As we all know, oil pulling is the practice of swishing oil in the mouth for extended periods of time to enjoy certain health benefits. It is believed that by swishing or holding oil in your mouth, you can get rid of oral bacteria and toxins in the body that are soluble in the oil, thereby enjoying better oral and overall health.
While there are proponents of oil pulling, it also is a technique that has received a lot of flak and skepticism by the medical fraternity. Yes, there are scientific studies to support certain claims and benefits of oil pulling, but these studies are too small and have too many variables for the medical and scientific fraternities to accept them.
This post talks about the side effects of oil pulling. Would you like to know what they are? Keep reading this post.
The Origins Of Oil Pulling:
The history of Ayurveda goes back to more than 3,000 years. This system dealt with holistic healing using natural means. One of the practices advocated by Ayurveda is oil pulling for optimal oral health.
It recommends using sunflower or sesame seed oil to treat oral conditions such as malodor, dryness of the throat, strengthening of the gums, teeth, and jaws, and preventing decay and gum bleeding. Ancient practitioners of oil pulling used two methods – Kavala Graha and Gandusha.
In Kavala Graha, you take just the amount of oil you are comfortable holding in your mouth. Then this oil is held inside the mouth for about 3 minutes, gargled, and spat out. On the other hand, Gandusha involves filling the mouth with oil and holding it for about 5 minutes before spitting it out.
The Side Effects:
The proponents of oil pulling keep pointing out the numerous benefits that are scientifically backed. However, there also is scientific evidence supporting the side effects of oil pulling, some of which are very unpleasant.
So, without much ado, let’s go ahead and check out the major side effects of oil pulling that you should be aware of.
1. Excessive Dryness Of The Mouth:
While oil pulling is known to keep the throat from getting dry, it can be counterproductive as well. One of the common side effects of oil pulling is excessive dryness of the mouth. Many people who consistently use this oral health practice find their mouths getting too dry after the cleansing process. There is a reason for this. The swishing causes the oil to mix with the saliva, thereby completely removing it from your mouth. Hence, after you finish the oil pulling, you will find your mouth is extremely dry.
2. Lipoid Pneumonia:
One of the scariest side effects of oil pulling is lipoid pneumonia. Many people don’t know the correct method of swishing the oil inside the mouth. As a result, they end up inhaling the oil, which is loaded with bacteria and toxins. This contaminated oil enters the lungs, causing lipoid pneumonia. This fact has been reported by the American Dental Association and also by the U.S. National Library of Science.
3. Upset Stomach:
The American Dental Association also reports that oil pulling can lead to an upset stomach or diarrhea. Again, the reason is ingesting the oil causes the bacteria to enter your stomach. As a result, it leads to diarrhea as your body has to expel the contaminated oil in your stomach in one way or the other.
4. Coughing Up Mucus:
There are reports of people coughing up mucus. Proponents and supporters of oil pulling claim that it is nothing to worry about, as your body is cleansing itself. However, the swishing that is supposed to be done for 10 to 15 minutes causes the mucus in your throat to thicken, and then your body has to expel it. It is done by coughing it up, making the whole process rather unpleasant.
5. Nausea And Vomiting:
As oil pulling is done on an empty stomach, some users have reported experiencing nausea. Again, this can be attributed to swallowing a little amount of the oil that is loaded with bacteria and toxins that cause your stomach to heave, leading to nausea.
6. Hangover-Like Sensation:
People who use coconut oil may experience a hangover-like sensation. This is primarily because of the medium-chained triglycerides present in the oil. According to an anecdotal experience of one user, a doctor claimed that a high-carb diet coupled with coconut oil for swishing could lead to this particular experience, as the body tends to react negatively to the oil.
7. Stomach Cramps:
There are some people who could be allergic to the oil they use for oil pulling. The most common oils used are that of safflower, sesame, coconut, olive, and sunflower. So, if you are allergic to any of these oils, you might experience stomach cramps and possibly nausea with vomiting after you finish swishing the oil in your mouth.
8. Loss Of Appetite:
One of the side effects of oil pulling is a loss of appetite. While some claim they lose their appetite because they don’t want to make their mouths dirty after going through 15 minutes of swishing the oil, there are others who claim that the entire process of oil pulling seems to dull their appetite. Hence, they can’t eat breakfast after the cleansing process, leading to a sluggish metabolism throughout the day. Usually, the loss of appetite occurs when people tend to ingest a small amount of the oil while swishing it.
9. Jaw Stiffness:
One of the caveats of oil pulling is you have to swish the oil in your mouth non-stop for 10 to 15 minutes for the process to be effective. Hence, it isn’t surprising that many people experience stiffness in their jaws. The non-stop swishing causes the jaw muscles and ligaments to stretch, resulting in pain and stiffness. Furthermore, you also would need to keep your jaws clenched to ensure you don’t spit out the oil due to gag reflex. The clenching causes pain to your jaws and makes them stiff.
10. Increased Cavities:
Unfortunately, there are many people out there who use oil pulling as a substitute for teeth brushing and dental flossing. While oil pulling uses mechanical force to get rid of food debris and particulate matter from the mouth, it does not get rid of plaque and gingivitis, according to the American Dental Association. This is because the oils used for swishing do not contain essential oils like methyl salicylate, thymol, menthol, and eucalyptol, which have anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis properties. Hence, people who use oil pulling as an alternative to brushing and flossing will notice higher incidences of caries and cavities.
11. Sudden Onset Of Flu-Like Symptoms:
There is anecdotal evidence of some individuals who have experienced sudden flu-like symptoms after oil pulling. The reason for this, as believed, is that these individuals ingested a small amount of the oil containing the bacteria, causing the body’s immune system to activate and fight the bacteria. When this happens, it causes flu-like symptoms.
12. Increased Thirst:
As oil pulling causes the mouth to dry up and the throat gets filled with mucus that you constantly cough out, it can result in increased consumption of water. This increased thirst is not an indication that your body is dehydrated. Rather, it is a reaction to the initial dryness you experience in your mouth and throat after the swishing. Remember, too much of anything is bad, and if you drink too much water to combat the dryness and the stuck mucus in your throat, you could suffer from water intoxication, which can be fatal.
13. Health Ailments Due To The Presence Of Heavy Metals In The Oil:
Since oil pulling has become so popular, a lot of health food stores are selling oils that people pick up for the purpose. However, you need to be careful when choosing the oil brand, as some oils, when tested, were found to contain high levels of arsenic, mercury and/or lead. We all know what these heavy metals can do to our bodies. They are toxic and can lead to cancer, reproductive problems and many other serious health issues.
14. Loss Of Taste:
Dr. Amala Guha, an assistant professor of immunology and medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center, states that people who do not use the right method of oil pulling could experience loss of taste and sensation in the mouth. This loss of taste and sensation can cause you to lose your appetite, resulting in nutritional deficiencies and a sluggish metabolism. The doctor also says that the swishing should be done for 4 minutes and not for 10 to 15 minutes, as suggested in other sources.
Other Side Effects:
There are other side effects that you can experience when you start performing oil pulling. Some of these include the following:
1. Blocked Nasal Passages:
Some people can experience a blocked nose while swishing the oil. Ayurvedic and holistic experts recommend cleaning and blowing your nose before starting the process to avoid blockage. You also can blow your nose while you are holding the oil in your mouth.
2. Sneezing And Coughing:
There is a possibility that you could experience an urge to sneeze and cough. This is because the oil can cause irritation. Experts recommend stopping the swishing and allowing your body to relax to overcome the urge to sneeze and cough. If that doesn’t work, it is best to spit out the oil, sneeze and/or cough and then take fresh oil and continue with the process.
3. Urge To Urinate Or Pass Stools:
If you don’t urinate or have a bowel movement before you begin the oil pulling process, you may experience this. Should the urge come, don’t stop it. Instead, sit on the toilet seat and continue with the oil pulling process.
4. Phlegm And Mucus In The Mouth:
Oil pulling can extract globules of phlegm or mucus into your mouth from the throat. This can make it tough for you to continue oil pulling. Hence, it is best to spit out the oil and phlegm and take fresh oil and continue.
5. Aggravation Of Chronic Health Conditions:
Sometimes certain chronic health conditions can worsen due to oil pulling. According to naturopaths and Ayurvedic experts, this aggravation occurs before the condition gets better. Hence, it’s nothing to worry about. However, if you do notice your health getting worse, it is best to consult a qualified and certified doctor immediately.
Tips To Avoid The Side Effects Of Oil Pulling:
Many of the side effects of oil pulling are caused because of practicing the technique in an incorrect way. So, if you learn the right technique, you may not have to experience many of the side effects mentioned above.
- Brush your teeth normally after waking up. Make sure you clean your tongue and rinse your mouth properly.
- Take 10 ml of sesame or sunflower oil and raise your chin marginally. This will cause the oil to spread around the inside of your mouth.
- Use your tongue to sip and suck the oil, so that it penetrates the gaps between the teeth and sweeps over the gums and palate. This helps to trap the bacteria and other pathogens in the oil.
- Use your jaws as though you are chewing something.
- Continue with the process for about 10 minutes, after which you will notice the viscosity of the oil changing. It will become more watery.
- Spit out the oil. Refrain from spitting into the drain, as the oil will clog it. It is best to spit into your garbage bin.
- Use plain tap water to thoroughly rinse your mouth.
- For the best results, wait for 15 to 20 minutes before you eat or drink anything.
- Right after you are done with the exercise, you will notice that your teeth feel more polished and your oral cavity feels fresher and cleaner.
- Children under the age of 5 should not be allowed to perform oil pulling.
- If you are allergic to an certain type of oil or a brand, use another type.
- If the oil does not turn thin and white, you aren’t performing oil pulling correctly.
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