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DOES OIL PULLING REALLY WORK?

I’ve always been a bit slow to get moving in the morning. Not because I find it hard to get out of bed, more because I just like to savour every last second before I start my day. Twenty minutes of Vedic meditation, maybe a run if I’m feeling spritely, breakfast, shower, news headlines while I put on some make-up, then maybe I’m almost ready to get cracking. So when Black Chicken Oral Swishing Oil, a purpose-design formula to be used for oil-pulling came across my desk, I had to ask myself, do I really have time for this? Much to my husband’s – who can go from bed to out the door in about 15 minutes – dismay, my answer was “Abso-frickin-lutely”!

For the uninitiated, oil pulling is a ritual used in Ayurvedic (ancient Indian) medicine which is said to improve oral hygiene and help draw out toxins by fighting the bacteria lying dormant in your mouth overnight (yuk!). Before eating or brushing your teeth simply slurp a tablespoon of oil – these days, most commonly coconut – and swish it around your mouth for 20 minutes, then spit it out. Black Chicken’s Oral Swishing Oil is a blend of pure essential oils like Cardamom, Peppermint and Myrrh. Devotees claim all kinds of glorious health benefits like whiter teeth, fresher breath and even clearer skin. The label suggests prolonged use may even help improve immunity…

The first thing I notice when I open the bottle is the smell, it’s aromatic and slightly minty, a bit like something you might smell in an upmarket day spa. I assumed the texture of the liquid would be oily (it is called oil-pulling after all) but to my surprise smooth, kind of like the consistency of shampoo (but for the record, I have never swished shampoo around in my mouth). I also brace myself for an icky oily flavour but to my surprise it’s fresh and minty, not unpleasant at all. Keeping the liquid in my mouth for 20 minutes is initially quite tedious. I try to continue my morning routine with a mouthful but whenever I focus on a task I accidentally swallow a bit – clearly my multi-tasking skills leave room for improvement. When I finally “eject” by spitting it into the sink, it’s a relief. No toxins visible to the eye but my mouth does feel fresh.

Over the following days I get better at the swishing ritual and find it’s much easier if I sit down and do it while I read the news headlines on my computer. So civilised! At the end of the week I’m well and truly in the habit, but the question is, has it made a difference? I’ve weathered another seven days of cold Sydney weather without getting sick. My skin is definitely better, the usual monthly onslaught of hormonal blemishes never arrives. Was it all because of the oil? I can’t be sure, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, because I like the way it feels, and really, what’s another 20 minutes to add to my morning routine?

Emma Vidgen is a professional astrologer (FAA Practitioners Diploma), journalist and speaker. She is also the founder of The Wayward, a creative consultancy specialising in astrology, meditation and lifestyle content, and celebrating people “Doing Life Differently”.