Oil pulling for Vitiligo: How effective it is?

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurveda oral detox technique which means using oil as a mouthwash. It is a sort of oral cleansing using oil to get rid of harmful bacteria, plaque and dental cavities.

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Does oil pulling helps with vitiligo?

My answer is yes, because it eliminates the bad microbes from your mouth which would eventually reduce the population of bad bugs in your gut to calm down the immune system so that it doesn’t attack the melanocytes anymore. Melanocytes refer to the pigment (color) producing skin cells.

Read more: Turmeric (curcumin) for Vitiligo

Vitiligo, also known as leucoderma, is an autoimmune skin condition. The faulty, uncontrolled immune system starts attacking the body’s own skin cells (melanocytes) to destroy them and cause skin de-pigmentation is the form of white patches on the skin.

More than 70% of the immune system is located in the gut- the whole gastrointestinal tract that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. Hence, we can’t treat autoimmunity without improving the gut health.

The two of the prominent reasons for autoimmunity are:

  • Over-population of bad bugs– When the disease causing microbes and Candida albicans (yeast overgrowth) overcrowd the good microbes (probiotics) in the gut, it just causes the breakdown of the whole gut functioning to wreak havoc on the immune system. Poor digestion, constipation, gas, bloating, acid reflux, gut inflammation- all these gut issues can be worsened by a disturbed gut flora where the bad guys overpower the good guys.
  • Leaky gut– Poor digestion caused by a disturbed gut flora would result in the accumulation of undigested food in the gut. The disease causing bad microbes would feed on the undigested food particles for further growth and proliferation. This whole combo of body toxins (undigested rotten food and bad microbes) would irritate the wall (lining) of small intestine and damage it. The thinning (breakdown) of wall of the small intestine would allow these body toxins to pass through and enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. This phenomenon is known as leaky gut, aka leakage in the gut. The immune system which is the first line of defense against external threats such as bacteria, viruses and fungi would take this heavy load of body toxins as foreign invaders and triggers an autoimmune response in the form of skin de-pigmentation.

Read more: Vitamin D oral supplements for Vitiligo

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How oil pulling would help here?

Oil pulling is a traditional oral detoxification process that involves swishing virgin coconut oil in your mouth as a mouthwash. In earlier times, sesame oil was used because it was easily available in India at that time. With the course of time, Ayurveda doctors suggest virgin coconut oil over sesame oil for obvious reasons- excellent antimicrobial properties, tastes good, easily available and economical as well. (1)

Virgin coconut oil is the purest form of coconut oil which is extracted from the raw coconut kernels by the cold pressing method without using any external heat or chemicals. It is pure, non-bleached and non-filtered form of coconut oil which maintains all the original benefits of coconut. It is edible in nature; in fact, it is one of the healthiest fats which is highly beneficial for the human body.

Read more: Virgin coconut oil for Vitiligo

Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid with research proven power antimicrobial properties. (2) In terms of lauric acid content, virgin coconut oil comes second only to breast milk. Along with lauric acid (50% of the total weight), it contains capric acid and caprylic acid; both these fatty acids contain potent antimicrobial and anti-Candida properties. (3, 4, 5, 6)

Benefits of oil pulling for better oral health are well documented. It has been promoted as a well researched traditional folk remedy to prevent tooth decay, bad breath, bleeding gums, cracked lips and throat dryness. (7, 8)

Oil pulling is found to be equally effective to chlorhexidine (pharma based germicidal mouthwash) in killing bad bacteria responsible for tooth decay and bad breath. (9, 10, 11)

Ayurveda suggests oil pulling to cleanse the entire system because each section of the tongue is connected to various vital body organs such as liver, kidneys, lungs, heart, small intestine, large intestine and stomach. (12) That’s why oil pulling is claimed to be helpful in 30 systemic diseases including headache, migraine, sinus infection, allergies, heart ailments and asthma. (7, 8)

In 1992, this traditional Ayurveda technique was endorsed by Dr F. Karach, a Ukrainian doctor, who claimed that oil pulling’s benefits are not limited to the oral health only, but, it can treat autoimmune disorders, hormonal imbalances and blood impurity also. (8) His own blood disorder and chronic arthritis was healed by oil pulling in a very short span of time.

Have you ever wondered that why doctors ask their patients to stick out the tongue? Actually, tongue is a small-scale version of the whole body. It is a very good indicator of the digestive health and liver. The general physician would check for any coating or swelling on the tongue to get a clue about your health condition. For example, a white coating on the tongue may be an indication of bacterial overgrowth or Candida. Similarly, yellow coating on the tongue can be a sign of any infection. In short, your tongue reveals a lot of hidden secrets about your health“- Deepak Chopra, author, public speaker and alternative medicine expert.

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Oil pulling for Vitiligo

Your mouth is the entry point through which you feed ‘new stuffs’ to your body. The harmful bacteria, fungi, viruses and environmental pollutants also enter your body through the mouth. If left unattended, then these external invaders will enter your digestive system and eventually sneak into the bloodstream to trigger an autoimmune response.

Oil pulling, as explained earlier, can pull off these toxins from your mouth to reduce the load of impurities in your blood to promote a calm, regulated immune system.

Elimination of bad microbes>> Blood purification>> Relax and calm immune system>> No further skin de-pigmentation

Moreover, autoimmunity is often linked to dental problems. (13, 14, 15, 16). Thus, any technique that improves dental health would eventually improve vitiligo symptoms as well.

How to do Oil pulling

  • Take 1 tablespoon (around 15 grams) of virgin coconut oil and swish it for 10-20 minutes as per your comfort. Start slow- for example, 10 grams of oil for 5-10 minutes per session and gradually, increase it to 15 grams of oil for 20 minutes.
  • It should be done in the morning empty stomach before you drink anything or brush your teeth.
  • Virgin coconut oil has a low freezing point- 24 deg C (76 deg F). But, it would easily melt in your mouth. Alternatively, run the coconut oil bottle under hot water for a few minutes to melt it.
  • Swish the coconut oil all around in your mouth in a gentle manner; do not exert too much pressure on the cheeks and jaws.
  • Do not swallow the oil as it has got all the oral toxins mixed in it.
  • When the time is up, spit out the oil in a trash bag and throw it in the dustbin. Do not spit the oil in the sink as solidified coconut oil can choke the drain pipes. The clear oil would become milky white, mixed with bad microbes and other toxins.
  • After spitting, rinse your mouth well with warm water and then brush and floss your teeth as usual.

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Safety precautions

  • During oil pulling, the saliva in your mouth will mix with the oil to increase the oil. You may feel as if your mouth is almost full. Thus, for the initial few sessions, take less amount of oil and then, increase the oil quantity slowly.
  • Filling your mouth with too much oil may lead to accidental swallowing of the oil which is not desired.
  • For kids, reduce the oil quantity and swishing time by half. Also, they should perform oil pulling under adult supervision to avoid swallowing of oil.
  • Pregnant ladies, breastfeeding women and people with serious medical conditions should consult an Ayurveda health expert before practicing it.
  • Oil pulling should not be taken as a replacement to tooth brushing. Hence, oil pulling should be followed by tooth brushing and flossing as usual.
  • Sometimes, you may experience drainage of mucus in the throat and nose due to release of sinus pressure. Don’t worry about it; it is harmless. Just blow your nose if you want and continue with oil pulling.
  • During initial few sessions, you may feel mild detoxification symptoms after oil pulling such as vomiting, nausea, headache, etc. These symptoms are temporary and would fade away with time.
  • If you have fillings, braces or crows, oil pulling can be practiced without much worries. It would create problems only if you apply too much pressure during swishing. However, you may discuss with your dentist for further advice. (17)

From where to buy Virgin coconut oil

Check the below Amazon links to buy high quality virgin coconut oil:

If you are from USA, click here

If you are from India, click here

If you are from UK, click here

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Ask from Dr Rekha Jain

Get answer to all your queries related to vitiligo from Dr Rekha Jain. Send her an email at [email protected]

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