Oil pulling in an ancient Ayurvedic ritual that serves to help detoxify the teeth and gums, leading to improvements in overall health. There is quite a close relationship between one’s oral health and one’s overall health, so detoxifying the mouth can make a real positive impact on wellbeing. In other words, the benefits of oil pulling are not limited to the mouth!
Oil pulling involves swishing oil around the mouth, and between the teeth, finally spitting out the oil (never swallowing it). Safflower and sunflower oils have been used in the past; nowadays olive oil and coconut oil seem to be more popular. I suggest using coconut oil as it has medium chain triglycerides which can inhibit Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria that causes cavities. It can also help prevent thrush, which is an overgrowth of Candida albicans in the mouth. You would want to choose an organic, unrefined coconut oil such as Spectrum brand.
Oil pulling can assist in the breakdown of bacteria in the mouth, which can cause bad breath, gum disease and cavities. Swishing it around the mouth forces it into little crevices that may be missed during regular oral care such tooth brushing.
Ultimately, you want to spit the oil out because by the time you are finished it can have bacteria and other undesirables in it. The average time to oil pull is 20 minutes, but if you feel you have to spit the oil out earlier, then just do so and start over again. About 1 tablespoon of oil is a good amount.
So here’s the drill:
1. Do oil pulling first thing in the morning before you eat or drink anything. Some people do it last thing at night before bed but first thing in the morning really is best.
2. Swish 1 tablespoon of oil for 10-20 minutes (20 preferred).
3. Spit the oil out into the bin or outside – it can clog the plumbing so it’s not recommended to spit it into the sink.
4. Rinse your mouth with warm water; bonus points for warm salty water (added antimicrobial benefits).
5. Brush your teeth as normal.
Benefits to oral hygiene are clear – fresher breath, fewer cavities, healthier gums; but many report profound benefits that go beyond that such as a stronger immune system and more energy. I certainly believe that there is can be a link between oral bacteria and heart disease, so perhaps oil pulling has a place in heart health too.
I like to add a drop of essential oil to my oil when pulling. Clove is a favorite as it has cleansing and detoxifying properties, and is very high in antioxidants. It does make your mouth a little numb though but my teeth have never felt cleaner after! Peppermint is another favorite. Lemon is a good cleansing choice, and the oil does not have the same acidity as lemon juice.
If you haven’t tried it but are looking for ways to help strengthen your body and detoxify, give it a go! It takes some getting used to though. My tips are, start with just a few minutes and work up to 20 minutes as you get used to it; don’t be too aggressive with your swishing as your jaw muscles will get tired; and remember, if you get to the ‘enough’ point, spit the oil out and resume again. You’ll get more used to it over time.
If you want to read more here are a couple of good books on Oil Pulling –
Oil Pulling Therapy by Bruce Fife.
Oil Pulling For Beginners by Ashley Stone.
If you do start oil pulling and fall in love with it as many do, please do let me know your experience. I always love to hear good health stories.