This is a practice that I came across about 8 years ago now, and while it sounded rather strange, I decided that it was worth a try, since the worst that could happen was nothing at all! Oil pulling is a traditional Ayurvedic technique used to help with oral hygiene and detoxification. Like so many of these great little health tips and tricks, I stick at it dutifully until one day it gets absent-mindedly shelved…fortunately these gems always pop back into my life at the right moment!
Oil pulling should be done first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach – even before you have had as much as a glass of water or any other beverage. Use a tablespoon of oil, I prefer using virgin unrefined, unbleached, organic coconut oil, but cold-pressed olive oil works equally well. Take the oil into your mouth and swish it gently around your entire mouth, taking care not to swish too vigorously or swallow any of the oil. Ensure that the oil is pulled between your teeth, under your tongue, and inside your cheeks, swishing for 10-15 minutes before spitting it out. The oil becomes thin and foamy as it is combined with your saliva, and takes on a whitish colour.
It is best to spit the oil somewhere outdoors (on the lawn or in some weed-filled and neglected area of your garden!), since repeated oil being washed down the kitchen or bathroom sink can clog the pipes.
Follow your oil pulling with gentle brushing, using a natural toothpaste. While it may seem strange, many people have reported numerous benefits from following this daily practice. I certainly noticed a marked improvement in my gum health, and my hair and skin appeared to take on more of a ‘glow’. It is quite a simple technique, especially when compared with some of the more daunting traditional Ayurvedic practices for cleansing and detoxification, and it takes on a meditative quality when you practice it daily. Not to mention the fact that you (almost always) get a guaranteed 15 minutes of silence from the demands of your family members every morning…worth its weight in gold!
Some of the benefits people are reporting include weight loss, whiter teeth, migraine prevention, healthy gums, reduced asthma attacks and other allergic responses, clearer skin, hormonal regulation, clear sinuses, improved energy, and better sleep. Of course, these reports are purely anecdotal – so it is worth making your own mind up as to whether or not it is a worthwhile method of detoxification and healing for the body!