CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Twenty minutes a day keeps the dentist away. That's the message some people are spreading about the growing trend of oil pulling.
In India hundreds of years ago, people used a technique called oil pulling as a means of healing. That remedy has now traveled to the United States and is gaining popularity in the Lowcountry.
Laura Hill started oil pulling after experiencing some trouble with her mouth.
"Gums bleeding, like when I would floss they would bleed," said Hill.
The ancient practice calls for gargling oils for 15-20 minutes. It is said to heal ailments like migraines and asthma.
"Sesame oil is the preferred type and the type that's mentioned in the Samhita," said Suzanne Goldston, an Ayruvedic practitioner. "One of the reasons to oil pull is to strengthen the teeth and the jaw."
Modern twists of the remedy say you can also use coconut or sunflower oil.
"I used sesame," said Hill. "At first, you want to, your natural instinct is to vigorously swish it around in your mouth, which is not usually the way to do it."
Slow and steady won the race for Hill.
"It is very disgusting when you spit it out. And you think, 'That stuff was in my mouth," said Hill.
The swirling alone turns the golden sea same seed oil foamy white.
"I was like, 'Ugh,'" said Hill. "Then I had to brush my teeth and then afterwards I realized when I ate, you could taste things much better cause it cleans off your tongue. You're like, 'Hmmmm, that was really good.'"
Goldston says oil pulling has the potential to help with sinuses and allergies, too.
"If someone is just generally not well, this is a way of pulling bacteria out of the oral mucosa which can go straight to the blood stream from there," said Goldston.
Hill says she hasn't been sick in about a year.
"I've pretty well been able to miss every major illness that's gone around multiple times where I've worked," said Hill.
Goldston, on the other hand, says she's not been to the dentist in five years.
Problem is, there is no research to prove oil pulling is detoxifying or actually cures sickness.
"What we find in the research is that it's not actually pulling toxins from your blood stream or your mouth," said Dr. Walter Renne, associate professor for the College of Dental Medicine at MUSC.
"The oil is actually able to remove bacteria which is ultimately the cause of many different sore spots and things in the mouth. It also has a slight anti-fungal activity to it."
Dr. Renne says he was first introduced to oil pulling nearly a decade ago.
"Basically, oil pulling is a replacement for mouth wash. It's not going to be the kind of magic cure for all your oral health diseases.
Renne says a clean bill of oral health only comes with the help of an expert eye.
"Yes, it removes the plaque but you could have a lot of other things going on in your oral cavity such as oral head and neck cancer, periodontal disease. You could have, even with a magic mouth wash such as sesame seed oil, you could still get decay," he said.