Written By: UMA Editorial Team |

Published on: November 6, 2023

Take a walk down memory lane with us; to Arabian Nights and the well-loved tale of Alibaba and the 40 Thieves. Why do we reference this ancient tale? Well, it shares common ground with another ancient Ayurvedic truth (not a tale) – the tried-and-tested value of “Open (ing) Sesame”. A vital Ayurvedic ingredient, Sesame has been used in a variety of healing formulas, and today we focus on its immunity boosting strength through the ritual of Oil Pulling.

Immunity and the Practice of Ayurvedic Oil Pulling (or Swishing)

With immunity being so top of mind, we share a tried and true classic immunity booster: Ayurvedic oil pulling, which is an excellent addition to the list of ways to boost immunity. Also known by other names like oil swishing or swishing oil, this is an ancient practice of swishing around a little bit of warm sesame oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes each morning and then spitting it out. If you’re wondering how to oil pull, it’s a simple process that involves rinsing your mouth with the oil in a similar way to mouthwash. At first blush, this may seem simplistic but allow us to illustrate why it has powerful effects and numerous oil pulling benefits.

The science behind Ayurvedic oil pulling is that the oil works like a magnet to draw bad bacteria and toxins from your gums and salivary glands. If you’ve ever done ‘a quick tongue check’ of your teeth in the morning, you’ve probably felt a slippery, oily film coating your pearlies. This is plaque – the villain that brings with it caries, bad breath, gum disease and if it enters the body…need we say more? A surprising oil (film remover) is none other than — oil!

What happens in your mouth when oil pulling for body detox is the oil emulsifying when it comes in contact with your saliva (oil + water). It binds with the plaque coating over your teeth and gums to remove and therefore, inhibit bacterial co-aggregation and plaque formation.

THE Most Common Mistake with Ayurvedic Oil Pulling

Now that we’ve established how bringing out the big immunity guns literally means ‘like for like’ let’s look at what fans are saying about a heap of health benefits. Apart from oil pulling immunity benefits, there’s a lot to love like lesser headaches and TMJ pain, healing skin issues caused by toxin accumulation and boosting metabolism for overall health.

But there are certainly skeptics and we’re saying that it doesn’t matter if you are not a believer, or you’ve tried it once and felt like it did not work. Chances are, that the purity of oil may not have been what the jar claimed which defeated the healthy outcomes that made you want to try it in the first place. Also, Ayurveda works by eliminating root causes rather than symptoms, so rituals may take a little time to eliminate the symptoms, but effects are far longer lasting. Being consistent and patient with your Ayurvedic rituals is key to getting great results when oil pulling for body detox.

Apart from oil selection and keeping at it with regular rhythm, there is also one ritualistic angle that we’ll discuss later on in this article.

Choosing the Right Oil for Ayurvedic Oil Swishing

We spoke about sesame oil at the start of this article. And that’s at the heart of this, because sesame oil is not only used as a base oil for a wide number of Ayurvedic recipes, but it is also a popular oil for oil pulling. High in antioxidants, traditional Ayurvedic texts regard it as a warming oil which nourishes muscles, builds stamina, stimulates energy and is antimicrobial.

Sesame has a beautiful nutty flavor profile. It combines well with coconut oil and is perfect for infusion with herbs that can help keep immunity on the up and up. So, choose an oil pulling treatment that is formulated correctly for the best benefits. A good formula will be infused with antibacterial agents like neem and clove that are commonly used in commercial toothpastes too and for the very same reasons. Favoring an oil pulling treatment  that has balanced herbs and the right fats/oils will be oil pulling done right, and make the ritual that much more pleasurable, and that you’re more likely to do it. To quote one of our favorite editors (and human beings!) Megan O’Neill at Goop, “My mom swears by it — she does it with pure organic sesame oil — but whenever I’ve tried it, it felt onerous… until I started doing it with the oil from Uma, an Ayurvedic skin-care line that’s one of the most beautiful brands in existence. It’s a mix of clove, sesame, coconut, and turmeric oils, and your mouth feels pristine, like it’s been exorcised, after.”

Maximize Your Immunity with Ayurvedic Oil Swishing

Another important angle to explore is the wholesomeness of your Ayurvedic oil pulling ritual. If we were to journey back in time a couple of thousands of years, Indian sages were probably not eating as much sugar as we do now. This necessitates an upgrade to adapt this ancient ritual to modern times. A lot of folks are probably doing a swish and leaving it there. Brushing your teeth post pulling is that all-important crossover step that may serve as the missing link. Always, always follow with brushing your teeth right after. That clean mouth feel is heaven!

Take it up a notch and also scrape your tongue to get that bacteria-laden gunk right off. A good tongue scraper is an essential element of your morning oral health care routine that can supercharge your immunity. More on that here.

Open Sesame, we say!