It’s amazing how much coverage oil pulling has got in the media in recent times. It sounds like someone’s overstocked on coconuts and needs to find a way to shift them. Oil pulling is a natural remedy that was used in India 3,000 years ago. You are supposed to take a tablespoon of edible oil such as coconut oil and swish it around your mouth for 20 minutes. You then spit it out and Bob’s your uncle; all of your problems are gone.

Swishing and ‘pulling’ the oil between your teeth is supposed to draw toxins from your mouth and body. It has been claimed that this whitens your teeth and improves your dental health. It has also been claimed that oil pulling can cure chronic blood disease, asthma and diabetes.

Rubbish. Absolute rubbish. There is no information out there to back this up. The people spouting this stuff are people with something to sell.

I understand the appeal. In a world of scary ingredient lists and chemical products, there is a desire to use natural remedies. And when these natural products also claim to cure diabetes, everyone’s a winner. But it is simply not true.

I can imagine that swishing something around your mouth for 20 minutes might cleanse your mouth a little bit. The pressure changes as you move the oil around may well dislodge superficial bacteria in plaque. It’s also going to get you to produce saliva. Saliva contains salts and antibodies that protect your mouth.

But it is certainly not a replacement for a proper dental hygiene routine. It will never replace brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.

And 20 minutes? Who’s got 20 minutes to spend doing that. Of course we need to make time to care for ourselves. But when you’ve found that time, don’t spend it oil pulling. Go for a walk. It will do you a lot more good.

Please, if anyone tries to sell you on oil pulling, just go for a walk. Find out how to care for your mouth and teeth with these How to Care for Your Mouth articles.

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