One of the simplest and safest ways to detoxify the body and whiten teeth is oil pulling, writes columnist Katrina Mather, who owns and runs The Body Toolkit award-winning health retreats in Scotland
Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic detox technique. It’s one of the easiest ways to cleanse the body and, because it gives such remarkable results, it’s definitely worth shoehorning into your morning routine. So, what does it entail? Basically, putting a teaspoon of organic cold pressed oil (I like to use coconut oil, but you can use any oil) into your mouth and swirling it around like a mouth wash, before spitting it out.
Why am I such a fan of this 3,000-year-old technique? Because whether we like to admit it or not, our mouths are home to bacteria and toxins and, after a nice long sleep those uninvited guests have been gathering and incubating away in our mouths. An indicator that that’s been the case might be bad breath in the morning or an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Oil acts like a magnet, attracting and binding to any bacteria, toxins or mucus in the mouth before they get a chance to spread around the body, causing inflammation or compromising the immune system.
The benefits of oil pulling
1. Teeth Whitener: It’s found recent fame for this benefit alone – oil pulling with coconut oil is the cheapest and safest way to naturally whiten your teeth. Its antimicrobial properties clean and brighten them, so there’s no need to use chemical whitening products that can harm your teeth.
2. Gets Rid of Bad Breath and Improves Oral Hygiene: Oil pulling removes the bacteria responsible for tooth cavities and bad breath, as well as helping with plague-induced gingivitis, which makes it great for oral health.
3. Simple and Efficient Way to Detox: Germs and bacteria in the body act like poison and not only waste the body’s precious energy in trying to deal with them, but they also cause inflammation, which can trigger chronic ill health. Oil pulling draws and removes these toxins from the mouth before they get a chance to spread to the rest of the body.
4. Keeps Your Skin Clear: Getting rid of toxins that would otherwise end up circulating in the bloodstream will give your skin something to smile about. Skin problems, rashes etc often reduce significantly when you begin to use oil pulling as the body no longer needs to use the skin to “get rid” of what it doesn’t need.
5. Clears Congestion and Sinuses: Many at the retreat notice that after a couple of days of oil pulling their sinuses begin to clear – one guy even found that his sense of smell returned after a couple of weeks. The oil pulls congestion and mucus from the throat and clears sinuses.
How to oil pull
· For the best results try oil pulling first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything else.
· Any oil will do, but coconut oil has the added antibacterial and antifungal properties
· Put 1 teaspoon of coconut oil into your mouth (if it’s still solid it will melt quite quickly).
· Swirl the oil around the mouth, pulling it through the teeth, like a mouthwash (but no gargling!).
· Aiming to do it for 5 to 20 minutes (!) – you can build up the length of time gradually, but the best tip is to distract yourself when you’re oil pulling, e.g. read a book or make your bed.
· When you’re done, empty the oil into the toilet or into the bin (never spit coconut oil into the sink, as it solidifies at cold temperatures and can block drains)
· Rinse your mouth out with water two or three times and brush your teeth as normal.
And if you swallow the oil by accident, don’t worry – coconut oil is incredibly good for us anyway.
In just six nights at the retreat people notice that their teeth feel cleaner and look noticeably whiter, and when kept up for a few weeks clients have commented that even their dentists have noticed a difference in their oral hygiene.