I've been continuing my day on, day off pulling, but I have been having internet connection trouble! So here is the rest of my pulling saga from this past week:
I stayed at a friend’s house, and forgot my oil, so I skipped this morning too. It seemed to help my lips! They’re still recovering from whatever that dryness is. My digestion is not dry, though, which remains a good thing.
I pulled again this morning, and noticed I don’t have nearly as much mucous as I used to, and definitely don’t have those hard dry bits anymore. I like how this feels, except for the lips!
I’m also not as distracted as I was last week, not forgetting things and bumping into things as much, but I don’t know if this is the pulling or what.
I’m skipping again today, trying to see if one on, one off, helps the dryness without reducing the benefits of the pulling.
Today I was scraping at my lips with my teeth constantly, because the dry skin is starting to come off in pokey spikes. Fun!
I think I’ve had it with the dryness. I wonder if I should wait for a different season. Since it’s March, and very clearly a time of transitional Earth (according to Daoist 5 Element Theory) maybe my body is not willing to easily release what it’s accumulated.
The great Dory Ellen Fish gave me some insight- the lips correspond to the Stomach, not the Large Intestine as I though, and she thinks the dryness is my stomach detoxing, albeit uncomfortably. She agrees that it doesn’t sound like a good detox, and urged me to switch to untoasted Sesame Oil in case the Coconut is too much, and to shorten the time I do it.
She also shared an online forum of people with the same problem asking questions. There’s no really helpful solutions in it, but it’s really nice to know I’m not a complete oddity.
I haven’t pulled in several days, and my lips are fine. The weather turned cold again so they’re a little dry, but nothing out of the ordinary.
However, I have a new symptom! My shins are super dry- red, a little blistery, and VERY itchy. This also corresponds to the Stomach and Spleen meridians, furthering the detox connection. Did I mention it itches???
So today I’m going to drink tea a la Susun Weed- nourishing infusions! Nettles, Chickweed, Dandelion, Alfalfa, maybe some soothing Plaintain and Milky Oats, anything to calm this and nourish my system a little.
And, I’m going to wait till Lady Spring wams up a litte more!
Still itchy and red in the legs. Now I have a couple welts on the back of my hips, and on my elbows, as well. Clearly I have something to go through here, but this is pretty severe discomfort!
I'm using a liniment I made up of Comfrey and Calendula oil, and Gotu Kola tincture, to help my skin. It's not necessarily ideal- I'd like to use some Plantain, for example, and maybe some Rose, but it's what I had on hand and seems to be easing the crazy need to scratch through my pants.
So, to recap:
I like oil pulling! But it doesn’t seem to like me, at least not right now.
I’m going to make a few changes:
1. Try sesame oil next time
2. Try pulling for only 5 minutes, and work up from there
3. Wait till next season, for the warmer end of spring, to try again
And I forgot to elaborate on happy poops yesterday. No matter, we’ll do it now!
Margi Flint, a well-respected Herbalist in Marblehead MA, gives my favorite (and a wonderfully precise) definition:
"The perfect bowel movement... is brown, about an inch or slightly more in diameter, a good seven to ten inches long, comes out perfectly when one is prompted to relieve oneself, moves easily and evenly when one sits down, forms a round curly-cue- like soft serve ice cream- slowly sinks to the bottom of the toilet gracefully and leaves one in a good mood." (The Practicing Herbalist, 2nd ed., p 177)
She does go on to detail more factors, but for our intents and purposes let's leave the definition here. Remember, it should leave you in a good mood!
And very dry lips, again today.
I decided to skip today. My lips were killing me, rough and getting inflamed above the edge of my top lip, too. I obsessively used my lip balm today, Burt’s Bees with Peppermint, and my lips really sucked it up.
Much better lips, and no change in my happy poops. I bet you’re starting to regret reading this a little by now :) But hey, we all do it. In a minute I’ll even tell you what constitutes a happy poop!
Pulled again, spit in the appropriate place- and trust me I was actively telling myself to pay attention repeatedly- I have been more distracted that normal which has gotten in my way this week.
I was chatting with someone about oil pulling last night, and she was a little amazed that I can do it for 15 minutes already. I guess I hadn’t thought about it much, but now I see 2 keys to that:
1. I don’t use too much oil. I have a small mouth, so I might use 2 teaspoons max. I also don’t measure! I just dig out a chunk from my jar and chew on it till most of it’s melted- this is easily the worst part. If there’s not enough, I add some more.
2. I do something else. Today I made a pancake for breakfast, so I mixed up the batter and set the cast iron on the stove, dressed for work, and then I browsed through a magazine for 5 more minutes till I was done. Otherwise I’m thinking about it the whole time and driving myself nutty.
I was so dry yesterday! My lips are so rough, and I had to put moisturizer on my chin- I was scratching my face on that ‘goatee line’ guys have, and I was all red. I know the moisturizer is only a stopgap, that there’s more going on here, but at least it helped! There’s some talk about both tongue scraping and oil pulling removing toxins from the digestive tract, and I’m wondering about a connection.
A dry lower lip points to a dry colon (whereas I’ve found both lips being dry to correlate to an overall winter misery dry state!) However, both my lips are severely dry, as is my lower chin area, which also points to digestion, BUT (TMI alert) my elimination, ok fine, my poops have been not only daily but consistently in the morning! This is cause for celebration in the Paula Household- 4 days in a row of great poops?! This is history making. The point is, my digestion doesn’t seem to be dry at all.
So I wonder if my intestines are going through an exfoliation process that’s being mirrored here on the surface. I’ll have to give it more time and see how it goes.
I was all kinds of distracted this morning, and ended up spitting in the sink a second time. I didn’t even notice till after I had brushed and left the bathroom, when it hit me and I went back in to run the hot water again! Argh. The reason I forgot about the pipes, though, was that I again had to quit at almost the 15 minute mark because of post-nasal drip. There’s too much to simply hold in limbo in my sinuses, and I WON’T swallow a glop like that, and I wanted to see what color it was. I know, I know, that’s disgusting, but it’s a diagnostic tool! It was white and a little pale yellow, btw.
Yesterday was very uncomfortable. The chin dryness has abated, but my lips were all pokey and white, with dry skin bits sticking out and yuck. I obsessively alternated between Burt’s Bees Peppermint lip stuff and scraping them with my teeth to exfoliate. Actually, by the end of the day I was pretty smooth! I figured my teeth were gentler than using a mirror and tweezers and yanking out all that skin, it was that annoying.
Therefore I decided to skip pulling this morning. I needed a break!
Yesterday afternoon, my nose dripped constantly. I felt like a toddler who needed to wipe her nose. It wasn’t really mucous, just clear liquid, but geeze Louise it was annoying.
This morning I pulled again, this time in the shower. I found myself forgetting to swish, just holding it in my mouth, but then I’d start up again. I didn’t time it today, but I guessed that the entire thing took at least 15 minutes, given my average showering time. AND I remembered to spit in the toilet!
Again I felt more post-nasal drip during the pulling, but had no extra mucous during my time at the sink. I did see, though, that the buildup I had noticed around my upper gum line was almost gone. However, my lips are strangely dry. It’s strange because that usually happens with weather changes and in combination with the backs of my hands, my legs and/or my face drying too, and none of them seem to correlate with this. It’s also more my upper lip, whereas I’m used to my lower lip being the drier one.
Last night I again had a little mucous to spit out that was hard and dry. I believe the oil is softening bits held in, or stuck to, my sinuses and tonsils from a cold I had last month. Interestingly though, this week I have had very dry lips so the benefits of the oil don’t seem to extend past the mucous membranes they contact.
Same pattern as yesterday, pulled in the shower, and remembered to spit in the toilet. Tomorrow I plan to wash my hair, and I see that as a potential problem in terms of tilting my head, etc., but we’ll cross that bridge then.
No extra mucous today, still dry lips, but my teeth are smooth feeling. Why didn’t I take a teeth-selfie to compare color after all this??
There’s lots of info out there about oil pulling; I'll be sharing some of my favorite resources, and you're welcome to search it. I'm telling you, there's LOTS!
My goals are whitening, buildup removal, and re-mineralization of my teeth. This cleansing process fits in nicely with the waning energy between the Full and New Moons.
Now, full disclosure: I’ve tried this before, but only for a day or two at a time and I didn’t stick with it. So this time around, I have a plan.
I dug a hunk of coconut oil out of my jar in the kitchen. No, I didn’t measure it. I guesstimate it was between 1 and 2 teaspoons. I chewed it a little, constantly reminding myself not to simply swallow it! When it was liquid, I started swishing. It quickly took on some air and got a little thicker, a little more substantial, which was better for me than the thin, pure oil feeling I had at first.
My goal is 15 minutes. This will get boring quickly. Yesterday I moved a bookshelf and I noticed the newly blank wall, so I decided to hang some pictures on it. I went and found 2 nails, stuck them in 2 holes already there (my walls are old plaster, so I try to use existing nail holes) and tied a length of ribbon around the hanging loops on 2 small frames that hold small paintings. I hung the ribbon over the nails and adjusted the frames to asymmetrical heights, then hung 2 more frames on the ribbon stretched between the nails. And then my 15 minutes was up, and I had a decorated wall. Not bad!
I was distracted by my decorative accomplishment, so when I went back in the bathroom I immediately spit the oil in the sink. Whoops! The oil can easily congeal in the pipes, you’re supposed to use the trash or the toilet instead. So I ran the hot water while I brushed my teeth, which I know is not environmentally appropriate but hey, if it saves my pipes… Then I salt rinsed, and felt very virtuous!
I did notice that when I was pulling I felt post-nasal drip that was hard to breathe around sometimes. Then, when I was rinsing after brushing, I had some (TMI alert!) hard, dry chunks of mucous coming out that I hadn’t been aware I was holding in there somewhere.
Have you noticed that there are so many options, so many choices to sort through, when it comes to your health? And when you add it all up, taking all the supplements and doing all the suggested tasks and planning/preparing/cooking/cleaning up all the from-scratch meals and sleeping for all the recommended hours would be a full time job in itself.
So what’s a modern, health-conscious person to do?! Take baby steps and see what works for you, is my answer.
I’m trying on new habits to see how they fit, and you’re welcome to try them out too. Every two weeks, I’ll try another. If I like it, I’ll keep it. If I don’t, I probably won’t, but that’s how I’ll know. That’s how I’ll begin living with more healthy, happy, whole life habits.
Why every two weeks? We’ll change habits on the New and Full Moons, as energy builds and recedes. And, lore says that it takes 2 weeks to adopt a habit. The timing is perfect!
We know that the Full Moon is a time of heightened energy- talk to anyone who works in an Emergency Room, or anyone affected by high tides, to see how their lives are impacted by a Full Moon!
What we don’t always pay attention to is the opposite effect- at the New Moon, energies are lower, quieter, as they have ebbed away since the Full Moon.
At the Full Moon, I’ll pick a habit that has to do with releasing, clearing, cleaning or reducing, as the energies recede. At the New Moon, I’ll change to one that builds, strengthens, supports, or increases, and keep it up until the height of energy, at the Full Moon.
Read along with me as I experiment my way through as many potential new habits as I can manage!
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
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This website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical, mental health or healthcare advice. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose, treat, heal, cure or prevent any illness, medical condition or mental or emotional condition. Working with us is not a guarantee of any results. Paula Billig owns all copyrights to the materials presented here unless otherwise noted.