"Oil Pulling" Is an All-Natural Way to Keep Your Gums Healthy

Fresh melted coconut oil in half of nut on table

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Did you stock up on trendy coconut oil, only to find out that it isn't so healthy to eat? Don't waste it! The high saturated fat content makes it a great moisturizer—plus, it's antimicrobial and antifungal. Try these remedies from Elizabeth Taddiken, N.D., a naturopathic physician at the Rockwood Natural Medicine Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. And for even more uses for coconut oil, go here.

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1 Coconut oil can make your hair smooth

Soften locks with a spa-worthy hair mask. Mix 3 to 5 Tbsp organic refined coconut oil (in its liquid state) with 20 drops rosemary essential oil. Massage into hair and cover with a shower cap. Let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes, then shampoo out.

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2 And soften your lips

Make your own coconut lip balm: Add 2 Tbsp organic refined coconut oil, 2 Tbsp cocoa butter, and 2 Tbsp grated beeswax or beeswax pellets (find these online or at craft stores) to a heat-resistant measuring cup. Pour 2 inches of water into a small pot, then add the measuring cup so only the bottom is submerged. Heat water on low to medium heat until ingredients melt, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and carefully pour mixture into lip balm containers (fills 12 to 15 0.25-oz containers). Add 2 drops cinnamon essential oil per container and stir; cover immediately. Refrigerate to cool, then share with your friends!

RELATED: How to Choose the Best Coconut Oil for Your Hair, Skin, and Nails

3 Coconut oil can help soothe a fungal infection

Summer's heat can up your chances of getting athlete's foot, a fungal infection often triggered by sweaty feet. Coconut oil may help soothe the infection and flaking skin. After you apply athlete's foot treatment, top it with a layer of organic refined coconut oil and cover with cotton socks.

4 And soothe a nasty sunburn

You missed a couple of spots when you were slathering on the sunblock? Ouch! Wait until the initial pain and burning have died down, then smooth the dryness and itching by dabbing on cold-pressed organic coconut oil, mixed with a few drops of organic lavender essential oil. The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of the oil may even help the damaged skin heal.

RELATED: The Best Way to Use Coconut Oil for Sunburn Relief

5 It can improve your oral hygiene

Even if you don't want to eat the coconut oil, you can do a lot of good for your teeth and gums just by swishing it around in your mouth and then spitting it out (spit into the garbage so you don't clog your pipes). Studies have shown that in this traditional Ayurveda regimen, called "oil pulling," the lauric acid from the oil can help reduce plaque and lower risk of gingivitis. To do (of course, this is in addition to your regular brushing and flossing routine): Gently swish 1 tablespoon of organic coconut oil around your mouth for as long as you can (ideally at least 5 minutes, but the longer the better), then spit. And smile.

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6 And alleviate eczema

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