I recently did a post on oil pulling (Oil Pulling: Can You Say “Go Swish?”) where sesame and sunflower were the main oils mentioned. But when I first tried “swishing” a number of years ago, I found I was put off by the taste and feel of those oils, so I didn’t keep up with the routine. Plus, organic sesame oil can be fairly expensive. Then I started hearing about coconut oil and its amazing properties and thought maybe this yummy oil could be used for the pulling process, too. Well, apparently I was right, judging from this article by Dr. Mercola and others I’ve read….
(graphic from www.livenedup.com)
Coconuts are among the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet and have been a dietary staple for millennia. Western science is now “playing catch-up” to what natives of tropical regions have known for thousands of years. One of the reasons coconut is so special is that it’s a natural antimicrobial food.
Coconut, especially its oil, is a powerful destroyer of all kinds of microbes, from viruses to bacteria to protozoa, many of which harm human health.
Researchers at the Athlone Institute of Technology’s Bioscience Research Institute in Ireland set out to test coconut oil’s biocidal properties against the bacteria responsible for tooth decay.
Dental caries is a commonly overlooked problem affecting 60 to 90 percent of children and the majority of adults in industrialized countries, according to chief researcher Dr. Damien Brady. His research team tested the antibacterial action of coconut oil in its natural state and coconut oil that had been treated with enzymes, in a process similar to digestion.
The oils were tested against strains of Streptococcus bacteria, which are common inhabitants of your mouth.
They found that enzyme-modified coconut oil strongly inhibits the growth of most strains of Streptococcus bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, an acid-producing bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay1. It is thought that the breaking down of the fatty coconut oil by the enzymes turns it into acids, which are toxic to certain bacteria.2 Enzyme-modified coconut oil was also harmful to the yeast Candida albicans, which can cause thrush.
Dr. Brady said:
“Incorporating enzyme-modified coconut oil into dental hygiene products would be an attractive alternative to chemical additives, particularly as it works at relatively low concentrations. Also, with increasing antibiotic resistance, it is important that we turn our attention to new ways to combat microbial infection.”
The work also contributes to our understanding of antibacterial activity in the human gut, which helps maintain the balanced flora necessary for a strong immune system.
“Our data suggests that products of human digestion show antimicrobial activity. This could have implications for how bacteria colonize the cells lining the digestive tract and for overall gut health,” explained Dr. Brady.
The Many Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
- Promoting heart health
- Supporting proper thyroid function
- Strengthening your immune system
- Providing an excellent “fuel” for your body and supporting a strong metabolism
- Maintaining healthy and youthful looking skin
One of the primary reasons coconut oil’s benefits are so broad is that 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is rarely found in nature. In fact, coconut oil contains the most lauric acid of any substance on Earth. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, a monoglyceride that can actually destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV and herpes, influenza, measles, gram-negative bacteria, and protozoa such as giardia lamblia.
Another of coconut oil’s anti-microbial components is capric acid, present in lesser amounts.
Coconut oil is also comprised of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which are smaller than the long chain fatty acids that are much more common to vegetable and seed oils. MCFAs are easily digested and readily cross cell membranes, and are sent directly to your liver, where they are immediately converted into energy rather than stored as fat. Coconut oil is easy on your digestive system and does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream.
The second technique I’ve been using for the past year is called “oil pulling” with coconut oil, which has reduced my plaque by another 50 percent, allowing me to go two months between visits to the hygienist, instead of one. Oil pulling is a practice dating back thousands of years, having originated with Ayurvedic medicine. When oil pulling is combined with the antimicrobial power of coconut oil, you have one very powerful health tool.
Sesame oil is traditionally recommended, but it has relatively high concentration of omega-6 oils. Therefore, I believe coconut oil is far superior, and, in my mind, it tastes better. But from a mechanical and biophysical perspective, it is likely that both work.
Oil pulling is simple. Basically, it involves rinsing your mouth with coconut oil, much like you would with a mouthwash. The oil is “worked” around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for a period of 15 minutes. If you are obsessive like me and want even better results you can go for 30-45 minutes. This process allows the oil to “pull out” bacteria, viruses, fungi and other debris. The best time is in the morning before eating breakfast, but it can be done at any time, the important point is to just do it. I seek to do it twice a day if my schedule allows. The used oil is discarded and your mouth rinsed with water. You should not swallow the oil because it’s loaded with bacteria, toxins, pus, and mucous.
When done correctly, oil pulling has a significant cleansing, detoxifying and healing affect, not only for your mouth and sinuses but for the rest of your body as well.
Candida and Streptococcus are common residents in your mouth, and it’s these germs and their toxic waste products that cause plaque accumulation and tooth decay, in addition to secondary infections and chronic inflammation throughout your body. Oil pulling can help lessen the overall toxic burden on your immune system by preventing the spread of these organisms from your mouth to the rest of your body, by way of your bloodstream.
The potential benefits of oil pulling extend well beyond your mouth. Oil pullers have reported rapid relief from systemic health problems, such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. According to *Bruce Fife, naturopathic physician and expert in the healing effects of coconut3, the cleansing effect of oil pulling can be understood with the following analogy:
“It acts much like the oil you put in your car engine. The oil picks up dirt and grime. When you drain the oil, it pulls out the dirt and grime with it, leaving the engine relatively clean. Consequently, the engine runs smoother and lasts longer. Likewise, when we expel harmful substances from our bodies our health is improved and we run smoother and last longer.”
*FYI, I recently came across a great little 5-page pdf by Dr. Fife on oil pulling for detoxifying and healing the body. It mentions a few things I hadn’t read elsewhere and states that “Most illnesses could be totally cured by this simple method and make it unnecessary to use surgery or all kinds of medicines with their harmful side effects.” If you would like to read Dr. Fife’s pdf, just let me know and I’ll be glad to send you a copy via e-mail. If you haven’t already jumped on the “swishing train,” the pdf should convince you to at least give it a try.
Also, I wanted to include the following testimonial that I found while researching oil pulling. It’s long, but it gives you a good idea of what you might experience and how the process may be able to help with a wide variety of conditions/health issues. For the record, so far I have never felt nauseated or coughed up anything, as this woman has, but everybody and every body is different. How often you do the process and the length of time you swish, plus your state of health and toxicity level, will determine what your own particular experience will be.
“I am a 60 years old woman. I have been in and out of nutrition and alternative healing for more of those 30 years. Never in those 30 years found anything as amazing, as easy as oil-pulling. I started oil-pulling about a month ago. The result I have already received are truly amazing. When I started I was in the middle of scheduling my 5th back surgery in 10 years. I had developed severed foot drop. I have not had the ability to “heel-walk” for the past 18 months. I had no ankle reflex in my left leg. have had 10 years of chronic pain and am on a regime of pain killers, muscle-relaxers & anti-depressants. I am also a very active rock climber with also over 30 years of mountain (alpine) and rock climbing passion! So here are the little miracles I have already noticed within a month of oil pulling. I tell you about myself only so that you can understand the dramatic, almost unbelievable extent of the miracles that I have witnessed in the last 4 weeks of OIL PULLING. Day 1 – 3 I found it fairly nauseating at first to have the oil in my mouth. Now I eat a little of the oil as I begin – when the coconut oil (my oil of choice) is melting in my mouth.
I kept doing it because from the very first time I did it I noticed something. At first it was just a little relief of the nagging low grade jaw discomfort. Days 3 – 7 I noticed that my teeth were already a little whiter. The pocket around my tooth is smaller. My gums are a little better. My joints felt better. I have chronic knee PAIN and arthritis. I have blown ligaments in both knees. For the last 2 years I have been telling my knee doctor that I would do surgery after the NEXT appt. Just give me cortisone so I can go out and climb and bicycle and walk. Well OIL-PULLING right now out-performing cortisone. Days 7 -14. My teeth keep getting whiter. I have a porcelin crown that was matched with my tooth color. It had come out a little lighter than my regular tooth. Now at 2 week OIL PULLING my other teeth are a light as the crown. My gums are tighter.
More impressive my knees get better. For at least the last 3 years I have limped a lot after sitting down after exercise. It has been difficult to walk down a flight of stairs after an hour of non-impact aerobics. At about 10 days I coughed once and this glob of thick yellow stuff came out (sorry about the graphic description). I have never had bronchitis or pnuemonia problem. I coughed up stuff for about 10 days. I never felt sick. Over the 10 days the stuff that came out got lighter and less often over time as I continued to oil-pull. Days 14 – now. Now the miracles are really amazing. My foot and toe strength starts to return. By day 26 I can “heel-walk” Though I have had a MRI that showed a clear nerve impingement & increasingly arthritic changes in my spine, I had a EMG 4 days ago that showed my nerves were NOW ok. These changes are so well documented. NOW My knees are now great. I get up easily after exercising. I avoided surgery #5. Still have back pain that will keep me on a medication routine. But for the first time 6 months I can begin to reduce meds. The pocket around my tooth continues to close and open depending on the amount of OIL-PULLING. I don’t cough much anymore.
My lungs feel lighter. Little things in life are important: My night-guard doesn’t smell and taste a little icky anymore. I used to have to clean it all the time because it would yellow. Now it stays white, doesn’t cloud a cup of water in 14 hrs. It doesn’t smell or taste bad. Yesterday one of the two teeth that share the pocket cracked and a small piece broke off. When I flossed it out, I noticed a bad smell. In the last 24 hours I have OIL-PULLED multiple times. Today the “house-cleaning I am noticing is that the skin on my face and lips are breaking out a little.”
Wondering what brand of coconut oil to buy? Artisana makes a raw, organic, extra virgin oil that comes in glass jars, instead of plastic like most other brands. Garden of Life is another high quality brand that uses glass jars. Both of these oils seem to be some of the best around, but I use so much oil these days that I’ve also been buying Nutiva’s 54 oz. organic, extra virgin oil. You can get these brands and others at Vitacost at a discount. And if you sign up for a free account at eBates.com (my favorite money-saving site) before you shop and use their link to Vitacost, you earn cash back on your purchases. Yea! Even more savings!
And don’t forget to request Dr. Fife’s pdf, if you want it. And be sure to read my other posts on “swishing,” coconut oil, cleansing with coconut oil, and using the oil to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s:
p.s. And be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.