Ed. note: Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice said to have detoxifying properties. Read more about it here.
Oil pulling is actually a quite simple and inexpensive daily habit to work into your life. The process of oil pulling starts with taking approximately a tablespoon of oil into your mouth and swirling it around for five to 20 minutes. Fifteen to 20 minutes is the optimal duration to pull, but it's recommended that beginners start with five minutes then work their way up to 20 minutes, increasing the amount of time they pull each day.
If you have a smaller mouth, you may want to reduce the amount of oil to whatever is tolerable, possibly even down to a teaspoon or less. You can eventually work your way to higher amounts of oil once you become more comfortable with oil pulling and know what amount works for you.
To oil pull, swirl the oil around the front and back of the mouth, over the tongue, and toward the back of the throat without swallowing. To maximize dental health, it is recommended to pull the oil in and out from between the teeth and around the gums as well.
Step-by-Step Oil-Pulling Guide
1. Use a tongue scraper to remove any excess debris from the tongue.
2. Use floss to remove any debris from in between the teeth.
3. Choose between coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil to pull with.
4. Choose an essential oil you would like to add to the base oil, making sure it’s an essential oil you can use orally. (This step is optional but beneficial.)
5. Prepare a tablespoon or less of the base oil with one or two drops of any essential oil you are adding.
6. Make sure you are near a trashcan or other appropriate place to spit out the oil. As an alternative, grab a cup if you will be sitting far away from those locations.
7. Put the oil in your mouth and start swishing!
8. Pull the oil in and out from between your teeth and around your gums, but make sure not to swallow it.
9. Swish the oil continuously for 5 to 20 minutes, depending on your comfort level. Beginners may start at 5 minutes and work their way up to 20 minutes, which is the ultimate daily goal!
10. At the end of your oil pulling session, spit the oil into a cup or trashcan. Note the color — a milky-white color indicates success at collecting and ridding your body of toxins and bacteria!
11. Sprinkle a dash of sea salt into warm water and gargle with it to clean out any stray bacteria or residue.
12. Brush your teeth for a few minutes with or without toothpaste to clean off any stuck particles.
Adapted from Oil-Pulling Revolution by Dr. Michelle Coleman, 2015 Ulysses Press.
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