Watch CBS News

Does 'Oil-Pulling' Actually Have Health Benefits?

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - It's something called "oil pulling" and it's becoming more and more popular.

However, are there really health benefits to it?

Meghan Crossey, of the North Side, has always taken good care of herself. But, she was looking for a way to brighten her smile.

"I wanted to whiten my teeth, but I couldn't use those Crest White Strips because they hurt. So, I started thinking that would be a nice alternative," Crossey said.

The alternative was oil pulling, which she first read about it online.

The oil pulling trend is popping up everywhere, especially on social media sites and blogs.

After hearing all of the buzz, Crossey decided to give it a try.

The overall process is pretty simple.

You take a tablespoon of coconut oil, put it in your mouth and swish for about 20 minutes.

Then, spit it out into the trash.

Crossey incorporated oil pulling into her normal nighttime routine and after just a couple of weeks, she started to see some changes.

She says her teeth are whiter and her mouth feels much cleaner.

A lot of people say they notice improvements in their oral health, but the praises of oil pulling go way beyond dental hygiene.

People say just a little bit of coconut or sesame oil every day, can be life-changing.

"As a detox itself, that helps daily to pull out toxins that we get exposed to in modern life and create better health and prevent future chronic condition," Dr. Lina Thaker, of the Ayurveda Integrative Wellness Institute, said.

Dr. Thaker has been practicing Ayurveda Medicine, where oil pulling originated, for 25 years.

She's been oil pulling for decades and says the results have been drastic.

"I feel clarity in my daily activity. I don't feel stress as much, like that tightness you feel in your shoulders and neck, and perception of nose, ear is always better," Dr. Thaker said.

Others claim the practice has done even more, such as improve vision and relieve migraine headaches.

Dr. Marc Itskowitz, with Allegheny Health Network, says it's a little too early to tell if oil pulling can really do any of those things.

"In my review of the medical literature, there really have been no clinical trials of this technique and certainly no trials showing benefit. So, if enough people are interested in it, let's see if it actually works," Dr. tskowitz said.

Dr. tskowitz said there's also an important warning regarding this stuff.

If you aren't careful with it, you may end up with more problems than the ones you're trying to get rid of.

"There's a potential for harm if you swallow it by mistake. There actually were some reports that I read about pneumonia, where the oil actually gets swallowed into the lungs and it can cause an inflammatory reaction in the lungs, which can be very dangerous," Dr. tskowitz said.

As for Crossey, she says as long as her teeth continue to look white, she will keep on swishing.

"I don't think there's any harm in it. It's no different than using a mouthwash every day," Crossey said.


More Local News
More Reports From Sarah Arbogast
Join The Conversation, Like KDKA On Facebook
Follow KDKA On Twitter

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.