Bulletproof blog reader Morgan Wells asked, “I want to know if oil pulling actually pulls toxins from your teeth and mouth…I can’t find any science on the subject, just testimony and heresay.”
Oil pulling was introduced to the Western world twenty years ago; today, it’s a growing trend with many oil pullers boasting fantastic oral and total health results. There are thousands of patient testimonials, but where does the science land?
There isn’t a ton of science on this yet, but here’s what the research so far has to say.
Oil Pulling 101
If you don’t know what oil pulling is, it’s the 3,000 year old Ayurveda practice of swishing a tablespoon of coconut, sesame or sunflower oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for up to twenty minutes daily. You can also do it with XCT Oil, to enable more lipid absorption through your mucosa near the brain, according to Dr. Bissoon, a NYC anti-aging physician who does it.
In Asia and India, it’s historically been part of a daily wellness regimen to help with more than thirty or more systematic diseases. This practice is known for detoxifying and cleansing your teeth and gums, making them whiter while reducing inflammation and even halitosis. From personal experience, I notice the difference when I do it with XCT, both in energy and whiteness, but I don’t like spending 20 minutes on it.
Biodentists will tell you that treating teeth is an important gateway to treating the whole body. The theory behind a pulling practice is that the oil “pulls” harmful viruses, bacteria (Streptococcus), parasites and fungi (Candida) and all of their toxic waste products from the mouth, preventing them from seeping into the bloodstream and suppressing immune and overall health. (1) (2) (3)
What The Research Says About Oil Pulling
The majority of small-scale clinical studies around oil pulling have been held in India, the seat of this practice where scientists are readily enthusiastic to perform studies.
Most end with positive results similar to this study published in the Journal of Oral Health and Community Dentistry to demonstrate the effectiveness of oil pulling compared to other forms of oral hygiene. (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9)
The subjects in the study had mild to moderate gum disease and plaque accumulation, typical of the population as a whole. They were instructed to continue their normal oral hygiene practices and introduce oil pulling into their routine.
At the end of the 45 days, plaque formation was significantly reduced, with most of the reduction coming during the later half of the study, indicating that the longer you oil pull, the better the results. Gingivitis (i.e., gum disease) was also significantly reduced in all subjects, decreasing by more than 50 percent. The researchers rated the changes as “highly” significant.
The Science Behind How Coconut Oil Pulling Really Works
If oil pulling isn’t magic, what is the biological and chemical process that happens in our mouths to “pull” away these harmful bugs?
During the swishing process, the oil mixes with saliva, creating a thin liquid that travels between your teeth and gums to places where bacteria hide. The oils (especially oils with naturally antibacterial properties like coconut oil, or the stronger MCT oils found in XCT and Brain Octane) bind to the biofilm, or plaque, on the teeth and reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth.
Many of these microorganisms are coated with fat – a lipid bilayer that is attracted to other fats and in this instance, the fat of the pulling oils. Bacteria is absorbed into the pulling oil during swishing and removed during the expulsion of the oil from your mouth. This is why spitting the oil out instead of swallowing it is an important last step, as you don’t want to reabsorb these toxins.(10)
The consensus from oil pulling experts is that coconut oil is better than other oils like sesame or sunflower. It has unique performance properties not found in other oils.
- For one, it works as a natural anti-bacterial, killing disease-causing bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoa. The medium chain fats found in coconut oil are effective in attacking Streptococcus Mutans bacteria which causes cavities.
- Secondly, they work to maintain healthy levels of inflammation.
- Lastly, it is a tissue healer when applied topically. It stimulates the recovery of cells and infections. (11) (12)
There are lots of studies showing the antibacterial properties of these oils.(13)(14)(15)(16)(17)
You Can Upgrade Your Coconut Oil Pulling Practice
You use biohacking to make changes to your environment that give you more control of your biology…which means you want to do things that are more effective in less time. That’s why I hacked my own oil pulling process. (I am the first to admit I don’t oil pull every day…more like once a week!)
Step 1: XCT Oil Pulling
Give oil pulling a go with a little of your Bulletproof XCT Oil instead of just coconut oil. You absorb oils through your mucosa, so if you’re going to go to the trouble of sitting with a mouthful of oil for 20 minutes, you might as well use one that is triple distilled for purity and more quickly converts to energy after it’s absorbed through your mucosa. (It also has powerful anti-microbial properties.)
XCT Oil is made with zero solvents ever, and it is triple distilled in a non-oxygen atmosphere so it is completely free of C6 MCT which irritates mucosal membranes. Considering how porous your mouth is, a daily oil pulling routine with the cleanest most effective ingredients makes the most sense. (18) (19)
Step 2: Just Add Oregano Oil
Add a drop of essential oil of oregano. Oregano oil is a well known powerful antifungal and antimicrobial, and there’s even a study of the combined effects of oregano oil and the rarest type of MCT oil (caprylic acid, which is 70% of XCT, and 100% of Brain Octane). The combination was tested (on meat, not in our bodies) to reduce bacteria in meat stored over time better than either alone. (20)(21)
This isn’t an in-vivo study, but since we know they each work separately to achieve the goals of oil pulling, it makes sense to combine them.
Step 3: Clean Up Your Diet
Whether or not you decide to give oil pulling a go with XCT or just plain coconut oil, all dentists – both Western and functional biodentistists – agree that a clean, low sugar diet improves your oral health. The Bulletproof Diet intentionally avoids the foods that can cause cavities, infections and unhealthy gums. Kryptonite foods to avoid: sugar, flour and grains, hydrogenated oils, non-grass fed meats, fish and non-farm raised eggs.
So let’s see more studies done!
Click to read the complete list of references.
(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18408265 Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study.
(3) http://www.asiaph.org/admin/img_topic/6096Sroisiri.pdf Effect of Oil-Pulling on Oral Microorganisms in Biofilm Models
(4) http://www.ijdr.in/article.asp?issn=0970-9290;year=2009;volume=20;issue=1;spage=47;epage=51;aulast=Asokan Amith, H.V., et al. Effect of oil pulling on plaque and gingivitis. JOHCD 2007;1:12- 18.
(5) http://www.ait.ie/aboutaitandathlone/newsevents/pressreleases/2012pressreleases/title-16107-en.html AIT researchers show coconut oil could combat tooth decay
(6) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25838632 Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis – A preliminary report.
(7) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25584309 Comparative efficacy of oil pulling and chlorhexidine on oral malodor: a randomized controlled trial.
(8) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21911944 Effect of oil pulling on halitosis and microorganisms causing halitosis: a randomized controlled pilot trial.
(9) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19336860 Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study
(10) http://www.piccadillybooks.com/oil-pulling-therapy.htm Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxing And Healing Your Body Through Oral Cleansing
(18) http://www.learnyourlipids.com/lipids/ Learn Your Lipids, National Lipid Association
(19) http://wellnessmama.com/17951/coconut-oil-pulling/ Coconut Oil Pulling: How To Use Coconut Oil To Improve Oral Health
(20) http://www.curetoothdecay.com/ Ramiel Nagel, Foods that Inhibit Tooth Decay (Cure Tour Part III)
(22) Interview: Dr Bill Glaros is a practicing biological dentist based in Houston, Texas He’s a former president of the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (IABDM), and he’s also an accredited member of the American Naturopathic Medical Association