Oil Pulling 101: What is it and why you should be doing it

Lets talk oil pulling! One of my favorite Ayurvedic practices.

Oil pulling is an ancient ayurvedic technique used to cure many ailments and to disinfect the mouth. It is between 3000-5000 years old. I have been oil pulling for about 6 years now and it has made a huge difference. In fact, the last time I went to my dentist he asked me what I was doing and told me not to tell anybody about it because it would put him out of business (can I get an amen!)

Like many Ayurvedic and Eastern philosophies and traditions, they have come to the west and been modified. This isn't always a bad things, but part of what makes these ancient techniques so effective is because they have been practiced for centuries in the same way. There is a science behind them that can't be argued with. 

I wanted to provide breakdown of exactly what oil pulling is, how to do it and the benefits. Like many eastern traditions that comes to the west, there seems to be a lot of incorrect information out there. People who have read about it once and decided they are going to change it (which is fine, but there is a lack of understanding on why it is done a certain way). 

What the heck is it?:

Oil pulling is the process of taking a tablespoon of oil in your mouth (traditionally un-toasted and unrefined sesame oil, but you can also use unrefined coconut oil) and swishing (or "pulling" the oil between your teeth) for 15 to 20 minutes (yes, you HAVE to do it for this long, I will explain in a bit). Spitting the oil out and then brushing your teeth. In Ayurveda (as well as most eastern philosophies) a lot of what is going on with our health reflects in our mouth and on our tongue. Good oral health=good overall health.

Things you need to know:

  • Needs to be done on an empty stomach (best done first thing in the morning before your brush your teeth)
  • DO NOT swallow the oil as once it is swished it is loaded with toxins from your body. 
  • Rinsing and brushing your teeth after pulling will help to remove any remnants
  • 20 minutes seems like a really long time, but I make it a part of my morning practice. When I wake up, its the first thing I do. I hop in the shower and get dressed all while pulling. By the time I'm dressed and start to do my face it is time to spit.
  • If your jaw is hurting while you are swishing, you are swishing too vigorously. You want it to be a gentle and slow swish.

Why 20 minutes?

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The technology behind oil pulling is that it mixes with the enzymes in your saliva to pull the toxins our of your blood. It takes the 20 minutes for this to happen. So if you only swish for 10 minutes you are probably getting the benefit of whiter teeth (which I understand, is one of the reasons people do it), but you are missing out on so many other amazing benefits!

What's the Point?

There are A LOT of health claims behind oil pulling. While I cannot attest to it "curing" anything, I can tell you what it has done for me. I originally began oil pulling because my teeth had become extremely and increasingly sensitive due to receding gums caused by grinding my teeth. It was to the point that I was using a prescription toothpaste (which was so gross and loaded with all sorts of chemicals that are not good for you). My teeth were so sensitive that it hurt when I smiled and cool breeze touched them. A friend of mine mentioned oil pulling so I went home and began my research. I started  every day for 20 minutes. I made it part of my morning sadhana (practice). Within 3 days, the sensitivity in my teeth had gone down significantly. I also started to notice my skin becoming clearer, some digestive issues being resolved and, overall, feeling more energized. An added bonus is that people were asking if I had my teeth professionally whitened! While I truly don't believe in a quick fix, I was seriously impressed with the outcome. While I no longer oil pull every day (usually 3-4 times a week), it is still a part of my regular routine and I am very grateful for it. Below is a list of benefits oil pulling claims:

  • Promotes oral hygene
  • Reduce Headaches
  • Increase Energy
  • Decrease teeth senstivity
  • Promotes Healthy Skin
  • Helps with digestive issues
  • Detoxes the body

Since I began oil pulling regularly, I have noticed some pretty amazing shifts in my body. Honestly, if the only thing it did was make my teeth sensitivity go away, I was sold. This is not to say that everybody will have the same experience. This was mine and I wanted to share it as it has been a really great tool for continuing to learn new things about my body. If you haven't tried it and are curious, check it out. You've got nothing to lose. If you have tried it and have a success story, please share. I believe in creating a community where we can share our successes and discuss our different opinions. Happy pulling!

Resources:

  • I like to use Napa Valley Organics Sesame Oil which is cheapest from Thrive Market
  • This is the website I have referred people to for years. Its a great resource for oil pulling- http://www.oilpulling.com/