What is oil pulling? And what in the world is so great about it that even big-name celebrities are embracing this odd ritual? Oil pulling is a therapeutic practice used in traditional Ayurveda primarily as a means to improve oral health. It is also used to detoxify and rejuvenate the body by drawing out toxins, bacteria and viruses out of the mouth, throat and internal organs. Oil pulling is done by swishing an oil, such as sesame or coconut oil around in the mouth for a short amount of time. Okay, so from an outsiders perspective you might think this sounds a bit…well “whack”. I will admit I was a bit skeptical at first too. However, the researcher in me wanted to know more, so I began doing my own research and what I found intrigued me to give oil pulling a try for myself.
How is it done? In traditional Ayurveda there are two methods for oil pulling, Gandusha and Kavala graha. The Gandusha method is done by filling the mouth completely full of oil so that gargling is not possible. A drop or two of an essential oil such as peppermint oil may be added to make the taste more tolerable. (Where to buy essential oils) The oil is swished around for about 3-5 minutes and then spit out. In Kavala graha only a comfortable amount of oil is placed in the mouth and the oil is swished around anywhere from 3-15 minutes. It is important to note that when using coconut oil it must be spit out in a trash can because it may clog the sink. You should never swallow the oil while it is in your mouth or you might re ingest the toxins bring drawn from the body.
Possible health benefits of oil pulling:
Improved oral health
correct hormone imbalances
smoother skin, hair and nails
allergies and sinus issues
improved mental health\clarity
How oil pulling has changed me
I was inspired to give oil pulling a try after learning about all the possible health benefits that it claims. For years I have suffered with unexplained chronic fatigue. Even after changing to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Some days are hard for me not only physically but emotionally. Being exhausted all the time is difficult, especially when you have three little ones to chase after all day, but It’s just something I have learned to live with. After oil pulling everyday for about two weeks I noticed that I was sleeping like a baby at night and waking up actually feeling rested! Moreover, I feel like I have more energy throughout the day and no more mid-day “crash”. One thing I definitely did not expect was a change in my emotional state. Every mom and wife at some point experiences burnout. Between kids, housework, husbands, work, endless to-do lists…we get so busy taking care of everyone and everything that we forget to take care of ourselves. We get grouchy and snap at the people we love, even when we don’t mean to. I’m going to be honest with you and I know many moms who will relate to this but I am totally guilty of this. After oil pulling I have noticed less of “grouchy” mom and more ” happy” mom. I feel an uplift in my mood and a general sense of renewed strength and vitality. It’s as if something in my body was off and has somehow balanced itself out. I can’t say for sure whether this was result of the oil pulling or perhaps something else. What I do know is that I am feeling better than I have in a long time! And I extremely grateful for this renewed strength and sense of confidence. Oil pulling will remain an important part of my life for a very long time.
TD Anand, C Pothiraj, RM Gopinath, et al. Effect of oil-pulling on dental caries causing bacteria (PDF). African Journal of Microbiology Research, Vol 2:3 pp 63-66, MAR 2008. (PDF Link)
S Asokan, J Rathan, MS Muthu, PV Rathna, P Emmadi, Raghuraman, Chamundeswari.Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics & Preventive Dentistry. 26(1):12-7, 2008 Mar
S Thaweboon, J Nakaparksin, B Thaweboon. Effect of Oil-Pulling on Oral Microorganisms in Biofilm Models. Asia Journal of Public Health: 2011 May-Aug. (PDF)
HV Amith, Anil V Ankola, L Nagesh. Effect of Oil Pulling on Plaque and Gingivitis. Journal of Oral Health & Community Dentistry: 2007 ;1(1)
I hope that you have learned something from my personal story and opinions. For me oil pulling has been a wonderful and enlightening experience and I encourage you to try it for yourself. I strongly recommend doing your own research and form your own opinions about oil pulling.