As you know, this week The Holistic Ingredient herself has surrendered to the bliss that is the Gwinganna Health Retreat, a very well deserved break I need not add. So in Amy’s absence I would love to share with you a little about my own holistic health journey thus far. Thank you for welcoming me into your inbox. ~Sarah x
In January of this year I viewed a TED Talk detailing the concept of the 30 Day Challenge. As it happens, 30 days is just about the right amount of time to add a positive habit (or subtract a bad habit) to your life. Not being one for new year resolutions I decided that this would be a fun and interesting way to qualify some goals and mark 2013. And honestly, I may have started my “30 Day Challenge Challenge” with the idea that the journey would provide nothing more than good story telling material, but as it turns out, it has become so much more.
So for the last ten months I have trialed all sorts of weird and wonderful activities, some forging a permanent place within my life, and others (such as the 30 days of cold showers – said to improve immunity, circulation, alertness and mood… more about that another time), well not so much 😉 It is this month’s Oil Pulling adventure however, that I would like to share with you today.
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil Pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic method for detox and rejuvenation that traces its roots to the oil gargling method practiced in ancient medicine. First introduced to the modern world by Dr F. Karach, MD in 1992, Dr Karach MD claimed that this technique could cure a variety of illnesses ranging from heart and neurological disease, to digestive ailments and hormonal disorders. Dr Karach MD himself attests oil pulling to have cured him of arthritis so painful at times he was bed ridden, and all within three days!
How Oil Pulling Works
Simply, “The oil acts like a cleanser. When you put it in your mouth and work it around your teeth and gums it ‘pulls’ out bacteria and other debris” – Bruce Fife, naturopathic physician and author of Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing.
“As simple as it is, oil pulling has a very powerful detoxifying effect. Our mouths are the home to billions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites and their toxins. Candida and Streptococcus are common residents in our mouths. It is these types of germs and their toxic waste products that cause gum disease and tooth decay and contribute to many other health problems including arthritis and heart disease”.
The Benefits of Oil Pulling
For such a simple and affordable practice, regular oil pullers have reported any or all of the following benefits:
When swished around the mouth and in between the teeth, the antibacterial properties of the oils absorb toxins from the saliva, reduce the number of germs in the mouth, and help prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the oral cavity.
Benefits of oil pulling for oral health
Studies show that this simple cleansing process can whiten teeth, strengthen gums, and help heal and prevent oral health issues such as:
- Cavities and gingivitis
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Dryness of lips, mouth, and throat
Other benefits of oil pulling
Oil pulling is also used to treat and prevent health conditions beyond the mouth. Some of the benefits may include:
- Reducing inflammation
- Seasonal allergies relief
- Headache relief
- Reducing chest congestion
- Detoxifying the body of harmful metals
- Certain skin conditions like eczema
- Supports healthy kidney function
- May relieve ulcers and diseases of the stomach
How to do oil pulling:
- Put 1-2 teaspoons oil into your mouth. The recommended oils for this practice are sesame oil, organic coconut oil, or sunflower oil.
- Swish the oil for 20 minutes. This will allow the oil to break through the plaque and start reabsorbing the bacteria. First the oil will turn into a thin, white liquid. Then the oil will get thicker and more opaque as it continues to mix with saliva and absorb the toxins. If you find it difficult to swish for 20 minutes at first, that’s ok! Try for 10-15 minutes and then eventually build up to 20 minutes.
- Spit out oil. After 20 minutes have passed, you’re ready to spit the oil out. It’s very important that you do not swallow the oil—it’s full of toxins! It’s best to spit oil out in a plastic bag or paper towel. Spitting the oil in your sink can clog your pipes.
- Thoroughly rinse your mouth. After spitting the oil out, rinse your mouth out with salt water or apple cider vinegar to make sure all of oil is removed.
- Brush well. This last step will kill any remaining bacteria and ensure your mouth and teeth are clean.
It’s recommended to make oil pulling part of your daily routine for optimal results. Although any time of day will suffice, experts agree that it is best done in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
- Improved oral health (brighter and whiter teeth, healthier gums, prevents bad breath)
- Increased energy
- A clearer mind
- Decreased headaches
- Clearer sinuses
- Alleviated allergies
- Improved sleep
- Clearer skin
- Improved PMS symptoms
- Regulated menstrual cycles
- Improved lymphatic system
Oil Pulling: A “How To” Guide
First, put 1-2 teaspoons of oil into your mouth. Traditionally oil pullers used virgin sesame oil (I did try this first time round but found it just a little bit yuck! Or perhaps I am just being a little precious? 😉 ) So, sunflower oil and coconut oil are also recommended. I like coconut oil for the flavour and additional antibacterial, enzymatic and anti-inflammatory qualities. It is very important to select a high quality, unrefined and cold pressed oil for this technique. You may like to warm the oil prior to use, my jar of coconut oil is always solid on chilly Melbourne mornings.
Swish the oil in your mouth for 20 minutes. This will allow the oil to break through the plaque and start absorbing oral bacteria. First the oil will turn into a thin, white liquid. Then the oil will become thicker and more opaque as it continues to mix with saliva and absorb toxins. You might find it difficult to swish for the full 20 minutes at first, I certainly did! Just try for as long as you can, gradually building to 20 minutes over time.
Spit out the oil. After 20 minutes (or so) have passed, you are ready to spit the oil out. Please do not swallow the oil – you will be ingesting all those nasty toxins you have worked so hard to remove! I recommend spitting into a paper towel and then discarding, the thick nature of the oil may well clog your sink pipes.
Thoroughly rinse your mouth. After spitting the oil out, rinse your mouth with sea salt water or apple cider vinegar to make sure all the oil is removed from in between teeth and gums.
Finally, brush your teeth. This last step will kill any remaining bacteria and ensure your mouth and teeth are squeaky clean. Please note that oil pulling is not a substitute for your morning brush.
Oil Pulling: Some Tips & Tricks
Oil pulling is best completed first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. And for optimal results consider including it as part of your regular daily routine. At first I found it difficult to fit oil pulling into my morning (it’s difficult to eat your breaky with a mouthful of oil!) so then I had the savvy idea of adding it to my shower, means no mess if I dribble! Plus don’t get me started on the other applications of a jar of coconut oil in the shower!
After just one month I can see that my mouth is healthier, my teeth are shinier and whiter and my gums are a pretty pink. Additionally, I have seen improvements in the clarity of my skin. I would certainly recommend this practice as an addition to healthy diet for detox and cleanse. Definitely a practice that will continue long after the 30 days are up!
Happy pulling! ~ Sarah x