Tag Archive | Dental Health

Sweet As Sugar: Health Benefits Of Stevia And Xylitol

Sweet As Sugar: Health Benefits Of Stevia And Xylitol

By Robert Iafelice
***SEE REPOSTERS Note after References if sugar/carbs are causing deterioration in your health***

In 1991, reacting to an anonymous trade complaint, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deemed the sweetener stevia unsafe and issued an Import Alert, banning all stevia from entering the United States.1-3 While the FDA cited inadequate toxicological evidence of its safety, the ban was not based on any consumer complaints or reported adverse effects.2

Extracts of the South American stevia plant, called steviol glycosides , are up to 300 times sweeter than sugar and have little aftertaste, zero calories, and no effect on blood sugar.3 At the time of the FDA ban, supporters of stevia argued without success that stevia, with its long history of food use, should qualify as having GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status in the same manner as coffee, tea, sugar, fruit, etc. A history of safe use is one condition that must be met to qualify for GRAS, and this was actually acknowledged in the FDA’s Import Alert for stevia!4 The FDA not only banned a safe and natural sweetener in stevia, but one that appears to provide health benefits as well, most notably for regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.3,5

The controversial ban on the importation of stevia in the US continued until 1995 when the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 forced the FDA to allow stevia to be imported and marketed as a dietary supplement, but not as a sweetener or other food additive purpose.1 The FDA’s policy to classify stevia to be safe for consumption as a “supplement,” but potentially harmful as a sweetener just added to the controversy and confusion.

In 2008, after a rigorous review of the scientific evidence, the FDA granted stevia sweeteners GRAS status.6 It was also approved by the European Union in 2011.7

Today, hundreds of foods and beverages throughout the world are sweetened with stevia sweeteners. Among these are Vitamin Water®, Coke Zero®, Sprite Green®, Gatorade’s G2® and Crystal Light®. Coca-Cola® and Pepsi Cola® have both disclosed their intentions to use rebaudioside A, the sweetest stevia extract, as a zero-calorie soft-drink sweetener in the US.3

Stevia May Help Control Blood Sugar And Insulin Levels

Health Benefits

While stevia has been documented to have medical purposes as an antimicrobial, anti-diarrheal, anti-tumor, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory actions, the scientific evidence is strongest, and its use is most promising for two indications: (1) high blood sugar/insulin resistance and (2) high blood pressure.3,5,8

Stevia May Help Control Blood Sugar And Insulin Levels

Extracts from stevia leaves have been used for centuries as a medicinal herb in the traditional treatment of diabetes in South America.5,9 Today, scientific evidence on stevia supports its historic precedent in the regulation of blood sugar and insulin.

Avoiding excess elevation of blood sugar and insulin after meals is perhaps the most important dietary measure you can take to reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, and other age-related disorders. In a recent study in type II diabetic subjects, stevioside, one of the stevia extracts, reduced after-meal blood glucose levels by an average of 18%.10

When compared to sugar, stevia consumption before meals results in far lower after-meal glucose and insulin levels.11 Even when compared to aspartame, stevia resulted in lower post-prandial insulin levels.11 The comparison with aspartame is more impressive because the change in glucose and insulin levels cannot be due to a difference in calories, as with sugar. A key finding from this study was that participants eating stevia felt satisfied with fewer calories and did not eat more food throughout the day to compensate.11 This is an indication of stable blood sugar and insulin levels.

At the root of many cases of chronically elevated glucose and insulin levels is insulin resistance. In rats fed a fructose-rich diet for four weeks to induce insulin resistance, stevioside lowered high blood glucose levels in a dose-dependent manner and delayed the development of insulin resistance.12

Studies have evaluated the effects of stevioside on animal models of both type I and type II diabetes: elevated blood glucose levels were lowered, and less insulin medication was needed for the same effect. This research clearly demonstrates that stevia has the ability to increase cellular insulin sensitivity and help reverse insulin resistance.12,13

Interestingly, the mechanism for stevioside’s hypoglycemic effect in the latter group of rats with insulin dependent type I diabetes was determined to be slowing down gluconeogenesis (the synthesis of glucose in the liver from non-carbohydrate sources).13 Another plant compound very familiar to readers of Life Extension magazine®, chlorogenic acid from coffee beans, also down-regulates gluconeogenesis. Coffee sweetened with stevia may pack quite a one-two punch for blood sugar control!

The effect of stevia on blood sugar has only been observed when plasma glucose levels are elevated. It does not lower normal blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.5

Stevia is not just a safe sugar substitute, but a natural insulin sensitizer that may help maintain normal sugar and insulin levels in diabetics and nondiabetics alike. Since stevia extract also decreases oxidized LDL cholesterol14 and triglycerides,15 and lowers high blood pressure3,5—all metabolic risk factors—it has great potential for the treatment of metabolic syndrome.

Stevia May Lower Blood Pressure

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study demonstrated that oral stevioside taken at doses of 250 mg, three times a day for one year resulted in significant, lasting decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with mild to moderate hypertension.16 A longer, subsequent study by the same research team that lasted two years and with an increased dose of stevioside ( 1,500 mg) replicated the decreases in blood pressure found in the initial study.17

The stevioside treatment was well-tolerated and no side effects were reported or detected. Moreover, the stevioside treatment group reported significantly higher quality of life scores than the placebo group.17 On the other hand, it was noted that more patients in the placebo group developed left ventricular hypertrophy,17 an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle often caused by high blood pressure.

Though the effect of stevioside was not better than drugs, it appears comparable and nearly everyone taking stevioside had significant lowering of blood pressure. As in the case of blood sugar, stevioside lowers elevated blood pressure, but not normal blood pressure.5

As a natural plant compound with no demonstrated side effects, stevia may offer an alternative or supplementary therapy for high blood pressure, and with possibly better compliance.

Xylitol: A Sweetener That’s Good For Your Teeth

Another sugar substitute with beneficial health properties that is growing in popularity is xylitol. While xylitol is a natural substance found in fruits and vegetables, it is also naturally produced in our bodies during normal carbohydrate metabolism. An average-size adult makes up to 15 grams of xylitol daily.18,19

Xylitol is classified as a sugar alcohol (like sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol, etc) because its chemical structure partially resembles sugar and partially resembles alcohol.20 It is actually a carbohydrate that looks and tastes remarkably like table sugar with 40% fewer calories and practically no aftertaste.21 It is used as a sweetener in chewing gums, mints, beverages, sweets, toothpaste and in tabletop granular form. It has been approved for use in foods, pharmaceuticals and oral health products in more than 35 countries worldwide, including the US.21

History Of Stevia

Stevia is a perennial shrub with over 200 species belonging to the Aster (sunflower) family and indigenous to South America.46 For centuries, the Guarani tribes of Paraguay and Brazil used the leaves of stevia, which they called ka’a he’e (“sweet herb”) to sweeten yerba mate tea and various foods. It was also used medicinally as a treatment for diabetes,47 hypertension, and obesity.5

Stevia has been used in Europe and Asia since the sixteenth century when it was discovered by the Spanish Conquistadors.48 The particular species used as a sweetener, Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, was named after botanist Moises Santiago Bertoni, who “rediscovered” stevia and scientifically classified the plant in 1899, describing its sweet taste in detail. The compounds in the stevia leaf that give the plant its sweet taste, stevioside and rebaudioside A, were isolated in 1931 by French chemists.2

During World War II, England began to investigate stevia as an alternative to sugar, which was in short supply.49 In the 1970s, the Japanese began to use stevia to replace the banned artificial sweetener, saccharin. It became their chosen sugar alternative to sweeten food and beverages, so much so that Japan is now the largest consumer of stevia.2 Today, stevia can be found growing in China, South America, India, South Korea, Taiwan, and Israel, and is used in many countries around the globe.

Xylitol Fights Cavities

Though largely preventable, tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases among both adults and children, with 1 in 5 Americans reported to have untreated cavities according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).22 In 2010, roughly $108 billion dollars were spent on dental services in the US.23

By providing fuel for acid-forming bacteria in the mouth, sugar consumption sets up an ideal acidic condition that promotes decay and demineralization of teeth. Xylitol, conversely, is non-fermentable and does not feed acid-forming oral bacteria. Regular use of xylitol causes cavity-forming bacteria, most notably Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans ), to starve and die off by as much as 73%, decreasing the level of acidic byproducts formed when bacteria ferment sugars.24 Xylitol also increases salivary flow which helps to buffer these acids.25 A more alkaline environment is created, leading to less tooth decay and plaque, and enhanced tooth remineralization. Untreated cavities, especially small decay spots, can harden and become less sensitive from exposure to xylitol.26

Considerable research conducted since the early 1970s has established that consuming xylitol products results in reduction in tooth decay rates ranging from 30% up to levels in excess of 80%.27 What’s more, the protective effects of xylitol are long-lasting. In a study of nearly 300 children who chewed xylitol gum habitually for over two years and then stopped, some experienced a reduction in their tooth decay rate over the next five years.28 Xylitol-sweetened gum even reduces transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to child.29

According to newer research, the number of exposures to xylitol throughout the day is more important than the quantity of xylitol.30 Consider chewing xylitol gum after each meal, sweetening your tea or coffee with xylitol granules and using xylitol toothpaste once or twice a day. Several dental associations, including the American Dental Association31 and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry,32 support the use of xylitol in caries control and prevention.

Xylitol Benefits Diabetes And Metabolic Syndrome

Because xylitol is slowly emptied from the stomach, and only about 50% of it is absorbed, it has neglible effects on blood sugar and insulin secretion.33,34 Xylitol has a considerably lower glycemic index (13) when compared with sucrose (65) and glucose (100).33 It even compares favorably with foods such as legumes and milk.35

In a recent animal study examining the antidiabetic potential of xylitol, animals fed xylitol had significantly better glucose tolerance (more stable blood sugar levels), less weight gain and significantly lower food intake (suppressed appetite) than both the sugar and control groups.36 Data from this study and others confirm that xylitol is an ideal low-calorie sweetener for people with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and other metabolic disorders.34,36,37

Of course, like stevia, xylitol can be used by anyone to help maintain low blood sugar and insulin levels, thereby reducing risk of age-related disease.

Xylitol Helps Prevent Ear And Upper Respiratory Infections

Xyitol not only suppresses S. mutans, the cavity-promoting bacterium, but it also inhibits the growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae), a major cause of middle ear infections and sinusitis.38,39 Owing to its unique structure, xylitol also has the ability to interfere with S. pneumoniae’s ability to stick to tissues and form colonies of bacteria called biofilms, making the germ more vulnerable to treatment.40

In clinical trials, xylitol given in the form of chewing gum or syrup reduced middle ear infections in daycare children by 30-40%.38,41,42 This safe and great-tasting sweetener offers the possibility of preventing ear infections in children and thus lessening the need for antibiotics.

Xylitol Strengthens Bone

Since xylitol appears to induce remineralization of tooth enamel, researchers are also now investigating its ability to remineralize bone tissue. Several animal studies show that xylitol increases bone density,43-45 suggesting that xylitol shows promise in the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis. Clinical trials are needed to confirm these potential benefits.

Summary

Stevia and xylitol are not only safe and tasty sugar alternatives, but also potent natural compounds that provide multiple health benefits.3,5,8,27,34,36-38,43-45 While both sweeteners improve glucose tolerance and reduce insulin needs, stevia can also lower elevated blood pressure while xylitol can help prevent cavities and ear infections, and possibly strengthen bones.3,5,8,27,34,36-38,43-45

Add some stevia to your favorite beverage and chew xylitol gum after meals. Enjoy the sweet taste and gain important health dividends as well.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

References

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  17. Hsieh MH, Chan P, Sue Y.M, et al.Efficacy and tolerability of oral stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension, a two-year, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Clin Ther. 2003;25(11):2797-808.
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  24. Bahador A, Lesan S, Kashi N. Effect of xylitol on cariogenic and beneficial oral streptococci: a randomized, double-blind crossover trial. Iran J Microbiol. 2012 Jun;4(2):75-81.
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  39. McEllistrem MC, Adams J, Mason EO, Wald ER. Epidemiology of acute otitis media caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae before and after licensure of the 7-valent pneumococcal protein conjugate vaccine. J Infect Dis. 2003 Dec 1;188(11):1679-84.
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  42. Uhari M, Kontiokari T, Niemela M. A novel use of xylitol sugar in preventing acute otitis media. Pediatrics. 1998;102:879–84.
  43. Sato H, Ide Y, Nasu M, et al. The effects of oral xylitol administration on bone density in rat femur. Odontology. 2011 Jan;99(1):28-33.
  44. Mattila PT, Svanberg MJ, Pokka P, et al. Dietary xylitol protects against weakening of bone biomechanical properties in ovariectomized rats . J Nutr. 1998 Oct;128(10):1811-4.
  45. Mattila PT, Svanberg MJ, Knuuttila ML. Increased bone volume and bone mineral content in xylitol-fed aged rats. Gerontology. 2001 Nov-Dec;47(6):300-5.
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*****REPOSTER’S NOTE

Thank You to  Life Extension Magazine February 2014    for this article – Well Done

Dietary Intake of  refined sugars and starches has increased dramatically during a time when physical activity has reduced significantly. We are seeing the North American population in particular.

This in combination with other lifestyle changes over the past 100 years of progress is leading to an overall reduction in health and wellness. Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Cardiopulmonary Disease are now very common detractors to what should be more enjoyable lifestyles.

Our societal sweet tooth is doing more to shorten lifespans and quality of life than anyone could have anticipated 100 years ago. Natural substances such as Stevia, Xylitol and Monk Fruit are gaining popularity as healthy natural sugar replacements.

They are a step in the right direction. Real progress will need us to move away from our high calorie, sedentary, sleep deprived  behaviors we as a majority are currently engaged in.

To combat the effects of the typical North American Lifestyle, we have chosen to add a nutritional supplement to our daily routine that employs Stevia, Xylitol and Monk fruit.  On  their own they provide healthy benefits but when combined with other needed and beneficial nutrients They Can Literally Save  Lives. Consistent use reverses damage caused by the typical North American lifestyle.

Take a look at this link only if you are interested actively pursuing a path to better health. It just requires a few moments a day consistently. This solution is just one part of the equation for far better health and wellness but to us, a very important one. So important that I chose to become a sales rep so I could help friends and family.

Should you decide that this is also for you, my name is Deb St Jean and my ID number is 1309426. Please contact me through comments for consumption guidelines.

You don’t have to be perfect to be healthy – and you don’t have to be deprived. A few good choices can change every outcome.

Coconut Oil Pulling Therapy – Excellent Detox & Wellness Rejuvenator

A friend has been telling me about Coconut Oil Pulling Therapy.  She was having real problems with gum disease, her new dentist recommended Coconut Oil Pulling.  She has seen a remarkable improvement. A  friend of  hers who has battled sinusitis for 20 years, has seen it disappear in less than 2 weeks.

Oil pulling is an ancient practice that still holds merit today.

Here is an article on this topic from the Coconut Research Center.  Bruce Fife has also authored 2 books that explore this topic in more depth.

Oil Pulling for a Brighter Smile and Better Health

by Bruce Fife

“That sounds ridiculous,” exclaimed Rick in disbelief. “It will never work. How could it? It doesn’t make any sense.” Rick suffered from chronic sinusitis. At night when lying down, his nose would stop up, making it difficult for him to breathe and to sleep. The congestion also caused him to experience frequent headaches.

The therapy I was telling him about was oil pulling. Although oil pulling has its origins in Ayurvedic medicine, which dates back thousands of years, this modern version is relatively new, at least in the United States. Oil pulling is very simple. Basically all you do is rinse your mouth out with vegetable oil, much like you would with a mouthwash. As simple as it sounds, if done correctly it has a very powerful cleansing and healing affect not only on the mouth and sinuses, but the entire body.

A few days later, Rick called me on the phone. “Wow! This oil pulling stuff really works,” he exclaimed. “My sinuses began to drain immediately. I expelled a lot of dark yellow, gross looking mucous. I’m breathing easier and sleeping better and my headaches are gone!”

I wasn’t surprised with Rick’s success. I hear many similar responses from others with various health problems. “I was skeptical at first,” says Cynthia. “I couldn’t see how swishing oil in my mouth could help with my arthritis. After eight days I noticed the pain in my hands diminished considerably. There was also marked improvement in my neck and I could move my head from side to side without any pain. I was amazed at how quickly I got results. I haven’t felt this good in along time!”

Some people think I’m crazy when I tell them that oil pulling can help those with asthma, allergies, chronic fatigue, diabetes, migraine headaches, PMS, and chronic skin problems. Oil pulling works by detoxifying or cleansing the body. In this way, disease promoting toxins are removed, thus allowing the body to heal itself. As a consequence, health problems of all types improve.

“I’ve suffered for several years with joint and lower back pain,” says Anna. “Every morning it was difficult getting out of bed because the pain. After two months of oil pulling the pain is all but gone. I’m amazed. Although I began oil pulling to relieve the joint pain, a few other things happened that I didn’t expect. I’m surprised to see that the eczema on my arm and hand disappearing and my skin becoming smoother and softer. Nothing I had tried before had helped. I sleep better at night too, so I have more energy during the day. I no longer need my mid-day naps. I have so much energy I almost feel like a teenager again. My periods have become more regular with less cramping and less mood swings. Also, my teeth, gums, and tongue are cleaner than they’ve ever been.”

The first thing that most people notice when they start oil pulling is an improvement in their oral health. Teeth become whiter, breath becomes fresher, and the tongue and gums take on a healthy pink color.  Even problems such as bleeding gums, tooth decay, and gum disease are greatly diminished or completely healed.

“I had a really bad infection in my mouth,” says Brittany. “It was so painful that I could not sleep. Pain medication helped temporarily. I was sure that I needed another root canal. After hearing about oil pulling I decided to give it a try before going to the dentist. I began oil pulling three times a day. By the very next day the pain was gone! No soreness, nothing. I was shocked. I continue to oil pull and my teeth are whiter and healthier looking then they have ever been. My gums have stopped bleeding, they used to bleed after every brushing. They are no longer receding and my teeth feel tighter. On my last visit to the dentist he was amazed at how much better my teeth and gums looked. He told me to continue to do whatever I was doing.”

Oil pulling traces it roots to oil gargling practiced in Ayurvedic medicine. Oil pulling as we know it today, was introduced in 1992 by Dr. F. Karach, MD. Dr. Karach claimed that oil pulling could cure a variety of illnesses ranging from heart disease and digestive troubles to hormonal disorders. He said it cured him of a chronic blood disorder of 15 years duration and within three days it cured his arthritis, which at times was so painful he was bed ridden. He used the method in his medical practice with great success.

Dr. Karach’s method of oil pulling consists of swishing, not gargling, vegetable oil in the mouth. The oil is “worked” in the mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through the teeth for a period of 15 to 20 minutes. It is done one to three times a day on an empty stomach. The best time is in the morning before eating breakfast, but can be done before any meal. The used oil is discarded and the mouth rinsed out with water. The oil is never swallowed because it is loaded with bacteria, toxins, pus, and mucous.

Sunflower and sesame seed oils are the most commonly used for oil pulling, but any vegetable oil will work. People have had success with olive, coconut, almond, and other oils. I prefer to use coconut oil because of its many health benefits. If you use a mild flavored coconut oil it is very pleasant in the mouth. Some oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, are so strong flavored that many people find them difficult to use.

The oil acts like a cleanser. When you put it in your mouth and work it around your teeth and gums it “pulls” out bacteria and other debris. It acts much like the oil you put in your car engine. The oil picks up dirt and grime. When you drain the oil, it pulls out the dirt and grime with it, leaving the engine relatively clean. Consequently, the engine runs smoother and lasts longer. Likewise, when we expel harmful substances from our bodies our health is improved and we run smoother and last longer.

As simple as it is, oil pulling has a very powerful detoxifying effect. Our mouths are the home to billions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites and their toxins. Candida and Streptococcus are common residents in our mouths. It is these types of germs and their toxic waste products that cause gum disease and tooth decay and contribute to many other health problems including arthritis and heart disease. Our immune system is constantly fighting these troublemakers. If our immune system becomes overloaded or burdened by excessive stress, poor diet, environmental toxins and such, these organisms can spread throughout the body causing secondary infections and chronic inflammation, leading to any number of health problems.

Oil pulling is one of the most remarkable methods of detoxification and healing I have ever experienced in my career as a naturopathic physician. It helped me overcome a chronic skin problem that other forms of detoxification, including numerous juice fasts lasting up to 30 days, were unable to cure.

Oil pulling can work its magic almost instantly. Some people report relief from certain conditions after doing it only once. Minor problems often clear up within a few days. More serious, chronic problems may require a few weeks or several months or more depending on lifestyle issues.

Toxins are pulled from the body the very first time you try it. One of the first cleansing symptoms you will experience is an increased flow of mucous from your throat and sinuses. Mucous drainage is one of the body’s methods of removing toxins. While you are pulling, mucous may build in the back of your throat. You may even have to expel the oil and clear the mucous from your throat before reaching a full 20 minutes. That’s okay, take another spoonful of oil and continue until you’ve pulled for a total of 15-20 minutes. You may also experience a little nausea and perhaps even need to vomit as your body expels toxic waste. Other symptoms may also arise temporarily. These symptoms will subside as your body becomes cleaner and you become more comfortable with oil pulling. Unlike other methods of detoxification that last for only a short time, oil pulling should become a regular part of your daily schedule, like brushing your teeth.

Oil pulling is incredibly effective in brightening teeth, healing gums, preventing bad breath, quenching inflammation, and healing oral infections. It is also effective in treating many systemic conditions throughout the body.

As good as it is, the simple oil pulling method described in this article isn’t always enough. Some people and some conditions require a little extra care. For this reason, I took oil pulling and developed it into a more complete, more effective method that I call Oil Pulling Therapy. This program incorporates medicated coconut oil (which you can make yourself), diet, select nutrients, oral pH balancing procedures, and, for those who have amalgam (mercury) fillings or metal crowns, a detox procedure designed specifically for removing heavy metals, all of which combine to greatly enhance the effects and healing properties of oil pulling. The details of this program are covered in my new book Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing.

Oil pulling is cheap; the only expense is for the oil you use. It is very easy; you simply swish oil in your mouth. Compared to other forms of detoxification it is relatively effortless. It doesn’t require dieting, fasting, or consuming unpleasant, and often bowel loosening, mixes of herbs and pills. And it is completely harmless. All you are doing is rinsing your mouth out with vegetable oil—a food. You’re not even swallowing the oil. What can be more benign than that? Nearly anyone can do it, regardless of their level of health. If you have health issues, don’t let the simplicity of oil pulling deter you from trying it. Sometimes the simplest procedures produce the greatest results. ■To learn more about the science and practice of oil pulling see the book Oil Pulling Therapy:  Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing, available through: http://piccadillybooks.com/oil-pulling-therapy.htm
“Oil Pulling Therapy” Interview with Bruce FifeA 4-part audiovisual interview featuring  Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing.  In this interview Joyce Riley of The Power Hour radio broadcast interviews Dr. Fife who discusses the many benefits of oil pulling therapy, as well as the correct methods for oil pulling.  Includes live testimonials.

Video: Oil Pulling Therapy Part 1      MP3: click here

Video: Oil Pulling Therapy Part 2      MP3: click here

Video: Oil Pulling Therapy Part 3      MP3: click here

Video: Oil Pulling Therapy Part 4      MP3: click here