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, http://www.oilpulling.com. (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.

1 thought on “What’s With “Oil Pulling”?


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