Learn About Oil Pulling – Fact Versus Fiction

Oil pulling - Fact versus Fiction - What is oil pulling?  What does oil pulling do?  Scientific studies that prove oil pulling works.

I’ve been oil pulling off and on now for several years.  Since a number of people have recently asked about it, and since I’ve finally found some scientific studies verifying that oil pulling works, I decided to pull together some oil pulling questions and answers.

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is the act of placing roughly a tablespoon of a good quality oil (preferably unrefined and organic) in your mouth and swishing the oil around for 15-20 minutes, forcing it back and forth through the teeth.  The oil is then spit out (DO NOT SWALLOW THE OIL), and the mouth is rinsed with water or salt water and/or the teeth are brushed.  It depends on which recommendations you follow.

Oil pulling is typically done first thing in the morning, before eating, and can be repeated up to three times per day.  If you don’t have time in the morning, you can do it at other times during the day.  You can watch an oil pulling video if you still have more questions.

Which oil should I use for oil pulling?

Sunflower, sesame and coconut are the most common, but many other oils have been used.  I prefer coconut oil.  I normally use Nutiva.  I keep a jar on my counter that I refill from my gallon container.  On Earth Clinic, contributors discuss using sesame, sunflower, olive, walnut, macadamia, coconut, Udo’s Oil, Total EFA Oil and others.  I have seen some references where people’s teeth took on a yellow tinge from using olive oil, so that probably wouldn’t be my first choice.  Oilpulling.com recommends sunflower and sesame.

Doesn’t putting a large amount of oil in your mouth make you want to gag, and doesn’t your mouth get sore from swishing?

When I first started doing this, it did feel a little weird.  I find the coconut oil easier to use than liquid oil (my coconut oil is solid or semi-solid most of the year).  I put a spoonful in my cheek and let it warm up and melt, and it gives me a minute or two to get used to that much oil in my mouth.  You can start with smaller amounts and work up to a tablespoon.

If swishing for 15-20 minutes is too much, start with 5-10 minutes and work up to a longer time period.  You don’t have swish constantly – you can take a break now and then.  Once you get used to it, it’s really not a big deal, but my cheeks were a bit sore at first.

How do you find time to do oil pulling for 20 minutes?

I usually oil pull as I am getting ready to shower and in the shower, when my kids normally give me a bit of privacy and stop asking questions for a few minutes.  They’ve gotten used to mom responding in  “mmmmm..hhmmm….hmmm…”.  (“Oh you’re oil pulling, okay.  I’ll come back in a few minutes.”)  Then I spit in the shower or toilet.  Spitting outside off the beaten path, in the garbage or compost would also be good.  Avoid the sink, as oil may build up over time and clog the plumbing, and do make sure you pull for the full 20 minutes so the oil is effectively pre0digested/broken down if you are going to spit in the toilet or shower.

What does oil pulling do?

To read some claims, oil pulling does everything but cook you breakfast in the morning.  Oilpulling.com lists the following conditions on their “Diseases Cured” page as most frequently responding to oil pulling:

  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Back and Neck Pain
  • Bad Breath
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Colitis
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Constipation
  • Dental Cavities
  • Dermatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Eczema
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Mucous Congestion
  • Peptic Ulcers
  • PMS
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Bleeding Gums
  • Sinusitis
  • Tooth Abscess

They also list a slew of others that may be helped.  The Coconut Oil Research Center also endorses oil pulling.

Personally, I’ve found that it makes my teeth feel smooth and clean, and has lightened some of my teeth stains but not removed them.  (I’ve been using an herbal detox tooth powder and it stained my teeth quite a bit.)  I notice that it helps clear out sinus congestion.  After pulling for a while, the crud will literally work loose from my nose and throat area, and I can spit it all out when I spit out the oil.

Scientific Studies that Show Oil Pulling is Useful

I found several scientific studies verifying that oil pulling is helpful for oral health.  I think other claims would be very hard to measure.

Oil pulling reduces plaque and gingivitisEffect of Oil Pulling on Plaque and Gingivitis (full results) and Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study (summary)

Oil pulling can help reduce cavitiesEffect of oil-pulling on dental caries causing bacteria

Oil pulling reduces harmful bacteria in the mouthEffect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study.

Sesame and sunflower oils on their own do not fight mouth bacteria, but the action of oil pulling changes them (enzyme action and emulsification action) so that they can lift contaminants from teethMechanism of oil-pulling therapy – in vitro study.

Oil pulling with coconut oil reduces mouth bacteria

Oil pulling may also be a good way to get EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) into the body subligually (under the tongue) – Detailed discussion of this on Curezone.org

Oil Pulling for Detox? – maybe, maybe not.  I suspect more will be found to show that the detox claims have some validity.

Is Oil Pulling Dangerous?

I have read some accounts of people who have experienced mouth irritation from oil pulling.  If this happens, discontinue, try a different oil or pull less frequently.  Don’t swallow the oil, because it looks like it will be filled with dead bacteria and other things that are better out than in – not a yummy.

Visit NutivaI am a Nutiva affiliate, so if you purchase from Nutiva through links on my website, I receive a small payment.  Thank you!  They are a company I trust and I have been using their products for years.

Learn About Oil Pulling @ Common Sense Homesteading

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Comments

  1. Melissa says

    Have you ever come across anyone whose fillings were loosened by oil-pulling? Someone on Facebook mentioned their dentist said it could happen. I asked my Ayurvedic doctor about it and she said she’d never heard of that. Hoping it’s just a myth as I love oil-pulling! Stops my mouth feeling yucky in the mornings.

    • says

      I’ve heard stories about fillings being loosened during any change in dental routine, so it’s possible, but not likely. It seems in the majority of cases, oil pulling helps to strengthen the enamel, which seems to me like it would help keep fillings in place. From personal experience, I have a mouth full of metal (from my younger years), and have been pulling off and on for a couple of years, and never had a filling come loose.

    • Alexis says

      Sounds like something a for-profit dentist would say to discourage his patients from doing anything that could hurt his sales.

  2. says

    After experiencing some health problems for the past two months related to my mouth, I discovered oil pulling as a potential therapy. I can’t say it helped for the condition I have (which remains undiagnosed and apparently quite mysterious), but I found it very relaxing and intuitively feel that it good for the body. I don’t do it often, but will continue to work with it over time! Glad you posted this! Reminded me to get back on it! :)

    • says

      Me teeth felt smoother and cleaner right away. Stains fade with multiple uses, but results are not nearly as dramatic as chemical whiteners. On the more aggressive mouth problems, I’m not sure.

      • Nancy McManus says

        I think my teeth are whiter than the OTC whiteners. Maybe not what they would be from a professional whitening, but not $600.00 either!

  3. Bri says

    I’ve just started oil pulling for the last 2weeks. Let me say that my translucent teeth have really started to remineralize. I lost a lot of enamel because of my upset stomach and burping for the last 30 years. I’m surprised that I survived. I’ve had to do a total detox by going mostly vegan. And with oil pulling my whole body is going great! My skin, hair, teeth, nails are recouping. This after listening to doctors trying to help, but they have no resources. They’ve been taught to give us a silver bullet or pills that don’t work. They don’t for the most part. If it took a long time for the sickness to overtake our immune system and has been a part of us for a long time, then it will take a long time for our bodies to completely turn around, but what a great reversal. I’m enjoying this revitalization. I’m walking on the sunny side of the street, all smiles. And I’m 60 going on 20. My breathing is better, my posture looks to be on a 20 year old. I’ve always been a nonconformist so doctors and dentists don’t love me. I have no use for them. I’m back in the race. I’m totally there. Hey. Come on life, give all you got.

  4. Jill says

    I get allergy shots every week, is it ok to do oil pulling or will it affect my shots? Ive never tryed oil pulling but i thought maybe it could help with my sinuses because i have sinus disease.

    • says

      I haven’t been able to find anything definitive on this. My gut feeling is that it shouldn’t present any problems, but if you try it, do take careful note of any differences you feel when you include oil pulling in your routine – for better or worse. You may also wish to consult your doctor (although it’s been my experience that not too many are familiar with oil pulling in any fashion).

    • Amanda Y says

      My husband has been on allergy shots almost 2 years and oil pulling for at least 1 year pretty consistently, no issues for him, so that’s just one case, but thought I’d share even though everyone may be different!

  5. Alexis says

    I am already sold on coconut oil, so I will add this to the many things I use it for now. I’ve swallowed it, so swishing it isn’t a problem. I’ve got it in right now, will update later after I’ve done it for awhile. So glad I found this through Pinterest. Thank you!

  6. sarah says

    I doubt swallowing it can do any harm, bacteria have a harder time in stomach acid than in your mouth or sinuses, but it would feel gross going down.

    • Donna says

      I’ve used both coconut oil solid form and liquid as well as the seasame. It is much easier if you start with the liquid form. When I started with the solid, I had a much harder time and felt like it was a lot, but when it was the liquid, MUCH easier.

  7. Donna says

    I have found that oil pulling while showering is the easiest and best way for me. The time goes by much easier as well as killing 2 birds with one stone time wise.

  8. Betsy says

    Thanks so much for an informative article – I have had great success with oil pulling – my gums were not good – I use coconut oil and I try to check with hubby to see if he needs anything before I oil pull – I easily worked up to 20 minutes – I also do it while I am getting ready for the day.

  9. maureen joseph says

    Hello, I’ve been reading some of the amazing results people have been getting with oilpulling. I recently discovered oilpulling, on another website and decided to give it a go, plus I’ve seen videos on YouTube. I couldn’t find sesame oil but sunflower oil was the alternative from the info I got. I’ve swished once for 20mins, which was no problem, but while swishing, the right side of my throat started to feel sore. I didn’t feel well afterwards, I didn’t want to eat and havn’t, I felt cold and I have a headache. In one of the videos I watched, the lady said this would happen, but I didn’t think it would happen straight away. Is this normal? I don’t want to stop this technique, as I feel it is the natural solution to solving my body problems. I’m going through the menopause.

    • says

      If possible, I’d consult a natural practitioner. You may want to try a different oil, such as coconut, and a shorter time period (say ten minutes) to start. I’ve never had those sort of symptoms.

  10. Bill says

    I know that loose fillings have been discussed above. But I’ve wondered if Oil Pulling could cause the mercury in fillings to leach out?

    • says

      There’s some disagreement on this. Some sources say yes, some say no. The action of chewing puts pressure on the tooth, and that’s not happening here, but the fluid is actively moving around the tooth. Since you spit out the oil, I would think that any mercury that leaches out of the amalgam would be spat out with the oil. I do know that significant amounts of gum chewing are not recommend for people with amalgams, because you chew and swallow (saliva) with no real food in place to buffer the teeth.

  11. sarah fripp says

    Have you read anything about oil pulling with coconut oil while having amalgam fillings? I thought I read somewhere that it isn’t good and I’m wondering if you heard the same?

  12. says

    I was checking out this post earlier this week and now coming back to visit it again. I just started oil pulling and your article was so helpful getting started! Thanks for compiling all the information into one spot. You’re the best!!

  13. Erin says

    My boyfriend and I just started oil pulling today. We both have dental problems but he has terribly bleeding gums and he noticed a big difference in just one day! I can’t wait to see the results after a few weeks!

    • says

      That’s wonderful! Thanks so much for letting me know. Sensitive gums are common with thyroid issues (which I have) and I know oil pulling is a big help to me if my gums start acting up.

  14. Amanda says

    Ever since I got pregnant with my first child my teeth have went down hill. I want to start the oil pulling but how many times a day do you do it?And am I suppose to stop brushing my teeth all together?

    • says

      Don’t quit brushing. Try it a few times a week and see how you feel, then try it more or less frequently based on your reaction. I’d also highly recommend the book “Deep Nutrition“, given that you mentioned health problems associated with getting pregnant.

  15. Pam says

    I think the whole point of oil pulling is to remove toxins from your body – if you swallow it, that would just be reintroducing the toxins. I follow advice from other sources that say to spit it in the trash – that way you are not introducing the toxins into the water supply, or clogging up any pipes.

  16. Terry says

    Hey – thanks for the information. I just started this week and feel amazing. I have Sjogren’s Syndrome which is dry eyes and dry mouth – and any other moist areas. Recently diagnosed with several additional issues that go along as well. Dental health is a huge issue. But got immediate relief on the dry mouth deal at first rinse and brush. Discovered a few months ago I am allergic to toothpaste and some really nasty stuff recurring in my mouth tongue gums and lips cleared immediately when I stopped using regular toothpaste. But the dry mouth thing is awful. Plan to contact my rheumatologist to let him know about this!

  17. Beverly Thompson says

    I oil pull every morning. Oil pulling makes my teeth and mouth feel cleaner and I feel it is beneficial for overall health. Have a lot of fillings from my childhood, but have had no problems with oil pulling. Did have a hard time oil pulling until I found an oil I could tolerate so don’t be afraid to try different oils. To my oil for pulling, I add a drop of peppermint essential oil for added benefits. I do brush afterwards with a natural toothpaste. Please be aware of the ingredient list on your toothpaste. Note that most toothpastes say call poison control if swallowed – which is usually due to the fluoride, but many of the other ingredients are not something I want in my mouth or body. Wanted to share that there is a free app called Skin Deep that lists ingredients that have use restrictions for many personal care products. Thanks for sharing the great information in your oil pulling article.

    • says

      Another strange ingredient that has ended up in some toothpastes are plastic microbeads, which dental hygienists are now finding imbedded at the gumline. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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