After studying the practice of Ayurveda, I learned two easy and vital steps to help aid our bodies in detoxification and I would love to share them with you! Both of these practices take place in our mouth. Can you guess what they are?
Tongue scraping and oil pulling! Sounds kind of painful and scary right? Now that these two practices are apart of my daily routine, I don’t know how I have lived without them. Before we delve into why these two practices are vital to our health and how to practice them, lets learn a bit about Ayurveda itself.
Ayurveda means life knowledge and is the traditional healthcare practice and has been native to India for more than 5,000 years. It is the oldest practiced healthcare system in the world. When I first started learning about Ayurveda, I immediately felt that these practices were a missing piece to my life puzzle. After all, the practice of yoga and the peaceful beliefs of Buddhism originate from India. Growing up engulfed in Western culture I was not even aware of the teachings of Ayurveda, but I had always felt the need to be connected to nature. This connection is exactly what Ayurvedic medicine is based upon. The premise of health in this ancient medicine is to find a balanced rhythm with nature and to our own human nature.
This means finding a balance between the energy of the three “Doshas”:
Vata = Air and Ether Pita = Fire & Water Kapha = Earth & Water. These five elements are related to our internal bodies, emotional, and spiritual life. When these doshas are out of balance they become the precursors to disharmony and disease in the mind and body. Ayurvedic beliefs, understand that our bodies are temples and should be treated as such. Sounds good to me, don’t you think? It is a system based on natural healing through strengthening the body, mind, and spirit and allowing the body’s own natural healing mechanisms to work to their fullest potential. Therefore proper hygiene practices are an important part to Ayuredic medicine, which include tongue scraping and oil pulling.
Our bodies naturally work on clearing excess toxins out of our body and our tongues carry a load of bacteria that needs to be removed daily. We must remove these toxins as we want to prevent them from backing up and becoming reabsorbed by the body. Ordinary brushing of the tongue with our toothbrush actually does more harm than good, as it does not remove these colonies of bacteria, rather it just moves all the bacteria around and is eventually swallowed into the body creating blockages.
Tongue scraping is a practice that should be used everyday! A flexible metal scraper should be used to remove the film that forms over the tongue. In fact, the tongue can tell us a ton of information about our current state of health and different parts on the tongue are directly related to our organs, as its a reflexogenic zone. Pretty neat eh?
Try looking at your tongue in the mirror with reference to the diagram below, to reveal what is happening in your body. Tongue analysis is one of the primary techniques in many medicines, such as Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
The tongue is the window to your body and digestion, what is yours telling you?
Here are some of the benefits of tongue scraping:
1. Removes bacteria sitting on the tongue, improving bad breath
2. The tongue is a route of toxins to be eliminated, therefore cleaning aids in detoxification
3. Helps your taste buds function optimally
4. Dental hygiene improves
5. Stimulates the digestive tract, which is a major route of detoxification
6. Activates salivary glands, aiding in digestion
7. Revitalizes the throat and keeps the sinuses clear, by reducing the travel of bacteria from the tongue to the sinuses
How to use a tongue scrapper?
Do you want to start tongue scraping? It’s best to purchase a metal scrapper preferably a copper one at your local health store. While copper is used for antiseptic purposes, avoid plastic scrapers as they can actually introduce toxins into your body and plastic can breed bacteria. Tongue scraping should be done in the morning upon waking. Start by holding the scraper with both hands, stick out your tongue, start at the back of the tongue gently gliding the scraper towards the tip of your tongue. Rinse the scraper clean with water after each scrape and scrape until your tongue is free of film. Volla, you have just helped remove bad breath, improve your dental health, digestion, and detoxification processes.
Bad breath can actually mean poor digestion, constipation, or toxins in the colon. When scraping pay particular attention to the back of the tongue. A light massage can be applied to the back of the tongue, with the tongue scrapper, which stimulates the colon.
You can buy your tongue scraper online here.
Oil pulling is another Ayurvedic practice for the mouth that can be done after brushing your teeth and tongue scraping. People who oil pull have claimed they have whiter teeth, fresher breath and healthier, stronger, gums. Yes please!
Oil pulling is the practice of swishing a tablespoon of oil in the mouth and pulling it back and forth through the teeth, for 15 to 20 minutes, then spitting it out. The mouth should then be rinsed with water. The oil swishing activates enzymes in the mouth, draws toxins out of the blood, as the tongue is a route of detoxification and draws mucous out of the throat and helps clear the sinuses.
In traditional Ayurveda, sesame oil is the preferred oil to use, although I prefer organic coconut oil for it’s taste, antibacterial, and enzymatic properties. The only people oil pulling is not recommended for is for those who have metal amalgams in the mouth. Metal amalgams contain toxic metals such as mercury and aluminum. Therefore we do not want to pull these toxic metals out of the amalgams adding more toxins to the body.
So how do you fit these practices into your busy day? It's a cinch! They really take no time at all and you can fit them into your schedule whenever you can.
Here is my morning routine:
1. Wake up
3. Tongue scrape
4. Brush teeth
5. Place a tbsp of coconut oil in my mouth and hop in the shower
6. Eat breakfast
These simple techniques will help improve your well-being and guide you on your path to optimal health!