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Back in January, I decided to try something called oil pulling. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic healing method that dates back 5000 years. The science behind it is complex, but the actual process is simple – you put about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth, and you swish it around and “pull” it between your teeth for about 15 minutes. (Click HERE to read how this process removes toxins from our bodies.)
In addition to whitening your teeth and promoting good oral health, advocates claim that oil pulling can alleviate headaches, acne, allergies, diabetes, and asthma. Other supposed health benefits include weight loss, increased energy, clearer sinuses, and improved sleep.
Good stuff, right? So I decided to give it a try.
My Oil Pulling Experiment
You don’t need a special product for oil pulling – you can use various types of oil, many of which may be found in your pantry – sesame oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil are popular choices. However, a company called GuruNanda happened to send me a bottle of their Pulling Oil (which has a proprietary blend of coconut, sunflower, and peppermint oils), so that’s what I decided to use.
According to GuruNanda, I could begin to see results from oil pulling after 6 weeks – so my plan was to give it a try for 6 weeks and then report back to you on my experience and results. It’s been well over 6 weeks (oops), so I figured I’d give you an update, even though it’s only a partial one (more on that in a minute).
My first couple of attempts at pulling oil were a little rough. Here’s what I wrote on January 13 after trying it twice:
The directions on the bottle say to swish one tablespoon of oil for 15 minutes – however, it’s suggested that beginners start out only swishing a teaspoon for a minute or two. The idea is to get accustomed to it and gradually work your way up to the recommended use. The first time I used it, I swished one teaspoon for one minute. It felt a little weird, but it was kind of a neutral experience. The oil seemed to thicken a bit in my mouth, but it didn’t bother me for such a short amount of time. The second time I used it, I swished one teaspoon for two minutes. Similar experience – only two minutes seems to be when my gag reflex kicks in. I spit it out before I could find out for sure.
I’m happy to tell you that pulling oil got much, much easier after the first 3 or 4 times. The gag reflex stopped completely, and as I got more accustomed to the process, I was able to pull more oil for longer periods of time. I started out by swishing one teaspoon for one minute, and I worked my way up to about a tablespoon for 10 minutes. The larger amount of oil wasn’t uncomfortable at all, which surprised me.
I actually started to look forward to pulling oil each night. One downside though – 10 minutes is a long time to add to a bedtime ritual, at least for someone like me who is always running late to begin with. I tried to do other things while I pulled oil – fold laundry, make the morning coffee, or one time I even tried to do it in the shower. This worked well sometimes, but if I let my mind wander too far, I’d forget that I had oil in my mouth and would start to swallow it. Yuck.
So with that said, I wasn’t able to pull oil every single night, as I’d originally planned. But I would say that I did it on average about 4-5 times a week.
There was a flaw in my 6-week plan, though. My bottle of GuruNanda Pulling Oil contained 8 ounces of oil, or 16 tablespoons. Which means that after about 4-5 weeks, I ran out of oil.
As I said, you can use various oils for oil pulling. I couldn’t make up my mind whether I wanted to use something from my pantry or order a new bottle of GuruNanda. So far, I haven’t done either.
My plan was to show you side-by-side photos of myself before and after 6 weeks of pulling oil. I’d hoped to take both pictures from the same spot, with similar lighting. But since I (and my oil) didn’t last for 6 weeks, I didn’t get a chance to take that photo. This is the best I can do for now:
*Disclosure: I have touched up my skin (very amateurishly) in these photos, because I’m 40 years old and don’t need to show you my pores. However, my teeth are untouched.
I know it’s hard to tell if there’s any change because of the lighting, but I did feel like maybe my teeth were a tiny bit whiter. I can tell you for sure that they felt cleaner and smoother during those 4-5 weeks that I was regularly pulling oil.
I didn’t observe any other health benefits, but even if I had, it would be kind of silly to attribute them to just a few weeks of oil pulling (or any other health regimen, for that matter). I think you’d have to observe and measure any perceived health benefits over the course of months, not weeks, in order to make valid health claims.
I genuinely enjoyed oil pulling and will almost certainly do it in the future – and if I can manage to pull off a real 6 weeks before and after photo, I’ll share it with you here. My only complaint is that it’s a time consuming process. You’ll need to decide for yourself if the benefits make it a good use of your time.
Have you tried oil pulling? I’m curious to hear about other people’s experiences.