Benefits of Oil Pulling

A whole tablespoon? And you want me to keep it in my mouth for 20 minutes?  Like mouthwash? ..You’re kidding, right?

The first time I heard about oil pulling was a few years ago, and my honest first response was something like the above. It sounded pretty “ew”-worthy, but being a naturopathic doctor with an open mind to alternative therapies, I couldn’t help but try it myself.  The first few times, I lasted 2 or 3 minutes before feeling like I had to spit it out. With a little bit of practice, I’m now “pulling” for up to 20 minutes at a time.

Still really unsure of what I’m talking about?

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic therapy used to improve dental health, remove toxins and bacteria from the mouth and the bloodstream, and has a number of proposed whole body health benefits.  Claims have been made for it’s ability to detoxify the deep tissues from heavy metals and other environmental toxins, whiten teeth over time as it breaks down “biofilm” created by bacteria on the teeth, help to increase movement of the lymphatic system, balance out hormones, create clearer skin and even reduce brain fog. While I’ve recommended oil pulling to some of my fertility patients (since up to 96% of miscarriages have been linked to periodontal disease), I have yet to implement it with enough people to comment on the other mentioned effects.  However, I have personally found that my teeth and mouth feel incredibly clean after an oil pulling ‘sesh, and I kind of like the ritual!

Here’s the top 10 benefits of oil pulling:
1. whiter teeth
2. healthier gums and teeth (one of the only studies done on oil pulling showed it reduced Strep mutans bacteria in the mouth, the bacteria responsible for cavity formation)
3. increased energy
4. reduced halitosis (bad breath)
5. clearer mind
6. clearer sinuses
7. clearer skin
8. regulation of menstrual cycles and reduction in PMS
9. improvement in movement of the lymphatic system
10. elimination of environmental toxins and heavy metals

And here’s how to do it:
*right after waking and before you brush your teeth:
-spoon up to a tablespoon of organic, cold-pressed oil into your mouth (I prefer coconut oil, but traditionally pulling was done with sesame oil)
-swish the oil around for 10-20 minutes without swallowing – the oil will mix with your saliva over time, and become white and frothy
-spit out the oil when you’re done – preferably into a garbage can, because it may harden in your pipes over time
-brush your teeth and rinse your mouth out a few times immediately after

The reason you don’t want to swallow the oil is because through the act of pulling, you’ve concentrated bacteria and toxins in the oil. And I wouldn’t want you to go to all that trouble for nothing!

While there is a lack of scientific evidence for oil pulling, there is so much anecdotal and historical evidence that I couldn’t ignore the possible benefit.  Oil pulling is simple, cheap, easy and will never become patentable – which is why no one is studying it. From my point of view there is negligible risk and potentially huge benefit, so why not give it a try!

Have you tried oil pulling? What effects have you noticed?

Happy “pulling”!


5 thoughts on “Benefits of Oil Pulling

  1. From what I understand – we recommend oil pulling first thing in the morning for two reasons:
    1. overnight, your body has been processing everything from the day before, and toxins are readily available from the bloodstream first thing in the morning.
    2. it also should be done on an empty stomach to reduce the likelihood of the gag reflex..
    I’ve done oil pulling at other times of the day, but generally try to stay at least 30 minutes away from food on either end.
    Hope this helps!


  2. what kind of oil? specifically virgin or cold pressed, or any oil you find at the supermarket? do u recommend a particular brand?

    1. I use coconut! And always buy organic (we’re trying to pull stuff out.. not put more in). For eating quality you should look for an unrefined, cold-pressed coconut oil (they are least damaged by processing) – I don’t know whether refining/heat extraction have an impact on how effectively you can oil pull, but I look for these on the label because of the other things I use the oil for. Last, if it’s going to take you a while to go through the jar, look for one in a dark bottle, as this helps guard against oxidation. Best of luck! K

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