Oil Pulling: The Ancient Practice Everyone's Talking About

December 30, 2014
by Magda Rod for Thrive Market
Oil Pulling: The Ancient Practice Everyone's Talking About

The concept of oil pulling certainly sounds strange — swishing oil around in the mouth for 20 minutes each day to improve oral health? How does that work?

Oil pulling has its roots in Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic practice that developed thousands of years ago in India. While few scientific studies have been conducted on oil pulling, devotees tout its use in detoxifying and healing the mouth, sinuses and entire body.

Oil pulling involves rinsing your mouth with the oil, much like you would with a mouthwash. The oil is “worked” around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for a period of 15 to 20 minutes. In 15 minutes, the oil will reportedly “pull out” bacteria, viruses, fungi and other debris from your mouth.

Proponents of oil pulling like Wellness Mama say it eliminates bacteria like candida and strep that often make themselves home in our mouths, whitens teeth, reduces plaque, and even cures bad breath. The idea of oil pulling is that it improves overall health by boosting oral health.

Sesame oil is traditionally used in oil pulling, but sunflower, peanut or coconut oil will also work. Coconut oil has become popular in oil pulling, as it has antibacterial properties and frankly tastes better than other oils.

Not convinced? Give it a shot and see what you think.


First thing in the morning, swish 1 tablespoon of oil around in your mouth. Sesame, sunflower, peanut or coconut oil will work. Gently move the oil around your mouth and through your teeth for a minimum of 15 minutes.

When you're done, spit the oil into a garbage can rather than a toilet or sink, as the oil can solidify and clog your drain. Do not swallow the oil.

Rinse your mouth out with warm water or a salt water solution, and then floss and brush your teeth thoroughly.

Repeat daily.

Photo credit: Alicia Cho

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This article is related to: Ayurveda, Non-Toxic, No artificial ingredients, Oil pulling, Oral health

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5 thoughts on “Oil Pulling: The Ancient Practice Everyone's Talking About”

  • Evan

    i tried it for a while with coconut oil and then sunflower oil. i am in the coffee industry so that was my motivation. i definitely saw an enhancement of whitening with the coconut one even though i read the sunflower has more or different benefits. many other benefits as well such as feeling healthier overall, clearer head, woke me up in the AM. i stopped because im too damn lazy. but if my teeth have anything to say about it, i am going to have to start up again... soon. do it!

  • Diane

    I found this about a year ago and decided to give it a try when my dentist sent me to a specialist who gave me a loan application to fill to have work done! I do it (not as regular as I should), and my numbers have improved, to the amazement of my dental hygienist! I plan to make it a point to do it on a more regular basis, an I use coconut oil since that's what I have in the house. I also add a couple of drops of clove oil and cut open a coq10 capsule before I swish.

  • kayj1223

    I have been oil-pulling for almost 3 years now and have not been sick one day!!! Two years ago, everyone in our office got sick, passing it around to each other like a tether ball. I am the only one who didn't get sick! The benefits far outweigh the drudgery of making the habit a priority.

  • Lisa Hoch

    I have been using coconut oil for oil-pulling for over 4 years, and I love it! Originally, my front teeth were starting to looked "crazed" (fine surface "cracks" like on old porcelain), but that problem quickly disappeared. My teeth are definitely whiter, and I have only caught a cold once or twice since beginning the therapy. It's easy to take a spoonful of oil after I get up, then just make my bed, get dressed, and just generally get ready for the day while swishing. I love the way it makes my mouth feel, and the taste of coconut is a treat in the morning! I highly recommend this practice!

  • janelle

    How can anyone swish something around their mouth for 20 minutes? I would choke.

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