Oil-pulling has come back into popularity from the ancient Ayurvedic times because of it’s teeth-whitening, mouth-refreshening, body-detoxifying benefits. But what really is it? How can you pull oil? Where do is the oil being pulled from? These were some questions I had when I began my Ayurvedic journey six years ago.
Oil-pulling, called gundusha in Sanskrit, stems back from ancient Ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda is the world’s oldest health system, originating in ancient India over 5000 years ago. It is the sister science of yoga, based on mind-body balance.
I’m a Certified Ayurvedic, Holistic and Sports Nutritionist, as well as the author of the upcoming Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda which will be available in bookstores everywhere this August. Needless to say, I’m obsessed with merging ancient Ayurvedic wisdom with modern Western nutritional science because I believe magic happens when the two go hand-in-hand.
Oil-pulling is essentially Ayurvedic mouthwash. It consists of swishing oil in your mouth for anywhere from 3-20 minutes. The oil you are “pulling” is between your teeth for it’s many benefits.
So why swish oil in your mouth?
This practice helps:
- Whiten teeth
- Prevent cavities and gingivitis
- Improve digestion
- Alleviate headaches
- Improve breath
- Strengthen teeth and gums
- Lessen jaw pain
- Alleviate headaches and hangover
- Reduce acne, psoriasis and eczema
How can a oil-pulling do so much?
Oil pulling helps pull the bad bacteria from your mouth without killing the good bacteria.
Just like our guts, we need good bacteria in our mouths to keep the bad bacteria in check. Antibacterial mouthwashes kill all of our good bacteria, which actually allows the bad bacteria to flourish. That’s why once we start using antibacterial mouthwash, our breath smells horrible without it. We’ve killed the good bacteria and we’ve become dependent on it.
Oil pulling helps dissolve the stored bacteria on the roofs of our mouths, tongues, gum-lines and cheeks, giving us healthier mouths and bodies.
One amazing part about oil-pulling is that it aids with digestion.
Digestion begins the moment food touches your lip. When we eat food, our tongue detects the micro and macronutrients and signals our bodies what enzymes are necessary for digestion.
If your tongue is coated with toxins, it isn’t going to know what’s going on in that 20-ingredient salad (which also may be a food-combining disaster.) Our tongues are unable to accurately dictate what we are consuming and as a result, our digestion will suffer. That goes to show that your ORAL health is important for your DIGESTIVE.
So now you may be wondering.. What type of oil should I use? Will my salad dressing cut it? Not quite
The type of oil you use depends on your Ayurvedic mind-body type, called a Dosha. If you don’t know yours, take my free quiz here.
- Vatas and Kaphas should use raw organic sesame oil because it’s warming, counterbalancing their cold bodies and digestive fires.
- Pittas should use extra virgin organic coconut oil because it’s cooling, counterbalancing their overheated bodies and digestive fires.
- For extra benefits, use Dr. Tungs Oil Pulling concentrate which contains over 24 Ayurvedic herbs and botanicals for extra benefits. It brings your oil-pulling time down to just three minutes with the same benefits because it’s so concentrated. You can also dilute the mixture with your own oil so the container lasts you longer.
Dr Tung’s Oil-Pulling Solution contains contains the following Ayurvedic botanicals:
Sesame oil (organic), acacia nilotica*, ficus religiosa*, wild Himalayan cherry*, cardamom extract (organic), banyan tree, acacia catechu*, lodh tree*, Indian madder*, eagle wood*, Indian gall-nut*, Indian gooseberry, gmelina arborea*, long-leaved pine*, spikenard*, stone flowers, sandalwood*, woodfordia fruticosa*, deodar*, licorice*, clove*, lotus seed, lemongrass, turmeric, nutgrass, nutmeg, cinnamon, camphor.
* Wild Harvested
As a special gift to all my readers, I’m offering a 20% off discount for you to order any Dr. Tung’s product on their website. Check them all out here and type “eatfeelfresh” as your promo code to receive the 20% off.
They also sell incredible stainless steel tongue scrapers, ionic toothbrushes that remove over 48% more plaque, cardamom-scented super plush floss and other Ayurvedic oral-care products which I highly recommend and use daily.
There’s just a minimum of a $25 purchase for the 20% discount code to be eligible and you can use it up to twice in six months. I love using combining their oil-pulling solution with my own sesame oil to add further detoxifying benefits to my daily swish. It brings own my oil-pulling time and leaves my mouth with the most delicious taste.
Once you’ve picked up your oil-pulling solution, let’s start pulling!
How to oil pull:
- After brushing your teeth and tongue scraping, take ½ to 1 tablespoon of oil in a spoon and put it into your mouth.
- Begin gently switching the oil in and around your mouth. It doesn’t have to be a vigorous swish because you’ll be doing it for 5-20 minutes. Allow the oil to circulate your mouth, letting it seep through your teeth. No need to stand in place and stare in the mirror. You can get ready and walk around while doing this so time flies by.
- The oil will double in size in your mouth, so don’t exceed more than 1 tablespoon. For some people, hard coconut oil is a bit unpalatable so try warming it up before.
- After you are done, spit out the oil into a trash or your toilet. You want to avoid spitting into the sink because the oil will be full of toxins and actually clog your drain over-time.
- You also want to make sure you don’t swallow any of the oil because it’s filled with your toxicity.
After spitting, rinse your mouth with warm salt water to gently kill any leftover bacteria.
If 20 minutes of oil-pulling seems like mission impossible, don’t fret!
Start with just one minute for the first few days. Maybe even 10 seconds is all you can handle with now. Working your way up to five minutes, then eventually 10. Maybe one day 20 minutes will happen or maybe you’ll learn how to do a handstand with one arm before that. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re practicing!
Many people think you have to do it for 20 minutes or not do it at all, which is why they shy away from it. However, even just doing it for one minute is still beneficial. Ayurveda just says you can do it for up to 20 minutes but you won’t be arrested by the Ayurvedic police if you can’t swish oil in your mouth for the length of a television episode.
If you’re extra loaded with toxins, you may experience mild headaches the first few days of oil-pulling as you release accumulated toxins in your systems. These are known as “detox headaches” and come with any form of detox treatment. That means it’s working! Stay hydrated with hot ginger tea throughout the day to further the detoxification process. Try to avoid alcohol, processed food, sugar, fried food and smoking to further aid your body’s natural cleansing methods.
Want to take your detoxing to the next level in a way that’s nourishing and sustainable?
Try my 3 Day Kitchari Cleanse, based on Ayurveda’s most ancient cleanse treatment but upgraded and modernized.