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Is Oil Pulling a Safe Practice?

July 07, 2014

Oil pulling has been in the news and all over social media lately. Though oil pulling only recently came to note in American pop culture, it is an ancient folk remedy from India and southern Asian cultures.

To clean the mouth, you’re supposed to swish coconut oil in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes. But, as is true with many folk remedies, oil pulling just doesn't have scientific or peer-reviewed literature to back up its claims. Many of the studies that do exist on oil pulling have clear problems, including a small sample size or lack of blinding. We do know, however, that there are potential adverse affects of this practice, including upset stomach, diarrhea, aspiration of the oil and even some cases of lipoid pneumonia ¹.

So, while this practice might seem like an interesting remedy to try, we recommend sticking to the things that are proven to work– brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing and visiting your dentist.

¹ Kim JY, Jung JW, Choi JC, et al. Recurrent lipoid pneumonia associated with oil pulling. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2014 Feb;18(2):251-2

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