Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oil Pulling, Oil Swallowing.

I started an oil pulling regimen.  Kind of.  Oil pulling is an Indian technique in which somebody takes a mouthful of oil, sesame oil being traditional, and swishes it around their mouth, trying to squish it between teeth and the like, for about twenty minutes before spitting it out.  This is meant to "pull" toxins out of the bloodstream through the mouth, particularly bacteria and parasites.  This is purported to "cure" all manner of ailments, such as allergies, diabetes, skin problems, etc.

I'm going to say this for the first time on this blog, although I've said it plenty of times before:  Alternative medicine is puffed-up and often useless.  When it is useful, it usually isn't for the ways its proponents say it is.  Going on an Ayurvedic diet, for example, will not give you any extraordinary benefits, but it does encourage dietary mindfulness, so plenty of people will do better on it than they would if they continued to eat, say, a SAD diet.  Drinking coconut water can reduce your blood pressure, but not because your body is "too hot" and coconut water is "cooling."

Oil pulling falls into this category.  I decided to try this, using coconut oil, because it's likely good for your oral health, and because my teeth are suffering from a triple-attack (years on the SAD, years of veganism and vegetarianism, years of soda addiction), this is something really important to me.  There is a big difference between the way I do it and the way others do it, though, and that's that I swallow the oil.

"What?  Blasphemy!"  OK, hear me out.  I'm not saying that you need to swallow oil after you pull it.  And if you believe the trotted out reason why it supposedly works, I don't blame you for being horrified.  I already explained it above... people seem to believe that swishing oil in their mouths is yanking parasites and bacteria from their bloodstream and that by swallowing it afterwords you're just letting all of those parasites and bacteria fester in your stomach.

Here's the thing:  Our bodies are intelligently designed.  That doesn't mean by a higher power (although I support that), but that we--like all organisms--are carved by millions of years of evolution.  Think about what happens when you're sick.  You might sneeze or snort stuff out of your nose, but you aren't carrying around a spittoon to ensure you never swallow it for fear you will be sick forever.  Your stomach is full of acid, which in addition to digesting food is there to keep this stuff from entering your body.

Does it always kill parasites and bacteria?  No.  But we need to remember something else here:  The oil isn't pulling parasites and bacteria out of your bloodstream to begin with.  It's reducing the number of bacteria that destroy your teeth, providing a temporary film on your teeth and gums, and some say introducing the oil sublingually... but it ain't pulling stuff out of your bloodstream.  It's limited to your mouth, and I assure you any bacteria and parasites that reside in your mouth are probably already draining into your stomach anyway.

Finally, the idea that you are swishing a tablespoon of now-incredibly-toxic-sludge in your mouth after twenty minutes of swishing is based on the assumption that you are incredibly toxic to begin with.  And you know what?  You're not.  Not in that way, anyway.  The average human being may be lethargic, overweight, and sick from diet and lifestyle conditions, but if you change your lifestyle habits your body will--barring certain afflictions--do just fine in getting rid of that stuff on its own.

That means that detox procedures in general may make somebody who otherwise eats like crap feel temporarily better, but eating right to begin with removes that need to detox altogether.  Your liver, kidneys, and other organs will do that job way better than juice, swallowing gauze, or colonic irrigation ever will.

Besides, coconut oil is better for you inside your body than spat out.