Do you have a bottle of Listerine in your home?
If you’re like most of us, you do. 711 sells mini bottles for a buck or so, and it’s an excellent way to freshen your breathe and clean your mouth when on the road or at home, before bed, or in the morning after brushing your teeth…. or is it?
It might not be so perfect after all.
In fact, it may be very harmful to your health.
After I learned about Listerine, I made sure to let my mom know and now she stopped using it. She uses the DIY mouthwash method now instead. My mom is already on blood pressure medication, the last thing I want is for her to keep needing those pills. If one day she is ever to come off of them, one of the low hanging fruit chances to improve her health is this one… Stop. Using. Listerine.
- Why you should stop using store-bought mouthwash
- The email that warned me about mouthwash dangers
- Mouthwash Use Linked To Diabetes
- Mouthwash Use Linked To Increased Blood Pressure
- Natural Mouthwash Alternatives
Why you should stop using store-bought mouthwash
I got an email from the cardiac surgeon, Dr. Stephen Gundry. He’s the author of The Plant Paradox. I’m a fan of his work and learn a lot from his writings. I always look forward to his informative emails, and on this day in early 2018, he sent an email about Listerine mouthwash and its dangers.
I’d already known about the dangers of Listerine from reading something that Dr. Mercola put out a long time ago, maybe in 2016. I myself had already stopped using it. I’ve been doing the whole coconut oil pulling thing for over a year at this point, but now I had an email with the Listerine mouthwash dangers very clearly explained. It brought it to my attention again, and I was able to easily forward the email to my family and a few close friends. This is the type of information that should be shared if you ask me.
The proof is there. Gundry shared the research, and plenty of other doctors and health experts have as well. That’s what this post will share with you. So now I will do a quick anecdote of his email and share a few alternatives that are far, far healthier than any of those powerful mouthwashes you find at the grocery and drug stores (or 711).
The email that warned me about mouthwash dangers
The email from Dr. Gundry was titled, “Are you Nuking Your Mouth?”
Unless it’s a product he’s clearly promoting, I’ll always read his emails, especially with a good email subject line like that. I knew what was coming.
Next, the contents start with talking about mouth “bodyguards.” Much like how your nose hairs help filter the air you breathe, the “bodyguards” in your mouth do the same thing and to a far greater extent. I’ll let Gundry explain it:
…the human mouth is home to 700 different species of bacteria.1
Scientists call them your oral bugs — but I like to think of them as your body’s health gatekeepers.
While you’re chewing, they’re hard at work neutralizing “bad bacteria” that could make you sick.
And that’s one BIG job.
After all, according to Dr. Gerry Curatola, professor of medicine at New York University: 80% of human disease starts in the mouth.2
And that shocking statistic only means one thing: Your gatekeepers are of MAJOR importance.
So now that you know about these “bodyguards” or “gatekeepers” in your mouth, you can’t unlearn it. Here is what your mouth bodyguard bugs do:
- They are your body’s first line of defense when putting things in your mouth.
- They attach to saliva as you swallow food, helping to prepare it and your gut for healthy digestion.
- They help keep you strong and healthy
The next part of the email will change the way you care for your mouth for the rest of your life. This is where the subject line comes in.. mouthwash is NUKING your healthy gatekeeper mouth bugs.
Say whhhhhhhaa? Yes.
…this was confirmed when a study out of the University of Alabama showed that people who used mouthwash just twice a day…
Had a whopping 50% GREATER chance of developing diabetes.3
Shocking, right? Well, it gets worse.
Virtually all mouthwashes contain dangerous chemicals that alter your taste buds, disrupt hormone production, and stain your teeth over time.4,5
But perhaps the worst of them all is Triclosan — a chemical which doesn’t just kill your gatekeeper bugs…
It also helps breed bad superbugs, which are dangerous bacteria that wreck your gut biome.6
There it is.
Gut health is way too important to play with fire such as Listerine.
Teeth discoloration is the least of my concerns here.
So why are 200 million Americans performing genocide on their life-supporting mouth bodyguards if Listerine kills them?? It’s because they don’t know it yet. I didn’t before. Now I do, and am doing my best by writing this blog post to hopefully help spread the good word.
When researching the topic, I found a Dr. Mercola article on natural mouthwash titled, “Can Mouthwash Give You Diabetes and Increase Blood Pressure?” In the article, he states what exactly happens in your mouth when you kill off all the good bacteria with commercial mouthwashes like Listerine.
Indiscriminate eradication of oral bacteria reduces your body’s ability to convert dietary nitrates from whole foods to nitrites that are further converted to nitric oxide in your stomach. Nitric oxide reduces your risk of gastric ulcers and high blood pressure, and helps prevent insulin resistance and regulate energy production.
That is some very scary stuff.
My dad had diabetes and both my mom and dad’s side have histories of high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. Therefore, this is a very interesting finding and I am glad I looked into it.
Within that same article, Mercola shared the findings of a study researchers conducted on 945 participants called, the San Juan Overweight Adults Longitudinal Study (SOALS). In this study, the participants were completely free of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The experiment had participants split into two groups. One refrained from mouthwash use. The other used it once or twice per day.
The research findings?
“Those who used the [mouthwash] product twice daily, or more, had a nearly 50 percent greater chance of developing prediabetes or diabetes over those who used it much less or not at all.13“
The reason they gave the mouthwash users directions to use it once or twice daily was based off something that Johnson & Johnson published about Listerine saying “you should swish for 30 seconds twice a day to kill up to 99 percent of all bacteria living in your mouth.”
What’s the American Dental Association (ADA) have to say about all of this?
According to the ADA, as stated on their website under a headline titled, Oral Health Topics,
Using a mouthwash does not take the place of optimal brushing and flossing. Mouthwashes may offer additional benefit in terms of reducing the risk of bad breath, cavities, or gum disease; or for relief of dry mouth or pain from oral sores.
At least they mention not to use it as a replacement for teeth brushing. It would be nice if in the future they took these mouthwash and prediabetes/diabetes findings into consideration. If they shared this information, it would become mainstream much faster.
I’ll mention one more quote from Mercola on this subject:
While a swig of mouthwash twice a day may seem innocuous and may be a part of your daily routine, this study demonstrates the indiscriminate eradication of oral bacteria may have long-term health consequences.
Mouthwash does not pick and choose what bacteria it will kill. Just like the debut album of Metallica in 1983, Kill Em All, mouthwash seeks and destroys any bacteria in its path, both good and bad.
One reason this is a very bad thing: We have bacteria in our mouth that metabolize nitrate into nitrite. We swallow it, then it goes into our gastrointestinal tract, where it is then converted into Nitric Oxide. When you swig and swish mouthwash, “the reduction in the amount of nitric oxide that is metabolized in your body is significant, as it is an important signaling molecule that helps regulate energy, metabolism and insulin levels, all of which are important in the development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.”
Let us keep on this subject to connect it to increased blood pressure…
Researchers from the University of London conducted a mouthwash use study that showed the use of mouthwash for only seven days enough to reduce oral nitrite production by 90 percent. The same use of mouthwash for a week reduced blood nitrite levels by 25 percent.
What does that even mean?
What’s the big deal with reduced oral nitrite production?
What are the consequences?
This is what happened when people took mouthwash for a week:
Seven days’ use of antiseptic mouthwash caused a rise in clinic systolic (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) that was associated with a significant decrease in plasma nitrite concentration.
Here’s what they concluded:
Our data demonstrating a robust correlation between changes in plasma nitrite levels and changes in BP support our contention that prevention of the conversion of nitrate to nitrite by antiseptic mouthwash underlies the increases in BP.
When you reduce your oral nitrite production, chances are you will see a rise in blood pressure. This was the result of that London study.
So this is what we now know about Nitric Oxide and the human body:
- Oral bacteria provide the human body with continuous sources of Nitric Oxide
- Nitric Oxide is one of the most important molecules produced in the human body
- Nitric Oxide controls and regulates blood pressure and is a major factor in preventing cardiovascular disease
To further show the connection between mouthwash use and increased blood pressure, let’s see what Nathan Bryan, Ph. D, a leading expert on the very important role of Nitric Oxide (NO) in the health of many of our body’s organs and systems, has to say about it. As reported by new-medical.net, Bryan delivered a lecture at The American Naturopathic Medical Association 36th Annual Convention & Education Seminar where he explained the following:
Loss of NO is the earliest event in the onset of progression of cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading killer of men and women worldwide.
Nathan further explained…
Poor oral hygiene, the use of antiseptic mouthwash or antibiotics can kill these commensal bacteria and disrupt Nitric Oxide production putting patients at risk for CVD.
For example, there is strong data that demonstrates that antiseptic mouthwashes may eliminate “bad breath,” but, at the same time, they raise a significant risk of killing “good”, i.e. beneficial, oral bacteria that in turn, raises blood pressure. The rise, as much as 26 mm Hg, causes essential hypertension in healthy individuals.
If you need to close your browser to go brush your teeth or throw away all your bottles of store-bought mouthwash, it’s very understandable.
So you’d think that all the evidence would have the ADA running to warn all of us about mouthwash, right? Apparently, they require a lot more convincing. To this day they remain skeptical about it. But that’s not surprising given the fact that we put fluoride in our water supplies across the United States (countries worldwide do the fluoride-in-water-supply thing. It’s pretty unbelievable to tell you the truth, regardless of their basis for doing it.
This is a worldwide problem
The figure shared above states that 200 million Americans are using Listerine regularly. But it’s not just in America.
Western products and ways of eating have spread far past our American borders. Right now I am in Thailand. There’s a 711 on every street corner and sure enough, Listerine mini bottles are a buck (30 baht). And they even have featured sections near the register or at the end-of-isle shelf section sometimes. Listerine is just as popular here if not more just from the sheer number of people that live here.
When you destroy your oral microbiome, you destroy your health.
Mouthwash destroys your oral microbiome, so don’t use it.
Which Mouthwash Is The Best?
The one you make at home. Use natural, organic mouthwash. Flouride mouthwash or alcohol mouthwash bottles are the ones that wipe you out. Instead, do some oil pulling and swish some water and baking soda instead. The natural alternatives are so easy to do. It’s a no-brainer to make the switch.
Natural Mouthwash Alternatives
This may seem weird to you at first, but oil pulling is a fantastic way to keep your mouth healthy without sacrificing your oral microbiome. Oil pulling has been in practice for thousands of years as a way to maintain oral health in ancient Ayurvedic medicine. It’s nothing new. It makes y our teeth stronger, gums healthier, and prevents tooth decay. If you’re like me and get cavities like it’s 1999 (no idea what that means, but you catch my drift).. if you get cavities easily, you must start oil pulling.
DIY Mouthwash Method #1: Oil Pulling
Normally coconut oil is best to do it with, but the process itself doesn’t require coconut oil. You could do it with extra virgin olive oil too, but I would never do that. I drink the stuff after my salads are finished, but I couldn’t swish my mouth with EVOO. I suggest you try oil pulling with coconut oil.
Here’s a video clip of Dr. Axe explaining the benefits of oil pulling and showing how it is done:
This DIY natural mouthwash works. It kills only the bad bacteria in your mouth, not the good bugs.
How To Oil Pull For Oral Health
Here’s a quick list of oil pulling tips to help you start doing it the right way:
- Use a tablespoon of coconut oil
- If the oil is hardened, that’s fine, put it in your mouth and it’ll soften up right away
- Swish the oil in your mouth however you want, but make sure to get it everywhere.
- Don’t gargle.
- Swish the oil in your mouth through your teeth using your tongue
- Keep your jaw muscles relaxed, as you will feel them get tightened up (this goes away when you get used to it)
- Let your own saliva mix in with the oil as you swish (DO NOT SWALLOW IT)
- After 20 minutes, the oil will feel very used as you know how much bacteria is being pulled (once again, do not swallow)
- Spit it out in the trash or outside, not in your drain.
Put it this way, Listerine is like taking antibiotics when you only need a little rest and water to get better. You don’t use antibiotics unless it’s an emergency, and you shouldn’t use Listerine, ever.
Unless you’ve forgotten to brush your teeth, had fresh garlic for breakfast and are going to a job interview, you don’t need it. And you should stay away.
DIY Mouthwash Method #2: Baking Soda and Water
On top of oil pulling, another great tip is to use baking soda. Both Dr. Gundry’s email and Dr. Mercola’s article on this subject suggest rinsing your mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed in 6oz water. What this does is it alkalizes your mouth. When you alkalize your mouth, you help balance your mouth’s pH levels. This helps the good bacteria in your mouth thrive and the bad bacteria in your mouth die, which in turn makes YOU a healthier person.
How I use baking soda for my oral health:
In the past I’ve used baking soda on days I’ve run out of toothpaste. But now, I put it ON my natural toothpaste. And the difference is 100% noticeable. If you try it, you will notice the difference too. I guarantee it. Your teeth feel cleaner and your mouth feels healthier when you brush your teeth with your normal natural toothpaste, and a pinch of baking soda sprinkled on top. This is 1000x better than using nuclear bomb mouthwash.
I am sure there are dozens of other wonderful, healthy mouthwash alternatives out there. In the future when I get around to exploring more options (perfectly happy with oil pulling and a pinch of baking soda on toothpaste for now), I will have to update this post or create a couple organic mouthwash recipes under the wellness section of this site. I’d imagine a spearmint essential oil could be used to give it a nice minty flavor.
Which Mouthwash Is Best?
Anything natural should be just fine…
Here are a couple DIY mouthwash “recipes” I found online from other bloggers:
- Wellness Mama has a good organic mouthwash concoction.
- Biohack Humans has a proper natural mouthwash that looks interesting as well.
Since we’re on the topic of Nitric Oxide and ultimate health, here is an exercise developed by Dr. Zach Bush that can help you regenerate Nitric Oxide. It’s an exercise, not something revolving around your mouth, but it helps you generate more Nitric Oxide. It is called the Nitric Oxide Dump.
The Nitric Oxide Dump
Well, thank you for coming to the blog and reading this post! I hope you found this informative enough to give you an opinion on this whole debate. And now you know all about oil pulling as well.
Do you use a natural mouthwash alternative? I’d love to know. Please share below if you do!
1Kaumudi J.Joshipura., Over-the-counter mouthwash use and risk of pre-diabetes/diabetes. Nitric Oxide. Volume 71, 1 December 2017, Pages 14-20.
2Mercola, J. The Oral Microbiome: A Special Interview with Dr. Gerry Curatola. Nov. 2014.
3Id at 1
4Joanna Asadoorian. Et al. Cetylpyridinium Chloride Mouth rinse on Gingivitis and Plaque. Journal of Dental Hygiene, Vol. 82, No. 5, October 2008.
5Nik, Veldhoen. Et al. The bactericidal agent triclosan modulates thyroid hormone-associated gene expression and disrupts postembryonic anuran development. Aquatic Toxicology. Volume 80, Issue 3, 1 December 2006, Pages 217-227.
6Jessica V. Ribado, et al. Household triclosan and triclocarban exposure impacts the adult intestinal microbiome but not the infant intestinal microbiome. BioRxIV, April 11, 2017, doi:10.1101/126334.
13Women’s Health, This Everyday Hygeine Habit Could Up Your Risk of Diabetes by 50 Percent
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