Ayurveda for health utilizes many techniques and exercises as self care practice, one of which is known as “oil pulling”.
There are many benefits to oil pulling, the most definite being overall oral hygiene, as the bacteria in the mouth that feed on sugars do not like oils. Oil pulling gently coats the teeth with oil — even between the teeth — therefore hindering tooth decay (ask your dentist about the relationship between oils and tooth decay to get the full scoop).
Another benefit of oil pulling is digestive stimulation. Digestion begins in the mouth and the process of pulling stimulates hunger and digestion, and kindles our “digestive fire”, known as agni.
Other ayurvedic reasons one might pull oil include normalizing nervous activity, calming the mind, decreasing overall body aches, and stimulating mouth, teeth and gum health.
Here’s how you do it:
In the morning, on an empty stomach, pour 1-2 teaspoons of raw, organic sesame oil into your mouth. Swish the oil around, without gargling. Use your own suction to “pull” the oil around your mouth. Continue this for up to 20 minutes.
As you pull, the oil will become thinner and whiter in color. The whitish color is a proper indication that the process is complete. This process is “pulling” the bacteria and toxins out of the oral cavity. Spit out the oil, ideally into a trash receptacle (as oil may clog sinks). Do your best not to swallow any of the oil.
Rinse your mouth with warm, salt water (note: natural, non-iodized salt is ideal).
Oil pulling can be performed as often as three times a day; always on an empty stomach and ideally in the morning if you choose to do it only once.
As with all ayurvedic practices, it is best to commit to the practice for a period of time in order to experience the benefits for oneself. Oil pulling every once in a while is great, but more frequency is better. For best results, make it a regular ayurvedic morning ritual before breakfast.
Britt Bensen Steele teaches Vinyasa yoga Mondays and Wednesdays at 5 pm, and is one of our Ayurvedic lifestyle counselors. To learn more about Britt or Ayurveda, visit YogaWithBritt.com or email her directly.