Oilpulling is an age old Ayurveda process which works on the root cause of symptoms and helps the body in its healing process, hence takes significant amount of time in giving you the desired results. The cost is the price of a daily spoonful of coconut oil – cheaper than even a vitamin tablet. Yet it is one of the most powerful forms of therapeutic techniques available.
Oilpulling or oil swishing involves swishing oil in the mouth. Ayurvedic literature describes oilpulling as capable of both improving oral health and treating serious and systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus or asthma.
Compared to other forms of detoxification it is relatively effortless. It doesn’t require dieting, fasting, or consuming unpleasant, and often bowel loosening, mixes of herbs and pills. And it is completely harmless. All you are doing is rinsing your mouth out with an oil–a food. You’re not even swallowing the oil. What can be more benign than that? Nearly anyone can do it, regardless of their level of health. If you have health issues, don’t let the simplicity of oilpulling deter you from trying it. Sometimes the simplest procedures produce the greatest results.
The oil is “worked” in the mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through the teeth for a period of 15 to 20 minutes. It is done one to three times a day on an empty stomach. The best time is in the morning before eating breakfast, but can be done before any meal. The used oil is discarded and the mouth rinsed out with water. The oil is never swallowed because it is loaded with bacteria, toxins, pus, and mucous.
Problems such as deformities of the oral cavity, plaques and infections were managed in ancient India. Research has shown that all kinds of chewing sticks described in ancient Ayurveda texts have medicinal and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Oilpulling works the same way as cleaning soaps. Soaps are basically fats that attract germs in order to clean. Oilpulling attracts germs and bacteria to ‘pull’ them out of your mouth. It cleans your gum line without damaging your gums. It has been known to cure problems with bad breath, and helps with gum inflammation. It can also help prevent and reverse tooth disease.
Scientific validations of the Ayurveda dental health practices could justify their incorporation into modern dental care. Publicity of these techniques using appropriate media would benefit the general population by giving more confidence in the ancient practices, thus preventing tooth decay and loss.
Oilpulling therapy can be done using oils like sunflower oil or sesame oil. The sesame plant (Sesamum indicum) of the Pedaliaceae family has been considered a gift of nature to mankind for its nutritional qualities and desirable health effects. Sesame oil is considered to be the queen of oil seed crops because of its beneficiary effects. However, coconut oil is the most pleasant inside the mouth and many suggest the most effective.
A study was conducted by Asokan S et al (2009) to evaluate the effect of oilpulling with sesame oil on plaque-induced gingivitis, and to compare its efficacy with chlorhexidine mouthwash. A total of 20 age-matched adolescent boys with plaque-induced gingivitis were selected for this study. They were divided randomly into the study or oilpulling group (Group I) and the control or chlorhexidine group (Group II) with 10 subjects in each group. Plaque index and modified gingival index scores were recorded for the 20 subjects and baseline plaque samples were also collected. There was a statistically significant reduction of the pre- and post-values of the plaque and modified gingival index scores in both the study and control groups (p < 0.001 in both). The oilpulling therapy showed a reduction in the plaque index, modified gingival scores, and total colony count of aerobic microorganisms in the plaque of adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis.
Choosing The Right Oil
It is recommended that organic, unrefined, cold pressed oils with the life force of the core substances in that oil are intact. Use the best quality you can get –unrefined, cold-pressed, which will not contain chemical residues. If you have access to only refined oil, start with sunflower or sesame oil, both of them shall work effectively. Avoid all poor quality oils that you wouldn’t want to eat. Those include corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil and soy oil, and those that go rancid very quickly such as flax oil.
Cold-pressed, or expeller-pressed oil is just a better quality oil that doesn’t contain chemical residues, and is better nutritionally. Refined oils are high heated which damages the quality to some degree, but still they will work fine for the purposes of oilpulling.
The expulsion process used for expeller pressed oils does generate a certain amount of heat, depending on the type of seed or nut and how much pressure it takes to get the oil out of it. But this is very low compared to the high heat method used for refined oils. Look for a brand of oil with unrefined, organic sunflower oil, sesame or coconut oil.
Oilpulling Method Step by Step
Step 1: First thing in the morning on an empty stomach and before drinking any liquids (including water), pour exactly one tablespoon of sunflower, sesame or coconut oil (or whatever oil you have chosen) into your mouth. We don’t recommend doing this process at any other time. Children can also do this with less quantity of oil provided they have control and practice not to swallow the oil.
Step 2: Swish the oil around in your mouth without swallowing it. Move it around in your mouth and through your teeth, as if it was mouthwash (DON’T tilt your head back to gargle). You’ll find that the oil will start to get watery as your saliva mixes with it. Keep swishing. If your jaw muscles get sore while swishing, you’re putting too much into it. Relax your jaw muscles and use your tongue to help move the liquid around the inside of your mouth. When you do this correctly, you’ll feel very comfortable.
There is no right way or wrong way to swish and pull oil. Don’t focus on doing it right. Do it with very natural movement. Do this gently, not vigorously, in a relaxed way for about 15-20 minutes.
If you have the unbearable urge to swallow and if it becomes too unpleasant, spit out and try again. It can be a bit unpleasant at first when you’re not used to it, but soon you will get used to it, just like brushing your teeth.
When the oil has become saturated with the toxins it has pulled out, it may become whitish and a thinner, milky consistency, depending on the type of oil used. Each time you oil pull, it can take a different amount of time to get to that point, so 20 minutes is a general rule of thumb, but you can experiment with this.
If you spit out before 15 minutes, start again. The process is to make the oil swish enough time in your mouth so that it becomes a white thick substance which is a indication of process completion.
Step 3: As the end of the oilpulling session approaches, spit the oil out, then rinse the mouth with warm salt water. (Just use normal table salt). Salt water rinsing isn’t absolutely necessary, but is very helpful as an antimicrobial and to soothe any inflammation. It is also proven to be effective in rinsing out any toxins which may be left out in the mouth.
Understand that this process works better in the morning. If for some reason it is absolutely not possible for you to pratice this method in the morning, you can do this on an empty stomach at any time of the day. Empty stomach means the food is digested completely. Ideally after three or four hours after a meal. (It also depends on the food you are eating).
Oilpulling Method common questions and concerns:
Q: Should I brush before Oilpulling?
No, there’s no need to. It’s important to brush after oilpulling and clean the mouth thoroughly after toxins are drawn out with salt and water as explained before.
Q: When oil becomes white after 5 min? 10 min? 15 min???
There’s no rule of thumb different oils will behave differently, so don’t pay attention to when the oil becomes white. Do the oilpulling for 20 minutes and you will notice that oil becomes white.
Q: I was only able to do it for about few minutes, Is it normal?.
It is very common. Because we are not tuned into take oil in our mouths, for first few times there will be some difficulty. You would be amazed by how quickly you can get used to it! It helps if you think about keeping the oil around your teeth and not toward the back of your mouth. Keeping the head tilted down a bit can help with that. Five minutes may be all you need initially, but you may also be able to increase the time because it will become more comfortable. Experiment and you’ll find out what works best for you.
Q: I can’t help swallowing a little during Oilpulling. Is that harmful?
If you need to swallow a bit during oilpulling, the toxins being drawn out can usually be handled by the digestive system and eliminated properly. When you feel the urge to swallow, just spit the whole thing and restart.
Q: I could only do it for a few minutes, as my mouth was getting tired.
You’re probably doing it too vigorously. Just relax and do the swishing in a more relaxed way.
Q: Reasons for doing oilpulling on empty stomach
First, it helps not to have a full stomach if you get a little queasy from the oilpulling experience before you get used to it. Second, the detoxifying effect is a bit stimulating, whereas digestion involves the parasympathetic nervous system, so those are opposite functions. Eating something light may not be a problem, and you can judge by how you feel. If you can oil pull first thing in the morning, that takes care of that problem.
Q: After oilpulling it never turns in to white
The idea is, the viscosity and color should change significantly, but the color depends on so many factors, and can even be slightly different each time. A milky or creamy color is fine.
Q: Does the toothbrush become full of toxins from Oilpulling?
Keep your toothbrush clean by letting it dry out completely between uses. Use one in the morning and a different one at night.
Q: Are there any diet restrictions with Oilpulling?
No actual diet restrictions per se, but oilpulling will work better the more you eat a diet that is right for you individually. You can eat right after oilpulling, no problem.
About the Author
Karen Foster is a holistic nutritionist, avid blogger, with five kids and an active lifestyle that keeps her in pursuit of the healthiest path towards a life of balance.