The Daily Oil Hack Carla Hall Uses To Up Her Chef Game

Celebrity chef Carla Hall is known for bringing soul food to the masses, and she has something else she wants everyone to know about. Her healthy routine of yoga, exercise, and meditation, also includes an occasional ritual that might surprise you. Here's a hint: The alum of Bravo's "Top Chef" and a host on "The Chew" for seven years has found another use for oil that has nothing to do with frying up chicken or greasing a cake pan.

This ancient practice, part of a natural system of medicine from India, claims to cure bad breath, reduce plaque, prevent gingivitis, and even whiten teeth. Ayurveda, meaning "life knowledge" in Sanskrit, encourages a preventative lifestyle, but can also help to heal.

As a chef and foodie, Carla Hall says she has found an additional benefit to using the oil. This habit cleared her sinuses and turned her into a "super taster." Hall, who has hosted several Food Network shows, including "Worst Cooks in America," says she discovered this method while looking for a cleanse or detox.

Ayurvedic Practice of Oil Pulling Removes Toxins

Hall was intrigued by the concept of oil pulling, an Ayurveda practice she says has helped her with congestion. She told Interview magazine, "I don't do it as much as I used to, but oil pulling is the act of actually taking coconut oil and swishing it in your mouth. Because coconut oil is an antimicrobial, it pulls toxins out of your mouth."

Sesame, coconut, or avocado oils are popular choices for 'gandoosha' (the Sanskrit term for oil pulling), Dr. Shekhar Annambhotla, president of the Association of Ayurvedic Professionals of North America (AAPNA), told Mashed. Oils flavored with peppermint or clove can make the experience a little more pleasant for the beginner. Other liquids — milk, ghee, water, green tea, or honey — can also be used, depending on the ailment and dosha (body type in Ayurveda). Annambhotla believes oil pulling can decrease your dental visits by helping with dry mouth, teeth grinding, and inflammation, as well as conditions seemingly unrelated, from acne to migraines to stuttering — and as Hall claims — sinus congestion. 

Hall swishes for 20 minutes. 20 minutes! But Annambhotla suggests starting slow. Pour a small amount — about 1-2 tablespoons — and swish in your mouth for four to five minutes, then try to work your way up to a half or full cup of oil for 15 to 20 minutes. There's no need to rinse, but spit it out well and follow with a tongue scraper. You don't want to ingest the toxins you just pulled out.