Oil pulling. Huh? What on Earth is that?!
That was my reaction a couple of months ago when I clicked on an archived post from one of my favourite wellness bloggers, Jess Ainscough.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic ritual that has recently come back into vogue in health circles all over the world. It is stupidly simple: you just swish a tablespoon of cold-pressed virgin oil (coconut is my oil of choice because, well, it’s delicious) around your mouth for 20 minutes. At the risk of comparing you to a car, oil pulling works in the same way that oil in an engine does. It swishes (I’m sure that’s the term a mechanic would use) its way through the motor, pulling out bits of debris and gunk, which helps the car run better. When you pull oil in your mouth, bacteria, viruses and other nasties are yanked from your teeth and gums, and suspended in the oil. Because of this, it is important not to swallow the oil because you’ll end up with all of those unwanted guests in your tummy, which is exactly where you don’t want them! If you find your gag reflex is rearing its head, just spit out the oil and start with a fresh tablespoon. You can do this as many times as you need to until you reach the 20-minute mark but you will probably find you can easily manage 20 minutes without spitting out once you have done it a few times.
It’s best to do oil pulling first thing in the morning (or at least on an empty stomach). When you first wake up, your mouth is at its most gross, in terms of bacteria count, so it makes sense that you will get the most benefit from oil pulling in the morning.
As I read about the countless benefits of oil pulling, I shook my head in amazement that I had come this far on my health journey without having heard about this simple-yet-effective protocol. I got about halfway through reading Jess’ post before heading to the kitchen to start melting some coconut oil (hey, I’m nothing if not quick to jump on any health bandwagon that’s passing by!) so that I could try this out for myself.
I lasted 12 minutes before I had to spit the oil out and start with a fresh batch. The next day I got to 16 minutes and by the third day I was able to do the full 20 minutes. That’s how quickly you get used to the unusual sensation!
So, what have I noticed since I started? To begin with, my eyes are clearer. Until I started oil pulling, I had always secretly doubted people when they said that a certain protocol made their eyes clearer. I didn’t think it was possible but, having seen it for myself (with my super clear eyes, haw haw), I’m a clear-eye convert. I even received compliments from my colleagues about my eyes!
The second thing I found was that my skin cleared up dramatically. My skin has been improving over the last year anyway but the progress was accelerated once I started oil pulling.
Other benefits I have found are that my breath is fresher and my teeth are whiter. Both massive pluses!
I also find it surprisingly relaxing, which makes me want to commit to doing it every day.
Who knew swishing a bit of oil around your mouth could have so many benefits? Not this little duck. No siree.