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Oil pulling: what are the risks?

White teeth
White teeth
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Oil pulling has become the topic of discussion of many beauty, and holistic health bloggers and more recently among the latest health buzz in the news.

Oil pulling is the act of swishing oil in your mouth for a few minutes, which is said to be the allotted time needed to pull toxins from your body through your mouth.

Ayurvedic literature states that oil pulling improves conditions such as headaches, diabetes mellitus, asthma, acne, as well as naturally whitens teeth.

How to practice oil pulling:

Place 1-2 teaspoons of oil (virgin coconut, sesame oil, some use sunflower oil) in your mouth before you brush your teeth first thing in the morning. Swish the oil in your mouth for a few minutes. The amount of time varies from 3 to 5 minutes. Choose an amount of time that you are comfortable with starting with at least 5 minutes.

Spit the oil in a bag and place in the garbage. DO NOT spit oil in your sink as it may clog your drains. Rinse your mouth with warm water and brush your teeth.

Risks associated with oil pulling:

Extended time swishing oil in the mouth (more than 10 minutes) can lead to aspirating small amounts of oil which can cause lipoid pneumonia. Although oil pulling is all natural and seems like a safer alternative to chemical based mouth washes, precautions need to be taken before starting this practice. Be diligent in timing yourself when you’re pulling, and even speak with your dentist or doctor to get their two cents on this practice. Many physicians may be unfamiliar with this folk remedy but they may be able to offer tips on holistic treatment.

Oil pulling is quite controversial as there has been little scientific evidence to prove the benefits associated with the practice. However I have read countless testimonials of people who have reversed cavities and whitened their teeth from oil pulling.