In May, 2014, Jack Miller CTN, had the opportunity to interview Dr. Bruce Fife, author of “Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing” on behalf of Dr. William Lee Cowden, founder of The Academy of Comprehensive Integrative Medicine (ACIM). The oil pulling technique has yielded surprising benefits for people that use it as a natural alternative health therapy. You may also listen to recorded interview on YouTube, which you will find embedded at the end of this article.
Bruce: Hello, Bruce speaking.
Jack: Hi Bruce, this is Jack Miller, can you hear me okay now?
Bruce: Yes I can.
Jack: Okay, sorry about that, we had to disconnect some of our equipment that was messing up Skype, so anyways before I start, I just – I’m going to, before I start asking questions, I’m just going to do an introduction. I’m speaking today with Dr. Bruce Fife, who’s the author of multiple books, including a very hot topic these days which is Oil Pulling therapy. This book was published in 2008. We’re going to be asking him some questions about the content of this book as well as any possible tidbits and information since this book was published. So good afternoon Dr. Fife, how are you today?
Bruce: I’m doing great. How about you?
Jack: Doing very good. Dr. Fife, you speak quite a lot about the importance of oral health, and how that relates to overall health. Can you comment on how oil pulling can contribute to better oral health?
Bruce: Sure. Basically what oil pulling is, is putting some oil in your mouth and swishing it around, and as you do that, the oil attracts and pulls out bacteria, viruses, fungi, mucus, plaque, toxins and then when you spit it out, you’re removing those toxins, those bacteria and such from your mouth, making your mouth cleaner and healthier. Now lots of people tend to think that their mouth is separated from the body, but what goes on in your mouth really, you know, affects the entire body. And so the bacteria in your mouth not only can cause cavities and gum disease, but bacteria can, umm, seep into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body, and it often affects different parts of the body. The bacteria can go to your heart, or to your liver, or into your kidneys, or to your joints, or to your brain. And when it goes to these areas of the body, it can cause different types of health problems such as going to your joints, it can lead to arthritis. If the bacteria goes to your brain, it can lead to dementia, if it goes to your heart, it could lead to heart failure. And so, bacteria in your mouth can actually promote a wide variety of disease or health problems throughout the body.
Jack: Interesting, so I recall from your book that you stated that, you know, something most people do not know, which is there’s more bacteria in the average person’s mouth than there are people on the earth. And a lot of people in the natural health community talk about our intestinal, our dysbiosis of the colon, where you have a lot of adverse bacteria in the colon, but people don’t think too much about the mouth. It really could have that altered ecology in the mouth as well, huh?
Bruce: Exactly, and diet has a lot of an effect on what type of bacteria live in your mouth, and so if you have a poor diet, one that’s loaded with a lot of sweets, a lot of sugar, you’re going to develop a lot of the unhealthy bacteria growing in the mouth and you’re going to have infections. You know, a lot of people have infections in their mouths and they don’t realize it. Over 90% of the population has some degree of either tooth decay, or gum disease or at least had it in the past. You know, that’s a huge amount of the population, and most people are really unaware of it, and this bacteria that you have in your mouth is seeping into your bloodstream and affecting your entire health.
Jack: And as you stated in your book, you know, modern dentistry tends to make your teeth look good, but they oftentimes leave root causes of infection that can still affect health.
Bruce: Yeah, that’s one, I guess one of the problems is if you have, you know, really black teeth, if you have stains in your teeth, your teeth are crooked, or if you have poor dental health, you just kind of assume that the mouth isn’t very healthy, but just the opposite. If you go to the dentist and he corrects, you know, the problems, makes your teeth nice and white, straightens them out, your mouth can look fresh and healthy, yet it can still be a breeding ground of bacteria.
Jack: So then oil pulling, obviously it wouldn’t substitute for severe dental issues, you know, abscesses and so forth, but are you saying that it could be very preventative and could assist with not getting to that point in the first place? Would that be accurate?
Bruce: It’s really amazing what oil pulling can do. It’s excellent as a preventative and it can even help treat some conditions. Now, the first thing that people experience when they start oil pulling is the improvement they see in their oral health. Things like how their teeth become whiter. Bleeding gums stop bleeding. The gums around the teeth that may be loose may tighten up around the teeth. The color of the gums would improve because it removes inflammation. Bad breath, it gets rid of bad breath, which is primarily caused by bacteria in the mouth. It helps clean off coatings on the tongue, and can even help get rid of tartar and things like that. In fact, even in sections that can be in the mouth, it will draw the infection out, so even in the abscessed tooth, now there’s different degrees of severity, and so if a tooth is too far gone, there’s not much you can do with it, but even some deep-seated infections can be reversed with daily oil pulling.
Jack: So, interestingly in addition to just oral health, of course you talked about some of the specific things, specific health problems. When I followed the recommendations in your book, I noticed heavy drainage from my sinuses. It was, as I was pulling, I actually felt, just as you said in the book, the mucus sort of coming down the back of my throat with an urge to swallow, so I can imagine that has to be good for your overall health is to be pulling all that stuff out of your sinuses.
Bruce: Yeah, you know, that is one of the first, I guess you call it symptom, or affects from oil pulling. It helps detoxify the body. Detoxifying the bacteria in your mouth and your body and it also stimulates the flow of mucus, so that your sinuses, you know, are cleaned out, because your sinuses will start emptying out, some people that used to be like smokers and had quit, start oil pulling, and they’ll start coughing up this black mucus that may have been in their lungs for years, and so it’s great for cleaning out sinuses and the bronchial tubes
Jack: Amazing. Dr. Fife, could you describe a little bit more of what you talk about in the book about electric localization and transmutation.
Bruce: Well, you know, there’s the idea that you have a focus of bacteria, and from this focus the bacteria can migrate out from that, and as long as you have that focus of bacteria, you can continually having problems, and the mouth can be a focus of bacteria. And so for example, arthritis is a very common illness that can be associated with oral health, and as long as your mouth is infected, this bacteria will be seeping out into your bloodstream, and going to the affected joints, and causing arthritis, and you can do all sorts of treatments trying to cure that problem, but it won’t be cured until you clean out the source, the mouth, and once the mouth is cleaned, then the body, the immune system can address the problems, and correct it, and then the arthritis goes away.
Jack: So the electric localization would mean that bacteria from your mouth has a propensity to go into your system and end up as a joint bacteria causing joint inflammation, is that correct?
Bruce: That’s correct, it’s interesting, because there’s been research on this and for example, the bacteria in your mouth can go to your heart, in fact when you go to the dentist, and if you’ve had any heart conditions, the dentist will prescribe antibiotics for you because he knows that as he works on your mouth, he’s going to release more bacteria into your system, and that bacteria can go to the heart and cause heart failure. Also, the bacteria can go to your brain and cause dementia, and it’s interesting the research on this is that they will take bacteria from people who have died from dementia, and analyze it, they’ll do DNA testing, and they will find that it’s the exact same bacteria that is in the patient’s mouth, so they know for sure where the bacteria came from.
Jack: Wow, so you can see how something as simple as swishing oil around in your mouth that affects mouth ecology, how it could affect something like that also, a disease like that as well.
Bruce: Yeah it’s amazing, and you know what, another one is diabetes. How can your mouth promote diabetes? But it can. The bacteria in your mouth when it goes into your body, affects your body systemically, and causes inflammation. Now inflammation can lead to insulin resistance, and so if you have inflammation throughout your body, that can raise your blood sugar levels and cause insulin resistance. And research has been done on this to actually show the connection between oral bacteria and insulin resistance. Now that’s not to say that every diabetic is that way because of bacteria in their mouth, but the bacteria in their mouth can promote it, and increase the problems associated with insulin resistance and diabetes.
Jack: So in your book also you speak about a resurgence in the focal theory of infection which basically is saying that back in the 20’s, 30’s, it was very commonly known that infection in your mouth was going to cause all sorts of systemic health problems, and people have kind of compartmentalized the mouth from that since then. Want to talk a little bit more about that resurgence in understanding?
Bruce: Sure, in fact the focal infection theory has been around for many, many years. It wasn’t until probably around the 1940’s or so that scientists and the dental profession kind of forgot about it, and we’re now going back to it, but for years, doctors knew that what happens in the mouth can affect the entire body. In fact, not only doctors but even farmers knew about that whenever they went to buy a horse or a cow. They would always check the oral health. They would open the animals mouth and check the teeth to make sure the mouth was healthy, because they knew that if the mouth was healthy than the entire animal was probably healthy as well, and vice versa, if the mouth of the animal was bad, had a lot of decaying teeth, they weren’t going to buy that animal because they knew it was going to have some health problems, but the same way with people. We have poor oral health it’s going to lead to other health problems, and early doctors and dentists – In fact, doctors as well as dentists, they would see an infected tooth, and they would pull the tooth and get rid of it and low and behold, the tissue that may have had arthritis in a few weeks is cured from that arthritis. There’s many instances where doctors and dentists, you know, pulled teeth and had miraculous recoveries from various health problems, simply because of that, and that gist, that is why the focal infection theory came about in the first place. And nowadays, since the ‘40s, you know, we kind of got away from that, but the focal infection theory has made a resurgence because dentists and doctors are seeing, again, the relationship between oral health and our physical health. And right now, there are actually hundreds of medical studies now that show how oral health and the bacteria in the mouth can affect various parts of the body, for example, another one is pregnancy outcomes. You know, if a pregnant woman has some infection in her mouth, it can affect the growth of her fetus, in fact it can cause premature birth, and low birth rate. This is stuff that has been demonstrated in medical studies.
Jack: So as you state in the book, we’re not talking about minor things, we’re talking about heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, dangers in pregnancy, so obviously a simple thing like oil pulling which can change the ecology of the mouth, can have big consequences.
Bruce: Yeah, oil pulling is about as simple as you can do. And for example, there’s a lot of methods of detoxifying the body, like fasting or juice fasting, and all of them, they require a great deal of effort. But swishing oil in your mouth every day as a part of your normal daily hygiene, oral hygiene, it is very simple and yet it’s tremendously powerful in its effects.
Jack: So Dr. Fife, a big question regarding a therapy like this is proof, obviously there’s a ton of proof as far as individual feedback and what reports people are giving. Can you tell us a little bit more about the research, some of which I know is mentioned in your book, which I was wondering as I purchased the book because I really was very curious about that, so can you talk more about the research coming out of India?
Bruce: Yeah, you know, there’s, like I mentioned previously, there’s actually hundreds of studies showing the connection between oral health and physical health, but there’s also studies, primarily coming out of India, that show that oil pulling itself has a dramatic effect on oral health. For example, there was one study in which the subjects would oil pull, and they measured what effect it had, and they compared that to brushing the teeth and using antiseptic mouthwash, and the conclusion of the study was that oil pulling was just as effective, and actually a little bit better than brushing your teeth, and better than using antiseptic mouthwash. But what was really, it was better in reducing the plaque. But it was much better; it was about 8x, 7-8x better than these other two methods in reducing gum disease. Other studies have shown, again, most of them coming out of India, that the bacteria quantity in the mouth actually reduces when you oil pull. In fact in one study, they compared oil pulling to a potent antiseptic mouthwash, to see which one would work the best, and again the conclusion was that oil pulling was actually superior at reducing oral bacteria, than a strong antiseptic mouthwash
Jack: Yes, this was very fascinating to me that some of these traditional methods to control mouth bacteria, control them in a very transient way, and the pathogenic bacteria rapidly repopulates, whereas you had shown that the specific qualities of oil that’s been mixed with saliva and it draws the fatty membrane bacteria into the oil. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Bruce: Sure, you know, one of the reasons why oil pulling works so well, and why it works better than antiseptic mouthwashes is because it’s a fat, and fats attract, and fat and water repel, any time you do any cooking you experience how oil floats on top of water and all that. Well, in your mouth, the oil attracts to the bacteria, or the bacteria actually attracts to the oil because the membrane surrounding the bacteria is made of fat, fatty acids, and so it just automatically absorbs into the oil, so when you’re swishing it around and you’re pushing it through your teeth and around your gums, it’s kind of like a vacuum cleaner that’s just sucking up all this bacteria, as well as the mucus and plaque and other things like that. And when you spit it out, your mouth is going to be much cleaner.
Jack: So you’re spitting out the bad bacteria and getting the beneficial flora a chance to repopulate, and have sort of a better mouth ecology after that.
Bruce: Well, yes, and I highly recommend that when people, if they want to see the best improvements in their mouth, oil pulling by itself will show dramatic improvements, but if you also pay attention to your diet, you can have tremendous, in fact you can even remineralize cavities in teeth, and what causes the bacteria, and the bad bacteria to grow and proliferate is the sugar, so if you can cut down on the sugars, and eat more healthy foods, then the healthy bacteria will repopulate the mouth.
Jack: So, healthy diet, oil pulling reduces dental infection which has the more serious consequences on health down the road. So basically, prevention and a healthy therapy along with a healthy lifestyle.
Jack: So can you talk a little more about techniques and message for oil pulling?
Bruce: Oil pulling is very simple. Basically, you’re just putting an oil into your mouth and swishing it, and I recommend that you do it for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time. Now when people hear me say that, they go, “Wow, that’s an awful long time, how can I do it?” Well, it’s really not as bad as it sounds. I do it every single morning, and I do it first thing in the morning. Put it in my mouth, I start swishing, and you don’t have to just sit there and swish, but go ahead and do other things. I read the paper, I get on the internet, I make my breakfast, so I can do other things at the same time, and time goes by very quickly that way. In fact time goes by so quickly, what happens, I end up oil pulling for thirty minutes, because I forget that I’m still swishing while I’m doing something else, so it’s really not that bad. And I do recommend that people do it every day, just like they do with brushing their teeth. If they have, some have certain health problems, or if they have specific dental issues that they want corrected, then they may want to do it two or three times a day to speed up the healing process.
Jack: So once a day for maintenance, and two to three times a day for more acute issues?
Bruce: Exactly, and the type of oil, you know, you use, you can actually use any type of oil, but I recommend coconut oil, and the reason I recommend coconut oil is because it has properties to it that enhance the oil pulling process that other oils just don’t have. For example, coconut oil is anti-inflammatory, and so if you have problems in the mouth, you’re going to have inflammation present. Well other oils such as soybean oil or safflower oil or sunflower oil. And so coconut oil is superior in that respect. Coconut also is anti-microbial. It naturally kills bacteria and fungi. These other oils don’t do that. So it’s killing at the same time, and the third reason for coconut oil is that the coconut oil has a natural tissue healing, tissue mending effect. So that when you put the oil on a cut or a lesion or even a burn, it speeds the healing, and it does that on your skin, and it does it on your mucus membrane, so that’s in your mouth too so if you have lesions and infections in your mouth, it will help speed the healing in the mouth, and other oils just don’t have these properties.
Jack: And for health care practitioners who are recommending this coconut oil is more likely to compliance just because it tastes so much better than some of these other oils that folks are trying to use.
Bruce: Exactly, now if people haven’t added much oil into their mouth, they’re kind of hesitant to put a spoonful of oil in their mouth and start swishing it. They just kind of have to get over that, but once they get used to it, it seems very natural, there’s no problem. I put a spoonful of oil in my mouth and swish it, and it doesn’t feel bad at all. It’s actually kind of tasty, especially if you like coconut flavor of coconut you get the virgin coconut oil, it’s a nice mild flavor and it’s actually pretty pleasant.
Mary-Ann: Hi Bruce, this is Mary-Ann, and I’m here, and I have a question. Back to the cigarettes and how that was also pulling some things – Would that assist people, let’s say they’re going cold turkey quitting cigarettes. Would that assist them with getting over those effects and the urges by getting it out of their system faster?
Bruce: Well, I don’t know if it would increase the speed in which they get over the urges, but because oil pulling stimulates the flow of mucus out of the sinuses, it’s certainly going to flush out a lot of the tar and stuff that has been collecting in the lungs, and that in itself may help to reduce the tendency that the person has developed to nicotine.
Jack: So, Dr. Fife, before we finish up here, any new bits of information that your book was published in 2008, that you’d like to share with us regarding oil pulling?
Bruce: You know, more studies are being done. A couple of more studies regarding oil pulling have been done. One that I actually mentioned actually where it compared oil pulling to antiseptic mouthwash. Another one, from a professor of dentistry in Canada who tried oil pulling as a means to treat the Sjogren’s disease which is a disease which causes a dryness, dry eyes and dry mouth and she found that it helps stimulate the flow of fluids to help with that condition, and in her study she also found that it was very effective in reducing the bacterial count in the mouth. So this is just more evidence that oil pulling really does work in reducing the bacterial load in the mouth, and it’s not just studies coming from India, but also from Canada and elsewhere.
Jack: Well thank you very much Dr. Fife, for taking the time for this interview today. Your book Oil Pulling Therapy, I read it, I was very pleased with the detail and the information in there. Having heard about this therapy for a long time, I never successfully did it until I tried the specific techniques in this book. Or I should say I never noticed any results whatsoever until I tried the techniques in this book, so we appreciate you for putting out this information, and for taking the time to share this with Dr. Calvin’s ACIM today.
Bruce: Yeah and if I might say one more thing is, after you said that it reminded me that, you know, when you go on the Internet, you can find a lot of information about oil pulling, but a lot of the information that is posted is wrong and has a lot of myths and misconceptions, so really you should follow the information and the procedures in my book rather than blindly following some of these things on the Internet.
Jack: Yes I completely agree that bad information is a distraction, and it really promotes the belief that something has no validity, that it doesn’t work, because people make claims that are not accurate, or they tell you things that are not correct.
Jack: So your book seems to be very well grounded in research, and it’s contributing, definitely contributing to the base, growing base, growing base of knowledge, about this new therapy, not new therapy, this popular therapy.
Bruce: Well thank you for allowing me to explain it to you.
Jack: Okay Dr. Fife, well we appreciate that and you have a great day.
Bruce: You too. Bye-bye.
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