“Oil pulling” is the latest craze also known as “kavala” (swished) or “gundusha” (held) in – is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for around 5-10 minutes. This action “supposedly” draws out toxins, primarily to improve oral and overall health. Oil pulling helps against gingivitis, plaque, and microorganisms that cause bad breath. This is how it works.  Most microorganisms inhabiting the mouth consist of a single cell. Cells are covered with a lipid, or fatty, membrane, which is the cell’s skin. When these cells come into contact with oil, a fat, they naturally adhere to each other.

The practice of oil pulling started in India thousands of years ago as part of natural healing practices described in ancient Ayurveda texts. It was first introduced to the United States in the early 1990s by a medical doctor named Dr. F. Karach, who used it with success in his medical practice. Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that was formed around 3,000 to 5,000 years ago. The oral health practices of Ayurveda include chewing on sticks and eating herbs, as well as oil pulling. Original practitioners used oils as a way to prevent bleeding gums, decay, dryness of throat, oral odor, cracked lips and for strengthening teeth, gums.

Some popular oils used in oil pulling are sunflower, coconut, sesame, olive and palm. While coconut is one of the most popular pulling oils, as it has strong antibacterial properties, it becomes a solid below 75 degrees. But when blended in correct proportion with sesame and sunflower oil for the purpose of achieving a balance and a more thorough detox, the mixture will not harden. The one I found is by Kavala comes in 4 refreshing flavors and is 100% certified organic.

How to do oil pulling:

1. Put 1-2 teaspoons of oil into your mouth.

2. Swish for 5-10 minutes. Apparently the timing is key, as this is long enough to break through plaque and bacteria but not long enough that the body starts re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria. The oil will get thicker and milky as it mixed with saliva during this time and it should be creamy-white when spit out.

3. Spit oil into the trash can. Don’t spit into the sink! Oil can clog your pipes. Do not swallow the oil as it is hopefully full of bacteria and toxins at this point.

4. Rinse well with warm water to get any remaining oil out of the mouth.

5. Brush your teeth as usual.

To see the benefits of oil pulling, you really have to do this every day for about two week. It is still uncertain if oil pulling is as good and effective as some people claim it is (and some people have certainly reported great results). At the very least, we know cleaning our mouths with coconut oil can’t hurt us, especially with all of the added benefits of coconut oil.  *I personally do not recommend oil pulling as a replacement for standard oral health standards. Please use your discretion.

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