About a month and half ago I heard about “oil pulling”. The newest of health fades with coconut oil. After reading an article outlining the health benefits of oil pulling I thought I would give it a try for 30 days.  There was a promise of whiter teeth; detoxification of the body, clearer skin, softer skin, disappearance of eczema, less joint pain…the list went on. All I needed to do was swish coconut oil in my mouth for 20 minutes a day first thing in the morning. I could do that.

As someone who has sensitive teeth, bleaching is not an option for me, however with the summer months soon coming I wanted a brighter smile so I was going to try this seemly harmless health trend and do my own investigation.

Before I go too much further I am going to share what I have been experiencing for years. Extremely dry skin on my legs, arms, face, and scalp. Jaw pain which could have been a possible infection. Eczema patches on my right palm, thumb and fingers; extremely dry heels which caused cracking and bleeding making it difficult to walk with comfort some days. My teeth have always been a little yellow in color, never bright white like bleached teeth on TV. 

As someone who has never swished for 20 minutes at a time I need to say it is a LONG time and that my jaw was tired and out of shape for such an exercise. In order to deal with this I decided to break up the 20 minutes into two sets of 10 minutes once first thing in the morning and then again just before bedtime. I did this for two day and then on the third morning I went the full distance of 20 minutes.

In the first couple of days I noticed that I had to spit the oil out several time because the flavor changed to a bitter acid like taste as I swished. It was terrible. The other thing I noticed is my jaw ached all the time. It was not like an aching of being sore but of being infected. I was beginning to think I needed to go to the dentist and have my teeth checked but decided to see if the oil pulling would actually pull the infection out of my jaw.

I noticed that my teeth did seem to be less yellow within a week of oil pulling and by day 12 I realized my jaw did not hurt anymore and that the oil I was pulling with did not need to be spit out every five minutes because of the awful taste.  I was also starting to notice that my face was not as dry and that I had not needed oil daily on my legs and arms to stop the itching of dry skin. (I use coconut oil for body moisturizing)

My the end of week two I really noticed a difference on my heels – there was still rough skin but the dry skin and cracking was not as thick or deep. In fact on my left heel was soft and smooth. My right hand was completely healed and soft. I still have a small patch of eczema on my pointer finger but other than that the hand is clear, soft and smooth.

Swishing had become easier and I was able to swish for a full 20 minutes without needing to spit or rest my jaw. I played with the time while I swished to see what passed the time with the most ease. I tried showering and found that I could not shower and swish at the same time. I also needed to be in the upright position so going back to bed to read was out.  I tried doing morning emails and checking of Facebook, however that was the longest 20 minutes of my life. I found watching a show recorded from the night before was the best way to pass the time.

During the final few days of my swishing experiment I noticed my right heel is almost completely smooth and soft. I have not had any cracking for the past month. My hair has gone through a growing spell and is so soft and shiny. My skin is clear and soft. I still get dry spots here and there but nothing like what I had experienced a couple of months before.

Once I completed the full month of swishing for 20 minutes a day I looked at my body as a whole and compared to where I started. My skin overall was smoother and does not require twice daily moisturizing.  My scalp however is still dry and itchy although it may be a little better then before I started. The eczema on my hands and feet is almost completely gone without the use of medicine. My jaw remains pain free and if there was an infection I feel confident that it is gone. My teeth did whiten about two or three shades. Not the bright white of bleaching but definitely whiter. I have also noted that the tater build up is less. I have a dental appointment next week and will see if the dentist agrees. My hair is healthier and growing faster then I had expected. This is great for the growing out of my hair but not great for the cost of touch ups on my roots.

For the past two weeks I have not swished in an effort to see what, if anything I notice. I am noticing my face breaking out more, skin is drier and scalp is itchier then it had been. I am determined to wait a full month  but know already that I will be swishing daily for 20 minutes for now on.

Final thoughts: Swishing seems to have had some benefits for me. I know that not everyone believes in it and that is ok. I do not think that oil pulling should replace regular visits with the dentist or a doctor but I also do not see how doing it can harm either.

I understand that oil pulling can be done with any oil however I recommend the use of organic coconut oil. The flavor is nice (I am not a big fan of coconut flavor) and it did not seem to leave a terrible film in my mouth. Remember to brush your teeth after oil pulling to remove the oil filled toxins from your teeth and mouth.