Published September 25, 2014 “As simple as it is, oil pulling has a very powerful detoxifying effect. Our mouths are the home to billions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites and their toxins. Candida and Streptococcus are common residents in our mouths. It is these types of germs and their toxic waste products that cause gum disease and tooth decay and contribute to many other health problems including arthritis and heart disease. Our immune system is constantly fighting these troublemakers. If our immune system becomes overloaded or burdened by excessive stress, poor diet, environmental toxins and such, these organisms can spread throughout the body causing secondary infections and chronic inflammation, leading to any number of health problems.” – Bruce Fife, ND (Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying & Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing) OIL PULLING Also known “Kavalagraha,” oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for anywhere from 7-20 minutes. It is said to boost detoxification, improve oral health, lower inflammation levels and more! BENEFITS whiter, brighter teeth, healthier gums, prevents bad breath, kills bacteria and yeast, increased energy, clearer mind, decreased headaches & hangovers, clearer sinuses, lessened allergies, better sleep, clearer skin, more regulated hormones, improved lymphatic system. STUDIES Streptococcus Mutans is one of the main bacteria in the mouth and a key player in plaque buildup and tooth decay. In a study from 2008 including 20 boys, oil pulling (with sesame oil) caused a reduction in the number of Streptococcus Mutans in the plaque in as little as 2 weeks. Another study compared oil pulling and chlorhexidine in adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis. Both oil pulling and chlorhexidine mouthwash were effective against gingivitis. In a third study of 20 adolescents, oil pulling therapy significantly reduced all markers for bad breath and was just as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash. DIRECTIONS I do this as soon as I wake up in the morning on an empty stomach. Then, I brush my teeth directly after the oil pulling is done. 1. You can choose either sesame oil or coconut oil, however I always pull with coconut because it’s more appropriate for my dosha (pitta) and it’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. If you are vata or kapha, sesame oil is best for you. image credit: Fabio De Giovanni 2. Put anywhere from one teaspoon to one tablespoon in your mouth (depending on what you prefer or can handle) 3. Optional: add 2 drops of oregano essential oil for supreme microbe-fighting power. 4. Pull the oil through your teeth and swish it around, but make sure to never swallow it – you don’t want to ingest the bacteria and toxins being released from your body. 5. Set a timer for 20 minutes and when finished, spit the oil into a plastic bag or directly into the trash. This is important, because if you spit it down the drain it can solidify in the pipes. How to deal with the taste + add extra power to your oil pulling: When I first began oil pulling, I HATED the texture and taste of coconut oil in my mouth! It was slimy and just plain uncomfortable. It took 3 mornings until I no longer felt a gag reflex. What I found most important in being able to palate the oil is adding some sweetness and flavor. 1. Xylitol from Birch Bark – I get mine here. Triterpenes are available from birch bark in significant amounts. Betulin (a triterpene) is derived from the outer bark, along with lupeol and allobetulin. Betulin and related compounds have been shown to have anti-viral activity against herpes simplex virus. (Carlson et al., U.S. Patent No. 5,750,578). Betulin and related compounds have also been shown to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial activity. Did you know that betulin is an ingredient in Vicks?! That’s why it works so well for everything! Since xylitiol is made from birch bark, which houses these fantastic antimicrobial triterpenes, it too is effective against bacteria, fungi and viruses within the mouth and body. Xylitol even dissolves the biofilm in your mouth (and gut) that keeps bacterial infections protected from antimicrobial intervention. A biofilm is any group of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other on a surface. In our case, the “surface” is our mouths and intestines, and biofilm growth allows parasites, bacteria, fungi and viruses to exchange DNA in order to keep themselves from being killed! Scary, huh? Adding 1/2 tsp powdered Birch Xylitol to your morning oil pulling routine will greatly improve the taste, texture, and germ-fighting power! 2. Essential Oils – Essential oils can also greatly improve taste and effectiveness. Peppermint is good for an energy boost both mentally and physically, good for bad breath, headaches and digestive trouble. Oregano is traditionally used to treat toothaches. It’s also good for asthma, parasites, sore throats, and viral infections. Orange is great for low mood, obesity, and purification. Grapefruit is effective for appetite suppressing, hangovers, overeating and weight loss. And finally, Rosemary can be wonderful for candida, circulation, immune system support, liver decongestant, and general aches and soreness.