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We Yoga therapists use oil for many things. Stiff joints and sore muscles? Oil. Tinnitus? Oil. Concerned about cognitive decline? Oil. We should own shares in edible oil companies. Time and again I have suggested oil to students because it was taught to me as treatment protocol. That treatment protocol was taught to me by my teachers whom I trust implicitly and who use oil therapeutically themselves. But I’ll tell you a secret – I have never been 100% sure that it works. I mean, what I was taught made good, logical sense, but my inner skeptic never completely bought the thinking. Inner Skeptic wanted proof, hard core, validated proof.

Well, my friends and Inner Skeptic, we finally got that proof, and we got it in the form of the process known as “oil pulling”. You’ve probably heard of it; it was all the rage a few years back. Magazines were full of articles about oil pulling that made some very large claims. I’m not sure about large claims. In fact, I steer clear of those. What I can tell you is that I have been diligently working with oil pulling for about 2 years now and the difference when I go to the dentist is noticeable enough that my very outspoken hygienist says, “It’s like trying to clean the inside of a clean car. There’s nothing for me to do in here!”

And it’s true. Blessed (I say sarcastically) with advanced periodontal disease, I have the great pleasure of going to get my teeth cleaned every 3 months. At first my gums were so tender and inflamed, and there was enough tartar buildup, that the process of having my teeth cleaned was painful, painful enough to require nitrous and numbing injections. After 2 years of oil pulling, there is minimal tenderness and tartar, and no need for my mouth to be frozen. I can still say that I am shocked and thrilled every single time. This stuff works!

How is this done?

For me, it was suggested that I work with untoasted organic sesame oil but the oil needs to be palatable, and I know people who cannot tolerate the taste of sesame oil, so they opt for coconut oil instead. It’s more important that you set yourself up with an oil that you will like because consistency with the practice, as with all practices, is key. You’ll be doing this for 15 – 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, so you’ll want to enjoy your oil!

Take a tablespoon (or slightly less) of your chosen oil, plop it into your mouth, and begin to work the oil around the mouth, between the teeth. Begin to actively pull the oil through the spaces between your teeth. (Did you ever suck pudding or Jello through your teeth when you were a child? That’s the action I’m talking about.) As you do, the oil collects and traps harmful bacteria. Eventually the quality of the oil will change to an almost-soapy substance. It will also turn to a milky colour. It takes about 15 – 20 minutes for this change to occur so I suggest you hunker down and read your texts/emails or do the dishes. Continue on with daily tasks as you work the oil through your mouth; it will help make the time pass.

Warning: Your mouth muscles will become sore after a while. When that happens, take a short break but keep going for the allotted time.

Once the time is up, do not spit the oil down the sink. Your plumber will love you for it but you will not. Spit the oil into the garbage or your green bin. Then brush your teeth and go on with your day. Your mouth will feel remarkably fresh and clean.

Traditionally, it is suggested that this process happen in the mornings. After a number of years of working with people, I understand how busy mornings tend to be. I would like to suggest that you find a time in the day that works for you. Nothing devastating will happen if you don’t do this in the morning. Better that you do it consistently at 8 pm than not at all.

I’ve checked with Inner Skeptic and we both agree that it’s safe to say that if you struggle with periodontal issues, tartar buildup, or simply want to clean your mouth as thoroughly as you can, oil is the way to go.

Try it for yourself for a few months and see what happens. If you do, let me know how it goes. Maybe leave a comment down below. I always love to hear about other people’s experiences.

Wishing you all the very best,

Tabitha

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