While exploring the Historic District in Fredericksburg, Virginia, it is easy to sense the rich history and untold stories of the area.
One of the most popular historical artifacts in this district is the Charles Dick house, which was built around 1740 as the home of the Commissioner of Gunnery during the Revolutionary War. This is believed to be the oldest residence in Fredericksburg.
While admiring the centuries-old white columns and lain brick, it is difficult to imagine life 280 years ago and have this physical representation of ages gone still standing. However, there are trends that continue to stand the test of time for centuries, like the Charles Dick House, and even milleniums.
The ancient medicine of Ayurveda is one of those keepsakes. Ayurveda is believed to have originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. It is considered the oldest healing science and translates to “The Science of Life” in Sanskrit.
An Ayurveda technique rich in health benefits – oil pulling – is making a resurgence in the 21st century, proving that natural, holistic health is the only medicine that can truly stand the test of time.
What is oil pulling?
The practice of oil pulling is essentially swishing oil in your mouth as a way to kill harmful bacteria and promote dental health. Oil pulling is most traditionally performed by swishing a tablespoon of oil in the mouth for 15-20 minutes or 10 minutes twice a day. Think of it as the more extreme version of mouthwash in ancient India.
To eliminate any potential oral health risks, oil pulling is performed with an edible oil. Coconut oil is most commonly used due to its many health benefits, but other options include sunflower oil, olive oil, and palm oil. Sesame oil is known to be the preferred oil for Ayurveda practitioners. Oils that harden at lower temperatures are typically heated slightly to liquify the product. It is important to never use non-food grade oils due to potentially harmful effects.
Health Benefits of Oil Pulling
Modern proponents of oil pulling often highlight the dental benefits of the practice. However, ancient Ayuverda practitioners believed oil pulling positively benefited overall health and wellness more deeply. In this ancient medicine, it was believed that teeth roots are interconnected with other body systems and that oil pulling can have system-wide benefits such as restoring bacterial balance and fighting deep-rooted toxins.
Oral Health Effects on dental hygiene and mouth health are the most commonly cited benefits of oil pulling and are traced back to studies conducted on the issue in 2016. Some of these benefits include reducing bad breath, preventing cavities, and killing harmful bacteria in the mouth. Oil pulling is believed to accomplish these effects by drawing out the toxins and being released when you spit the oil out.
Improved Prakruti Prakruti is an Ayurvedic term that refers to a person’s physical, physiological, and mental health matrix. In the tradition, prakruti is determined by and individual’s doshas which are the three energies believed to govern these health spheres. In the Ayuverdan tradition, oil pulling is believed to balance an individual’s doshas since the mouth is often the root source of parasites and bacteria – all of which can contribute to physical ailments (migraines, jaw pain), physiological issues (asthma, glaucoma), and mental disturbances (brain fog, fatigue).
Overall Detoxification The mouth is a popular place on the human body. It is often the birthplace of certain bodily bacterium and is an easy entry point for external germs. For this reason, it is believed that flushing out disrupting toxins in the mouth can promote overall detoxification of the body. As previously mentioned, early practitioners of Ayuverda techniques believed the dental root system could have deeper effects on the body. Some modern practitioners of oil pulling have reported benefits such as less pain, improved sleep, and even enhanced immunity.
Making Old Lessons New
The amazing length of time the practice of oil pulling has been practiced may be a testament to the potential benefits of homeopathic and natural health remedies and habits.
However, just as modern architects with advanced knowledge might have made modifications to the Charles Dick house if they built it today, so too should modern practitioners of oil pulling keep modern health science in mind.
Other oral health techniques in the Ayuverdan tradition included chewing sticks and herbs in addition to oil pulling. Instead of switching to an entirely Ayuverdan dental health routine, if you choose to experiment with the health benefits of oil pulling perhaps it is best to also continue some of the other time-tested, tried-and-true health techniques: regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups.