Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Newest Trend of Detox and Teeth Whitening: Oil Pulling

Image Credit: Bella Life
There's a big thing going on with detoxing nowadays and I, like the rest of you I'm sure, am constantly bombarded with adverts and promotions for the best new teas, juices and diets. All these things are supposed to give our bodies an 'apparently' much needed detox. These types of fads aren't new and tend to resurface every couple of years or so. I'm afraid I simply just don't 'get' the majority of them and if I'm honest I don't understand the appeal of any of it either. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending what way you want to look at it, I don't think anything will ever cure my pessimistic approach to 'quick fixes' for anything, let alone health. Although that being said the refreshed momentum behind a new phase of Oil Pulling has caught my interest.

By now I'm sure the majority of the western world is familiar with the idea of oil-pulling, but if you're not don't worry I'll catch you up! Coco White is the leading brand behind this new beauty/health regime, their website and social media is full of celebrities showing off their pearly whites while waving the acclaimed Coco White products in our faces. But without the time or finances to support regular trips to professional teeth whiteners, is oil pulling the next best thing for  us mere mortals?

Image Credit: CocoWhite's Instagram
Personally I refuse to believe that Katie Price or any of the other stars pictured left owe their dazzling smiles to nothing other than Coco White. However Gwyneth Paltrow was has been rumoured to have followed oil pulling as part of her daily routine for years - but are we convinced? Besides what does oil pulling really do, how does it even work and do we really need to add it to our monthly ever-growing expenses by investing in Coco White's products? (Also why should we be paying out to a company for a supposedly natural method?) I hear the clogs in your brains starting to turn, just as mine did when I first began pondering these questions. But fear not, for I have answers!

First of all, what is this mystical 'oil pulling' I speak of, and where did the idea come from. Oil pulling actually originated around 3'000 years ago as an ancient ritual of Ayurvedic medicine, one of the oldest holistic (whole-body) healing systems from India. (This was a way of life that focused on nurturing and maintaining the delicate balance between mind, body and soul.) The benefits of this process vary depending on who you ask, it's seriously anything from curing pretty much any ailment to simply improving oral hygiene. The most common talked about benefits are:
  • Whitened teeth
  • Freeing up the immune system
  • Reduced stress
  • Aided hormonal changes
  • Reduced headaches or migraines
  • Clear Skin
  • Improved oral health
  • Increased energy
  • Relief from gum and tooth sensitivity
  • Weight Loss
That's a pretty awesome list, huh? See why I was so keen to find out more!?

A question that I can't answer is; if oil pulling has been around for so long why haven't more studies been conducted by the appropriate organisations? All I can say is there simply haven't, so until larger scale studies and more research is done into the whole thing, oil pulling will remain an unaccredited form of detox or teeth whitening. But, and it's a good but, while there may be not hardcore evidence for oil pulling there is nothing at all against it.  On the contrary, the only credible (by that I mean scientific or medical by people who know what they're talking about, not just something written by anyone's crazy old aunt) published articles on the topic are all positive and there is an ever-growing number of people that swear by the thing.

After reading a few articles on oil-pulling I decided to bring up the subject to my doctor and dentist, I do like a balanced view and thought getting both a dental and medical opinion would be interesting. They both responded with something along the lines of give it a go! Each of their knowledge on the topic, which did concur with everything I had previously read, provided them with the opinion that there were absolutely no risks or reasons to not oil pull (providing you do it properly - more detail on that coming up!). Although both of them didn't think I'd get any result other than slightly whiter teeth; being very skeptical of the detoxifying properties of such a routine - which I happen to be myself so who can blame 'em? But if at the least doing nothing other than swishing a bit of oil around my mouth regularly can give me brighter, whiter teeth and at the most give me all the benefits I previously listed, surely I'd be mad to not try it!

But I won't get ahead of myself, because I have yet to explain how exactly it's supposed to all work. Don't worry, I'm not about to lose or confuse you with loads of scientific jargon as the principle behind oil pulling is a simple one. Phew! Basically the mouth, that's yours, mine, your neighbour's brother-in-law's it makes no difference, is home to millions of bacteria, viruses and toxins. Yum! But then again, I guess that's not too surprising considering what we can do with our mouths in a day. (Keep your mind out the gutter.) Anyway, moving on, these microorganisms that I speak of are pretty much always single celled. Now if you didn't know, or just can't remember what you learnt about back in the days of secondary school biology, cells are covered with a lipid (fatty) membrane which kinda acts as the cell's skin. Fatty substances like fatty substances, so these cells naturally adhere to the fat present in the oil, it's effectively a magnet. Hence the presence of the word 'pulling' in the term which comes from the act of drawing or 'pulling' out these toxins by swishing the oil around the mouth and sucking through the teeth. The idea of detox comes from the belief that by drawing your toxins out in this way it stops them from spreading around the rest of the body.

So where do we sign up? That's the thing despite what Coco White would have you believe you don't have to sign up anywhere, it's just as simple as getting hold of any extra virgin vegetable oil. 'Extra virgin' simply means that the oil is made from the first pressing of the highest quality sources and has not been muddled with so you have 100% natural oil with all its goodness. As for the oil you can take your pick; coconut, sesame, olive or sunflower! Coconut oil seems to be the most popular by far, and there are reasons for this which will feature in my next post (got to give you a reason to come back!). Oil pulling is therefore a very cheap form of teeth whitening or detox - whichever way you want to go about it! Depending which oil you wish to use and the quantity/quality you buy the cost can vary between approximately £5 to £15. Coco White charges £19.99 for a 2 week course, that's quite steep considering the average £15 spend in Holland and Barrett with provide you with approximately a month's worth of coconut oil.

So what do you get from Coco White for you money? The answer depends on your personal view. Coco White offers you cutely individually packaged sachets of flavoured oil. Well I assume it's coconut oil, but all the website says is that their products are 100% natural and preservative free. Therefore it's completely up to you to decide whether a bit of flavouring and some adorable packaging is worth the cost, for me it's just not. I can't help but feel resentment towards a company that's making money off of people's ignorance.

If you want to try oil pulling for yourself,  I'll have another post coming up shortly about my experiences and how to go about it all or if you can't wait for that then a simple google search should give you all the information you need!

All the best,


(Have a read of my experiences with Oil Pulling here!)

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