Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When I first heard the term “oil pulling,” I had a picture in my mind of someone trying to pull oil from a barrel. Impossible, I know. But when I found out what it really is, I was surprised. I thought perhaps some of our readers might run across this expression and wonder what it is, so I did a little research to present it here. 

Oil pulling is basically putting a teaspoonful of oil (many people today use coconut oil) into your mouth and swishing it around for about 20 minutes. In that time, the oil is supposed to draw toxins from your mouth. When the 20 minutes is up, you spit the oil into a trash can. Proponents claim doing this on a regular basis detoxes your body and even heals diseases. It's also supposed to prevent dental diseases and whiten teeth.

According to my research, oil pulling is an ancient practice that has its origins in ancient Ayurvedic Medicine (also called Ayurveda), which is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It developed thousands of years ago in India. According to Ayurvedic theory, everything in the universe -- living or not -- is connected. Good health is achieved when your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe. A disruption of this harmony can lead to poor health and sickness.  What this has to do with oil pulling, I’m not sure.

No, I’m not trying to get weird on The Borrowed Book, I’m just stating facts.

It is said that a Dr. F. Karach reintroduced oil pulling as a remarkable treatment for cancer at a conference of the All Ukranische-Union of the Oncologists (Specialists for Tumor diseases) and Bacteriologists, a part of the Academy of Sciences of UDSSR. I can find no biographical information about Dr. Karach, neither can I find out what date he brought this information to this particular conference, so I wonder if he really exists.

Recently the practice of oil pulling has been pushed to the forefront of the natural and alternative health community in the United States by Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D., who is an author, speaker, certified nutritionist, and naturopath. He says all disease starts in the mouth, and most of the chronic and infectious illnesses that trouble our society today are influenced by the health of our mouths. If you have poor dental health, you are bound to have other health problems.  I haven’t read his book on the topic, so I’m not familiar with any studies he relates that prove oil pulling is beneficial.  

The history of the practice of medicine is long and complicated. Each generation feels they have all the answers yet discoveries continue to be made, and old cures are sometimes proven to still work.  Many modern medicines are synthetic versions of herbal remedies. Digitalis, for instance. Could oil pulling work? Does our health really begin in our mouths? I don’t know. I haven’t done enough reading to answer that question.

All in all, oil pulling isn’t a harmful practice, if you remove any kind of spiritual implication lingering from its origins. It just sounds gross. At the very least, it could help rid the mouth of bacteria that causes tooth decay or sores. Same as a mouthwash without all the chemicals.

I’d be very interested to hear comments from any of our readers who have additional information on this topic. 


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