A woman holds a bottle of olive oil(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
KUSA - Dr. John Torres from Premier Urgent Care answers your questions
Good evening. I am curious about a new fad that I keep hearing about for curing dozens of ailments. "Oil pulling" with coconut oil. According to some studies it helps all sorts of things. Can you please tell me if there is any 'real' benefits? Thank you for your time Crystal
Oil pulling is a new fad using an ancient technique that promises, in some cases, to cure just about anything. This viewers question actually mentions 47 different things, ranging from acne to meningitis to psychotic episodes she had heard it could cure.
But what is it and more importantly what can it really do?
Oil pulling has been around since 800 BC and involves swishing or holding a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for up to 20 minutes, then spitting it out. Advocates of this technique claim that toxins and bacteria build up in our mouth and oil pulling draws them out of our body.
The claim is that by doing this it can cure this large list of issue. But the reality is a bit more muted.
Studies have shown that pulling works as well as some mouthwashes at reducing plaque and bad breath. This can help reduce tooth decay and gum disease but is not a substitute for brushing, flossing or routine dental care. But studies have not shown any benefits for somethings on the list like meningitis, liver disease, gout or low birth weight babies. As for risks from doing this, the biggest risk is using this to replace proper tooth care or other medical treatments. And if swallowed, these plant based oils could cause an upset stomach in some.
But if used along with proper brushing and flossing it might help keep your teeth and mouth healthy.
(© 2015 KUSA)