A spoonful of sugar can help the medicine go down, but some say a spoonful of oil can also improve your overall health. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.
It’s a bit of an unusual practice...swishing a spoonful of oil around your mouth for 20 minutes in an effort to promote oral and overall heath. It's called oil pulling. And while it may sound strange to some this ancient ayurvedic technique is making a big comeback.
Oil pulling is taking an organic oil and swishing it around your mouth and it’s supposed to draw out bad bacteria, toxins. It supposedly helps asthma, diabetes, upper respiratory problems and helps clear the skin," says Colleen Williams, an oil puller.
Those are big claims for a spoonful of oil. But many, like Colleen, who has been doing it for six months, say they definitely see a difference.
"The acne on my cheeks has gone down, it helps a lot with canker sores. If you bite your cheek it pretty much heals it within a day. And then working the muscles of the face gives you a brightened lifted look," Williams claims.
Dr. Jonathan Levine is a dentist who says it can't hurt as long as you can commit to the 20 minutes a day.
"What I really like about oil pulling is that people are now focused on their mouth because there's this whole connection between oral health and overall health. If you are going to spend 20 minutes on oil pulling, you can spend the two minutes on brushing and also flossing. Your mouth is going to be healthy and we know that inflammation in the mouth is a precursor to inflammation in the body," Levine says.
But dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman is not really buying claims that it clears up your skin.
"I don’t think that oil pulling is helping your skin. But I think that maybe if people have coconut oil in their cabinet they are improving their diet and that can improve your skin," she says.
Dr. Jaliman says you are better off putting the coconut oil directly on your skin as a moisturizer.
Now if you are going to try it there are a few things to know. First, you should use a cold pressed oil like sesame or coconut oil. Also, never swallow it. As you swish it, the mixture will get so thick you shouldn’t even spit it into the sink because it will clog the drain. So spit it into the garbage or the toilet.
Once you are done, you should scrape the oil off your tongue, rinse with salt water and brush your teeth. So it may seem odd, but plenty of people swear by it. If you’re curious you may just want to grab some oil and start swishing.