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Can oil pulling radically change your health?

I heard about oil pulling a few months ago on a Facebook group that I belong to. I didn’t pay much attention to it nor did I manage to research it. Fast forward a few months later and oil pulling is everywhere. Google oil pulling and you will find health claims from hangover cure to TMJ pain relief. As usual, there are as many people touting the amazing health benefits of oil pulling as those claiming that there is no scientific research to back it up.

What is oil pulling?

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing oil in the mouth for oral and systemic benefits. Oil pulling has been used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years for everything from tooth decay to strengthening of teeth, gums and jaw. Any vegetable oil such as sunflower or sesame oil can be used. In Ayurveda, sesame oil is considered the queen of oil seed crops due to its benefical qualities. The systemic benefits of oil pulling can be explained by the fact that Ayurvedic medicine believes that each section of the tongue is connected to vital organs such as lungs, kidney, spleen, stomach, small intestine, liver and heart which is a very similar belief system in reflexology and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Show me the research

In the West, our ideology is firmly rooted in research/evidence based medicine. Not that there is anything wrong in using research to direct care or treatment. However, it has been my observation that ancient ways of healing are simply chalked up as a hoax and irrelevant. A study by Asokan S et al (2009) showed that oil pulling significantly reduced the plaque index, modified gingival scores and total colony count of microorganisms in the plaque of adolescents with plaque induced gingivitis.

Oral health has been linked to various conditions such as endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy and birth, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s just to name a few. I am not advocating ditching your regular oral hygiene regimen (toothbrush, dental floss, regular visits to the dentist) in favour of oil pulling. However, if swishing some oil in your mouth can enhance overall general health while fighting breath then why not give it a try?

What to do?

I have decided to use coconut oil for my oil pulling experiment. I chose this oil because of it’s antibacterial properties and I find it palatable.

1. I recommend starting with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil melted and working up to 1 tablespoon per session

2. As soon as you wake up in the morning, put 1 teaspoon of melted coconut oil in your mouth. Do not brush or floss before doing this.

3. Swish  the liquid around for about 15-20 mins. Do not swallow. The liquid will  get thick and fill up your mouth as time progresses. Try to be relaxed while doing this. Do not hold the oil for longer than 20 mins.

4. After 20 mins, run the hot tap water and spit out the liquid in your mouth. You don’t want coconut oil solidifying in your pipes.

5. Rinse your mouth out with warm salt water, brush/floss as usual.

6. I highly recommend using a natural toothpaste that has been EWG approved and abstain from using mouthwash.

I challenge you to oil pull for 2 weeks and see if it impacts your health.

Living with bladder pain naturally

My previous blog focused on explaining what bladder/pelvic pain is. After treating a large population of people with pelvic/bladder pain, there are a few natural remedies that I found to be effective.

The problem is that conventional medicine has little to offer patients that are suffering from bladder/pelvic pain. This is the reason that the average individual will have the disease for at least 8 years before it becomes diagnosed. If you are one of those people who does not want to be on the chemical/bladder installation train for the remainder of your life, you are in the right place.

My top 10 recommendations 

1. Identify foods that are your triggers. This can be accomplished by keeping a food diary that chronicles everything you eat and drink over a 24 hour period along with your mood, physical reactions,  bladder and bowel movements. Common foods that are known bladder irritants are: chili/ spicy foods, chocolate, coffee, tea (black, green, white), tomatoes, apples, apple juice, citrus foods, cranberries, cranberry juice, grapes, pineapple, plums, strawberries, alcohol, carbonated drinks, food preservatives, vinegars, vitamins (esp B vitamins) and MSG.

2. If you are a smoker, stop. Smoking may worsen pain conditions.

3. Find a way to deal with your stress. Whether it is tai chi, yoga, mindfulness based meditation, swimming, or walking. You get the idea. Stress makes bladder/pelvic pain worse. Pick an activity that does not aggravate your bladder pain and do it at least 3 times a week.

4. Try hot or cold applications. Most of my patients find that soaking in  a warm bath with 2 cups of Epsom salt for 30 mins helps to relax their pelvic floor and relieve stress. Do not put any bubble bath or bath fizz as these things tend to aggravate pain symptoms. A few drops of almond or coconut oil with some essential oils is usually ok.

5. Do not let yourself get dehydrated. It is very tempting to decrease water intake in an effort to avoid going to the bathroom often. This only makes your urine concentrated and it can make your pain symptoms worse. In addition, you don’t want to set yourself up for a bladder infection. Drink at least half your body weight in oz of water daily.

6. It is important to find a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor rehabilitation. Not all physical therapists are created equal. Find someone who  is familiar with the Wise-Anderson protocol. You DO NOT want to be doing kegel exercises if you have pelvic/bladder pain. This may make your condition worse.

7. Try acupuncture. Acupuncture is good for stress management and it can be a very effective tool in managing pain. I have found a hybrid neuromodulation protocol which is a combination of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine to be very effective.

8. Get a naturopathic physician on board who has experience treating bladder/pelvic pain. There are several herbs/supplements that can be very helpful and much more effective than pharmaceutical meds without the nasty side effects.

9. Take control of your gut health and fix any leaky gut syndrome that you might have. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and bladder pain almost seem to go hand in hand. You cannot truly fix pelvic pain without also addressing GI issues.

10. Get support. Find a support group that is engaging and uplifting. Pain is depressing and depression is painful. It is helpful to be with people who are able to rephrase their experience and not allow this condition to define them.

How have you dealt with your condition naturally?