Oil Pulling Therapy and Diabetes
Oil pulling therapy derives from Ayurveda, a holistic healing system developed thousands of years ago in India. Ayurvedic medicine maintains that health and wellness are the result of an intricate balance between mind, body and spirit.
Oil pulling is a method of maintaining oral health that involves swishing a teaspoon of oil through the teeth and around the mouth for 10 to 20 minutes each day, and then spitting it out. The results are supposed to include whiter teeth, fresher breath and better overall health.
Fad or Reality?
To the degree that we reach back to ancient proven therapies to address modern health issues, the exploration of Ayurvedic medicine can inform us. Recognizing that Ayurveda was developed based on observations of what worked, rather than through scientific measurement, these therapies should not be dismissed out of hand.
On the other hand, measuring Ayurveda against modern medicine is not inappropriate. Science has solved many riddles that ancient peoples could only wonder at.
A lot of attention has been paid in the recent past to oil pulling. Some question whether it has any validity in treating ailments of the body, while others want it to be the cure to too many ailments. Careful testing and observation, with a dose of common sense, can help us determine the truth of what oil pulling offers.
How it Works
Using sesame oil, coconut oil or sunflower oil, put a teaspoonful in the mouth and gently swish through the mouth for 10 to 20 minutes. Be very careful not to inhale any, as this could lead to a form of pneumonia known as lipoid pneumonia, which arises from the presence of very small amounts of oily substances within the bronchial passages.
After the appropriate amount of time, spit the oil out, either into the garbage or into a cup with water and detergent, to break up the oil. (Spitting into the sink or toilet may cause backups in your plumbing systems.) Do not swallow the oil, which contains all of the bacteria that have been cleaned from the teeth.
The benefits of oil pulling appear to be the result of friction of the oil moving against the teeth and tissues of the mouth, creating a soap-like effect. This apparently causes a reduction in the amount of bacteria in the mouth. The oil can generally penetrate about a millimeter deep into the tissue. (Since gingivitis and other gum diseases are 4 to 5 millimeters deep, this is not an effective treatment for them.)
The health of the mouth can impact the rest of the body. Periodontal disease in men can lead to erectile dysfunction. Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, can be impacted by bacteria entering the bloodstream through the mouth. Sinus and ear infections, throat infections and pneumonia can all be impacted by infection within the mouth. Studies have shown that oil pulling does contribute to a healthy mouth, just as brushing and flossing does, and improvement in these areas would likely be similar.
However, it has yet to be proven that other systemic health problems are improved through this technique.
Can Oil Pulling Cure Diabetes?
In a word, no. Can it help those with diabetes live a healthier life? That has yet to be proved.
Modern methods are equally or more effective in clearing the mouth of bacteria, with a greater lasting benefit. Substituting regular oil pulling for tooth brushing and mouthwash may not provide any additional benefit, but it shouldn’t hurt.
Photo image: NIH