It’s 6:30am and I am staring down at a giant spoonful of coconut oil, feeling increasingly ill.
I like coconut oil. I do. I use it all the time while cooking.
But I don’t like it at 6:30am. I don’t like anything at 6:30am. Especially not huge lumps of cold oil, which are supposed to go straight into my mouth.
But still – I have to harden up. Because I need to try oil pulling. It’s the latest thing that all the fitnessy and healthy people are doing, and being the health and fitness writer-person for Mamamia, I am somewhat obligated to jump on these bandwagons.
Some bandwagons are better than others. Fun runs, barre body and stand-up paddleboarding have all been excellent. Oil pulling… I’m not so sure about. Mainly because it happens first thing in the morning, and involves taking a mouthful of oil and swishing it around your mouth for 20 minutes.
When I first heard about oil pulling, my first reaction was, “who the hell has 20 spare minutes in the morning to spend swishing oil around their mouths?” My second reaction was, “I am definitely going to spew.”
Did I mention I don’t like anything at 6:30am?
Anyway – apparently, oil pulling is an ancient Ayurveda method, recently brought back to life by health enthusiasts with a deep love for the magical purposes of oil. Ayurveda is a system of traditional medicine, native to India, which also advocates yoga, massage and acupuncture.
Supposedly, the oil pulling process cleans and detoxifies your teeth and gums. When you spit that oil out, lots of nasty things will go with it. At least that’s the idea.
Some websites claim that as little as five minutes of swishing will do. But Dr Bruce Fife, author of the book Oil Pulling Therapy, reckons the 20 minute thing is vital because it’s long enough to break through plaque and bacteria, but not long enough for the body to start re-absorbing all that gunk.
Wellness website MindBodyGreen encourages you to have fun with your 20 minutes worth of oil swishing: “Hum a little song, or practice deep breathing through your nose. Allow this to be a sacred time. Enjoy the feeling of cleansing, the relaxation with the absence of talking. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of smiling with a mouth full of oil. Something about it just feels so right!”