Health + Wellness

The Real Benefits of Oil Pulling

April 23, 2014
Oil Pulling with Coconut Oil

It seems “oil pulling” has tipped over into the mainstream media. I’ve been hearing about it everywhere from ABC News articles to E! News. Oil pulling is something I’ve been practicing for about a year and a half, but it’s one of those strange things I didn’t want tell anyone about. Now that it’s becoming a little more mainstream, I think it’s a good time to dispel any unwarranted hype and explain the real benefits.

What is oil pulling?
“Oil pulling, or the practice of swishing oil around your mouth every day, has roots in Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic system of medicine that developed 3,000 to 5,000 years ago.” Huffington Post
The idea is to swish oil around in your mouth for up to 20 minutes to kill bacteria. It is said to “pull” bacteria out of crevices and into the oil.

Beneficial claims of oil pulling:
-Kill bacteria + bad breath
-Strengthen teeth + gums
-Prevention of mouth-related diseases such as gingivitis and cavities
-Prevent dryness in mouth, lips + throat
-Clear sinuses
-Whiten teeth
-Aid in curing heart disease and chronic illnesses
-Possible holistic treatment for TMJ and general soreness in the jaw area
-Prevent dry mouth

Other possible benefits of oil pulling for overall health include: (foodmatters.tv)
• Migraine headache relief
• Correcting hormone imbalances
• Reducing inflammation of arthritis
• May help with gastro-enteritis
• Aids in the reduction of eczema
• May reduce symptoms of bronchitis
• Helps support normal kidney function
• May help reduce sinus congestion
• Some people report improved vision
• Helps reduce insomnia
• Reduced hangover after alcohol consumption
• Aids in reducing pain
• Reduces the symptoms of allergies
• Helps detoxify the body of harmful metals and organisms

Science-backed truth:
-A Huffington Post article states, “According to the handful of published clinical trials out there, oil pulling is an effective way to kill some forms of mouth bacteria, including bacteria associated with bad breath and gingivitis. But what about all those claims that oil pulling can prevent heart disease or cancer? While there is an established link between oral health and chronic illness, oil pulling’s effects on other areas of the body beside the mouth have yet to be proven.”

Foodmatters.tv claims, “these studies showed an overall reduction of bacteria from 10 to 33.4% in participants, and after 40 days of oil-pulling, participants were found to show 20% in average reduction in oral bacteria. Moreover, half of all participants in this case study showed a drastic reduction in susceptibility to dental caries.”

My experience:
I generally only oil pull when I have a cold. It works very well to clear my sinuses!

How to Oil Pull:
1. Choose your oil. You can choose extra virgin cold pressed coconut, sunflower or olive oil. Many prefer coconut oil.
2. Use about 1-2 tbsp
3. Swish around in your mouth for 5-20 minutes until the liquid is white and cloudy (Ugh, I know. Typing that was painful enough). You might have to work your way up to 20 minutes until you get used to it. Don’t do it much longer than 20 minutes because you don’t want the bacteria to be re-absorbed by your mouth.
4. Don’t swallow! The oil will be full of bacteria. Spit into a trash can so you don’t clog your sink.
5. Rinse your mouth with water, then brush your teeth to remove remaining bacteria.
6. Tip: the shower is a good place to oil pull. The warmth will help open your sinuses, the timing is right, and you’ll be distracted so you won’t focus as much on the taste.

Have you tried oil pulling? Share your experience in the comments!

image credit

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  • Diana April 23, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    This is such helpful information! I first heard about oil pulling several years ago from a relative who has done it for a decade. She was told to do it daily by her dentist and had dramatic improvements in oral and overall health. I was very skeptic but saw the proof and have been too scared to try it. I’m going to buy some oil today and start! Thanks again for the info!

  • Diana April 27, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I wanted to stop back and share my experience. I have oil-pulled for the last 3 days (2 days after finding a higher quality oil than the one that the “experts” at a local nutrition center/health food store which was neither unrefined or cold pressed, both of which they told me it was!). I was pleasantly surprised that the oil did not leave a film or residue in my mouth however I could not get beyond the mental block of swishing an oil around in my mouth. Today I decided to add a few drops of cinnamon extract, which has great anti-inflammatory benefits, because I didn’t have peppermint extract on hand. It tasted like cinnamon gum and allowed me to not feel like I had oil in my mouth! I enjoyed it enough that I may not even try peppermint in it, but will probably stick to adding cinnamon!! Although possibly unrelated, I suffer from horrible fibromyalgia flare-ups and had been feeling one coming on for the last week or so. Since oil-pulling I haven’t been feeling as much deep pain or early morning inflammation! WIN!!!

    • Dzeigler April 27, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      That’s awesome news! I’ll remember those tips for clients (and Anthony). I’m glad it’s working for you. Keep going and keep me updated!

    • Dzeigler April 27, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      OH and I’m big on natural anti-inflammatory methods, so feel free to send me any tips you’ve come across 🙂