Can 'oil pulling' improve your health?

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Oil pulling, a new oral health trend that involves swishing with oil instead of mouth wash, is gaining a lot of attention.

“As far as dental goes, it’s going to decrease plaque in your mouth, which decreased gingivitis and hundreds of other problems,” says Dr. Ali Shatergholi DDS. “Illnesses in your body like kidney disease, lung disease, heart disease, it actually originates from your mouth. The bacteria has to come into the system somehow."

Though the prescription for pulling is fairly new to Dr. Shatergholi's Bowie, Md. practice, his patients are responding well.

“After three of four weeks I'm seeing a decrease in the gingivitis, I'm seeing a decrease in the plaque accumulation, so it’s been a benefit to their health.”

Several sources say that any vegetable-based oil will do, but coconut or sesame oils are preferred. Containers of organic unrefined coconut oil run between $10 and $20, depending on the size.

It's part of my new morning ritual. love it! RT @Deltareviewer: [URBAN ORGANIC] What is Oil Pulling? - Photos - EBONY

— Carla Hall (@carlahall) March 10, 2014

“I must confess it is a hard thing to keep up every day, but I do believe in the benefits of it,” says Roxanna Hakimi.

Hakimi, a mom and Pilates studio owner, had first-hand success with her child.

“Her immune system had been shot over many times of needing to be on antibiotics, so the glow in her hair is back and she’s just definitely a more peppy child. I don’t recommend trying the full 20 minutes at the first get-go because they will rebel and never want to do it again."

Oil pulling comes to the U.S. from Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of life.

“We’re shedding toxins all the time, all day long, but your mouth is a very big exit route which is why you kind of have bad breath or have a bad taste on your tongue,” says Ginny Johnson, a health counselor.

Johnson says to put one tablespoon of oil into your mouth, allow for the oil to become body temperature, and swish.

"You want to make sure you don't spit it out into the sink because it does clog up your pipes," Dr. Shatergholi says.

Johnson recommends incorporating oil pulling into your morning routine.