Oil pulling as you probably know has become very fashionable in recent times. It is another of the “old – new” things I spoke about in my kefir blog. Oil pulling is an ayurvedic prescribed detoxifying ritual. There are others like jal-neeti ( nasal cleansing ) and virechna ( therapeutic vomiting ) but oil pulling or gandusha sounded easy. While I buy into the ayurveda principles of detoxification and cleansing I find the oil used in all of the rituals a bit challenging. When I went to a seven day quickie detox (a real panchkrama should be a minimum of fourteen days ) at Somatheeram, Kerala (read my blog ) I cringed at the medicated ghee I was made to drink and the medicated nasal oil that was shoved up my nose. But oil pulling has had such rave reviews on blogs that I had to try it .
Oil pulling is a simple method. Swirl two tablespoons of oil in your mouth as soon as you wake up in the morning. Don’t brush or rinse your mouth before this. Swirl don’t gargle. Hold the oil in your mouth for twenty minutes . The oil changes character and turns watery and milky – a good sign that indicates that it has pulled toxins . Don’t swallow, just spit and rinse out with warm water. It has several benefits.
According to ayurveda : “Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic treatment for oral health and detoxification. It involves the use of pure oils for pulling harmful bacteria, fungus, and other organisms out of the mouth, teeth, gums and throat.” So I started with olive oil as I didn’t have cold pressed coconut oil for a week and switched to coconut oil after. I didn’t have much of problem with swirling the oil in my mouth for twenty minutes- checking Facebook or sending off e -mail is a good distraction .
But I developed mild headaches from day two. I am not headache kind of person so I notice when I get headaches . The headaches are attributed to the fact that the body is going into detox mode so I decided to grin and bear them . They got worse. I assumed I was really quite toxic J
I did notice that my teeth looked whiter and that they felt cleaner. I am told the oil polishes the enamel and cleansse it so this probably what I felt. A week later I developed a scratchy throat . Further detoxification I assumed but it was not comfortable. Then I developed sinus which segued into a congestion and then a mild bronchitis infection. I stopped oil pulling at the sinus stage . Perhaps it was the density of toxins that caused the infection as I swirled the oil around my mouth . It has taken me two weeks to recover from my throat infection.
I read later that I had what is termed a ‘healing crisis’ ie my body went into severe detox mode. I read further that switching to pure coconut oil may have accelerated the detoxing process.
I decided to check with the experts. Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centre is a good place to check for authentic ayurveda information www.ayurindus.com
Their website is very informative and they often have a doctor on chat to clarify doubts. I discovered that there are four kinds of oil pulling prescribed by ayurveda and different oils for each one. Sesame oil is the most recommended for a simple detox and for dental health. Medicinal herbs are added to the oils depending on your dosha so the experience is tailor made for you. Like everything else one has to remember that Ayurveda is a school of medicine so it may have been better to start with a doctor’s advice and dosha balancing. I may try it again, perhaps on alternate days to begin with but right now I am definitely taking a break.