2014.03.26 Someone is pulling your oily leg


Did the latest Facebook fad pass you by, or were you a sucker like me and David? And Maddie and Rosie. 

It was making its way around Facebook a few weeks ago so it’s hardly the “latest” fad. I thought surely David would write about it, but he’s passing it up. 

Oil pulling.

I sent David and my kids and their spouses a link to article titled “[What] is oil pulling and why I’m hooked.”

The author of it says, “Oil pulling has been around for years, which makes me mad I’ve only just found out about it. It’s an ancient Ayurvedic technique that basically involves you swishing oil in your mouth for 20 minutes (no more no less) to help improve your overall oral health. The idea behind it is pretty simple...the oil is “sticky” and when you swish it around in your mouth bacteria gets stuck in the oil and dissolve.”

Ben and Sarah and Taylor had more sense than to get sucked in and give it a try. Maybe the rest of us really were a bunch of suckers, but we tried it. Oil pulling. Even the name is off-putting. But it didn’t put us off. Even though it sounded utterly gross to me...especially the part about spitting it out...I decided to give it a try.

It just seemed intriguing enough to give it a shot...but also like there would be no way it could work. Still, there didn’t seem to be any harm in trying.

The article listed all the claims made of oil pulling: whitens teeth, strengthens gums/teeth/jaw, helps with sensitive teeth and helps TMJ sufferers, prevents cavities and gingivitis and benefits overall oral health, helps ease the symptoms of acne/eczema/ psoriasis/ and other skin care issues, helps ease the symptoms of a hangover and a migraine, helps people who have sleep issues, clears out your sinuses, has been said to be a big savior for many sufferers of halitosis (People reported that their morning breath improved greatly.), helps with general oral pain issues, and assists in hormonal imbalances.

The author did concede, “I will openly acknowledge that the items listed above are things people over the years have noticed through experience, but there is very little scientific testing done on the process.” She provides a link to a some studies that have been done, but most of them seem to be different versions of the same study.

Still, what harm could it do? As the author of the article said, “It’s easy to do.” 

She advises on the process, “Pick an oil, you can use organic coconut oil or any other vegetable based oil (sesame, sunflower or olive). I prefer coconut because it also has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Put anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon, depending on what you can handle, in your mouth and swish for 20 minutes.”

“I just tried it,” I reported back to Ben who had replied first to the e-mail I sent the family. “It was pretty weird at first because I started with solid coconut oil. And I accidentally spit some out after it started turning to liquid. I'd suggest melting it first.”

Reading that now reminds me how unpleasant the experience was for me. I suppose I could try to get used to it, but I have a pretty overactive gag reflex and there’s something about holding a tablespoon of oil plus added saliva in your mouth that gets me gagging. It’s the same effect I get when David walks around the house brushing his teeth a long time without spitting and then pretends to let loose with it before he gets back to the bathroom sink.

Ben never did try it, but Rosie and Maddie do periodically. 

Rosie says, “I don't do it often enough to see major benefits, but I have a tooth that's temperature sensitive and it seems to help that a little.”

Maddie reports this from a recent visit to Kentucky, “Caro told me my breath was stinky when she crawled in my bed in the morning. After swishing I had her smell again and she said it was yummy.”

Maybe we should look to three-year-old Caroline for all advice. She dispenses it well. Rosie reports this exchange on Facebook in which Rosie is trying to figure out what’s wrong with almost four-month-old Ellie:

Rosie: El, what's the matter? Do you need to burp or something?

Caro: Her just want to play with me. That's her trouble. Her want me. Stop trying to burp her.

Pulled from the mouth of a three year old.