I been pullin’, I been pullin’ – oil pulling that is.
The ancient Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling had quite the viral explosion about two months ago when site after site started posting articles about it and its claims of providing numerous health benefits. When the pulling wave hit I was already looking to get into more natural beauty so I headed on over to my local organic market and picked up a bottle sesame oil and a jar of coconut oil to try it out. Practically every morning I swished, and if not in the morning, during the day, and now two months in, I feel like I can give a thorough review.
According to practitioners of this ancient ritual, swishing oil around in your mouth every day will essentially draw out the toxins in your mouth (and purportedly body), gather the gross stuff that lives in your dirty, dirty mouth into the oil, and remove the toxins from your body when you spit it out. Make sense? Improving oral health is its most well-known use; such as whitening teeth, curing bad breath, and strengthening teeth and gums. There are those, however, that say the practice has many other benefits as well, including clearing acne, relieving skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, lessening jaw pain from TMJ, helping with infections, asthma, and chronic headaches, and curing hangovers.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- organic, unrefined, cold or expeller pressed (they mean the same thing) sesame or coconut oil.
- 1 teaspoon
- 10-15 min in the morning
- a trash bag or toilet
- Wake up, wash yo’ face, look at yourself in your mirror and say “well, this is as good as it’s going to get,” then whip out that measuring spoon.
- Pour two 1 teaspoons of oil into your mouth (I found putting one tablespoon was too much to handle).
- Set a timer for 10 - 20 min. 10 if you’re just starting out, you kind of have to work up to 15 min or more.
- Start swishing. Just swish and swish and swish. Front to back, side to side, through your teeth. ALSO, make sure not to swallow. You’re trying to get rid of the toxins, not deliver them further into your body. If you feel like you’re going to swallow, spit it out and try again for a shorter period of time.
- When your alarm goes off, it’s time to stop. If you only set your timer for 10 min and you think you can swish a little longer, keep going. It’s recommended to do 10 - 20 min a day. I do something in the middle, like 12 - 15 because anything longer than that is difficult.
- Spit it out. This is pretty self-explanatory, just spit the oil out into either the trash can or your toilet. Do not spit the oil into your sink because it can solidify afterwards and clog your pipes.
IS IT WORTH IT?
I’ve been working it for 2 months and I have to give a resounding affirmative. I have seen huge improvement in the whiteness of my teeth, as white or whiter than what I have achieved with whitening agents in the past, in addition to reduced teeth and gum sensitivity. The last time I used whitening strips, my teeth and gums were so sensitive (i.e. in pain) afterwards I realized I would no longer be able to use them. My teeth always feel so smooth afterwards, even without yet brushing. This has effectively replaced my need for mouth wash and teeth whiteners, which saves me time and money. I have seen an improvement in my skin, but I can’t tell if that’s due to the oil pulling or my simplified skincare routine and facial massages, all which kind of started at the same time. I will post on both of those things soon as I’ve seen a marked improvement in my skin and want to share the love.
1. Swish in the morning. Technically you can oil pull at night but it’s best to do it when food hasn’t yet touched your teeth.
2. Sesame oil is the most recommended oil to pull with although there are those who prefer coconut oil as it has natural antiseptic properties. Personally, I tried both and greatly favor the sesame oil to the coconut oil. I felt I got better results with it and found it easier to swish than the coconut oil for 10 - 15 min. The jar has not gone to waste, though, as I now use the solid oil regularly as a body moisturizer.
3. DO SOMETHING WHILE YOU SWISH. I cannot stress this enough. So many people have stopped the practice because the task seemed too tedious. Sitting there and just swishing oil so your mouth can be healthier? Torture! And granted, in the beginning I too found the oil pulling to seem like it lasted forever because I was just sitting there focusing on the swishing. But, then, in a time crunch and wanting to get in the pulling that morning before I left for work, I started getting ready while I swished which was easy enough because swishing is pretty mindless. Because I had already washed my face pre-oil intake, I was able to do my skincare routine, fix my hair, and do my makeup all while swishing. It made the time fly by like that and I was even able to go well past my previous 10min-I-can’t-do-this-anymore record. Now, I swish while I get ready and kill several birds with one stone. I just massacre the birds. All of them.
The other day, something CRAZY happened. My bottom teeth have a lovely habit of accruing plaque, no matter how much I brush and floss. Every time I visit the dentist it’s like she’s one of the seven dwarves mining for diamonds in my mouth (HI HOOO) she’s scraping my teeth so hard with her little scraper tool. Around the 6 month mark, or right before my bi-yearly cleaning, I can even SEE the plaque on the edges of gums. I talk to it, try to reason with it, ask it to please leave me alone, but it will not budge. The other night as I was leisurely flossing, mentally perusing my closet and trying to put together the next day’s outfit, something small broke off my tooth. That sounds really bad but it was a good thing. The plaque that my dentist usually has to violently scrape off actually FELL OFF my teeth with some light flossing. Feel free to disagree, but I’m convinced it’s the result of my daily morning oil pulling that has made my teeth less plaque prone.