Oil-Pulling: My First Week

Being a full-time mom gives me a lot of time to read blogs after I’ve done the cleaning and washing-up and cooking and what-have-you. A few months ago, I saw a trend popping up on the mommy blogs I frequented, and it was all about Oil-Pulling. Just in passing, I told my mom about what I’d read and the other night, she came home with a bottle of locally pressed virgin coconut oil!

DSC_0576 (2)

Tastes like a Bounty bar!

My mom will try any natural folk remedy at least once, but oil-pulling is anything but folk-y. It’s actually an Ayurvedic practice that has been going on since ancient times. Since it’s classified as ‘alternative’ medicine, there’s a lot of positive and negative hype about it. You know how they say that doctors can tell the state of a patient by looking at their tongue? The idea is the same: the mouth is the first step into the body, so you have to take care of it. Using oils will restore balance by dissolving bacteria and draws out toxins.  My reasons for trying it are purely vain because I’ve read that it whitens teeth, freshens breath and fights plaque. I’ve long wished for a row of perfect pearly whites, and oil-pulling just might give me that.

Now I’m not a licensed Ayurvedic practitioner, so don’t take my word for it. This log is going to be my full and honest experience regarding this fascinating remedy, so read with a grain of salt and draw your own conclusions!

The rules for starting oil- pulling are simple:

1) Use high-quality oil. Traditionally, one would use sesame oil, since that was what was readily available back in the day, but in the Philippines, coconut oil is plentiful and works just fine.

2) Swish a tablespoonful of oil for 5-20 minutes. Less time won’t let the oil do its job, and more time will reverse the process and put the drawn-out toxins back. Also, use a measuring spoon. Until Day 4, I was working with a regular tablespoon which, ironically, only gave me half a tablespoon.

3) Distract yourself while doing it. This rule is more for me. Ayurveda, like yoga, advocates calmness and serenity, but with an energetic baby and a house full of people, there’s precious little time for that. So I check my email or make breakfast while swishing the toxins away, win-win!

Daily Routine: I usually drink two glasses of water after wake up, followed by the coconut oil, which I dutifully keep mobile in my mouth while I check emails and Facebook. Then I spit it out in the trashcan (an important step), gargle with warm salt water then brush my teeth.

Day 1 (10pm): As soon as I take my tablespoonful, I have to fight the urge to swallow. Twenty years ago, my mom’s favorite chocolate was Bounty, that blue-and-white wrapped coconut explosion. I can see it in my mind’s eye right now, but I will it away and patiently swish the thin oil around my mouth for 15 minutes. As soon as I spit it out, my mouth feels cool and refreshed, as I’ve been gargling with regular mouthwash. There’s not much residue, but I wash my mouth out with warm water just to make sure I’ve gotten rid of any straggling toxins.

Day 2 (7.30am-ish): My mouth feels like normal after a long night of snoring- in a word, icky. As usual, I drink my two glasses of water, and then I reach for the coconut oil. The urge to swallow is not as strong as last night’s, but afterwards, I do notice a feeling of floatiness in my head. It’s like a baby headache- not painful but a touch distracting. On a more positive note, I have noticed less plaque build-up!

Day 3 (7.00am-ish): If ever you try oil-pulling and somehow end up spilling half your measure down your face, you are not alone. I feel like a hot coconut-scented mess right now. And then I proceed to feel a little- floaty, tired and cranky for the rest of the day – – which may mean I’m one of those people who goes through a harsher detox. Note to self: Drink more water.

Day 4 (7.00am exactly!): Detox-y feeling aside, I think my quality of sleep is getting better. I feel more rested and I wake up earlier. It could be the 8+ months of sleeplessness catching up, but waking up now feels like less of a chore. Today, I unearthed a proper measuring spoon from our kitchen drawers, so let’s see if having an actual mouthful makes any difference. I feel a lot of gunk coming off my tongue though, so that’s good.

Day 5 (7.00am again): I”m waking up earlier and earlier, and my mind isn’t foggy at all! I love this feeling, because now I only have to deal with one grumpster whose name I will not divulge but it’s totally my husband.  Still some gunkiness around the tongue area while I swish this stuff around, but I’m still taking that as a good sign.

Day 6 (6.35am, whaaaat): I’m not even using an alarm clock, that’s how awesome this is. I do feel very drowsy in the afternoon, but then  again, Houdini does too, so we take a nap together like we did yesterday. I don’t even notice the Bounty-ness of the oil anymore.

Day 7 (6.15am, legit sorcery): By this time, I definitely know that this morning’s spoonful isn’t going to be my last, so I swish with a smile and go on with my day.

Now, after the week of testing, I had a week off oil-pulling because we visited our in-laws and I left the bottle of coconut oil for my mom to use. The change crept up on me slowly, but when I realized why I was feeling so tired, that just made me decide to make oil-pulling a permanent part of my morning routine. Getting some much-needed sleep is so important, and as a new mom, I’ll do anything to get a good night’s sleep.

Lessons Learned: From personal experience, I believe that oil-pulling does have an effect on the body. Those first few days were definitely a detox period, but even then, the quality of my sleep was notable. Did oil-pulling exceed my hopes and dreams? Nope, not really. But then again these types of holistic, natural procedures almost never give quick results, because they’re meant to be integrated into your daily life. even if I didn’t get my picture-perfect pearly whites this week, I did notice great improvements in my sleeping habits, as well as plaque reduction, tongue health (pinker than ever before!) and less bleeding of the gums (it’s gross but true).

There you have it. Coconut oil is going right on my shopping list every week.

Coincidentally, the week that I was off oil-pulling, coconut oil got all up in my radar, as if to say: “Hello, fresh breath and deep sleep isn’t all I’m good for!” Here are some awesome links to give you that coconut-y boost:

  •  Thanks to the lovely Shari’s post about MAC’s makeup collaboration with Julia Petit, a well-known lifestyle blogger in Brazil, I learned about Julia’s beauty regimen, which is coconut oil. I’m inclined to believe that it works, because this lady is 42 years old and has the skin of a teenager. There’s also a mention of a sexylicious must-have lipstick in that post, so  ^.^
  • Inspired by the thought that coconut oil could transform my desperate skin into Julia’s sun-kissed perfection, I went look for and found 7 Reasons Why Coconut Oil Should Be Your New Skin Moisturizer (if anyone’s still on the fence, you’re very welcome :D)
  • I swear I didn’t go looking for these, but the title caught my eye: Constipation Candy. It’s paleo-friendly and you can make it organic if you swing that way. Coconut oil, cleaning you up inside and out ^.^
  • And of course, I can’t leave out the post that inspired me in the first place: Genevieve’s How To
    Do Oil Pulling (With An Extra Detox Twist). I may try the twist as well, once I’ve ordered some essential oils. I’m thinking tea tree or maybe rosemary.

That’s it for my first Bunny Tries and Tests feature! How was it? Have you ever tried oil-pulling? Do you have any coconut oil wisdom that you’d like to share?

Advertisements