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Entries in sensory integration (2)


Oil Pulling

After a month of oil pulling, I can't say that I've noticed an objective difference--my teeth aren't whiter, my mouth doesn't feel cleaner or different. But I do feel as though I am doing something good for myself and my mouth does feel cleaner just after doing it.

Oil pulling is an ayurvedic method of oral hygeine whereby one continuously swishes coconut or sesame oil for 20 minutes after brushing one's teeth, then spits it out. It is best if you brush your teeth or scrape your tongue afterwards, too, ridding your mouth of the bacteria-laden oil. The oil pulls out the bacteria that form the biofilm called plaque, which causes gingivitis.

Oil pulling is receiving a lot of attention in the past few years. Bloggers attribute all sorts of benefits to the practice including curing ulcers, solving menopause, "detoxifying the body", & medical miracles. That's the internet. In fact, a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study (2009) shows statistically significant results that

oil pulling therapy has been as equally effective as chlorhexidine against plaque-induced gingivitis. Sesame oil has the following advantages over chlorhexidine: no staining, no lingering after-taste, and no allergy.

Another randomized, controlled, triple-blind study (2008) shows that oil pulling inhibits growth of Streptococcus mutans, reducing colonies after one week and two weeks of use and yet another study (2011) demonstrates "oil pulling therapy has been equally effective like chlorhexidine against halitosis and organisms which are associated with halitosis."

The connection between oral health and cardiac health has been recognized for decades. Recent research (2012) by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland found that if Streptococcus gordonii, which naturally resides in the mouth, finds its way into the bloodstream it can cause life-threatening blood clots. While the effects of oil pulling are not known with this particular strain, if oil pulling does reduce these colonies, it is helping to improve cardiac and circulatory health.

It's a job half done if one only kills the pathogenic bacteria. Dr. Mercola interviewed a Dr. Brady who emphasized eating fermented vegetables to promote the healthy flora of the gut and mouth.


Sensory awareness

Since sensory awareness drives motor control, promotes sensory integration and helps to develop relationship with one's body, I've been adding sensory awareness exercises to my Core & Pelvic Floor Workout classes these past couple weeks. It is a trend I will continue.

This past week my participants and I were noticing how very minute shifts in our position--pointing a foot or leaning--can elicit profound changes in sensory perception. When one has increased awareness one enhances one's ability to control those muscles and the surrounding structures. As Janet Hulme, PT, avers, "Even muscles you are not aware of being able to control, like the bladder, are affected when you change muscles you can control." Perhaps this can be one definition of the subconscious life, connecting the unconscious and supposedly uncontrollable with the conscious and controllable. In politics the Chinese call this approach 'using the back door'. In biology it's sometimes called neuroplasticity.

Try this:

Move ever so slowly to a sitting position, paying particular attention to how your sitz bones (ischia) are moving. You should notice that as you sit, your sitz bones are spreading, moving away from each other, until the moment before sitting. As you release the tension to let yourself give your weight to the chair, the sitz bones move toward each other slightly. Do it several times in attemp to feel it.

Squat down and perform a slow, side to side swing of your buttocks. Notice the pull you feel on your opposign sitz bone. In other words, when you are swinging to your right, you should feel a slight pull on your left sitz bone. When you swing to your left, you feel that pull on your right sitz bone.

These simple exercises, and others like them, can aid in restoring normal sensation and function, when practiced over time.