Oil pulling: Latest homeopathic craze has people swapping their toothbrush for coconut oil

Grab some coconut oil and start swishing.

Oil pulling, or the practice of swishing oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes, is gaining popularity.

The practice has roots in Ayurvedic medicine and oil pullers believe it has positive effects, such as healthy gums and whiter teeth, according to WebMD.

Oil pullers use a teaspoon of coconut, sesame or sunflower oil. Beginners may choose to swish for five minutes and work their way up to 10 to 20 minutes every morning, or until the oil turns thin.

According to Yahoo! search data, oil pulling has spiked in searches this month. Top searching cities include Kansas City, Minneapolis, Boston, Seattle and Dallas. In the past 13 days, there have been 11,506 tweets including the words “oil pulling,” according to Topsy.

FashionLush.com blogger Erica Stolman debunks what oil pulling is in her blog post, “WTF is Oil Pulling + Why I’m Hooked.”

“The idea behind it is pretty simple stupid -- the oil is ‘sticky’ and when you swish it around in your mouth bacteria gets stuck in the oil & dissolves,” Stolman writes.

Researchers say it may be an effective way to kill bacteria that may be associated with gingivitis and bad breath.

In his book, “Perfect Health,” Deepak Chopra says after the oil is absorbed through the tongue, the oil makes its way through the body, where it purifies and strengthens the body.

Indiana resident Britney Gordon told WRTV in Indianapolis she has incorporated oil pulling into her daily hygiene routine.

"My teeth are definitely whiter," Gordon said to WRTV. "It makes your mouth feel just really clean.”

Experts say oil pulling should not replace normal oral hygiene routines of flossing and brushing, but rather be a supplement. 

The American Dental Association issued a statement and said it would not comment because additional research is needed.

A writer for the Scripps National Desk in Cincinnati, Ohio tried oil pulling.

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