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The DIY Health Revolution


By: Melissa Goslin

            A few clicks around the Internet will turn up recipes for just about anything, along with a host of reviews from people who’ve tried it, swear by it or tweak it a little. There’s even a growing number of blogs and social media pages dedicated to concocting homemade health products, from chest rubs and old school salves to cleaning products and dryer sheets. Each item has one common denominator—essential oils. 

            A rise in information touting the benefits of essential oils paired with more and more studies showing the downside of synthetic fragrance, more people are taking their health into their own hands. Brenda Harris, owner of Apple Crate Natural Market, loves that her customer base has become increasingly knowledgeable.

            “So many of our DIYers love that they can control their ingredients. People are excited about knowing what is in the products they clean their house with and apply to their skin,” Harris said.

                One of the biggest trends right now is actually an ancient practice. More and more, people are adding oil pulling, a technique that involves swishing oils through the mouth, into their daily routines. In Ayurvedic medicine, the holistic healing system dating back thousands of years in India, oil pulling is used to draw toxins out of the body, improving dental and therefore overall health.

                Oil pulling is a simple process, but still involves a learning curve. First, there’s the choice of oil. Traditionally, sesame or sunflower oil is used during the process. However, most newcomers are choosing to pull with coconut oil due to its anti-bacterial qualities. Other people find the thick, almost buttery texture of coconut oil too unappealing. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. To pull, take a tablespoon of the oil you choose and add a drop or two of essential oil, either to make the taste more palatable or to add extra benefit to the process.

                “A lot of people are using peppermint, lemon or cinnamon oils when they oil pull. It helps the taste as much as anything. We also have a specialty gum health blend that adds a lot of benefits,” Harris said. As people learn more and share experiences over the Internet, the market has changed to meet the needs by creating more blended oils. “People don’t need to buy six bottles now. They can buy one bottle for a specific condition or use,” Harris said.

                Once the essential oils are added, swish the oil around in the mouth for fifteen to twenty minutes before spitting it out, preferably into a trashcan. Because the oil contains the toxins it pulls out of the body, definitely do not swallow it or spit it into the sink where it can potentially cause a clog. After rinsing with warm water, go about a regular dental hygiene routine of brushing and flossing.     

            With rising costs of healthcare, many people can’t afford dental add-ons, but the maintenance of good oral hygiene has become increasingly important as studies show links between bacteria in the mouth and several other issues, such as cardiovascular disease. In addition to the relationship between oral health and overall health, people are simply living longer and wanting to preserve their teeth and gums into old age.

            As Harris points out, the Internet is full of anecdotal evidence about the benefits people have noticed after adding oil pulling to their daily health ritual. A quick search on Pinterest uncovers a seemingly endless bank of recipes and personal stories of people who claim it resolved everything from long-standing allergy problems to severe bad breath. Fashion blogs are even recommending it for its whitening benefits.

            With essential oil diffusers flying off the shelves these days, Harris continues to see a huge trend toward essential oils and away from synthetic fragrances. People are looking to ditch the chemicals in their scented bath products and create their own all-natural alternatives. She loves when customers walk in with a recipe for a home cleaner or beauty product they want to make, and she can gather up all the ingredients for them.

            “As a retailer, we don’t want to guide people as much as we want them to guide us,” Harris said.

            She also loves that after all these years, she’s still learning from her customers, too. Recently, loads of customers were coming in asking for fractionated oil to use as a base for homemade body spray. After a quick Google search of her own, Harris realized it was another word for MCT oil, which she’d carried for years. Other customers call products by names from their native languages, and with a little digging they can come up with the translation for them.

            “If you had told me 18 years ago that the Internet would have such a huge impact on my business, I would’ve had no idea what you were talking about,” Harris said.


Oil Pulling: A Step-by-Step Guide

If a tablespoon of oil seems too much, or twenty minutes feels too long, start smaller and work up. It takes a little adjusting, but most oil-pullers say that within two weeks, they were swishing away while checking email or reading the morning news.

1.      Select a base oil, like sesame or coconut.

2.      Pour or scoop 1 tablespoon of oil and add one to two drops essential oil, if desired.

3.      Swish oil(s) in your mouth for 20 minutes.

4.      Spit oil into the trashcan.

5.      Rinse mouth with warm water.

6.      Brush and floss as normal.


Oil Pulling Melts

If scooping coconut oil straight from the jar isn’t your thing, try making these handy oil-pulling tablets. Once they’re ready, just pop one in each morning and go about your mess-free morning routine!


Unrefined, virgin coconut oil

Essential oils, such as peppermint, clove or a healthy gum blend


1.      Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat.

2.      While the oil is melting, place a candy mold onto a cookie sheet to make it easy for transport.

3.      Pour melted coconut oil into the molds. Depending on the mold you are using, you may only fill each cup partially.

4.      Add one to two drops of essential oil to each compartment, if desired.

5.      Cool melts in refrigerator.

6.      Once cooled, pop melts out and keep refrigerated in Mason jar or other glass container.



All-Natural Mouthwash

Homemade mouthwash can be the perfect compliment to oil pulling, and will keep the minty fresh feeling going all day long. Add more health benefits by mixing up essential oils.

Core Ingredients:

½ cup distilled water

1 teaspoon coconut oil

2 drops peppermint essential oil

Pinch of sea salt

Optional Ingredients:

Pinch of baking soda

1-2 drops additional essential oil(s), such as clove, cinnamon or tea tree oil.


1.      Combine all ingredients in a small Mason jar.

2.      Stir or shake until all ingredients are evenly mixed.

3.      Swish one to two teaspoons in mouth for one minute before spitting out.