Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ayurvedic oil pulling -- just add oil and swish

This month's Whole Life Times magazine has a feature on the Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling, promising treatment for "everything from gingivitis and receding gums to allergies, headaches and general malaise." According to Rachel Dowd's "Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise," "the idea is to put two tablespoons of oil in your mouth first thing in the morning before you brush your teeth or drink or eat anything. For the next 5 to 30 minutes, you roll the oil gently around in your mouth, coating the tongue, mucous membranes, gums and teeth. During that time, you create a ball of phlegm, which you spit out when you're done."

Stick out your tongue and don't say ahhh... instead, take a look at it. If you've ever been to a practitioner outside western medicine, she likely examined your tongue to learn more about your overall health. During a detox, a friend told me, her tongue turned different colors and at one point was fuzzy as the toxins cleared from her system. When it was done, she had never seen her tongue so vibrantly pink.

"While oil pulling functions locally as oral hygiene, it also works systemically to release toxins throughout the body by stimulating the tongue," Dowd writes. Valencia Poter, M.D., M.P.H. says that "where in Western medicine the tongue is a block to seeing the back of the throat, from an Ayurvedic perspective it is a map of the body. Individual areas of the tongue correlate to the heart, lungs or other places."

The article provides some answers to frequently asked questions, including suggesting organic, cold pressed and untoasted sesame oil, as well as switching oils to see how they perform differently in your body.

Overall health not enough to tempt you to try oil in the morning? The author discovered a beauty benefit as well - whiter teeth without the Crest strips. Read the whole article here.

Has anyone tried this?

(Photos: baby tongue courtesy Corbis, Morning coup o' oil courtesy J.Garcia / Corbis)


Sarah Alaoui said...

I haven't tried that but it looks interesting...never heard of it either.

A French Cloud said...

"For the next 5 to 30 minutes..." what?! You go first and tell me what it's like!
Thanks for stopping by and trust me- life normally is not like this for me. I'm going with the flow on this one...figuring it all out.

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting. My sister has exposed me to several Ayurvedic techniques, and I have to say that at first I was very skeptical but over time I have noticed a difference. I imagine that this could also be beneficial.

Rebecca Snavely said...

5 - 30 minutes - RIGHT. I made it for 4 minutes, never developed the ball of phlegm (too much info?) which made me think I was doing it wrong. The perfectionist in me is going to stop until I get some of the sesame oil she recommends, or coconut oil - I tried with Canola, and GAG - my gag reflexes could barely handle the taste.

Des - I think that's the key, to give it time to notice the difference. We always want immediate results (what?! My teeth weren't white after 4 minutes of oil swishing?) -- I am definitely going to give this one a couple of months. I'm fascinated by Ayurvedic practices.

Yanna said...

Today is my first day of oil pulling. After this morning's round, I was incredibly sleepy, which is for me a normal "detox" reaction. I took that as a good sign. I'm finishing up with my second go right now and it was harder to swish the full 20 minutes.

If you do some research, the normal recommendation is to swish ONE tablespoon of oil for 10-20 minutes. Sesame oil is the "classic" and sunflower and olive soils are also recommended. The EFAs are absorbed sublingually (sublingual absorption is a scientifically validated phenomenon), OP has been clinically shown to reduce staph bacteria counts in the mouth and as to the detoxification effects - I'll just trust Ayurvedic tradition on that one.

Thanks for the post.

Rebecca Snavely said...

Yanna - Thanks for reading and for the further info, especially the traditional one tablespoon (two - just too much for my mouth!) for 10 to 20 minutes. I'm going to start today. So fascinated by the benefits of basic ingredients and ancient practices.