09/26/2015

Oil Pulling, the great fad of 2016

The concept is really way too simple to explain. Oil pulling is using cooking oil (coconut, canola, olive, etc) as a mouthwash. It can also be applied to other areas like the scalp, legs, or forearms. However, the term is meant to describe using it as a sort of mouthwash. There are other caveats like DO NOT use mineral oils, and all the other stuff about keeping the oil as organic-clean-hipster as possible.

 

I’ve been watching this fad and it grow somewhat over the past year or so. I’m not sure I would actually classify it as a fad, but that would be the easiest way to communicate it. Right now it appears to be in that formative stage of things that only a few people know about it, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to stay there because there appears to be no way to capitalize on the opportunity. This is because it is just freakin cooking oil.

 

The only reason I know about this is because I was oil pulling long before I even knew what it was called. Since I was a teenager I’ve had really bad dandruff. Not eczema, just bad itchy dandruff, it was pretty annoying. Nothing worked to solve it. I tried all sorts of things: coal tar shampoo, selsun blue, tea tree shampoo, and everything over the counter. The only thing that worked was this thing I called an ‘oil shower’.

 

I would plan on it being a long shower and make sure I had an extra towel, some cooking oil, and lots of shampoo/soap. Once in the shower I would pour cooking oil in my hand and rub it vigorously into my scalp and keep putting more in until it was sopping with oil. After a lot of scrubbing I would scrape it off. I would repeat this process until the oil no longer contained the white ‘dandruff’ that it was taking off my scalp. I could tell that I was done when the oil no longer turned white. How I could tell this would be by scraping my hand over my head until I had enough in my hand to inspect it for clarity.

 

As you can imagine this process was really messy. It would take a ton of soap to clean all the oil out of my hair and off my skin. I would have to wash everything at least twice. Inevitably I’d get oil in my eyes, and this sucks just as much as soap but lasts longer. Sometimes I would have to dry and take another shower a couple of hours later just to clean off the oil. However, I would be dandruff free for 2-6 weeks depending on the stress I was under. I’ve told a lot of people about this, but not really received much feedback.

 

As a side note this process became extremely neat and tidy when I (apparently along with everyone else) discovered coconut oil. Only the discovery was not about the ‘health benefits’ for me. Coconut oil is partially solid at room temp the stuff doesn’t run down my back and get all over the place. It makes the whole operation easy… So now I’ve pretty much solved my dandruff problem by keeping some coconut oil in the shower. I’ve also realized that crisco could be used as a cheap alternative, but we have to keep things hip here.

 

Technically my ‘oil shower’ was oil pulling, but of the scalp instead of the mouth. So last year when I heard about oil pulling I was confused. I had never considered putting the stuff in my mouth, rinsing like mouthwash and spitting it out in the toilet (because it might clog the sink). I tried it and I liked it. I felt like an idiot from 12+ years of honing my ‘oil shower’ technique without ever considering tasting the cooking oil. It was as if once I decided to put it on my scalp it became shampoo, and therefore soapy, and not tolerable in my mouth.

 

After a good brushing and flossing doing an oil pull makes my teeth feel as smooth as if I’ve just come back from the dentist. However, after discussions with others not everyone gets this feeling. Others have said that it makes their gums feel better, or that it does nothing for them. So obviously results vary.

 

Two theories/opinions come to my mind. One that it might be old forgotten tech/methods, and two that on a macroscopic level it works out. From some of my research it is apparent that thousands/hundreds of years ago people did do things like oil pulling (mouth, scalp, and skin variants). Also, the idea is pretty sound and it would be hard for an honest (and I stress this word honest) scientist or doctor to realistically debunk something so simple that it’s worked for thousands of years. Keep in mind that oil pulling is not a replacement for the normal brushing with toothpaste thing… well it’s not a replacement for me at least.

 

Theory/Opinion 1: I read in the iliad a while back and remember that they put olive oil in their hair back then, when they wanted to look ‘handsome’ or something. It would also be understandable to try to polish one’s teeth with the oil remaining from a hunted animals boiled fat. This would act as something like a cross between lip balm and toothpaste. I’m sure that if you do some research you can find thousands of other instances of this type of curiosity, but the point is simple. It’s damn old school to use oil as a hygiene product. Quick trivia fact: old school soap is oil/fat, lye, and water. That is a pretty big hint about being hipster-natural-simple.

 

Theory/Opinion 2: Imagine you’ve just poured the foundation of your house today, the guys just got done and are about to go home at 5pm. Just then some idiot shows
up with a truckload of cooking oil and pours it right in the setting concrete. He also takes good measure to pour it all over you, the workers, their equipment, and the whole lot. This is essentially what you’re doing to the little bastards in your mouth trying to build houses ‘plaque’ on your teeth. While it may not be an petroleum oil spill, it still mucks everything up and wreaks havoc on operations. At the same time its none too toxic to you. Besides you spit it out along with all the stuff it absorbed anyways.

 

In the end oil pulling (as long as you don’t use mineral oils) is probably as proven as you can get, and likely the cheapest value added thing you can do for your health. I talked with a hair stylist in some depth about the concept, and her response was that the regulations prevent her from claiming that it had any effect on dandruff. I would assume the same for a dentist. In other words don’t expect your professionals, leaders, bourgeoisie, or pilot bureau to tell you about it.

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