The Benefits of Oil Pulling, and a "How to" Guide
By Sarah Elizabeth John
In January of this year I viewed a TED Talk detailing the concept of the 30 Day Challenge. As it happens, 30 days is just about the right amount of time to add a positive habit (or subtract a bad habit) to your life. Not being one for new year resolutions I decided that this would be a fun and interesting way to qualify some goals and mark 2013. And honestly, I may have started my "30 Day Challenge Challenge" with the idea that the journey would provide nothing more than good story telling material, but as it turns out, it has become so much more.
So for the last ten months I have trialed all sorts of weird and wonderful activities, some forging a permanent place within my life, and others (such as the 30 days of cold showers - said to improve immunity, circulation, alertness and mood... more about that another time), well not so much ;) It is this month's Oil Pulling adventure however, that I would like to share with you today.
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil Pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic method for detox and rejuvenation that traces its roots to the oil gargling method practiced in ancient medicine. First introduced to the modern world by Dr F. Karach, MD in 1992, Dr Karach MD claimed that this technique could cure a variety of illnesses ranging from heart and neurological disease, to digestive ailments and hormonal disorders. Dr Karach MD himself attests oil pulling to have cured him of arthritis so painful at times he was bed ridden, and all within three days!
How Oil Pulling Works
Simply, "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” – Bruce Fife, naturopathic physician and author of Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing.
"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".
The Benefits of Oil Pulling
For such a simple and affordable practice, regular oil pullers have reported any or all of the following benefits:
- Improved oral health (brighter and whiter teeth, healthier gums, prevents bad breath)
- Increased energy
- A clearer mind
- Decreased headaches
- Clearer sinuses
- Alleviated allergies
- Improved sleep
- Clearer skin
- Improved PMS symptoms
- Regulated menstrual cycles
- Improved lymphatic system
Oil Pulling: A "How To" Guide
First, put 1-2 teaspoons of oil into your mouth.
Traditionally oil pullers used virgin sesame oil (I did try this first time round but found it just a little bit yuck! Or perhaps I am just being a little precious? ;) ) So, sunflower oil and coconut oil are also recommended. I like coconut oil for the flavour and additional antibacterial, enzymatic and anti-inflammatory qualities. It is very important to select a high quality, unrefined and cold pressed oil for this technique. You may like to warm the oil prior to use, my jar of coconut oil is always solid on chilly Melbourne mornings.
Swish the oil in your mouth for 20 minutes.
This will allow the oil to break through the plaque and start absorbing oral bacteria. First the oil will turn into a thin, white liquid. Then the oil will become thicker and more opaque as it continues to mix with saliva and absorb toxins. You might find it difficult to swish for the full 20 minutes at first, I certainly did! Just try for as long as you can, gradually building to 20 minutes over time.
Spit out the oil.
After 20 minutes (or so) have passed, you are ready to spit the oil out. Please do not swallow the oil - you will be ingesting all those nasty toxins you have worked so hard to remove! I recommend spitting into a paper towel and then discarding, the thick nature of the oil may well clog your sink pipes.
Thoroughly rinse your mouth.
After spitting the oil out, rinse your mouth with sea salt water or apple cider vinegar to make sure all the oil is removed from in between teeth and gums.
Finally, brush your teeth.
This last step will kill any remaining bacteria and ensure your mouth and teeth are squeaky clean. Please note that oil pulling is not a substitute for your morning brush.
Oil Pulling: Some Tips & Tricks
Oil pulling is best completed first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. And for optimal results consider including it as part of your regular daily routine. At first I found it difficult to fit oil pulling into my morning (it's difficult to eat your breaky with a mouthful of oil!) so then I had the savvy idea of adding it to my shower, means no mess if I dribble! Plus don't get me started on the other applications of a jar of coconut oil in the shower!
After just one month I can see that my mouth is healthier, my teeth are shinier and whiter and my gums are a pretty pink. Additionally, I have seen improvements in the clarity of my skin. I would certainly recommend this practice as an addition to healthy diet for detox and cleanse. Definitely a practice that will continue long after the 30 days are up!
Happy pulling! ~ Sarah x