It has become apparent to my friends and family that I love oil. Well, certain kinds of oil anyway like coconut, avocado and olive. These healthy oils have a long history of medicinal use in most countries but not so much here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. I am always finding new uses for these oils and one of the stranger ones is oil pulling. What is oil pulling, you ask? Well stick around for a minute, my friend, and I will not only tell you what it is, I’ll tell you why you should be doing it.
Simply put, oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes then spitting it out. Have I lost you yet? No? Awesome, you’re a brave soul! Not everyone loves the idea of having straight oil in their mouth for that long, especially if they have a strong gag-reflex like I do. But there are good reasons to start this practice and there is growing evidence that the benefits are really worth it. Let me answer some of your questions…
Why Should I Do Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling removes the toxins, bacteria and tiny micro-organisms that hide in your mouth, especially between teeth and under gums. These micro-organisms are single-celled and have an outside fatty membrane. The idea is that fat attracts fat, so swishing the oil around in your mouth attracts the fat-covered nasties to the oil, which holds them until you spit it out in the trash. Whatever you do, don’t swallow it and don’t spit it down the sink as it could solidify and clog your pipes.
What Are The Benefits of Oil Pulling?
Benefits reported include reducing harmful bacteria in your mouth, reducing bad breath, whitening teeth, reducing plaque and gingivitis, and lessening tooth sensitivity. Some people even claim that it has helped improve skin conditions, support healthy joints, support respiratory function, improve hormone balance, and more. Research has shown a strong link between oral health and overall health and particularly cardiovascular health but it is not conclusive. Click HERE to read more. I haven’t experienced any of those benefits myself but since germs and bacteria often enter our bodies through our mouths, it seems reasonable that there could be a correlation.
Personally, they had me at whiter teeth!
What Type Of Oil Should I Use?
Technically you can use any vegetable oil for oil pulling but experts (click HERE) have found that higher quality oils are more effective. That is certainly in line with my philosophy when it comes to my body–only give it the very best. I recommend organic extra-virgin coconut oil because of its antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. It has a very mild taste of coconut, so if you don’t like that taste you can use extra-virgin olive oil instead.
Should I Add Essential Oils?
You certainly don’t have to, and the original practice doesn’t include them, but I love the benefits of EOs so I always add them to my oil pulling regiment. You only need a couple of drops and there are lots of different EOs to choose from. Here are my favorite EOs for oil-pulling and how they may benefit you:
Melaleuca–promotes healthy immune function, soothes minor skin irritations, has a cleansing and rejuvenating effect on the skin, protects against environmental and seasonal threats.
Frankincense–helps build and maintain a healthy immune system, promotes cellular health, promotes feelings of peace and relaxation.
Lemon–cleanses and purifies surfaces, naturally cleanses the body, soothes an irritated throat, helps ward off free radicals with it’s antioxidant benefits.
Clove–powerful antioxidant properties, helps soothe teeth and gums, promotes oral health, supports a healthy immune system.
How Long Does Oil Pulling Take?
The goal is to oil pull for 20 minutes and it’s best to do it first thing in the morning before you eat or drink anything. It will seem like a long time so you really want to keep yourself busy. I like to do it in the shower but have occasionally done it in front of the computer when I check my email. If you can’t do 20 minutes at first, don’t sweat it. Just start with 10 or even 5 minutes and work your way up. Remember that 20 minutes is the goal since that is enough time to pull the germs and bacteria out of their hiding placing but any longer and your body will start reabsorbing them.
Okay, I’m Ready To Try It!
Great! It’s really not hard.
–This procedure is best done first thing in the morning before you eat. I like to do it in the shower.
–Measure out 1 tbsp. of coconut oil (or 2 tsp. if that’s too much for you). Add 2 drops of the essential oil of your choice (optional) and stir with a toothpick. Place in your mouth and allow to melt. Don’t worry, it melts in just a few seconds.
–Swish oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes being sure to pull and push it through your teeth and under your tongue. If you can’t do 20 minutes at first, that’s okay. Start with a lower time, even 5 minutes, and work your way up.
–Oil will expand, get foamy and change to a whitish color. Keep going and just try to distract yourself by staying busy (that’s why I do it in the shower).
–After 20 minutes, spit oil into trash can. Do not spit into sink as oil could solidify and clog pipes.
–Rinse out mouth and brush teeth if desired.
–Repeat up to 3-5 times per week.
Note: Some people have noticed a cleansing reaction the first few times they try oil pulling. This could include headache, mucous drainage, congestion or possibly other effects. It has never happened to me but did happen to a friend. It was mild and lasted several days but then cleared up. She still practices oil pulling regularly.
While it does take some getting used to, I have actually come to enjoy the practice of oil-pulling. I love knowing that it’s one more way I can help my body eliminate harmful toxins and bacteria from my mouth. I have noticed that my teeth seem cleaner and brighter, and that’s enough of a reason for me to keep doing it.
Have you ever tried oil-pulling? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.