Day 175: Oil Pulling

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Several months ago, my friend Vicki sent me a suggestion to try oil pulling as a first. I’ve had this idea on my list and have researched the practice. Tonight, for my first, I gave this ancient folk remedy a try.

Oil pulling, or oil swishing, originated in India thousands of years ago and was used to treat imbalances in the body. The modern practice of oil pulling, which involves holding or swishing oil in the mouth, was introduced in the United States in the 1990’s.

The benefits are said to be many, and include whiter teeth, improve oral health, fresh breath, reduced plaque and inflammation, and the elimination of toxins and bacteria from the mouth. Other sites I visited online also claim the daily practice reduces migraine headaches, provides pain relief, clears up the skin and alleviates sinus pain and congestion. The medical community says the claims have not been proven, but those who practice oil pulling swear by it.

The technique is simple:

1. Put 1 – 2 teaspoons of oil in the mouth. The majority of people use coconut oil, which is in a solid state until it warms up, and then it becomes liquid. Sesame oil is also recommended.

2. Gently swish the oil around in the mouth for 20 minutes, which is key. That time is long enough to break through plaque and bacteria and short enough that the body doesn’t reabsorb the bacteria.

3. Spit oil into a trash can. Do not spit into a sink or toilet as the oil congeals again as it cools. And do not swallow the oil because it now contains bacteria and toxins.

4. Rinse well with warm water, swishing again to remove all the oil.

5. Brush teeth.

I was curious enough to try oil pulling as a first, although I had concerns about swishing oil around in my mouth for 20 minutes. That seemed like a long time!

So how was the experience?

I had to get past the thought that I was putting a spoonful of oil into my mouth! I used one teaspoon. Coconut oil is very mild, so taste wasn’t a problem. The solid substance quickly became a liquid. I set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes and gently moved the oil around my mouth. I was right….20 minutes is a very LONG time, when you can’t swallow. The amount of fluid seemed to increase, and indeed, since I wasn’t swallowing, I had saliva building up in my mouth. I had to spit some of the oil out, twice. I busied myself, playing Furballs on my phone, to pass the time. When I checked the kitchen timer, 11 minutes had gone by. Whew.

I went back to playing on my phone and tried not to think about the minutes slowly ticking by. I almost abandoned the trial shortly after that. My throat became dry and I felt like I needed to cough. I almost panicked. Checking the timer again, I found I only had 4 minutes to go. I could do this. Pacing through the house, willing myself not to cough, I was headed for the trash can when the timer pinged, signaling that the 20 minutes was up! Yay!

I spit. I rinsed with warm water. My mouth did feel clean, as did my teeth. I checked my mouth in the mirror before brushing my teeth. Gums and teeth looked good. So, oil pulling wasn’t so bad. I don’t know that I would want to practice this every day. However, I might be willing to adopt a once a week regimen. I can, at least, say I’ve experienced oil pulling now. Been there, done that….get me the T shirt!

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