Health

Grab Your Favorite EVOO, Rinse, Repeat

"Oil pulling" believers credit the practice of swishing oil with a range of benefits, from whiter teeth to increased energy and healthier skin.
Jan. 27, 2015
Erin Haggerty

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The health ben­e­fits of eat­ing extra vir­gin olive oil are well known, but a grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple are also find­ing gains to their well-being by spit­ting it out.

Oil pulling comes from Ayurveda, an ancient Indian sys­tem of med­i­cine that empha­sizes bal­ance, har­mony and inter­con­nect­ed­ness and good health is defined as a state of bal­ance between mind, body, soul and senses — not just the absence of symp­toms. By extract­ing bac­te­ria, tox­ins and fungi from the mouth before they have a chance to inte­grate into the body, the prac­tice of oil pulling helps the body main­tain bal­ance.

Oil pulling believ­ers credit the prac­tice of reg­u­larly swish­ing oil around in your mouth with a range of ben­e­fits from whiter teeth to increased energy and health­ier skin. In the ancient Ayurvedic text, the Charaka Samhita, oil pulling is even cred­ited with heal­ing dis­eases like dia­betes and asthma.

Kate O’Donnell

Oil pulling can be incred­i­bly ben­e­fi­cial,” says Boston-based Ayurvedic health prac­ti­tioner Kate O’Donnell. But it is par­tic­u­larly impor­tant to choose your oil care­fully, Look for organic, cold pressed oils,” she says.

After just two weeks you could see whiter teeth, though O’Donnell encour­ages at least a three-month reg­u­lar prac­tice for sig­nif­i­cant health changes. You’re light­en­ing the load on the immune sys­tem. All the rest of the body will come into bal­ance when the immune sys­tem is in bal­ance,” says O’Donnell.

O’Donnell had her first expe­ri­ences with Ayurveda in India when she was study­ing Ashtanga yoga with the late K. Patthabi Jois.

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While deal­ing with diges­tive health issues as a result of par­a­sites, Patthabi Jois referred O’Donnell to a fam­ily doc­tor who prac­ticed Ayurveda.

He pre­scribed an intense month-long detox pro­gram which included oil pulling. The whole thing just made a lot of sense to me,” says O’Donnell. I learned so much while heal­ing myself, so I just kept study­ing.” She now teaches Ashtanga Yoga in the Boston area and does Ayurveda con­sul­ta­tions. Her cook­book, The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook is due out in November.

Heaping up to two table­spoons of olive oil into your mouth and then mov­ing it around for twenty min­utes might feel strange at first. For those who have a hard time get­ting past the ini­tial yuck-fac­tor’, O’Donnell sug­gests start­ing with a shorter prac­tice by start­ing with 5 min­utes and build­ing up to twenty min­utes. After more than twenty min­utes, the tox­ins could reab­sorb into the body, O’Donnell says.

Because it is detox­i­fy­ing, some peo­ple feel fatigued, nau­seous and expe­ri­ence headaches on their first few pulls but these symp­toms indi­cate that the prac­tice is work­ing. This can be espe­cially true for some­one whose body is over­loaded with excesses. If they’re in a bad way, start­ing with five min­utes of oil pulling is just fine,” says O’Donnell.

To give it a try, stock up on your favorite high-qual­ity olive oil, set aside 5 – 20 min­utes where you don’t have to talk to any­one and get swish­ing.




Oil Pulling:

Put 1 – 2 table­spoons olive oil (high qual­ity extra vir­gin, prefer­ably organic) in your mouth and swish for 20 min­utes.

Be care­ful not to swal­low: that oil is full of the tox­ins you are try­ing to expel.

When you’re done, spit the oil into a trash­can, not the sink or toi­let where the oil might solid­ify and cre­ate a block­age.

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