Oil swishing may detoxify

Kendra Hamilton
Life reporter

Take a spoonful of coconut oil, swish it around your mouth for 20 minutes and spit it out. It’s supposed to be good for you.

The process is called oil pulling and allegedly has the power to cure more than 30 diseases, enhance oral health and draw toxins out of the blood, according to articles published in the Journal of Oral Health & Community Dentistry and the Indian Journal of Dental Research.

Many health professionals, however, remain skeptical of the old Ayurvedic practice from India.

Most of the scientific studies done on oil pulling have been conducted in India using small sample sizes and were not properly “blinded” (against a group not using the treatment, said Dr. Bora Moon, the on-campus dentist at Humber College.

“A lot of things you find online are quite anecdotal and they claim, ‘oh this happened, that happened,’ but there’s no evidence,” she said.

The proper way to get toxins out of the body is to urinate and have regular bowel movements, said Maria Pelliccia, registered dietician and professor at Humber.

“Our body is pretty smart, it detoxifies naturally,” she said.

Pelliccia said if toxins are building up in the body, it’s because the kidneys, bowels, or sweat glands aren’t working Despite little scientific support however, anecdotal evidence of the benefits of oil pulling has recently proliferated on blogs and in non-academic articles.

“I’ve been oil pulling for two weeks now and my teeth have gotten so much whiter and my sinuses have cleared up so much,” said registered holistic nutritionist Katie Hart.

“It does make your mouth feel cleaner,” said Robin Young, a second-year public relations student at Humber College. “My dentist was like, ‘I see you’ve been flossing, that’s great,’ and I hadn’t been.”

“I don’t think there is any harm to it,” said Moon. “As long as they’re doing it as an adjunct (to standard oral hygiene) but I would like to see properly performed clinical trials first before recommending it to my patients.”