Stories about the benefits of oil pulling continue to circulate among alternative remedy communities. Proponents of swishing natural oils believe that the method can cure just about every ailment and increase longevity. Oil pulling originated as an ancient Indian remedy, but very few clinical studies exist to verify any claims about the practice.
The oil pulling method uses natural oils like sunflower seed oil, to clean teeth and remove plaque, according to OilPulling.com. The ideal "oil pulling" works like an antiseptic mouth wash; the user swishes oil around the mouth and pulls it through teeth without swallowing. Oil pulling works best before consuming food, claims OilPulling.com.
A study performed by the Indian Society of Periodontics and Preventative Dentistry tested a group of people who used sesame seed oil pulling against a group who used a regular mouthwash. Those who used oil pulling showed a statistically significant reduction in the bacteria that causes plaque. The study concluded that oil pulling can improve teeth, but mouthwash reduces plaque more efficiently and effectively.
According to an article in the "Journal of Oral Health and Community Dentistry," improving oral health often leads to better overall health. The article claims that the medical community accepts the link between periodontal illnesses and diabetes. Plaque reduction by oil pulling could have an overall health benefit, but no official studies on oil pulling and general health have yet to be performed.
Promotional oil pulling websites such as Oilpulling.com attribute other benefits to oil pulling in addition to plaque removal. Oil pulling proponent Dr. F. Karach presented research to the All-Ukrainian Association for Science that claims oil pulling can cure infections, help heal vital organs and increase the lifespan to 150 years, according to Oilpulling.com. These claims remain largely unaccepted by the scientific community.
The types of oils suggested by the oil pulling method pose no real danger from use. The greatest risk comes from substituting accepted medical practices for oil swishing. It is also unlikely that swishing with oil could remove toxins from the body. Some of the beneficial effects may be a result of essential fatty acids in plant oils that people often lack in a normal diet.
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