an old thing made new

Meet the 2018 Update to Oil Pulling

Photo: Stuart Pearce/Getty Images/Cultura RF

Remember the great oil-pulling craze of 2014, when celebrities were into swishing oil around their mouths for the purported health benefits? I thought those days were long over, but then Kopari’s flavored coconut oil entered my world. The flavors — colada, mint, and vanilla — made me think: Tasty! Drinks! Candy! I’d never been an oil puller before, but I was sold.

A primer: oil-pulling is a practice described at length in ancient Ayurvedic texts (an Indian system of medicine), where you swish oil in your mouth for several minutes before spitting. The tradition continues today with people who practice Ayurveda, health nuts, and, of course, movie stars. Shailene Woodley famously oil-pulls every morning, right before she brushes her teeth with clay. The oil is said to pull “toxins” — whatever those are — from your body, and its benefits supposedly include (but are not limited to): fresher breath, whiter teeth, clearer skin, and healthier-looking gums.

You can oil pull with any kind of oil, but most oil-pullers choose coconut. That’s the oil in Kopari’s flavored oils, which I subsequently learned are designed for “on-the-go” use. (I laughed at the prospect of someone oil-pulling on the subway, until I realized “on-the-go” likely referred to someone who wanted to pack lighter while traveling to another city.)

Kopari’s oils taste like dessert. I wanted to eat them. I didn’t, but the pleasant taste helped the five to 15 minutes of swishing, per the label’s instructions, go by a lot faster. Kopari says their oils significantly whiten teeth, and they provide evidence on their site. I personally haven’t notice any whitening in the three weeks that I’ve oil-pulled, but my teeth are certainly shinier (a result I didn’t ask for, but will gladly accept).

I think the practice has also prolonged the “freshening” efficacy of my morning toothpaste. Another benefit: the coconut oil functions as my morning lip balm, when the inevitable dribble of oil escapes from my mouth.

So yes, in the year 2018, I am now an oil-pulling convert. It has not radically changed my health or my skin, but it feels good. And it tastes good! And my teeth look glossy in photos. What more could you ask for?

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Hey Health Nuts: Meet the 2018 Update to Oil Pulling