How About Oil Pulling?


Leah and Jane-December, 2009

Some of you may recall that I got my start into a high raw food diet 6 1/2 years ago after I was  introduced to it by my then 15 year old granddaughter, Leah.  A few years ago, maybe 4 or 5, when I was visiting Leah and her family in Colorado, she and her mother, my daughter Laura, were oil pulling. Either there, during that visit, or later, when I arrived home, I gave it a try, and pretty quickly dismissed the practice as just too off-beat, and of too questionable a benefit for me to pursue.  I was still adjusting, after all, at that time, to this raw food diet, and dealing with all its attendant psychological and sociological ramifications. Oil pulling?  I think not, thank you.

Recently, though, when I was visiting with Rene Oswald, long time raw food practitioner, author, and teacher, she said how much she enjoyed the practice of oil pulling, did it daily, usually in the shower, as do many others, it turns out, and had no plans to ever give it up.  She thought that since oil pulling reportedly helps to remove toxins from the body, it might help me with a chronic post nasal drip thing that I’ve had lingering since an early spring cold and cough. The cough has, annoyingly enough, left me clearing my throat often, sometimes to no avail, wondering if I’ll have a coughing fit when I do a public reading or speaking thing, and doing lots of coughing, at least for awhile, during a biking or swimming workout. Like I said….annoying.

So, now that I’m two weeks into the daily practice, and after a little research, here’s what I can tell you.

Oil pulling or oil swishing, is an ancient ayurvedic simple, cost effective, natural remedy procedure that involves pulling or swishing oil in the mouth for oral and systemic health benefits.  It is mentioned in the Ayrvedic text Charaka Samhita, where it is called Kavala Gandusha or Kavala Graha, and is claimed to cure about 30 systemic diseases ranging from migraine headache, to diabetes and asthma.

Oil pulling has risen from an ancient Ayurvedic natural remedy technique to an effective self help nature cure method for restoring and maintaining overall health. 

 It involves putting about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth, then swishing it around your teeth for a few minutes.
There are thousands of different types of bacteria in the mouth. Some of them are friendly, others are not. Certain bacteria can cause harm, such as Streptococcus Mutans, which is the main culprit behind plaque buildup, gingivitis, and cavities. The bacteria in the mouth create a “biofilm” on the teeth — a thin layer that they use to adhere to the surface . This is what we know as “plaque.” Having some plaque on teeth is normal, but if it gets out of hand, it can cause all sorts of problems. Oil pulling helps to remove the plaque and other debris by capturing it in the moving oil and then dissolving it . There are studies that show that a large amount of oral bacteria and plaque are removed with each application, and breath is sweetened, teeth polished, and the mouth just generally feels cleansed and smooth. Still other studies suggest that oil pulling helps to detoxify and heal other parts of the body, although those studies sound less definitive, at least in my humble, and fairly brief reading.

Some will say, “Who needs this?” Good question. I think that at the least, oil pulling is an easy practice to adopt and can’t hurt. Ayurvedic medicine, the oldest recorded medical system in existence, has been around a long time. I think giving the practices that have survived the test of time deserve at least a fair shot. Sort of like yoga. With all the modern exercise and relaxation modes around, why pick an ancient one like yoga? Precisely because it is ancient and it has survived, and people have never really stopped doing it. There must be something to it.


Back to Oil Pulling


Traditionally, the Indians used sesame or sunflower oil. Any oil will work — almond, peanut,  etc..  Many people these days, as do I, use coconut oil because its Lauric Acid ( about half the fats in coconut oil) is proven to be antimicrobial, and good in many other ways as well, not the least of which is that it has a more pleasant taste than the others. It’s a strange sensation at first “chewing” on coconut oil, as it heats up in the body and liquefies; after that it may feel strange for a few days, then becomes part of the routine.


Here’s the how to:


1-Put a teaspoon to a tablespoon of oil in your mouth.

2-Swish the oil around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes, “pulling” it through your teeth. Avoid getting it into your throat (as in gargling), or swallowing it, as this will transmit some of the “pulled” toxins further into your system. There’s no need to use a lot of force with this. If your face or jaw hurts, use less oil, force, or time, or all three for a few days.
3- Spit out the oil, preferably into the toilet, lest it clog up the sink, rinse out your mouth and then brush your teeth.

It’s best to oil pull on an empty stomach, before you brush your teeth. It works best for many people to do it in their morning shower. Suit yourself.
There is lots more to read, if you’re interested, than what I’ve given you here. I’m into my third week with it, and do notice that my mouth feels cleaner, and my teeth sparkle. I’m sure that my dentist, who already praises me for my mouth care, will be delighted at the improvements in my oral and dental health. My nagging cough seems a little better, and if there is another level of detoxifying and immunity building going on, of which I currently am unaware, so be it. I’m sure this is a no risk venture than can only bring good. Give it a try. See what you think. Let me know.




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