Kelsey Barrett

Living in Brooklyn and commuting to Manhattan by bike for years left my body feeling like it was processing a toxic overload. Between the commuter air quality over the Williamsburg bridge and the questionable quality of produce I was harvesting from the organic section in the corner market, I felt a constant need for detox.

I often found myself making heroic gestures at detoxifying the grime, anywhere from juice fasts and liver detoxes, to colon hydro-therapy and teeth whitening. I accepted the conscious and pop cultural norms of internal transformation towards health and beauty by way of cleansing.  Yet what this often meant was clearing the organs of their beneficial bacterial eco-system and dehydrating internal tissue.

Exclusive juice cleansing could be the most dangerous, as your body clears toxins that are transformed from fat-soluble toxins to water soluble toxins and can easily overload the liver. Remember that headache and nausea you experienced when you tried juice cleansing last?  It was actually a healing crisis.

As I’ve I changed careers into practicing western herbalism, I learned how to support the bodies natural detoxifying capacity. I’ve reflected on these early experiments and am baffled how our collective ‘fix it’ mentality seeped into my/our conscious beauty and care practices.  That is until I tried oil pulling.

Oil pulling, which is part of the Ayurvedic health care system that originated in India over 3,000 years ago, is gaining a ground swell of popularity.  When I first heard about oil pulling I excitedly shoved a tablespoon in my mouth for it’s reported oral detox every morning for one month.  After week two I experienced a detoxing flavor of metal being released from my mouth, after week three I noticed my teeth becoming a brighter and whiter, and after week four even some reduction of acne, wow!  More surprising was finding a balance of cleansing and nourishment in one practice, a leap in my mental approach to health.  Oil pulling can gently cleanse and regenerate tissue health to rebuild our oral eco-system.

How do I do it?

Traditionally, oil pulling is practiced in the morning or on an empty stomach

- Place ¾ tablespoon of sesame/coconut oil in mouth
- Swish gently to vigorously 15-20 minutes per day
- Spit used oil into the toilet or a tissue, as the oil may clog your bathroom sink.

What oil do I use?

Sesame oil is has the highest viscosity of any vegetable oil, meaning that it can penetrate more deeply. Sesame oil, now known as an antiviral, anticancer (cell growth regulator), antioxidant, antibacterial specific in gingivitis, anti-inflammatory, attracts oil soluble toxins out of the body.  The oil is warming and stimulating through high mineral and nutrient content to tissue, bone and overall physiological function.

Coconut oil has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties; That’s right, anti-fungal, meaning candida that blooms in your mouth over night can be removed with oil pulling before swallowing it down back into your digestive track.

Possible results:

- Brighter, whiter teeth
- Healthier gums
- Moisturizes dry throat and cracked lips
- Prevents bad breath
- Prevents tooth decays when practiced long term
- Increased energy
- Clearer mind
- Decreased headaches
- Clearer sinuses
- Alleviated allergies
- Better sleep
- Clearer skin
- Regulated menstrual cycles
- Improved lymphatic system
- Improved PMS symptoms
- Arthritis & Chronic Disease relief

Scientific evidence:

Scientifically there’s been a good start in researching the practice. In a study using adolescent boys, half were given an oil pull regimen for two weeks while the other half were given a chlorhexidine. At the end of the trial the group who used oil pulling had reduction in plaque and a reduction in the bacteria that cause gingivitis.

While pulling is now entering pop culture through the likes of conscious chic practitioners Gwenyth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley, I believe that this ground swell to support our health through nourishment is more than possible, it’s the next wave of health care as self care.


This article was previously seen on Oracle Talk