When I wake up in the morning, I head for the bathroom, empty my bladder, then pick up this bottle of oil and spray it 5 times into my mouth.
I swish the oil (which mixes slowly with saliva) around my mouth for about 15 minutes as it continues to gain volume from saliva production — working it through my teeth, around the gums, on the sides. While oil pulling, I do other things like readying the clothes to wear, fixing my bed, and even taking a morning shower. After 15 minutes, I spit it out into a bin (not into the sink because it could eventually clog my pipes), rinse my mouth with water, then drink a full glass of water to hydrate my organs. All these before I take breakfast.
It’s all part of my morning wellness regimen. Yes, it takes getting used to. I used to gag just thinking of oil whirling around my mouth. But don’t worry, it isn’t that bad.
But what’s with the oil?
It’s an ancient Ayurvedic dental practice called OIL PULLING. Known as “gundusha” or “kavala“, oil pulling involves swishing oil inside the mouth on an empty stomach. While we sleep, our digestive system stays awake. It continues to remove toxins from our body and deposits them on our mouth. In the morning when we wake up, if we immediately drink water or swallow our saliva, we are actually reabsorbing these toxins back into our body, leading to a lowering of our immune system and other possible illnesses. Because the mouth contains pockets where bad bacteria can accumulate, it is believed that oil pulling pulls the toxins and binds them with the oil.
We cannot totally eliminate bacteria from our mouth. In fact, the goal is NOT to completely remove the bad bacteria from the mouth (impossible!). The key is BALANCE — balancing the presence of both good and bad bacteria in the mouth, such that the bad does not overpower the good and lead to disease.
Why oil? Why not a mouthwash? Or tongue scraper?
I have mouthwashes and a tongue scraper and I use both of these when I am in a hurry to leave the house and oil pulling would delay me. A tongue scraper removes toxins on the tongue that toothbrushes cannot (scraping your tongue with a toothbrush just redistributes the bacteria all over the tongue). But a tongue scraper just takes care of, well, the tongue! There are pockets in the sides of our mouth and in other areas of the mouth that only oil can pull. As for mouthwashes, I got them from some blogger events so I also use them once in a while for convenience when I am in a hurry but knowing they are chemical-based, I would suggest, for those looking for a totally holistic alternative, to look into oil pulling.
Which oils are best for oil pulling?
The one I have now uses coconut oil as its base oil, which is different from what traditional Ayurvedic practice recommends. In some other articles I have come across, they also recommend coconut oil, preferably organic and cold-pressed. It supposedly has less Omega-6 fats (which is pro-inflammatory) than sesame oil. My personal thoughts: I don’t think this is a huge issue since we don’t swallow the oil pulling substance anyway. But more people now prefer coconut oil because 50% of its fat content is lauric acid – a bacteria fighting ingredient. It inhibits Streptococcus mutans, the primary bacteria that causes tooth decay. So regular oil pulling using coconut oil can actually prevent tooth decay. Coconut oil also destroys Candida albicans which causes oral thrush or oral candidiasis.
My current oil pulling tonic is from Indigobaby (a venture put up by yogi friends). The Gargoyle oil pulling brand features two variants: Peppermint and Citrus Spice (what I use now). Once this is consumed, I plan to try Laurin, a high-end virgin coconut oil brand that we have lots of in the house for health purposes.
Check out this Indigobaby video on how to use Gargoyle.