Have you heard of oil pulling? It’s an ancient practice found in Ayurvedic medicine that flushes out toxins from the body by cleaning out bacteria found in the mouth. The philosophy behind it is that all disease starts in the mouth. You swish a spoonful of oil in your mouth for fifteen to twenty minutes once a day, in the morning, then spit it out. You don’t eat it or swallow it.
I first heard of oil pulling in an email that was sent to me by my Mum, but it wasn’t until some time went by that I actually decided to give it a try in mid-December last year after I did some further online research. I’ve been oil pulling now for a little over two months and I’m happy to report I’ve had positive results from doing it. The first noticeable thing was that my teeth became whiter (this is one of the first signs that many people experience during the initial stages of oil pulling). I continued to experience improvements, including clearer skin.
If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find all kinds of success stories and testimonials from people who have done oil pulling and their various (sometimes multiple) ailments vanishing that they’d had for years – asthma, diabetes, chronic congestion, sinus problems, arthritis, rheumatism, skin conditions, etc. – some since childhood. (For women in particular, PMS symptoms including cramps and skin breakouts have gone away or have drastically been reduced with oil pulling. Myself, I have had improvement in this area also.) If you’re looking for an informative resource about oil pulling, instead of doing online research or in addition to, look no further than Oil Pulling Therapy by Bruce Fife.
Bruce Fife’s book came to my attention when I was beginning to find out more about oil pulling, as I was curious to try, and read an article by him about the benefits of oil pulling with coconut oil (at the bottom are links for a four-part video interview). Pure sesame oil (not toasted) is traditionally used, but he recommended coconut oil for its many health benefits. I found his book at my library and immediately put it on hold so that I could borrow it. It’s a slim volume, explaining the history behind oil pulling and its place in Ayurvedic medicine. It includes success stories, as well as his own personal experience with oil pulling.
The thing that generally puts people off oil pulling is that it’s…oil. And the fact that you’re keeping it in your mouth for up to twenty minutes. Some people think that that’s too long. It can seem that way when you start, although if you keep yourself preoccupied with something else like reading a book or making breakfast. Some people even oil pull while they have their shower. For me, when I was starting to oil pull and getting the hang of it, I would put a timer on and play a fast-paced game like Diner Dash on my iPod touch or I’d check email and read articles on Flipboard (my equivalent of reading a newspaper), or read a book I’d borrowed from the library; I wouldn’t even notice the time go by. I built myself up to doing twenty minutes; I started doing fifteen minutes once a day, in the morning.
Despite the fact you’re swishing oil in your mouth, it doesn’t feel oily. As you swish it in your mouth, the oil is mixed with the saliva, and when you spit it out it’s appearance is milky and opaque. Online, a tablespoon of oil is recommended – across the board – but in his book, Oil Pulling Therapy, Bruce Fife recommends starting with an amount you’re comfortable with. Most people can’t handle a full tablespoon at once and there also has to be room for the accumulation of saliva. He even has recommendations for young children, as young as five, doing oil pulling (half a teaspoon and for only five minutes, due to their shorter attention spans).
When I started oil pulling, I kept a journal to record improvements that I noticed and also recorded when I started. Whiter teeth, pinker gums, and clearer skin were some of the first signs. By the end of the first week, I actually looked forward to doing my oil pull and it’s the first thing I do in the morning as soon as I wake up. Then I brush my teeth, drink a glass of water, and have breakfast. In fact, I’ve noticed that I seem to enjoy my food more after I’ve oil pulled. It didn’t happen during the initial stages or within the first month of doing it, but as I’ve continued I’ve noticed that, sometimes, while I’m oil pulling I will start to feel hungry and by the time I’m done, I’m ready to eat. I’m not sure why this is – I’ve tried Googling about oil pulling and appetite, though haven’t yet found anything conclusive. It doesn’t greatly concern me, though, since I eat regularly and healthily.
Depending on how full of toxins your body is when you start oil pulling, it can take time for improvements to appear. One man in his eighties had his symptoms go away after he had been oil pulling for a year and a half. A woman with bad arthritis noted improvement in her hands and neck after eight days. These are just two examples. As described in Bruce Fife’s book, some people, when they start oil pulling, experience a worsening of symptoms and stop, thinking it’s the oil pulling causing it. It’s actually a case of “it gets worse before it gets better”, otherwise known as a healing crisis and the oil pulling is helping get rid of those toxins. Once people are past this healing crisis, they often report that they’ve never felt better and continue with the oil pulling.
If you’ve tried oil pulling, what are your experiences with it? If you haven’t tried oil pulling, would you be willing to give it a try and see the results for yourself? Sound off in the comments!
Update: After a Twitter conversation, I realized I forgot to mention this. You can use either solid or liquid coconut oil when you’re oil pulling. If the coconut oil is solid, let it melt in your mouth before you start swishing. (If you’d prefer to use liquid coconut oil, you could revert it to its liquid state by placing the jar in a pot of warm water. Do not submerge it.) According to the Tropical Traditions website, coconut oil is liquid at 75ºF (25ºC). Below that, it becomes solid.