Oil Pulling Therapy


Let’s talk oil. You don’t slather it on your skin. You don’t swallow it by the spoonful. And you don’t soak your food (or yourself) in it.

With oil pulling, you swish it. Yep. In your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. (Insert imminent ‘that’s what she said’ joke here)

This Ayurvedic method has been practiced for centuries. Documents and records indicate that the practice oil pulling first originated in India, specifically with sesame oil. It is mentioned in the Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita and is claimed to cure about 30 systemic diseases ranging from migraine headaches to diabetes and asthma (oilpulling.com).

How it works

Any type of vegetable oil can be used in oil pulling, including sesame oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil. Oil pulling therapy essentially “pulls” bacteria out of your mouth and gum pockets upon swishing. Because it absorbs the exotoxins and endotoxins present in your mouth, it is “pulling” them too from your body (http://www.jonbarron.org/article/oil-pulling-detoxing). This process is a detoxifying and cleansing process; swishing activates the enzymes and the enzymes draw toxins out of the blood. The oil must not be swallowed, for it has become toxic. According to Dr. Karach, one of the biggest proponents of oil pulling, “The Oil-therapy heals totally headaches, bronchitis, tooth pain, thrombosis, eczema, ulcers, intestinal diseases, heart and kidney diseases, encephalitis and woman’s diseases. Preventively the growth of malignant tumors is cut and healed. Chronic blood diseases, paralysis, diseases of nerves, stomach, lungs and liver and sleeplessness are cured.”

Studies also show that this simple cleansing process can whiten teeth, strengthen gums, and help heal and prevent oral health issues, including cavities and gingivitis, plaque, bad breath, bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, and dryness of lips, mouth, and throat (blog.integrativenutrition.com).

Additional studies show that with long term use other health and beauty benefits include:

  • Regulation of menstrual cycle & improved PMS symptoms
  • Decreased inflammation in your body
  • Reduced headaches
  • Better sleep (a natural beauty key)
  • Fights cavities & gingivitis
  • Improved (less toxically loaded) lymphatic system
  • Increased energy
Further claims have been made that oil pulling has beneficial effects on:
  • Arthritis
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Heart Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Fibromyalgia and many autoimmune diseases

It is, however, imperative to swish the oil around in the mouth for no less than 15 to 20 minutes. Less than that and it is ineffective. The oil should be a milky white when you’re finished.

How to do it

  1. On an empty stomach put 1-3 teaspoons of oil in your mouth.
  2. Swish it around for at least 15 to 20 minutes. This will allow the oil to break through the plaque and start reabsorbing the bacteria. First the oil will turn into a thin, white liquid. Then the oil will get thicker and more opaque as it continues to mix with saliva and absorb the toxins (blog.integrativenutrition.com).
  3. Spit. By now the oil has become full of toxins. If you swallow it, you are putting those right back into your body. Spit the oil in a paper towel, plastic bag, or toilet – spitting in the sink may cause clogged pipes.
  4. Rinse well. You want all that now-toxic oil out of your mouth. Using apple cider vinegar or salt water is a good way to ensure that you get it all.
  5. Brush. Brushing your teeth will kill any remaining bacteria…and leave you minty fresh.

Just like with most health practices, the longer you do it, the more effective it will be. If you only do it for week, you probably won’t see many results.

Time to get slick: Grab the oil of your choice and get your swish on!

Have you practiced oil pulling? What results have you seen?

  • Victoria Burke

    I have been wanting to do this but terrified I won’t be able to stand the oil when it is my mouth

  • Sandy Kay Caron

    If you like coconut, I suggest using virgin coconut oil. It tastes good!

  • Adam M

    This is interesting and kind of intriguing too. But there will be no harm in trying specially when it comes to improving health. By the list of the illness that it can prevent, it is like motivating to try. Great site!

  • stee

    Eeesh. Interesting that none of these links actually site a study that proves the benefits. I’m always skeptical of something that claims to whiten my teeth, improve my sleep AND prevent heart/kidney disease.

  • Jenn Silva

    I just tried this for the first time this morning. I will say, I am NOT a fan of Sesame Oil. It’s been 2 hours and I can still taste it. My cousin recommended coconut oil. Don’t know why I didn’t just go with that to begin with, I LOVE coconuts. One the plus side, my teeth feel extremely clean. As if I just came back from the dentist :)

  • Guest

    I’ve been doing this for a few months. I honestly haven’t noticed a huge change in my overall health (I was hoping for all the magical cures listed! LOL), but I do think it has helped my skin (I’m 40 with a little acne AND the onset of wrinkles. Fun.) and my oral health. In the past I didn’t really notice morning mouth; rinsed sometimes but most often just went straight to coffee. No more. Now as soon as I wake up I can feel how dirty my mouth is and have to clean it before I do anything. And if I skip my oil pulling one day I notice it all day, my mouth never feels fully clean until I OP again. You think the oil will leave your mouth feeling greasy and yucky, but actually it’s the opposite. It feels so clean and you teeth feel smooth like you just left the dental hygienist.
    I mostly use Sunflower oil. I like coconut oil but the sensation of breaking up the solid oil does take some getting used to. Someone mentioned Sesame oil – my guess is they were probably using toasted sesame oil. I tried that once and had the same experience. Took a good 24hrs to get the toasted sesame smell/taste out of my sinuses! I think you’re supposed to use cold-pressed sesame oil for this, which I imagine is similar to other nut oils.

  • Karin VanZant

    So I have been doing this for 4 days now and considering that my average bed time is 9:30 pm and I am still up at 11:35 I am thinking that the oil pulling is helping me with energy. I have used olive oil but I purchased coconut oil this evening and am going to try that in the morning. I have read 10+ additional articles on oil pulling and am encouraged. I was diagnosed with Lupus 2 years ago – I am doing everything I can at 38 to stay ahead of the disease and I vow that I will not let my body succumb to a life of medications and bed rest. I hope this has an effect on inflammation and auto immune. So far what I have noticed is my mouth is very CLEAN, my energy is up and I my gums are not bleeding anymore. I will continue to post as I get further into this process. Thank you so much for bringing this information to our attention!!….. k

  • Linda

    Can I use grapeseed oil?