Updated 09:54 PM EST, Fri, Nov 28, 2014
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Oil Pulling: Does the Latest Trend Work & Why Are Celebrities Going Crazy for It?

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Articles about coconut oil often boast a long list of how the product can benefit you. Among them is that coconut oil is a healthy alternative to other oils and that it can serve as a moisturizer as well as a defrizzer.

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But the item that's recently become trendy is oil pulling.

This is when you take about a teaspoon of coconut oil, or sesame oil, and swish it in your mouth for 20 minutes. It should be done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. You should start off with baby steps and just gargle with the oil for as long as you can, slowly working your way up to 20 minutes. And when you're done, you're supposed to spit out the liquid, which will turn a milky white color, into a garbage can. Spitting it in the sink or the toilet will only clog drains. And to completely rinse your mouth out, you should use salt water.

This Ayurvedic technique is supposed to improve your overall health.

It gets rid of plaque and whitens teeth. It'll get rid of toxins, which is why you don't want to swallow what you're swishing in your mouth. And it's supposed to clear acne.

Shailene Woodley recently said in an interview with Into The Gloss, "It's amazing! It really makes your teeth whiter, because the plaque on your teeth is not water soluble, it's fat-soluble. So the lipids have to dissolve in fats, which is why oil works in your mouth. I prefer sesame oil, but they're both good."

Discovery, however, says these claims are not based on fact, and that probably nothing will come out of oil pulling.

"Only a handful of medical studies have been done on the benefits of oil pulling, all of them from India and none of them seeming to show a consistent benefit for any particular condition," Discovery said. "There's nothing wrong with gargling or swishing your mouth out with natural oils (diluted peppermint oil, for example, is a natural antiseptic that will leave your breath nice and fresh). But there's nothing unique or particularly healthy about swishing oils in your mouth."

And Jezebel posted an article stating that oil pulling works, but not in the way you think it does. The reason people see results is because your mouth is cleaner, not because coconut oil gets rid of toxins. So when your mouth is cleaner, your body can focus on healing other areas.

So is oil pulling worth it?

In short, yes.

It won't hurt you, and you will see some benefits, but it won't magically fix all your ailments. Just remember to dispose of it properly, and do not use it as a replacement for brushing your teeth and flossing. It can, however, replace mouthwash.

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