Natural tooth whitening. Does oil pulling work?

I was delighted to read a recent article about Alicia Keys and her #nomakeup position. As someone who is a belly dancer that wears make up and blogs about make up that may seem strange. I love make up but there is a time and place for it. The thing is, there is a lot of pressure on women to be something else, not just on stage, but all the time. I can relate to her comments about wearing masks and hiding. There was a time in my life when my skin was often red and angry and I never left the house without a full face of make-up. Thankfully after many years of work with natural therapies and deeper self-development that problem  passed. I now feel I have a healthier relationship to myself. I can accept and love how I look without make up and do the same with it.  So despite me vowing to publish all the half written make up reviews I have been accumulating on my computer I will jump this piece forward. This is about trialling oil pulling as a tooth whitener – something natural, easy to do, cheap and looks good, with or without make up.

When I first heard about oil pulling, I was like “Yuck, seriously?”.

Purple veil eye close up

One way to pose if you want to draw attention away from your teeth!

After I heard it mentioned many times, I decided to look into it a bit. From the numerous websites and forums I looked at, oil pulling has been claimed to cure everything from ingrown hairs to arthritis. I can’t attest to its curative abilities but the one thing everyone agreed on was it does make your teeth whiter so I decided to try it. It was super cheap compared with the $400 chemical shit storm the dentist offered to whiten my teeth.

So what is OIL PULLING?

It is putting a spoonful of oil in your mouth and swishing it for about 20mins or so and spitting it out.

It is said to draw out toxins (hence its claimed healing benefits). It may or may not help with health issues but in accordance with what every one else said online, it did make my teeth whiter. You do this on a daily basis for 2 weeks. I was a bit sporadic with it so my results were not as strong as my son’s. He tried it and was much more disciplined and his teeth became super white, my daughter tried it too and it temporary fixed an enamel discolouration she has on one tooth (it stayed white for many months and goes white again when she does the oil pulling, her dentist was impressed with the results).

What oil do you use?

Well the first articles I read about it in years ago recommended organic sunflower oil which I tried and did not really like. The next site said sesame oil was the ancient way, so I tried that too. I preferred the taste but it was strong. The oil of choice for most modern oil pullers is organic coconut oil. This was the best flavour in my opinion. If yours is solid just scrape out a spoonful, it melts really quickly in your mouth.


What is it like?

I won’t lie to you, I don’t like the texture of that oil in my mouth. It took me many attempts before I could tolerate it for the full-time frame but you do get used to it and some people don’t mind it at all.



Whiter teeth! It really worked for me, my friends and family. Some people do it in the shower (just remember to not spit it into your drains), some while reading, doing yoga or meditating.



My summary: 5/5

Product: Organic Coconut oil (various brands)
Effectiveness: 5
Packaging: n/a
Safety: 5
(Effect) Suitable for day wear: Yes
(Effect) Suitable for stage: Yes
Price: varies but you can get start for less than $10 and that jar should last you for a long time!

Where to get it

Everyone is crazy about coconut oil in Australia these days and you can buy this stuff at woolworths, coles, go-vita and probably any health food shop you go to. For locals – it is also stocked in Kombu in Bellingen.

I would love to hear form my overseas readers if organic coconut oil is easily available where you live too.

Have you tried it? How did it go for you? Comment below.




The information contained here is for information purposes only. You should always seek advice from a qualified health care professional before you change, start or stop any part of your healthcare plan including physical activity and exercise.

Gluten Free Snacks for Travel (& Dancing!)

What are the best snacks for the travelling Belly Dancer or basically any gluten challenged traveller?belly dance and coeliac

With our strict ‘no fruit and vege’ policy for interstate travel in Australia, having an appropriate snack with you on your way to events is pretty handy. On my trip to Perth last month I bought several pre-packaged gluten free snacks to get me through awkward travel times and not knowing what food was available and where. I thought I would share my findings with you because I am sure I am not the only one that is not a habitual eater of packaged foods that finds themselves forlornly staring at the so called ‘healthy snacks’ section of the supermarket and wondering what is truly edible and what is so sweet that you can feel your teeth rotting as you chew. I bought most of these at Woolworths (one of Australia’s biggest supermarkets) so they should be relatively easy to find or order in most places in Australia. I will include website addresses for international readers. Chick nuts were the best find by far! I am pretty positive about most of the products but for the record I hardly ever eat this kind of stuff. I prefer fresh food when available – but when it’s not….

Chick Nuts, Roasted Chickpeas lightly salted by partner foods

This 100% Australian made product is manufactured up in Maleny QLD. I bought a 200g pack and was impressed. They are really tasty, I offered them around to other dancers and everyone seemed to like them and want more. Gluten Free, 21% protein, with iron, prebiotic, 16% fibre and Low GI, if they were organic too then they would be perfect!!

Consuming protein after exercise helps stimulate muscle building and repair. A review found that consumption of 20–25 g of a rapidly absorbed protein, helps to maximise the effect. I believe whey protein had the best results but any decent protein is a good thing. A 50g serve of chick nuts delivers 10.5g of protein (and only 1.3g sugar). About a quarter of a pack is the most you could probably handle eating in a sitting. They are super tasty but you get quite full and loose the desire to eat them after that. A 200 gram pack is great for sharing or if you have a long day of dance ahead and need to snack. They also come in smaller individual packs that may be more convenient if you don’t have anyone to share with or if you live in a humid climate. I have recently also tried their “Fav-va” nuts (roasted broad beans) and found them just as delicious. One note of warning – make sure you have plenty of fresh water with you when consuming these. You need to re hydrate any way after dance and when travelling but a little extra is needed to wash these down.

I now regularly purchase this product. An excellent emergency snack food!

Frugo’s Clusters by Go Natural

“Crunchy creamy clusters of rice crisps and fruit flakes”. 150g

These are yoghurt covered little lumps with berry bits in them with no artificial colours or flavours. They are not wheat free however as they use gluten free wheat fibre in them.

One small cluster tasted nice but by the second, the amount of sugar in them was making me feel ill. 45.3g of sugar per 100 grams! That’s nearly half sugar, I wish I had read the fine print before I purchased. What’s wrong with sugar? Well yes, sugar can give you a quick energy boost but it messes with your system. A lot of sugar is not a good idea for anyone serious about their health and it annoys me that so called “health” brands misleadingly market confectionery as good for you. This product is for hard core sugar-aholics only. Even my children refused to have more than a couple. I didn’t photograph the packet because after one try I decided not to bring them with me. I knew I wouldn’t eat them.

Pumpkin Crunch by Mrs May’s naturals

This is an American product made in China; the version sold in Australia is a 142g pack. It’s cholesterol, wheat, preservative, gluten and dairy free and its vegan … so I would have to say most people could eat these. They are so yummy! Again I was impressed. They are sweeter than the chick nuts and for that reason I wouldn’t eat too many of them too often but gee it is tempting! Really tasty with 32g of protein /100grams, you probably couldn’t eat more than half that in a sitting but that’s still a respectable amount of protein. In her book What To Eat, Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at NYU, suggests that any food that contains more than 15 grams of sugar per serving is closer to dessert than anything else. This has 14g /100g sugar, or 4g per serve. I would definitely buy this again.

Walaby bites – dark choc 150g

Mmmm, very nice! Cold pressed, gluten, wheat and corn syrup free, this Byron Bay product is worth a try. Predominantly dark chocolate, cranberries and cashews nuts, they contain 41.8grams of sugar/ 100grams. Ouch! For this reason, I wouldn’t go so far as to say “the perfect little snack’ as it claims on the pack but they are delicious. Definitely only a ‘sometimes’ food but I didn’t feel as sickly after eating these as I did with the frugos. Best open only in the company of friends so you don’t eat the lot yourself. With protein levels at 4.4g/100g I can’t really recommend this as a recovery food. I am going to try not to buy these again because I just can’t control myself around them! Test your resolve with a pack and see if you agree!

Gluten Free macadamia shortbread by butterfingers

OK, I don’t think anyone would consider short bread a health food. It does have a high fat content due to butter but shortbread is such a comfort food. I have occasionally bought this product over the years but this is the first time I checked out the nutrition information. It has negligible protein at 2.2g/100g but only 16g/100g of sugar. This is a remarkably good result for a sweet biscuit (cookie). It’s still not something you should eat a lot of but as I am someone that is not overly fond of super sweet foods, it is probably why I have always liked them when I have decided to indulge. Again, this is not a recovery food but the packet is super compact making it easy to include with your luggage when travelling. It is nice to have something familiar to dip in your tea when away from home. I took a pack with me to Egypt and really liked having a safe (gf) treat waiting for me in my room since I couldn’t eat the traditional desserts available. I also find them settling on the stomach. (you can also get this product without the macadamia nuts but I like the one with them best as I can convince myself they are a bit healthy!)

‘The Old Colonial Cookie Company’ aka butterfingers, doesn’t have a website address listed.

Nut Free Ancient Grains Muesli Bars by Freedom foods

I will be to the point – I didn’t like them. Too sweet. They are gluten free (gf) and nut and wheat free and include some good ingredients but you couldn’t taste them through the all the sweetness. If I wanted to eat something sweet I would find something better than a muesli bar to chomp on! 5.4/100g protein or 1.7g per bar means it doesn’t really have any saving graces. 9.7g of sugar per 32g bar. Try something else.

Brookfarm Bar by brookfarm

A gluten free 35g muesli bar with cranberries and macadamias. I am not a huge muesli bar fan but they are handy if for an emergency breakfast when you can’t find more appropriate food. This bar is the nicest one I have tried yet. No additives, preservatives, wheat or gluten and Australian made. It is still sweet (as all muesli bars seem to be) but less so than the freedom foods offering above (8.2/35g serve).  With 9grams per 100grams of protein, it makes it the superior muesli bar choice.

Traditional Dolmades – Woolworths select

While nothing can match the taste of freshly made dolmades, a tin of dolmades in your luggage can stave off hunger. This tin was 280grams and thus a bit heavier than some options. It is the only easily eaten, moist product in this list and if you have other suggestions I would love to hear them. I ended up eating these in Perth when the cafe that was supposed to be open at the dance studios, was not open. Again, a bit hard to eat a whole tin on your own but a nice and filling travel food or offering in a shared food situation. Greens and non sugar based carbohydrates help make it a relatively healthy emergency choice (only 1.8g sugar per 100g). There are plenty of brands available and as these were made in Greece, I am sure something similar is available in Europe and North America.

I know, of course you can just take a bag of nuts or sealed dried fruits with you but now you have some other options too. Do you agree with my comments? What do you take with you to snack on between workshops? Feel free to comment below.

Hafla food idea – enough with the hummus, try Karkaday!

Instead of adding yet another serve of Hummus and flat bread to the 10 others on the table at your next Hafla, consider brewing up some Karkaday! Hibiscus tea is ubiquitous in Egypt and a refreshing drink often fondly remembered by returned travellers. Karkaday is reputed to have been a favoured drink of the Pharaohs and it is no wonder.

Karkaday from Egypt

Karkaday I bought in Egypt

An herbal tea drink consumed both hot and cold, it’s loaded with flavonoids which may:

  • Help support memory and concentration
  • Boost the effectiveness of vitamin C
  • Help promote a healthy heart and immune system
  • Support blood pressure and cholesterol levels already within the normal range
  • Help you manage weight challenges

Karkaday is Hibiscus tea, an infusion made from the calyces (sepals) of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower. It is popular throughout the world but goes by a variety of names. In Italy, Egypt and the Sudan  it is referred to as Karkaday (spelling varies),  but elsewhere the names vary. It is referred to as roselle (another common name for the hibiscus flower), flor de Jamaica in Latin America, Chai Kujarat in Iraq, Chai Torsh in Iran, gumamela in the Philippines, bissap or wonjo in West Africa, sorrel in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, red sorrelin the wider Caribbean, and other names in other regions.

This is what the loose leaves look like.

You can buy hibiscus tea (or whatever it is called in your region) already made up as tea bags from a health food shop, herbalist or sometimes even from the supermarket. It can be served as a simple infusion (i.e. pour hot water on it) or work on an easy variation to impress your belly dance buddies. Hibiscus tea has a tantalisingly fresh, cranberry-like flavour and an attractive, deep red colour. Many drinkers like to add a sweetener like sugar to the beverage to reduce the tartness but that is a matter of taste.

Here is a suggested recipe that would give you approx. 14 cups full but you can make just one cup for yourself easily enough. Just put a small amount of hibiscus in an infuser (a use a tea bag), put it in your cup, pour on hot water from kettle and add sugar if its not sweet enough for you!

Karkaday Ingredients

  • 1 cup karkaday  loose leaves (or hibiscus tea bags if not available)
  • 1 gallon (3.8 Litres) water.
  • ½ cup Sugar (optional)
  • 1t orange flower water (optional)

Cooking Instructions

  • Boil water in a large saucepan.
  • Add karkaday.
  • Stir in sugar till it dissolves.
  • For a stronger, redder tea – Leave for an hour.
  • Drain karkaday with a fine holed sieve to get rid of leaves.
  • Either cool in refrigerator or serve hot.


“I think I could do with a cuppa while I think out my next move”

You can find other hibiscus recipes here

 No need to wait for a Hafla though, next time you need a quick way to quench your thirst, why not try the tea used by the Pharaohs?

Have you tried karkaday? What’s your favourite recipe? Hot or cold? Comment below.

 Today’s Make up Monday post didn’t happen due to internet problems I had to sort out when I should have been writing so I am posting this piece that I wrote a few weeks ago in its place. Stay tuned for more upcoming make-up posts and a piece on my adventures in Perth at the Western Australian Middle Eastern Dance Festival. Don’t forget to follow so you don’t miss out!

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