Oil pulling and Tongue Scraping: how ancient Ayurvedic traditions are relevant in modern day practices

Oil Pulling and Tongue Scraping:

Exploring how ancient practices become modern day healthy habits

“Oil pulling as we know it today has been around for thousands of years and originated in ancient India as an Ayurvedic practice used for “purifying” the body by “pulling” toxins out through the gums and mouth using oil as an adsorption (pulling) medium.”-Web


Oil pulling dates back 3,000 to 5,000 years and finds its origins in ancient Ayurvedic practices..

Two historically used types of oil pulling are Kavala Graha and Gandusha. Both are similar in practice, but differing in the ammount of oil used and time spent in the mouth. Historically these practices have been used to treat cracked lips, gum bleeding, weak teeth, dry throat, halitosis, and other issues affecting the gums, teeth and jaw.

History of Tongue Scraping

The tongue has been studied by  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda to discover imbalances in the body. Eastern practitioners often look at the tongue during consultations in the same way that Western doctors check blood pressure and weight. A coating on the tongue is reflective of the lining of the digestive system. When toxins are not removed from the body they begin to accumulate to areas like the tongue. Removing this build-up of toxins with a tongue scraper removes residue and stimulates the elimination processes.

 Western medicine  has been slower to adopt this as a regular practice. Between the 15th and 19th century, tongue cleaning was introduced to the affluent person, as they had access to some form of dental care. Since the 20th century, tongue scraping has been commercialized and more popular.



How do I practice Tongue Scraping and Oil Pulling?

It’s fairly easy to practice oil pulling and tongue scraping. Better still, it takes little time to do it!

Although some argue that oil pulling can replace regular brushing and flossing, my dentist still recommends twice a day for both. 

I tend to only practice my oil pulling and tongue scraping in the evening as I wind down my day and head to bed. After brushing, simply hold the tongue scraper on both sides and scrape in downward motions from back to front for a total of 7-14 strokes.

Not all tongue scrapers are created equal. I prefer a metal scraper over a plastic scraper. It’s a personal choice but I feel like it’s cleaner and does a better job.  Purchase one that is large enough to span the width of the tongue in order to properly clear the entire coating. Ensure that you clean your tongue scraper after each use with hot, soapy water to prevent adding more bacteria to your mouth with a dirty tool.

Follow with either coconut oil, or tongue pulling solution, filling your mouth and swooshing front to back and through your teeth for about 3-5 minutes. Some may recommend longer, up to 25 minutes, but after brushing, flossing, and scraping, I feel as thought 3-5 minutes is sufficient. 

When time is up, make sure to spit out the oil or solution, don’t swallow it. It is full of the toxins you have pulled from your mouth so you want to rid your body of it. If I’m using coconut oil, I run hot water down the faucet for a minute or two after to make sure it has cleared my plumbing and won’t solidify and build up.


One last thing...

Exploring new things outside of your daily habits and comfort can be so exciting. It’s important to try new things, you never know what horizons will expand your world! 

Remember to check in with yourself and make sure that you feel good in your body, heart, and soul. We all have personal autonomy, and its always okay to stop using things, or leave a situation that no longer serves your highest and best self.

Whether it be oil pulling, traveling to a new country, or simply trying a new form of yoga, remember that your life is meant to be lived by you and you only. Do what makes you happy!


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