Is it possible that something as trendy and simple as oil pulling can help us lose weight if needed and maintain our optimal weight? Stick with us here, it’s going to be a fun ride…
Today let’s explore another aspect of the mouth/body connection – how our oral hygiene habits, in particular oil pulling, can help us in optimizing our body weight.
In our previous article 3 simple mouth based habits to help heal leaky gut, we took a look at a very important component of the mouth/body connection, the vagus nerve. Let’s take this a step further and explore 2 ways how oil pulling can help regulate our best body weight.
The Principle of ‘Use it or Lose it’
The oral hygiene strategies in this article all share a common principle. We call it the principle of ‘use it or lose it’.
This term has become a bit cliche in recent years, but the principle stands the test of time.
Bottom line, if we don’t use something, we will lose the ability to use it.
The body is very efficient. So, unless we regularly use one part, the body will break that part down and repurpose the nutrients elsewhere.
It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about our flexibility, muscular strength, mental focus, memory, or tooth (bone) density, if we don’t use it, we will lose it. We are going to leverage this principle to supercharge our oral hygiene to help us up-regulate our metabolism.
The connection between low thyroid and a sluggish metabolism
Another very active subject in the health net these days is thyroid health. In fact, a lot of our friends talk regularly on this subject.
Our thyroid gland is part of our endocrine system and is located in the throat. Our thyroid gland functions as our body’s thermostat. Many factors challenge the thyroid to maintain optimal metabolism.
And it seems that more and more of us are dealing with low energy and sluggish systems associated with an under active thyroid.
Direct massage of the throat (thyroid) via muscular activation from oil pulling
The first way oil pulling is going to help us optimize our weight is by directly activating the thyroid gland. Applying the ‘use it or lose it’ principle, we’re going to stimulate, massage and activate the sleepy thyroid gland.
Think of your daily oil pulling as a health and fitness warm up/workout for your thyroid gland. All the muscular activation involved from oil pulling massages a drowsy thyroid to wake up and get to work. Here’s a great article from one of our friends if you want a deeper dive on thyroid and weight management. And another good article on massage for thyroid health.
Here’s another way oil pulling can help…
Is your vagus nerve dulled? Time to wake it up!
The vagus nerve has been getting recent attention with the upsurge of functional medicine.
More and more of us are realizing that the body is one system and trying to over-compartmentalize the body and create optimal health simply isn’t based in reality.
As a culture, we’re realizing that inter-system communication is a key component to optimizing our health potential. Terms like gut-brain axis and hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis are clear signs of our culture realizing the holistic paradigm.
One of the big players in intersystem communication is the vagus nerve.
If you are new to hearing about the vagus nerve, you’ll certainly hear more about it in coming years. The vagus nerve is a major pathway that connects our brain to lots and lots of organ systems throughout the body.
Among many other functions, the vagus nerve connects our brain with our ‘gut brain’, the enteric nervous system. In the article ‘Can oil pulling help heal leaky gut’, we explored how lack of vagus nerve stimulation can weaken our body’s ability to maintain healthy gut function.
The problem lies in poor communication
Have you ever been on a phone call that reception was a bit spotty? You could still hear most of the words the other person said, but you miss every third or fourth word?
It’s unnerving (pun intended) to try to have a clear conversation and not be able to hear every word, isn’t it?
Well, when our systems get dulled and down regulate due to inflammation from stress and other factors, our gut-brain axis, the communication through the vagus nerve, becomes compromised.
One of the ways our bodies suffer from this communication breakdown (and the point of this article) is a loss of feeling full when eating…
Feeling full after a meal
Ok, for clarity, we definitely are not in the simplistic camp that says “Just eat less if you want to lose weight”. We realize the body is WAY more complex than this mechanistic approach.
However, what if our brain isn’t getting the signal from the stomach saying, “Enough already! We’re full down here”?
Well, that’s exactly what the research on vagus nerve suggests.
Without healthy vagus nerve function, one of the many breakdowns in communication that can occur is we stop feeling full and so continue to eat when the body already is full.
How to stimulate your vagus nerve
So what do we do to help shake our vagus nerve to come alive and be more responsive?
In our article ‘3 mouth based healthy habits to help heal leaky gut’, we share 3 different oral strategies to help wake up a sleepy vagus nerve. Reconsider the value of gently gagging yourself when cleaning your tongue.
Again, applying the principle of ‘use it or lose it’, we’re going to stimulate the vagus nerve by activating the musculature of the mouth and throat by oil pulling.
One of our favorite functional doctors, Dr Datis Kharrazian, goes deep on this subject of stimulating the vagus nerve for healing leaky gut in his excellent book, “Why isn’t my brain working?” Here’s Dr Kharrazian’s book on amazon.
The biggest mistake most people make oil pulling
Unfortunately, many people are too passive while oil pulling to activate the vagus nerve.
Sure, if you’re just looking for the natural teeth whitening benefit of oil pulling, passively swishing oil around your mouth will help.
But if you want to wake up your vagus nerve (and thyroid), you have to recruit more vigorous muscular action in your face and throat.
Rather than ‘just’ swishing around your front teeth, try drawing the oil from the front of your mouth toward the back using the muscles in your throat. This more active movement stimulates the vagus nerves that flow all through the mouth, throat and neck region.
To activate the vagus, oil pulling should feel more like a semi vigorous workout and less like a stroll in the park workout.
For a deeper dive into the specifics of oil pulling, check out our article on how oil pulling improves oral health and whole body wellness.
If losing or maintaining optimal weight is a goal for you here’s more information about how mouth based habits, including oil pulling, can help up regulate your whole system by waking up your vagus nerve.
How about you? What strategies have you found helpful to wake up your system to optimize your health?
Helpful, Related Resources
How oil pulling improves oral health and whole body wellness [article]
3 simple ‘mouth based’ healthy habits to help heal leaky gut [article]
Optimizing your weight when you have Hashimoto’s [article]
Can oil pulling help heal leaky gut? [article]
Is stress the primary cause of gum disease? [article]
Research on the impact of vagus nerve suppression on satiety [research paper]
Dr Datis Kharrazian’s book on amazon [affiliate link]
How to make your teeth whiter without destroying your enamel [article]