pulling sucked my hangover right out of me, but I am saying that my hangover was shortened it and I was back to feeling better/normal more quickly than usual.
So would I recommend oil pulling? Yes! It’s a very inexpensive way to rid your mouth of bacteria, whiten teeth, and yank toxins out of your body. For the record, it's a breeze, way less dramatic than everyone else made it seem. Take it from me!
Have you tried oil pulling? How was your experience? What are you favorite ways to detox? Tell me in the comments so I can get some of these demons out of me.
Tynan is oil pulling and tweeting on Twitter @TynanBuck.