Do you Pull?
What if I told you there was a simple, cost effective habit that you can do every day that can help you eliminate toxins from your body, remove bad bacteria, help freshen your breath and prevent dental caries? Sounds too good to be true - right?
Oil pulling is a traditional Ayurveda technique which has been used for centuries. Many health benefits and claims have been made into this traditional practice and a 2017 review of studies relating to oil pulling concluded that when practiced regularly, oil pulling can “bring improvement in oral hygiene”. However, oil pulling does not replace conventional dental practices but can “used as an adjunct to maintain good oral hygiene and health along with the routine tooth brushing and flossing with promising positive results” (1).
So, what is oil pulling? I hear you ask. Oil pulling is the act of swishing and swirling coconut or sesame oil in the mouth for a period of about 10 – 20 minutes. This action breaks down the fat-soluble wall of bacteria in the mouth and emulsifies it into the oil allowing it to be spat out (1). Swishing and swirling the oil gets access to the harder places that brushing cannot access and help strengthen gums and remove bacteria and toxins which can cause caries and bad breath.
This traditional technique has been shown in studies to reduce gingivitis and plaque build-up and is an effective oral hygiene practice (2). More traditional claims include; reducing inflammation, heavy metal detoxification, boosting the immune system and alleviating cracked gums and dry throats, improving acne and relief for TMJ suffers as it strengthens mouth and jaw muscles.
When to pull? Ideally pulling should be done first thing in the morning — before you brush your teeth or drink anything. However anytime of the day is better than no time at all.
How to Pull. Gently swish 1–2 tablespoons of coconut oil in your mouth and between your teeth for 10–20 minutes, making sure that you don’t swallow any of the oil. When starting this practice I found that my cheeks and jaw got sore and I found it difficult to maintain this length of time. If this sounds like you[i]
Spit Vs Swallow. By swishing the oil in our mouth, we have pulled all the nasties and toxins out and emulsified it into the oil – hence you should always spit the oil out. However, don’t spit it down the drain as this can cause issues with solidifying and blocking pipes. Choose instead to spit it in the bin or in a nice discreet place in the yard or garden.
Now what? Rinse your mouth with warm water or use salt water for extra antimicrobial benefits and then brush as normal.
We are all time poor these days so taking 10-20 minutes out of our morning can seem impossible, but the great thing is you can use this practice with or as your morning meditation or simply as you go about your morning routine.
A mini note on oils of choice: Traditional practice uses either cold pressed organic oils such as sesame oil and coconut oils. For taste and health benefits my personal preference is for coconut oil as it has additional antiviral properties and is highly absorbable.
Want to know more? Check out these articles
 J Tradit Complement Med. 2017 Jan; 7(1): 106–109. Published online 2016 Jun 6. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.05.004 - Oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene – A review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5198813/
 J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2011 Apr-Jun; 2(2): 64–68. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.82525 - Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131773/ -