Oil pulling is all the rage… Fashionistas and health bloggers are raving about its health benefits. What is it all about?
It’s actually an ancient Ayurvedic technique (also known as “Gundusha” or “Kavala”) used to clean teeth and to improve oral health. The technique involves swishing oil in the mouth for up to 20 minutes on a regular basis (even daily). The idea is oil will dissolve impurities in the mouth and “pull toxins out” from in-between the teeth. It’s a little like oil-based skin cleansers that are also very popular at the moment; the idea is “like dissolves like”. The added benefit of oil is that it’s gentle and healing to gums and teeth. However, I wouldn’t recommend replacing tooth brushing and mouth rinsing… add oil pulling to your usual routine.
Many people find the idea of swishing oil in their mouth rather repulsive… But don’t knock it. I gave this technique a go and I got used to the sensation pretty quickly. Furthermore, I started feeling the difference within days: my mouth never felt so squeaky clean, and my breath is definitely fresher. Empirical evidence and some research studies all suggest oil pulling works to clean the mouth and reduce harmful bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans (responsible for tooth decay). Ayurveda and fans of oil pulling suggest it can improve overall health and cure a myriad of ailments… It’s not so far-fetched. Oral health and gum disease have been strongly linked with health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
So which oil to use? Traditional cultures use sesame or sunflower oil… but that was probably what was readily available then. Coconut oil is an ideal choice now. It is rich in lauric acid which possesses natural anti-bacterial properties (and I think it’s particularly yummy). Is there anything coconut oil can’t do?!
How to do it:
* Put 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil into the mouth.
* My Naturopath friend recommended I add 2 drops of pure Oregano Oil (for its antibacterial properties) – optional.
* Swish for 20 minutes. From my research on the topic, it seems this is the ideal length of time. According to Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Oil Pulling Therapy, 20 min is long enough to break through plaque and bacteria but not long enough for the body to reabsorb toxins and bacteria.
* The oil gets thicker and milky as it mixes with Saliva. It will look creamy white when you spit out.
* Always spit it out (remember that you’ve been dislodging plaque and bacteria). And remember to spit it into a rubbish can (coconut oil solidifies when cold!)
* Afterwards rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water.
* Brush your teeth, floss and gargle.