Have you heard the expression, “throwing the baby out with the bath water”?
It means getting rid of what’s good, along with what’s bad.
This happens a lot when it comes to things we do and use that are supposed to make us healthier.
For example, chemotherapy treatments for cancer not only kill cancer cells, they kill all kinds of other healthy, vital cells as well.
Another ironic example: Many antibiotics prescribed to kill bacteria also kill the natural probiotics that support your immune system.
Recent research has uncovered yet another health practice that can actually end up being harmful. This one is tricky, though, because it flies in the face of other research that says it’s good for us.
Gum disease can kill you…
I’ve written before in detail about the ways in which gum disease is, unexpectedly, behind all sorts of major health issues.
The bleeding and inflammation of gum disease can lead to cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and even arthritis.
And, earlier this month, I talked about research linking periodontal disease to lung cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
What’s the connection?
The common factor seems to be inflammation that results from the bacteria causing gingivitis.
But a study presented just this month suggests that one common way of dealing with oral bacteria may be doing us more harm than good…
… but so can mouthwash?
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas have made an interesting and important connection between using mouthwash and high blood pressure.
The connection centers on the importance of a compound known as nitric oxide, or NO.
It seems that our body cannot function well, if at all, without a constantly circulating supply of nitric oxide. It plays several important roles in maintaining our health.
Nitric oxide keeps your mitochondria running. Your cells’ mitochondria are the “powerhouse” of the body. It’s here that many major energy-producing functions take place.
Another major job of NO is to keep blood vessels relaxed and pliable, as well as to control blood flow and the supply of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in your blood.
Two years ago, my colleague, Virginia Tims-Lawson, wrote about how mouthwash causes high blood pressure by killing bacteria that help produce nitric oxide, at the same time they’re killing the bacteria that make your breath bad.
Now, the Texas researchers have zeroed in on the chemical that’s doing that.
It’s called chlorhexidine. If you read the label on any bottle of antiseptic mouthwash, you’ll see it there.
The researchers had 26 healthy people use a mouthwash with chlorhexidine for one week and saw a significant increase in systolic blood pressure. After three days without using mouthwash, they saw subjects’ blood pressure drop.
Another way to keep your mouth healthy
Naturally, with all the evidence for a healthy mouth equaling better all-around health, it’s important to prevent gum disease, but without causing more harm than good.
One thing you can try comes from the centuries-old Ayurvedic healing tradition.
It’s called oil pulling.
To practice oil pulling, put about two tablespoons of coconut oil in your mouth and swish for at least ten minutes.
Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of this practice in killing streptococcal bacteria.
Give it a try. Not only will you be avoiding the hazards of using mouthwash, you’ll be opening yourself to the many health benefits of coconut oil.
Editor’s note: Everything we know about lowering high blood pressure isn’t found in a pill bottle. But even though there are natural ways to help lower it, it’s advice you want from an expert. That’s why Natural Ways to Reverse and Prevent Hypertension, written by Dr. Mark Wiley, is the perfect way to get started. Click here to get it for just $9.95
- Can mouthwash raise your blood pressure? — Medical News Today
- Effects of antiseptic mouthwash on resting metabolic rate: A randomized, double-blind, crossover study — Nitric Oxide
- Oral microbiomes: more and more importance in oral cavity and whole body — Protein & Cell
- Frequency of Tongue Cleaning Impacts the Human Tongue Microbiome Composition and Enterosalivary Circulation of Nitrate — Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology