Oil Pulling The 5000 Year Old Mouthwash
So it's time to talk about oil pulling or the 5000 year old mouthwash as I sometimes call it. I am normally used to writing about more glamorous subjects, such as recommending my new favourite red lipstick (cruelty-free - of course), or how to ‘get the look’ of a recent red carpet moment; but in a recent conversation with the gorgeous girls here at Honestly Healthy I unveiled myself as an ‘oil-puller’! Yes, I am an oil puller. Needless to say, I have been asked to explain myself to those of you who, quite understandably, may not be familiar with the term.
Essentially, oil pulling is swishing oil around in your mouth. It is not quite as grim as it sounds and the benefits to both your oral health and general wellbeing far outweigh the initial weirdness. Oil pulling is actually an ancient concept from the Indian Ayurvedic health system, which itself is thought to be at least 5,000 years old. Ayurveda, which translates as ‘life-science’ has its origins in the Vedic culture and is in fact a fully integrated holistic approach to health and vitality. The modern day master of Ayurveda is Deepak Chopra, who reminds us that Ayurveda “provides guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behavior and the proper use of our senses.” Oil pulling is just one tiny but potent element of this fabulous system.
I have been oil pulling now for about two years, after reading about the potential health benefits which include oral health, increase energy, clear the skin, improve sleep patterns, regulate menstrual cycles, decrease headaches, diminishes eczema, alleviate allergies, strengthen the jaw, clear sinuses and improve the lymphatic system – and this is to name just a few. Within three weeks I could see that my teeth had visibly whitened, any dry patches of skin had healed, my feet were as smooth as a babies, skin pigmentation had improved, and I generally felt great and was sleeping better than ever. Practitioners believe that this therapy detoxifies the whole system by removing harmful bacteria and toxins so that the immune system is free to heal the body. Oral bacteria can lead to greater health problems in other areas of the body and oil pulling removes bacteria far more effectively than mere brushing and flossing. How? Bacteria are covered in a oily membrane which adheres to an oil but not water. So swishing with oil with draw the bacteria out and is removed when you spit out the oil.
Oil pulling could not be simpler and the benefits that I have witnessed are fantastic. So, what do you? Well, first of all the ideal time to ‘pull’ is first thing in the morning and on an empty stomach. This is because your body detoxifies while you sleep so before you eat, your mouth is full of bacteria. You then need some oil. Any oil will work, but most Ayurvedic practitioners recommend sesame or coconut oil, the latter having added anti-bacterial properties but its down to personal preference. I would recommend Barleans Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil and Maharishi Ayurveda’s Ripened Organic Cold Pressed Sesame Oil. Both oils are fabulous, packed with health properties and are also great for use on the skin!
Next, take about 1-2 teaspoons of the oil into your mouth and swish it around for 15-20 minutes. Really work the oil around the mouth, over the gums and through the gaps in the teeth before spitting the now milky white liquid away. It is important never to swallow the oil, as after pulling it is considered toxic. Afterwards, I like to rinse my mouth out with a little sea-salted water, scrape my tongue and then brush my teeth with a non-flouride toothpaste – fluoride inhibits the thyroid. Follow with a mug of warm water with lemon juice, which gently stimulates the digestive system and prepares it for a delicious Honestly Healthy breakfast! Oil pulling is a bit weird at first, but you soon get used to it and the benefits are both noticeable and welcomed – I really can’t recommend it enough. Just one note of caution: it is not appropriate to pull if you have mercury fillings as it is suspected that the mercury can be released. You also may experience what practitioners call a 'health crisis' whereby in the first week or so, old ailments may return. This is nothing serious and is just the cells being cleansed. It's important not to take medication to stop these symptoms as it pushes the toxins back into the cells. Stick with it and you won't regret it.
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