Words by Blanka Priddle
If you have read my last two articles (HERE and HERE), you know that I have started us off "right" first thing in the morning. And for most of us, when, or if, we want to upgrade or change our routine or a way we go through our day, starting as soon as we roll out of bed is really the best place. It is generally easier (unless you are already getting up at a super early time) to get up 10 minutes earlier and do that one extra thing that you have decided will make the most difference for the quality of your life at this point.
And so, I have another good one for you. And this one is not even going to take any extra time, especially if you are already dry body brushing. We are going to talk about oil pulling, also known as oil swishing.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic oral care technique, believed to have a multitude of benefits for the health of our mouth (and beyond). Traditionally a cold-pressed sesame oil was used, these days this is often replaced by extra virgin coconut oil, or also MCT oil (a concentrated version of coconut oil rich in medium chain triglycerides if you really want to know). Coconut oil gained popularity over the last few years as a healthy fat in our kitchen but also in our bathroom cabinets and on our night-stands, as a chemical-free way to moisturise our skin, cuticles, and more. The bonus that (extra virgin) coconut oils brings to oil pulling is its tropical slightly sweet taste, that most people find more pleasant than sesame or olive oil.
Oil pulling is best done first thing in the morning before you have eaten anything, and an excellent time to do this is while you are dry body brushing (or simply going through your morning routine, unless this includes singing (!).
How to do it
Take about a tablespoon of the oil, put it in your mouth and start passing and rolling it around your mouth. If you are using coconut oil, it is likely that the oil will be in its solid form at room temperature. You can put it in your mouth like this and let it melt, it will do so quite quickly inside the mouth. As for most of us even just the idea of putting oil in our mouth and leaving it there sounds rather off-putting, you can start slowly with just a teaspoonful of oil. Then slowly roll it around your mouth, pull it between and all around your teeth, allow the oil swish all around the cavity of your mouth, magically cleaning the gums, the tongue and the spaces between the teeth. The whole act should be rather gentle and relaxing, you don’t want to end up with a sore jaw. And while eventually, you will want to keep going for 15 to 20 minutes, you can, of course, start with a much shorter time, whatever you can comfortably manage – even a minute or two is better than no time at all. There is a recipe suggestion at the bottom of this article to make the oil more palatable and the whole process a lot more fun.
Why to do it
And why I am asking you to try such a thing in the first place? There are many reasons, some more reasonably believable than others, but even some dentists agree that while the oil is in your mouth it works on detoxifying the mouth, teeth, gums and the whole oral cavity, drawing toxins out and flushing them from your body. It may help you heal sore gums or inflamed gum pockets and maybe even help remove stains from your teeth, making your teeth over time naturally whiter. It encourages a healthy flow of saliva, which in its turn keeps the mouth healthy and pH balanced, which then results in better general health and wellbeing.
Because many toxins are fat-soluble, they will bind with the oil as you swish, and then when you finish, you spit the oils out, thus removing the toxins from your body. You definitely do not want to swallow the oil at the end – you will want to spit it out. One thing to remember if you are using coconut oil; is to spit it into your bin, not into your sink, as coconut oil will solidify at room temperature or on contact with cold water, so you could end up with blocked pipes.
Then, simply rinse your mouth, brush your pearly whites as usual, and have a wonderful day!
Minty coconut oil butter-cups
½ cup coconut oil
15-20 drops of Spearmint or Peppermint essential oil
5 drops Myrrh essential oil
2 capsules probiotics (optional, to revive the oral microbiome)
A pinch or two of aluminium free baking soda (optional, to alkalise the mouth)
Gently melt the coconut oil over a bain marie, allow it to cool a little, so that you are not putting those precious essential oils into a hot oil. If you want to play and make your oil swishing mixture even more potent, add the probiotics, and maybe the baking soda: beware – this is extremely salty, so start low, and also make sure you get aluminium free one from your health food store.
You can simply pour into a glass jar and use a spoon to take a bit out every morning, or get yourself some silicone molds (best known for making chocolate truffle shapes) and pour the melted mix into the molds. Let the oil harden, it will happen faster in the fridge, then pop the pretty ‘butter-cups’ out of the mold and store in a glass jar.
More essential oils suggestions: Myrrh, Peppermint, Clove, Frankincense, Cinnamon, Orange, Lemon, Thieves blend, Sage, Tea Tree, Chamomile or Rose
* essential oils – I use Young Living essential oils as with them I can be sure the oils are pure and unadulterated. You can get yours here.
** I recommend glass jars as plastic, even BPA free, will leach not very nice substances into the oil, and we don’t really want that kind of stuff in our bodies. This is all about upgrading, remember?
Blanka has been passionately learning about all things natural and alternative since her teens and has been on this exploring journey for almost three decades now. She discoved essential oils back in the 90s, fell in love with raw living foods in the noughties, and played with many other things in between. She is a Kundalini as well as Hatha yoga teacher, enjoys cooking, makes her own beauty products, and is always on a quest to find the best coffee in town.
Originally from the Czech Republic, she now lives with her Husband and a cat called Chloupek in SE London, where she teaches from her cosy yoga studio.
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