Ayurvedic medicine employed this ritual, also known as kavala or gundusha, over 3,000 years ago as a method of dental detoxification; a way of removing oral toxins to improve both oral and general health. In short, it involves swishing oil (olive, sesame, or - our fave - coconut) around your mouth and between your teeth for about 20 minutes before spitting (NOT swallowing - you don't want to permit any baddies re-entry) it all out.
As the mouth houses millions of bacteria and other toxins, oral cleansing is really important. Oil pulling removes oral toxins from the mouth before they have a chance to spread throughout the rest of the body, wreaking havoc on our immune systems, causing inflammation, and worsening stress levels. It's really very easy, and the long list of benefits oil pulling has on health and wellbeing should definitely entice you to add the ritual to your daily routine.
Here are just some of the reasons we oil pull:
- D E T O X. Everyone is obsessed by the idea of detoxing, but it is a necessary function. Toxins lead to inflammation, illness and disease, and the mouth is one of the major toxin entry-points. By removing them from the mouth, the spread is stopped.
- B E T T E R O R A L H E A L T H. Plaque, gingivitis, cavities, and bad breath can all be reduced and improved through oil pulling, as the 'bad' oral bacteria is removed.
- E X T R A W H I T E 'P E A R L Y W H I T E S'. Oil pulling brings with it a bevy of antibiotic and antiviral properties capable of both cleaning and brightening teeth.
- M O R E E N E R G Y. Our body can get pretty exhausted from clearing our body of toxins. In lending a helping hand (or, more specifically, a tablespoon of oil), our body has more energy spare and we feel less tired. Who doesn't want that?!
- B A L A N C E. Not only do we benefit from increased energy levels from giving our bodies a break from excessive detoxifying, but our hormones are able to function more efficiently and effectively.
- C L E A R S K I N. Toxins in the bloodstream often end up showing on the skin in the form of blemishes, rashes, and other irritations. Removing the toxins through oil pulling can dramatically clear up skin.
- G O O D B Y E, H E A D A C H E. A heavy load of toxins within the body can lead to headaches and migraines. Less toxins = less headaches.
In addition, coconut oil contains lauric acid and monolaurin, which are powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungals, as well as Vitamin E, which is a wonderful antioxidant. Vitamins A (for immunity), D (for teeth and bone health) and K (for preventing blood clots and other dramas) are other fat-soluble (aka easy to digest) vitamins found in coconut oil.
It may take a while to see the benefits, but you should start noticing a difference from oil pulling within a few days to a few weeks (depending on how healthy you are, and what your toxin load is like, to start with).
So, grab a spoonful of oil and get swishing! You'll thank us later.