Organic Oil Pulling – A Barry Manilow Experiment

During my youth and young adulthood, Barry Manilow was a huge organic phenomenon (OK, so I lied. He’s not organic). Droves of middle aged women flocked to concerts, requested all his songs at every karaoke (yes, it was cool when I was young) and he appeared all over media, raised to the lofty status of ‘Uber Star’ by his army of middle aged women fans. He even reached the infamy of being the person who had the most sexy knickers thrown at him during one concert. This may seem like a celebrity utopia, but as his fans were all middle aged women, firmly in the uncool period of their lives, his celebrity was not the kind of fame that was admired by others. He became the epitome of crass or everything that begged to be mocked.

I have to admit that I was one of those that mocked Barry Manilow, and his fans, on occasion – until he came to perform at our local arena. Rivers of excited menopausal estrogen poured all over the streets when the announcement happened and I could not understand why – how one man could excite so many old women just by being there? What indescribable power did he hold? So I decided I could no longer mock Barry Manilow unless I had actually experienced one of his concerts and knew first-hand what it was all about. In the spirit of, ‘don’t knock it till you’ve tried it’, I bought two tickets, called my super cool, closet friend and talked her into going with me (read into that a three hour phone call of solid begging!), and together, dressed in our coolest of cool clothes to prove we were definitely not Barry Manilow fans, we went to estrogen central.

When I first came across the old natural Ayurvedic practice of ‘oil pulling’ I was reminded of the “Barry Manilow’ experiment. It sounded like a fantastic, unbelievable hoax that could not possibly work, it was so simple, but I knew that I couldn’t knock it, until I had tired it.

It has been well documented that oil pulling helps your body on several fronts. It is known to:

  • Help with bad breath
  • Reduce and prevents plaque build up
  • Stop bleeding gums
  • Soothe sensitive teeth
  • Lower inflammation
  • Detoxify
  • Whiten teeth
  • Reduce allergies, chest congestion and even stomach issues
  • Aids in the treatment of inflammatory diseases like arthritis
  • Strengthen nails
  • Reduces waist shape

As far as I was concerned – it was ‘just’ coconut oil, not a miracle drug! Why had nobody else realized how powerful it was! It couldn’t be true!  And as for reducing waist shape – what did that mean? Since the birth of my three children my waist has had a shape (round is a shape, isn’t it?) and I will get round to changing it when they graduate … university, next year… and I didn’t worry so much, maybe.

As I researched more to satiate my cynical nature, I found out that oil pulling as a method of keeping oral health in check has been practiced for years and millions of people did know about it, just not people where I lived. Living in North America there is no widespread ancient history practiced for millennia, so natural, ancient practices like organic oil pulling are not well known until they are introduced into our culture.

History of Oil Pulling

Oil pulling actually has a pretty long history, since Ayurvedic medicine times. Then it was called “oil gargling” – but that sounds kind of yucky and is inaccurate because you don’t actually gargle the oil.

Oil pulling is the process of putting some oil into the mouth, traditionally sesame oil, but often coconut oil is recommended for its antibacterial qualities. The person then swishes the oil around and around, letting it move around and between the teeth, around the tongue, gums, etc., ideally for 20 minutes.

The basic purpose is to “pull” bad bacteria from the mouth and spit it out in the oil when you’re finished (never swallow after oil pulling!). It’s the physical property of the oil that attracts all the “gunk” in your mouth, similar to the way the physical property of cohesion allows water to be so effective in the hand washing process.

If it sounds too simple to be true, you’re not alone. Even Bruce Fife, the speaker who has a whole book on oil pulling, was a serious skeptic at first. He thought it was more a myth than anything, but he kept hearing more and more stories of healing via oil pulling and finally decided to look at every journal/research article he could find on the technique. What he learned surprised even himself.

The Mouth-Body Connection

Although oil pulling is commonly used to aid people in healing their oral health issues, such as gingivitis, tooth sensitivity, plaque buildup, and more, it also has been found to actually improve a person’s overall physical health.

How can putting oil in your mouth and swishing it around possibly do anything to the rest of your body, you might ask. My husband would call it voodoo and roll his eyes, then do a search for “oil pulling quackery” and see what he could find.

“The health of your mouth is tied to the health of your whole body.” When you have a healthy mouth (bacteria), you lay the foundation for a healthy body overall. If any of you made the probiotics call this month (I think you can still request the recording here if you missed it), you heard how many bacteria are in residence in our bodies (100 trillion of them, 10x more than we have cells…!). Every process that runs in our bodies to keep us alive and healthy depends on bacteria, so we need to keep them healthy and in balance (85% good guys, 15% bad guys).

Although over 80% of our immune system is in the gut, there are still trillions of bacteria in the mouth. Where does everything that goes into the gut pass through on its way?

Bruce Fife told the story of how Dr. Weston A. Price began to discover the connection between oral health and bodily health. A woman he had given a root canal to was wheelchair-bound and absolutely crippled by multiple sclerosis soon afterward. He was helping her with the symptoms of that disease, I believe, when he decided to test a theory: he asked her if he could remove her tooth with the root canal. Within weeks, she was walking!

Dr. Fife talked a little about root canals: Even with root canals, when the tooth is totally cleaned by the dentist, of course bacteria gets back in there because there are trillions of bacteria in your mouth. It’s a dead tooth sitting there, causing disease in your mouth. He says there’s no way a root canal can result in a healthy situation.

To continue to prove the whole body health connection to the mouth, Dr. Price did experiments by putting people’s teeth that he had removed under the skin of rabbits, and within days, the rabbits would develop the same (non oral) health problems the people suffered from: arthritis, heart disease, etc.

With all this information at hand I decided to give it a go for a month as see if it truly was the wonder drug it reported – I had nothing to lose but my waistline! Yeah! Right.

What you need to oil pull

You can oil pull using:

  • Sesame oil
  • Cold Pressed Virgin Olive oil
  • Organic Coconut Oil

Nothing more. Just that.

You only need about half a dessert spoonful to achieve success. I would recommend olive oil as it is the least repulsive of the options, sesame is very strong and will swear you off Chinese fried rice forever and organic coconut oil will make you gag. Yes, gag… a lot! But I have to admit organic coconut oil is the best to use and the one I use most, the others having the same anti-bacterial properties but not as effective as natural, organic coconut oil.

The practice of oil pulling must be done first thing in the morning before anything else has entered your mouth, so no water or sneaky granola bars when you get up, the oil is the first thing past your lips every morning. You pop in half a spoonful and start swishing. Coconut oil is solid, but will soon liquefy in the heat of your mouth and you’ll be able to swish it freely – but be warned, the texture makes you want to immediately spit it out. You’ll get over it.

You want to swish, and keep swishing the oil round your mouth for twenty minutes. Yes, you heard right, twenty minutes! It’s a long time believe me, so you’ll have to plan your morning to include it. I got up early and popped the oil in, had a shower, dressed, then made the lunches, emptied the dishwasher and put on the laundry before anyone else had even got up. It’s important you are alone as your mouth is too busy swishing round oil to talk. And it tastes too foul to talk and risk swallowing it!

If you can’t go straight for twenty minutes, start at ten and work up. Ten minutes is really the minimum.

The oil gathers the toxins from your mouth (remember you woke up with dragon breath? It won’t last long against coconut oil!) and remember you must not swallow the oil – or spit it down the sink if you use organic coconut as I found it soon solidifies and will block your sink – as the toxins need to be expelled from the body. That’s all the work done!

Some people wash the mouth out with apple cider vinegar (I don’t as acid is known to wash away tooth enamel) or gargle with salt water. I left my mouth ‘au naturelle’ afterwards and found no problems.

So what did my highly unscientific experiment discover? Well … it works! My teeth are cleaner. I didn’t brush my teeth after oil pulling, but I did at night and I got what I call, the ‘cleaners squeeze’.

After having a dental cleaning I always walk out sucking air between the new gaps the cleaning lady just made between my teeth – or the cleaners squeeze as I call it. The cleaning allows air to squeeze between the gaps in my teeth. Between the cleanings the gaps clog up within a week, so it’s a novelty and I’m like a three year old kid with a new yoyo. I just have to keep checking if I still have the gaps between my teeth because it doesn’t last long. Three days of oil pulling and those gaps were back – without the drill, pain or the $200 bill. It was surprising!

Even more surprising is the feel of my teeth. If I do a full 20 mins daily, the enamel on my teeth feels silky smooth and clean and it’s never felt like that before. I was very surprised. I haven’t noticed any color change, but it’s only been a month.

Another surprise, no… I’d even say it was a shock, was that my teeth no longer bleed. I have always had gums that bled all the time. Since I started the experiment I have only had one episode of gum bleeding when I brushed my teeth one evening. It really has been impressive. Couple that with the fact my teeth are no longer sensitive, I’d say that oil pulling really does live up to its name as an oral wonder drug – even if it does make you gag every morning!

I think the thing that really surprised me was … the change in shape of my waist. Yes! My waist changed shape! Well, it was more a case of after all these years it gained a shape, but it made me feel good. The change wasn’t significant, but I this was the recoded affect I thought was the most complete rubbish, but it did happen, and for the way it makes me feel less frumpy and menopausal I am very grateful.

But I know what you all really want to know is – how did we get on at the Barry Manilow concert?

My super cool bestest of best friends, dressed in our amazing, young, ultra cool outfits, complained all the way there, and whilst we waited – with all the older women. We were old enough to be their granddaughters! The lady next to me even had binoculars! When he came on to perform the feeling was electric, and for the first time I saw one man ‘make love’ to 40,000 women at once. It was amazing! We sang, danced, we clapped and had a wonderful evening.

My cool friend had such a great time the very next day went out and bought the whole back list of Barry Manilow records, every single one, and booked to go to another concert. She has seen him many times, and even had her favorite Barry song sung at her wedding (No, not Copacabana). She was hooked! Me – not so much.

But oil pulling? Oh yes! I’m a believer! I have done it for well over a month now and wouldn’t stop it but I do concede on days everyone’s at home it’s harder, but I manage. I always think it’s like multi-tasking at its finest. Cleaning out my mouth, a little time to think about what’s going on in my head, and helping the planet at the same time. What more could I want?



Like what we’re doing? Want to share your story or tell others? Do you have a green business in Calgary and want to get in front of a large local audience? Let’s build a green community together!