Two years ago, a friend told me how swishing oil in his mouth on a daily basis softened the soles of his once-cracked feet. I was loaded with questions. It turns out that eliminating dry skin was one of many benefits of oil pulling.
What is oil pulling?
Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic oral healthcare practice that dates back thousands of years in India. The term “Ayurveda” was coined as a combination of the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge.) One of the oldest systems of medicine in the world, Ayurveda uses unique diets, medicinal herbs, yoga and other practices to sustain overall wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle. The key concepts of Ayurvedic medicine include universal interconnectedness, the body’s constitution and life forces.
The actual process of oil pulling includes swishing one tablespoon of cold-pressed oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for 15-20 minutes every day, before spitting it out in the toilet or trashcan. This practice prevents plaque buildup, restores receding gums, reduces gingivitis and detoxes the body as a whole.
How to oil pull
You can oil pull whenever you have an empty stomach, but I highly recommend oil pulling first thing in the morning before you drink water, brush or teeth or eat something. Your mouth has built up bacteria overnight, and your stomach has gone several hours without digesting any food. Start out with ten minutes, and when your jaw muscles have strengthened or you have more stamina, you can increase the time to fifteen or twenty minutes.
1. Take one tablespoon of cold-pressed coconut, sesame or sunflower oil. Cold-pressed oils are produced at temperatures lower than 120°F and retain their nutritional value.
2. Swish it around in your mouth, taking care not to swallow it. If your jaw gets tired, feel free to use your tongue occasionally. I recommend you go about your usual morning duties while you swish the oil to make the most of your precious morning hours and to pass time.
3. When you spit the oil out into the toilet or trashcan, the oil should be white and frothy as it is filled with toxins. Now, you can either gargle with mouthwash and/or brush your teeth. Don’t spit it out in the sink as the oil can harden and clog the pipes.
The science behind oil pulling
I am an advocate of holistic and eastern medicine, but I usually like to research any scientific or metaphysical evidence behind it for a few reasons. First of all, I am fascinated by the scientific or metaphysical aspects of healthcare. Second of all, I like to intertwine spirituality with science when I am presenting a case to others, especially to get them on board. Lastly, I experiment with my own body and if something works, I try to help others heal and feel more comfortable doing so with as much knowledge and expertise as possible.
There aren’t enough studies on the actual mechanisms of oil pulling; however, there have been some stabs to the science behind it all. Swishing oil activates the enzymes in your saliva which draw toxins out of the blood. The thickness of oil inhibits bacterial adhesion and plaque accumulation. The other possible mechanism might be the saponification of the oil, the process by which fat turns into soap as it mixes with an alkali.
My own experience
Our body is unbelievably and intricately connected in ways that we don’t even fathom. I have learned this experimenting with eastern practices such as acupressure, acupuncture, yoga, Korean herbal medicine and even spirituality.
Two years ago, I started oil pulling out of curiosity and because I always think there’s room for improvement in my health. These are some of the benefits I’ve seen that are directly correlated to oil pulling:
1. Whiter teeth (hellooooo coffee and tea drinkers)
2. Reduced/almost no seasonal allergies (I once had a scary anaphylactic episode and have tried antihistamines for allergies, but nothing worked till oil pulling)
3. Gum growth (I brush too hard and have noticed my gums growing back slowly)
4. No bad breath (hellooooo morning smooches)
5. Clearer sinuses and no headaches
I don’t oil pull on vacations, but only because I forget to pack oil with me. It’s become part of my morning ritual and doesn’t eat up any time. It’s an inexpensive and wonderful preventive healthcare measure. I still brush and floss my teeth and see oil pulling as another oral healthcare practice to keep my gums and teeth healthy and strong.
I started seeing benefits after about three weeks of oil pulling. If you have an acute or chronic illness, try it out! Of course, you should consult your general practitioner but if he/she doesn’t have a clue about eastern medicine, you may not get much feedback. I have treated most of my health problems on my own and have become confident enough to rely on myself rather than seeking a doctor who will most likely prescribe a pill to me. Of course, some illnesses require pharmaceuticals, but if you’re feeling bold, try oil pulling to see if it improves your condition whether it’s asthma, intestinal issues, bleeding gums or something else! Also, if you just want to improve your overall health, try it out!