What is it?
Oil pulling is the practice of popping a spoonful of high quality extra virgin organic coconut oil (or sesame or sunflower oils of the same quality) into your mouth and swishing it around vigorously for fifteen to twenty minutes, pulling it between your teeth and just generally hitting all areas of your mouth.
Believe it or not, oil pulling is ancient. As in, a 5,000-year-old-Indian-practice-called-Ayurveda old. Ayurvedic medicine is one of natural healing, rooted in the idea of balance and body-mind-environment integration.
What does it do?
To get technical, the lipids in the oil are pulling toxins from the saliva/teeth/mouth/toungue/gums. Vegetable fats are a natural emulsifier, so as the oil swishes and gets foamy, an almost soap-like effect takes place in your mouth (Note: Not the same soap-like effect as when your mom caught you swearing as a child. Just FYI.).
In essence, oil pulling is sopping up all the bacteria in your mouth - one of the dirtiest spots on your body - and allowing you to get rid of all of that when you spit the oil out after your twenty minutes. This allows your body to use it's energy resources to work on other problem areas, be it acne or stuffy sinuses or whatever. In turn, those problems are improved or mitigated over time.
There are sources all across the internet that will give you a laundry list of potential benefits, from better skin to a hangover cure to fewer cavities in your teeth. Whether or not they're true, well, who knows. But the betterment I was most interested in was the idea of my sinuses being improved (mine are terrible and I get a LOT of headaches that can lead into migraines), skin improvement (clarification and moisturization), and teeth whitening. There's a whole lot of science that relates mouth-health to heart-health out there too, so the principles are sound for overall body health improvements.
Most sources recommend you start the rinsing first thing in the morning, when your mouth is dirtiest from 8 or so hours of bacteria brewing in there. I have a bit of a morning gag reflex, so decided to start out doing it at night, as part of my wash-face-brush-teeth-go-to-sleep routine. Once I was used to the feeling, I started doing it in the morning while getting ready for the day and I must say, I like the morning better. The time passes faster as I'm busily getting dressed and fixing my face and hair, and I just spit my mouthful out in the yard when I take the pup out for his morning duties. It's the easiest flow for me, and it really makes my sinuses feel better first thing. No more of that puffy morning head feeling.
Once I've rinsed and spit, my teeth get brushed and I'm done for the day with no "extra" time added to my morning routine.
I can only speak for myself on this one, but I'll tell ya, my sinuses have been MUCH better since beginning to oil pull. When I begin to swish, I can almost immediately feel the draining start (sorry, gross, I know), especially if I pause the swishing and tip my head back slightly. Since my migraines usually begin with a sinus headache, and my sinus headaches are usually triggered by barometric pressure swings, spring is a really tough time for my head. I've only had two headaches since starting my oil pulling regiment, which is a massive improvement from the norm this time of year (sorry, Tylenol Sinus, for the dip in sales this season) I've also noticed my skin is clearer with a nice glow, and generally more moisturized since I've been pulling.
My teeth are slightly whiter, but it's a very slow change. Coconut oil is no Crest Whitestrips, BUT. I'll take a slow whitening if it means my teeth won't ache and be hyper-sensitive like they are when I use those strips. A friend of mine who started oil pulling at the same time I did has seen marked improvement during her dental visits, with a reduction in plaque that the dentist actually commented on.
As for the multitude of other benefit claims, I can't speak to those. Maybe the longer I participate the more benefits I'll notice, but for now, sinuses, skin, and teeth are pretty darn wonderful improvements in my book.
What should you know?
* Make sure the oil you purchase is as pure and organic as you can possibly get. There's no point in putting more impurities IN when that's what you're trying to REMOVE. Makes sense, right?
* DO NOT swallow your oil. Same theory as above: You're getting toxins OUT here, not internalizing them.
* However, DO NOT spit your oil down the drain. You wouldn't pour cooking grease into your sink, so, same thing. I spit mine outside or directly into our trash since we use plastic trash bags. If you use paper bags and can't get outside, I recommend spitting into a bottle or container of some sort, then trashing.
* Coconut oil, the oil I use, is easily purchesed (I got mine on Amazon.com) and useful for so many, many things. I use mine not only for pulling, but for body lotion, cooking, and even about a half teaspoon in my coffee in the mornings for, shall we say, regularity and bloat reduction. We're gettin' real here, guys.
So there in a
Here are a few resources if you want to learn more about a few of the things discussed here - Like I said, there are a zillion, but at least these come from pretty reputable sources: