WHY I LOVE OIL PULLING + HOW TO DO IT
In Ayurveda, health of mind, body and spirit starts with a healthy mouth, which in turn facilitates good digestion — a core principle of this holistic system of wellbeing. That’s why tongue tingling has become a regular part of my routine alongside another Eastern morning routine: oil pulling.
Oil pulling is gaining popularity in the West, due to the trend of coconut oil as a food and beauty product, as well as a more 360 degree approach to health and wellbeing in general. Read on to learn more about how to incorporate this simple practice into your daily routine or "Dinacharya" for a healthier you.
THE BENEFITS OF OIL PULLING
Swishing a natural oil in your mouth for 20 minutes each morning upon waking (or as often as you can manage) helps to draw out the harmful bacteria that enter our mouths during the detoxification process of a good night’s sleep. Think of it as an Ayurvedic mouthwash, but a lot gentler than a lot of synthetic commercial products, some of which feel like they are burning your taste buds! It’s also a mini-workout for your facial muscles and helps to loosen any tension around the jaw.
Oil pulling has been around for thousands of years, but modern science is just starting to observe its benefits. This ritual helps to maintain the mouth’s natural pH and flora, as well as promoting teeth and gum health, and preventing infections, when combined with regular tooth brushing and tongue scraping.
CHOOSING YOUR OILS
Unrefined sesame and coconut oil are the most common choices for oil pulling — I alternate between the two based on the seasons. Sesame oil is traditional all year round and coconut oil, as a cooling oil, is great for summer. If you like, you can also use an oil pulling mouthwash like this one from Georganics. All three are available from my Shop page.
HOW TO DO IT
Oil pulling may sound intimidating, but it couldn’t be easier. Just put about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth first thing in the morning after brushing your teeth and swish it around, drawing it back and forth through your teeth. If you can, have a little gargle as well. Do this for about 20 minutes while you go about your to-do list items. The oil will feel thick at first, but as it emulsifies and works with your saliva to clean the whole mouth area, it will becomes thinner and easier to move around, and turn a milky white colour. If 20 minutes seems like too much at first, you can build up to it — start with 5 minutes, then go onto 10 and so on. You’ll be able to do the full 20 minutes in no time. When you’re done, spit the oil out into the bin or toilet to avoid build up in the house pipes. Make sure you don’t swallow! The oil gathers up toxins, so you don’t want to re-ingest them. After brushing your teeth, you’ll feel like you’ve just come out of the dentist’s!
To read about tongue tingling, a complementary practice to oil pulling, visit this page. Both of these everyday habits are part of Dinacharya, the Ayurvedic daily routine, which gives you a chance to connect with your day-to-day health — if you look closely, the tongue will tell you if something’s off and you can then adjust your self-care and diet accordingly.