Gargling With Coconut Oil Helps Me Taste Food Better, Says Carla Hall

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The Chew cohost explains how she clears her sinuses and ear canals in the morning using this ancient Ayurvedic practice. (PHOTOGRAPH BY DISNEY ABCTV/GETTY)

by Erica Rodefer Winters, for Rodale’s Organic Life

For The Chew cohost Carla Hall, being able to smell and taste food is integral to her work. So when sinus congestion began inhibiting her ability to taste flavor subtleties, the Top Chef alum took to the Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling.

“It’s like an athlete having to work out,” she explains. “I have to do what I can to maintain the integrity of my palette.”

Oil pulling entails swishing oil around your mouth daily, and is used throughout India and increasingly in the West for dental health, better breath, clearer skin, and even to help clear the sinuses, says fans. The theory is that oil adheres to bacteria and “pulls” these toxins from deep pockets between the teeth and gums. One study showed that oil pulling drastically reduced the Streptococcus mutans bacteria found in plaque and saliva that causes tooth decay.

Related: 12 Things Your Dentist Knows About You Just By Looking In Your Mouth

Since the mouth is so closely connected to the sinuses and ear canals, it makes sense that there could be improvements there as well, says Hall, who has been oil pulling as part of her morning routine for about a year. (Ayurvedic practioners say that morning is the best time to pull oil since that’s when there are the most impurities in your mouth. ) “The first thing I noticed was my sinuses were running. Now my nose is so wide open, I feel like a super taster,” she says. Afterward, Hall drinks a quart of water and then waits an hour before eating breakfast.

Related: The Real Deal On Ear Candles

She admits that it felt odd the first time she did it, but now she’s hooked. “Give it a week,” she advises. “It will be weird—know and embrace that it will be weird. But anything you can do that will help your health that’s really easy, I’m all for it.”

Ready to try it on yourself?

After brushing your teeth, take 1 tablespoon of organic coconut oil (organic sunflower and sesame oils work, too) into your mouth and swish it around, sucking it between your teeth as it melts, just like you would with mouthwash. (If you have a sensitive gag reflex, you might want to start with a teaspoon of oil and gradually work your way up to a full tablespoon.) Start with 5 minutes and build up to 20. When done, spit the oil into a cup or a trashcan—you don’t want the oil to clog your drain.

This article was originally published on Rodale’s Organic Life.

More from Rodale’s Organic Life:

Why Carla Hall Is Embracing Her Gray Hair

The Best Body Oil Recipe Ever

The Woman’s Herbal Medicine Kit

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