Would you trade swishing with regular mouthwash for gargling with oil for 20 minutes if it meant whiter teeth, a smaller waistline or relief from allergies or a hangover?
Oil pulling is nothing new, but these days it’s gaining a modern fan base, partly because of social media and promises of being a miracle cure-all.
The ancient Indian technique dates back more than 1,000 years, when it was thought that gum disease was a sign of inner demons. People would swish with oil then spit it out to cleanse their spirits.
Today, there are online tutorials and testimonials touting the healing effects of oil pulling and websites devoted to the practice.
Fans of oil pulling claim it freshens their breath, whitens their teeth, and provides relief from migraines, allergies, even hangovers. Some say swishing with coconut, sesame or olive oils helps to detoxify their bodies and lose weight.
Although believers say they don’t plan on giving up the grease, Sebastian Ciancio of UB Dental says there isn’t enough research to prove the practice’s effectiveness.
“The question of how this mechanism works is not clear. The other problem we have is that there are no good clinical studies,” said Ciancio, director of the University at Buffalo Center for Dental Studies.
Ciancio said there is only one known study out of India, which involved only 20 patients.
Natural health and wellness blogger Francheska Medina swears by oil pulling. She started doing it after years of suffering from kidney problems and taking medications to try and fix them.
Medina’s oil-pulling video on YouTube has gotten more than 50,000 views since she posted it in December.