Is oil pulling worth the hype? Meredith Baird shares her experience.
This post comes to us from Meredith Baird
Nothing has made a greater impact on my morning routine than oil pulling. When I first read about it many years ago, I was a bit skeptic. How could swishing oil around in your mouth possibly make an impact on your health? But the health improvement claims were so extensive I figured it was worth a try.
Oil pulling is the basic method of swishing one to two tablespoons of sesame or coconut oil in your mouth for at least twenty minutes. The prescription for this recipe is to do it daily on a completely empty stomach to experience optimal improvement. Traditionally, sesame oil was preferred – but coconut oil, olive oil, and sunflower can also be used. In my mind coconut oil makes the most sense. It tastes the best, and has the most potent antiviral, anti fungal, and antibacterial properties of any oil on earth.
Although oil pulling is an ancient method of improving oral health, the benefits are just starting to be recognized in western culture. The practice originated in Ayurvedic tradition as a means to improve dental hygiene. Oil pulling works by dissolving the toxins and bacteria in your mouth, cutting through plaque, and absorbing into your skin through your gums and tongue. Unlike the harsh effects of fluoride or traditional mouth washes, oil is nourishing and nurturing to your skin and gums. As you read more, it starts to make sense. When oil and water (saliva) emulsify- you are literally pulling out toxins and bacteria that can’t just be brushed off.
I’ve been oil pulling fairly regularly for the last 7-8 years. I was personally drawn to the practice after experiencing symptoms of eczema and extremely dry skin. Even though I had been eating a healthy diet for many years and always had good skin, I started to experience these negative shifts. Cold NYC weather wasn’t agreeing with my skin, and my high raw, high fruit diet wasn’t suitable year round. Ayruvedic traditions and remedies seemed like viable solutions- more fitting to constitution and seasonality. If my dry skin was caused by an internal imbalance, oil pulling seemed like it was worth a shot.
When I first started, my housemates definitely thought I was on the weird wagon. Another hippie fad. Then something started to shift, my teeth became noticeably brighter and whiter. The cosmetic benefit alone was enough to motivate me to stick with it. After a few months of regular practice I started feeling significant improvements in my overall health. My digestion improved, my skin cleared, and I literally felt cleaner in the mornings after swishing. Any gum sensitivity that I’d experienced in the past was completely gone, and morning breath was zero. When I don’t do it, I notice a significant shift in my morning mood. They say it increases energy and I definitely feel that it does.
It really is important to oil pull first thing in the morning before brushing, before breaking the fast of a nights sleep. I find the ritual to be meditative because it forces you to be silent. I pull when I first wake up and do little chores like make tea, feed my cats, make the bed etc. Twenty minutes flies by in the morning. If it seems like a daunting routine, I assure you it’s not. It helps that my fiancé is now on the program- he swears that his mouth feels notably cleaner and his system feels more detoxified.
If you don’t buy into the detox, and you’re just concerned with basic oral health- I can testify that my dental reports have been cavity free with A+ scores for almost a decade. Is oil pulling a health fad? Maybe not. I certainly won’t be stopping any time soon.
Reducing our toxic overload has the ability to improve our health in ways that we are just now starting to understand. I believe that the benefits of oil pulling are just now starting to be understood, and will only become more extensive.
There are many health claims, but some of the most easily noted improvements include:
- Whiter teeth
- Stronger teeth and gums
- Better breath from reduced mouth bacteria
- Less gum and mouth sensitivity
- Increased energy from boosted immunity
- Removal of mucus
- Increased energy from improved heath
- Clearer skin from reduced toxic load
- Decreases inflammation
- Lymphatic system improvement
- Alleviates headaches or hangovers
The prescription is simple:
1-2 tablespoons cold pressed, organic – coconut or sesame oil
Swish 1–2 tablespoons of oil around in your mouth for at least 20 minutes. Spit. Rinse mouth with warm water. Brush and floss like normal.
New year, new highly recommended routine!
+ Have you tried oil pulling? Share your experience in the comments!
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