What is Oil Pulling and Why Should You Do It?

Just when you thought I couldn't find another healthy use for oil. First there was the Oil Cleansing Method, then there was Oiling Your Hair, and the Abhyanga, now there is "oil pulling" an Ayurvedic detoxification and rejuvenation "treatment" used for centuries. Ancient Ayurvedic wisdom teaches links meridian points (energy points) of the mouth directly to the stomach.  Their philosophy is that when oil (Ayurvedic practitioners recommend sesame though I recommend alternating coconut oil with sesame) is swished around the mouth, teeth and tongue, that oil mixed with saliva enable the lymphatic system to flush toxins out of your body through the teeth, tongue and gums.

Before you think this is a bunch of hog mouth wash, think about this.  Gum disease is directly related to heart disease!

So why in the world would you want to put a spoon full of oil in your mouth anyway?  And what would it really do?  

The mouth is home to billions of viruses, bacteria (Streptococcus and Candida being two of the nastier ones) fungi, parasites and many other toxins.  These "beasties" and their toxic waste products are the major contributors to tooth decay and gum disease but are also contributors to inflammatory and immune disorders such as arthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc..  The immune system is constantly trying to fight off these offenders however, due to the strain on our immune system due to stress, a poor diet, environmental toxins, or an already preexisting medical condition, these unwelcome organisms can spread throughout our entire body and tax an already overburdened lymphatic and endocrine system; indeed, the entire body putting the body into a constant state of chronic inflammation.

When oil is introduced into the mouth it emulsifies saliva and turns it into a thinner liquid which is where the oil starts to pull the toxins out of the saliva.  As it swishes around the teeth, gums, tongue and oral cavity it pulls out even more toxins until it generally gets thicker and more viscous.  At this point, it is time to spit so as to prevent the toxins from being reabsorbed.  (NEVER EVER SWALLOW IT AS IT IS TOXIC!!) Usually this happens around the 20 minute mark though I recommend if you are new to oil pulling you start with 5 minutes and work your way up as it can be a little overwhelming (and a tiny bit nauseating) at first.

The best oils to use in oil pulling, in my opinion, are cold pressed sesame oil and extra virgin coconut oil.  Sesame oil, used for centuries, has a warming and lubricating effect on the body and is antibacteria.  It is also high in antioxidants and Vitamin E which help stop the absorption of negative forms of cholesterol in the liver,  whereas coconut oil is antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and enzymatic properties.  I recommend alternating the two every few days.  Cold pressed sesame oil should not have an overpowering "ick" factor. If it does, it is probably rancid.  I don't recommend toasted sesame oil.

You will notice that this frees up any congestion in your throat and sinuses pretty quickly.  If you are a person with sinus problems oil pulling is an absolute must!  It also has the added benefit of whitening the teeth and naturally freshening breath.

The benefits for oral health are numerous.  Some include::

*Overall strengthening of the teeth and gums and jaws. *Prevention of diseases of the gums and mouth, such as cavities and gingivitis. *Fights chronic halitosis (bad breath) *Holistic remedy for bleeding gums *Lubricates oral cavity and provides relief from dryness of the lips, mouth and throat. *Potential holistic treatment for TMJ and general soreness in the jaw area.

What is even more extraordinary is it has the ability to affect the entire body positively.

Some potential issues oil pulling has been known to benefit are::

*Relief from Migraine Headaches *Clearer Skin *Can help correct hormone imbalances *Regulated menstrual cycles *Helps reduce inflammation of arthritis *May help with gastroenteritis and help heal GI tract *Strengthens lymphatic system aiding in detox *Aids in the reduction of eczema *Helps reduce symptoms of bronchitis *Helps support normal kidney function *Can reduce chronic sinus congestion *May help improve vision *Reduces insomnia and improves overall sleep patterns *Helps reduce pain (great for fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers) *Reduces the symptoms of allergies *Helps detoxify the body of harmful metals and organisms

How do I practice oil pulling?

I recommend doing this first thing in the morning (though you can do it any time during the day) by placing about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth.  If you are using coconut oil and it is solidified, do melt it in warm water before putting it in your mouth if you don't want to gag!  Start swishing it all around your mouth, like you are using mouthwash.  I recommend doing this in the shower so you aren't focusing on the actual time.  In the beginning, often that first five minutes is excruciatingly slow.  If you do it as a course of getting ready for the day and then spit and rinse you will find you do it for longer.

Rinse your mouth a few times.  In the beginning brushing your teeth afterward may help the residual taste but as you get used to it, you might even find that you don't use your toothbrush as much.  I have noticed my teeth much brighter and my mouth just feels cleaner overall.  I have added it as a permanent part of my slow beauty routine.  Not only do my teeth and gums thank me but I notice I am less "puffy" and bloated during pregnancy as a result!