Monthly Archives: October 2014

What’s With “Oil Pulling”?

DSCN0238I am pleased (although a bit surprised) to see “oil pulling” on so many different health blogs and websites lately. This is an ayurvedic practice that has been around for a very long time, but not  prominently in the “mainstream”.  In fact, I learned about oil pulling as a yoga practitioner and seldom ran across other non-yoga people who had even heard of it, much less practiced it.  So for any of you reading this who don’t know what it is, here is the short version:

Oil Pulling has its roots in Ayurvedic medicine, which dates back more than 5000 years. It is widely considered to be the oldest form of health care in the world.  The knowledge of Ayurveda spread out from India and influenced the ancient Chinese system, Unani medicine, and even the medicine practiced by Hippocrataes in Greece. In theory, it works on the root cause of illness and helps your body in the healing process, from pre-disease conditions all the way through to life threatening malignancies.  Oil pulling is very simple, completely harmless, and inexpensive, yet it is a powerful form of therapy. It is reputed to eliminate conditions such as migraine headaches, bronchitis, diseased teeth and gums ,chronic blood disorders such as leukemia, arthritis and related illnesses, eczema, gastro enteritis, heart disease, kidney disease, and women’s hormonal disorders. This list is impressive, and not at all exhaustive.  To be honest I have no idea if these claims are true but there is an informative website specifically on this subject, (Good information, but to be honest sometimes the translation into English is not so good.)

In oil pulling, one swishes a Tablespoon or so (start with less if you’ve never done it) of cold-pressed sesame or sunflower oil around in the mouth for 20 minutes, spits it out, then cleans the mouth and teeth.  It should be done first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything.  That, my dears, is the therapy in its entirety.

Most people not practicing oil pulling as an Ayurvedic treatment are doing so because it has a rapid and positive effect on dental health – whiter teeth, fresher breath, and quickly can get rid of cold sores and bleeding gums.  So, even if you are a little skeptical about some of the other benefits it may be worth a try.

Here are a few pointers:

  1. When you first wake up, before you eat or drink anything, take about a tablespoon of sesame or sunflower oil in your mouth, and begin swishing it around. (Many health blogs suggest Coconut oil because it has so many positive health benefits. I suppose this is fine, but keep in mind the ancient advice was for sesame or sunflower oil.)
  2. As you swish (not too vigorously….you’ll be at it for 20 minutes remember!) try to mindfully push and pull between your teeth now and then. Keep the oil away from the back of your throat so you don’t swallow some inadvertently. (not pleasant….ask me how I know!)
  3. After about 20 minutes, the oil needs to be spat out….do this in the toilet or in the trash/rubbish….it could cause a clog if you dispose of it in the sink.

For most people, doing this for 20 minutes before you eat or drink anything is not easy, especially when you consider that this should be done every day.  But like anything, you can quietly get on with it for 30 days until you build the habit. I keep a small bottle of oil with a spoon in my bathroom so I don’t even have to think about it. But if at times I cannot do it the very first thing (like when I have company), I do my oil pulling as soon as I can, usually right before I step into the shower.

There is now reams of information about this practice, so do your own research and have a go. Remember that sometimes the best research you can do is using your own body as the laboratory; so try this for awhile and see what you think. Feel free to share your experience if you’d like.

A Quick Supper – Mushroom, Blue Cheese, and Spinach Salad

Warm_salad_of_spinach_fieldI found this recipe on an old receipt that I had obviously scribbled down in a mighty hurry.  I have no memory of the origin of this recipe, having found it in a handbag I hadn’t used in a while. But I have tried it a couple of times, tinkering with the recipe each time (as I often do) and I think it is good enough to share. This serves two good appetites, so simply halve it if you are on your own. Keeping in mind that you are cooking the mushrooms in oil and there is oil in the dressing, you may want to drain the cooked mushrooms a bit – though I didn’t find this necessary.


Mushroom – Blue Cheese – Spinach Salad 

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard
  • 4 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 6 Tablespoons good quality olive oil

Mix crushed garlic clove and salt together; put this and all other dressing ingredients in a jar or small jug and mix together.

For the salad:

  • 200 grams mushrooms
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 or 2 crushed cloves garlic(or to taste)
  • 200 grams blue cheese
  • 200 grams baby spinach

Saute mushrooms and garlic in olive oil until mushrooms are nicely cooked through. Remove pan from heat, and add the blue cheese to the mushrooms so flavours intermingle. Divide the washed spinach on two plates or bowls, and drizzle the dressing lightly over the leaves. You can add a little sea salt and black pepper at this stage if desired. Put the mushrooms/blue cheese atop the leaves, and voila! Quick lovely supper.

You can add your own little touches to this – I have used a mixed greens mix instead of spinach,and I love a bit of tomato (in season) on top. For you non-vegetarians, you can sprinkle some leftover bacon or ham in the mushroom/blue cheese mixture. This is a perfect vehicle for experimentation: Try adding strawberries or pears, black olives or avocados, substituting the blue cheese for feta cheese – the possibilities are endless. Experiment and enjoy!