i tried oil pulling, and it was weird

oil pullinghave you guys heard about oil pulling? it’s been all the rage in the blogosphere (please note my sarcasm here), but has actually been around for eons. oil pulling is an ancient ayurvedic technique that involves swishing a teaspoon or so of oil (yes, oil) around in your mouth for about 20 minutes. it’s best to “pull” on an empty stomach, so most folks do it first thing in the morning, pre-tooth brushing. oil pulling is said to draw out the toxins in your body, improving oral health, and (since your mouth is an important indicator of your general physical wellbeing), your overall health too!

reported benefits include: 

* whiter teeth

* cavity and gingivitis prevention

* better breath

* stronger teeth and gums

* less jaw pain (this is especially good for people who suffer from TMJ)

* improved sinus health and sleep

* alleviation of headaches, hangovers (!!), and skin issues such as acne and psoriasis

sounds good, right? i have to tell you, i’m not sold. see that photo above? that’s me, with no makeup and dirty hair, swishing organic sesame oil in my mouth for a full fifteen minutes at 6:45 am this morning. i look FABULOUS, right? that’s how i roll up to bar method each morning. hot mess style.

what i did: i chose sesame oil because a) i like it in my food and b) i couldn’t stomach (literally) the idea of coconut oil, which would have to “melt” in my mouth before things really got started. plus, i hate the taste of coconut. in retrospect, i wish i’d gone with sunflower, or even really nice olive oil, because sesame was a little bit weird.

it started out ok. i poured myself a teaspoon (some recommend a full tablespoon but i could not handle that) of oil, popped it into my mouth, and started swishing. while i swished, i took out my lunch, fed my cat, filled my water bottle, made my bed, put my workout clothes on, applied deodorant….basically, i did everything i could possibly do to get myself out the door without brushing my teeth. about 8 minutes in, the amount of oil in my mouth seemed to double. apparently, that’s a function both of the swishing, and the fact that all those nasty toxins are coming out. GROSS.

i kept swishing. i put my dry cleaning out for pickup, packed my bag, and put on my boots.

i still had 3 minutes of swishing to go. why does this shit take so long?! by this time, my mouth was FULL. my head kind of hurt. i cleaned my cat’s litter box. i’d run out of things to do to take my mind off the swishing.

finally, at 6:50, i’d reached 15 minutes. most people recommend 20, but i had to be out the door at 6:55 and still needed to brush my teeth. i spit my oil into a glass. it had gone into my mouth a clear, brown-tinted sesame. it came out milky. digusting, but also totally fascinating. is that plaque? toxins? bubbles? is oil pulling magic?!

to get the taste out of my mouth, i gargled quickly with salt water, then brushed my teeth as normal. i could still taste a hint of sesame, which wasn’t ideal – but it went away within the hour.

the verdict: my teeth do feel remarkably clean. i have a bit of a headache, which, according to research, is my ‘toxin detox’ (aka, now that i’ve started pulling all the nasty shit out, it’ll hurt for a bit while my body readjusts). sort of freaky, but again, also sort of fascinating. i wouldn’t say i hated oil pulling, but i definitely would not say i enjoyed it. overall, it wasn’t terrible. just really, really, weird. would i try it again? sure. in fact, i think i’ll try it again tomorrow, maybe with coconut oil, provided i can stomach it (it’s reported to have stronger detoxifying benefits). i assume it would take a few weeks of pulling to see any real results, and i’m not sure i can keep it up that long. overall, it’s unclear how much better oil pulling is, than, say, using mouthwash after you brush your teeth. it kind of seems like one of those wacky health fads, the kind that’s REALLY cool  one minute and is totally out of vogue the next.

will people soon be saying, “stop trying to make oil pulling happen!”? maybe. but in the meantime, if you need me in the early morning, i’ll be swishing away like a wacko while i clean my cat’s litter box. over and out, folks.



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