What is oil pulling anyway?

Whenever we can find a wellness protocol that has stood the test of time, it always gets more attention from us. Call us ‘anti aggressive marketing’, skeptical of newfangled stuff or just old-fashioned, we simply have an affinity to those tools that folks have been using for many years.

We were introduced to oil pulling several years ago. It is a simple way to not only create greater oral health, but to help detoxify the whole body in the process. Given that so much chronic disease we experience as a culture is lifestyle related, oil pulling offers a simple way to help restore greater overall health and wellness, as well as create greater oral health.

What is oil pulling?

Oil pulling is an ancient cleansing and detoxifying technique from Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine from India. The process is simply to swish (or pull) unrefined oils throughout the mouth for several minutes. Similar to what oil does in a car engine, oil pulling gathers all sorts of debris like bacteria, fungi, and viruses (aka bad bugs) into the oil to be spit out.

The benefits people claim range widely. In the mouth, one can expect to experience:

  • cleaner, fresher breath
  • whiter teeth (without the use of commercial whiteners that can damage teeth!)
  • reduced plaque on the teeth
  • overall increased oral health

However, the benefits of oil pulling are not just found in the mouth alone!

Given that the mouth is the safe haven for bad bugs that use the mouth as a base to invade the whole body through the bloodstream, creating a healthier mouth environment is hugely important to creating greater whole being health! We appreciate a recent quote from Burton Goldberg, a respected voice in alternative cancer remedies, “As much as 50% of the reversal of cancer is in the mouth.”

Oil pulling can definitely support the creation of greater oral health as well as increased whole body wellness.

Many people report the following benefits:

  • decreased migraine risk
  • increased energy
  • greater mental awareness
  • decreased joint pain and stiffness
  • less nasal and sinus congestion, decrease tendency to snore

All these system wide benefits make sense given that oil pulling lowers the bad bug bacterial load in the mouth, so lowers the body’s chronic inflammation response to a chronic bacterial infection.

What does science say about oil pulling?

We would like to highlight the results of three clinical studies conducted testing the benefits of oil pulling.

One study tested to see if oil pulling lowered gingivitis. The test revealed that oil pulling substantially lowered the bacteria responsible for gingivitis (early gum disease). (Indian J Dent Res. 2009 Jan-Mar;20(1):47-51. PMID: 19336860)

The second study tested to see if oil pulling lowered the amount of strep mutans, the main bacteria that causes tooth decay. Oil pulling demonstrated substantial benefit in lowering the amount of strep mutans in the mouth. This is why oil pulling can help to reduce tooth decay. (Special note: use of fluoride is not necessary to help reduce tooth decay. This means that introducing a toxin (fluoride) into the system is not the only way to stop tooth decay!) (J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent. 2008 Mar;26(1):12-7. PMID: 18408265)

The third study looked to find what was the mechanism that made oil pulling effective. What was found pointed to the swishing action of oil pulling over the 10-20 minutes in the mouth which emulsified the oil in the mouth was responsible for making oil pulling an effective antibacterial. (Indian J Dent Res. 2011 Jan-Feb;22(1):34-7. PMID: 21525674)

How to oil pull?

Here is an easy step by step walk through to oil pulling.

Traditionally, unrefined sesame oil was used for oil pulling. We prefer coconut oil not only because coconut oil has so many health benefits of its own, but also because we just prefer the flavor!
In theory, you could use any oil since you don’t swallow the oil. However, since we don’t encourage the use of any vegetable oil in the kitchen, we don’t even have those toxic oils around our home. Even so, we discourage using vegetable oils since we know that some of the oil will be reabsorbed.

One can oil pull anytime of the day. Traditionally, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is suggested. We also like to oil pull last thing before bed so we go to bed with a squeaky clean mouth and reduce any risk of bad bugs proliferating over the course of the night.

  1. Take roughly one tablespoon of oil in the mouth
  2. Swish the oil around the mouth, through the teeth using all the muscles in the face and throat. BTW, great exercise to help maintain a tone face! :)
  3. Strive to swish for 20 minutes. It may take you a few times to work up to 20 minutes.
  4. As the oil mixes with saliva, it will get very thin. This is normal and a good sign that you are oil pulling for longer.
  5. This oil is now full of all sorts of junk you want to get out of your body! So be very mindful to not swallow any of the oil. (takes focus!)
  6. After 20 minutes, spit out the used oil (into the toilet so it doesn’t clog up sinks over time)
  7. Immediately swish the mouth with fresh water to remove oil residue. We like to follow with a quick brush and tongue scraping (another Ayurvedic technique!)

To supercharge your oil pulling…

If you want to increase the antibacterial reach of oil pulling, try adding 1 or 2 drops of OraWellness blend to the oil you use for oil pulling.

Our personal experience with oil pulling…

We use all the products we sell here at OraWellness. As such, we have excellent oral health and don’t really need the bacterial lowering benefit of oil pulling. The main benefit we have noticed is the natural whitening of our teeth from regular oil pulling.

There are plenty of people talking about oil pulling these days.  Just google oil pulling to find other resources of information on this effective wellness protocol!

To your health!

This entry was posted in Bad breath, Bleeding gums, Family Oral Health, Help from history, Holistic Approaches, Immune support, In the mouth support. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to What is oil pulling anyway?

  1. Carolyn says:

    I’ve heard that one shouldn’t oil pull if one has amalgam fillings – is this true? I would love to oil pull but am afraid of poisoning myself with mercury. Thank you!

    • orawellness says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      This brings up a good question. While I have never heard that one should not oil pull with amalgam fillings based on the idea of leaching out the mercury and poisoning oneself, we have heard some folks report that oil pulling loosened their amalgam fillings (although we have never had this experience). Frankly, if oil pulling were to loosen amalgam fillings, it’s probably time to change them out anyway!

      Let’s think about this a bit. Oil pulling draws toxins out of the system into the oil that one then spits out and rinses after. As such, even if oil pulling drew mercury from fillings, we would want to get that out of our system, from our perspective. The research clearly has shown that mercury vaporizes off fillings from even light pressure. So, we want to remove it as much as we can from the system…

      The only product we are aware of that we want to avoid having contact with mercury fillings is a strong heavy metal chelator called NDF. NDF strongly draws mercury and other heavy metals from the body. So, having it make contact with mercury fillings (prior to swallowing the NDF) wouldn’t be wise.

      Holler with any other follow up questions. We’re here to help.

      To your health!

      • Carolyn says:

        Thank you very much for your answer. I had not seen it until now. I had been thinking the same as you explained – I’d spit out the mercury with the oil anyway. And if it loosened my fillings, then that’s a much easier way to get them out of my teeth than drilling them out. I hope to try oil pulling soon and I will let you know if it has any adverse effects on my health due to my amalgam fillings, or if they fall out.

      • orawellness says:

        Yes, please do keep us informed of how you benefit. By the way, I still have some amalgam in my mouth (planning to have it removed once I find a dentist who follows strict protocols how to remove it safely). The fillings haven’t loosened from oil pulling for me.

        To your health!

  2. duh says:

    I can think of no possible mechanism that would enable oil to “pull” anything through our tissues and out of our bloodstreams. Even if it were possible, why would the oil only pull these so-called toxins from our systems while leaving the non-toxic chemicals, um, unpulled? Also, any substance capable of extracting various vaguely defined substances from our bloodstream would seem to be incredibly dangerous to experiment with?

    Our livers have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to deal with unwelcome chemicals in our bloodstream. I think it unlikely that swishing a little oil in the mouth would do a better job.

    • duh says:

      But, in the article’s defense, I could possibly agree that it may impart some anti-bacterial conditions in the oral cavity. I still think alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, salt water or Listerine would do a fine better and quicker job in regards to killing germs.

      • orawellness says:

        Oh, I like you! You help me so much by bringing up other related subjects to discuss! I just responded to your original comment prior to seeing this one. But let’s address your ‘solutions’ here. First, I agree with you. We can use agents to more quickly reduce the bad bug load in our mouths. However, the agents we choose to use can cause damage as well. Let’s first establish the baseline here…

        #1 Oral health plays a fundamental role in whole system immune health. As such, any agent we use to lower the bad bug population in the mouth must not cause any harm or otherwise impair our ability to create optimal health in our mouths.

        #2 Saliva plays a key role in creating and maintaining a healthy mouth ecology. It is through saliva that the body re-mineralizes the teeth as well as establishes the pH of mouth which directly influences the relative health or lack of health in the mouth.

        For the sake of learning for anyone who chooses to read these comments, let’s address each of the agents you suggest here and their relative risks and benefits. After all, what’s the point of using something in the mouth to lower the bad bug population if we are somehow damaging our system at the same time. Kind of like taking two steps forward and one step back, right?

        Salt water – great choice, very effective, watch out how much salt you use as a little goes a long way (especially if you are actually brushing with the salt). Salt can ‘burn’ gum tissue so go slow.

        Hydrogen peroxide – another great choice, same warning. Research has shown that using 3% peroxide in the mouth can cause lesions on gum and cheek tissue. So, be sure to dilute the 3% by AT LEAST 50% water prior to using it in the mouth. (By the way, we use both salt water and dilute peroxide in our HealThy Mouth System).

        My concern picks up when touching on alcohol and lysterine. Alcohol has been proven to dry gum tissue. Yes, it kills germs, but at what cost? Remember above about the importance of saliva? Well, alcohol reduces saliva production (bad news). Again, if alcohol was the only agent we could use in the mouth to kill the bad bugs, then we would have to weigh the consequences. Thankfully, safer options exist to effectively kill the bad bugs AND INCREASE saliva production (safer options).

        On to Listerine. Well, the original stuff was really pretty good. The base is eugenol, the active compound from clove. Eugenol is very anti-bacterial (which is why we use clove in our OraWellness blend). The problem comes when a business tries to reduce its production cost and sacrifices the formula. I recently read somewhere that the company was being sued for covering up data that proved that using Listerine caused an increase in oral cancer. This is because Listerine now relies on alcohol (cheap product) to kill the germs rather than eugenol (not cheap).

        So, while we agree that one can use products to kill the bad bugs in the mouth, what we use has a direct impact on whether our actions to create greater oral health actually do what we intend or cause more harm than good.

        All this discussion makes the idea of swishing some coconut oil around the mouth pretty benign, huh? :)

    • orawellness says:

      Thanks for commenting! You bring up some very good points here that I’d like to address in order to clarify the concept and function of oil pulling. First, let’s keep in mind that oil pulling has been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years in India as a method of cleansing the mouth and surrounding tissues.

      I think the confusion is based in the assumption that the toxins I refer to are chemicals. The toxic influences I refer to here are pathogenic bacteria and their waste product. These bacteria have the capacity to be both ‘inside’ the system via the bloodstream as well as ‘outside’ the system in the gum pockets. You see, these ‘bad bugs’ colonize in the gum pockets and use the gum pockets as a base camp to invade the rest of the body via the bloodstream. While not a panacea, what oil pulling does do is helps to reduce the populations of these bad bugs in the mouth so they are less ‘organized’ to travel through the system causing all sorts of damage.

      I agree with you that our livers do their best cleansing toxic chemicals out of the system (despite being miserably overworked and unsupported in general). However, we’re dealing with a biological attack here that is an ‘enemy inside the gates’ who accesses the system through the capillary system in the gum pockets. So, oil pulling really does help.

      But, why argue over this? It’s only swishing some oil around the mouth that’s been practiced for millenia. Give it a try for a few weeks and see how it feels. The worst that could happen is you ‘prove’ to yourself that oil pulling is rubbish. The potential upside is substantial given the fact that over 9 out of 10 adults have active gum disease (btw, most don’t know it).

      Again, thanks for posting!

  3. Ken says:

    Thanks for the article. Quick question, how long do you think the oil will keep germs at bay? I imagine germs are always forming in the mouth, and we are always swallowing. So I guess my question is how many times a day should someone do this? After ysomethingnything? That could add up to be well over an hour per day, I guess ultimately a small price to pay for increased health.

    • orawellness says:

      Thanks for posting Ken. Great question. Historically, once a day is plenty for oil pulling. If a person has a very active infection, it would be wise to step up to 2 or even 3 times daily. I would suggest first thing in the morning or just before going to bed for once a day as well as multiple times daily.

      You are wise to consider oil pulling multiple times daily as some of these ‘bad bugs’ can double their populations every 20 minutes! 24 hours can be a long time given those reproductive rates! :(

      One way to approach this idea is to oil pull once daily then swish with water after every meal. For an even better step, swish with your own saliva! Here’s a link to a free video tutorial called Mouth Probiotics where we share this ancient technique to help navigate to greater oral health (therefore whole being health as well).

      Thanks for the post. Holler with any others. We’re here to help…

  4. Mamallama or Mrs. Ana says:

    O.K. so this is something really new for me to wrap my brain around! I would love to give up my tooth brush(at least to once a day). The coconut oil I have is a solid. Do I melt it first. And really,only a tablespoon,and for 20 min? Is there a gag reflex? Will I need to add more oil to make it to 20 min if it is thinned by my saliva? Willing to give it a try, Mamallama.

    • orawellness says:

      Hi Mamallama,

      Thanks for your questions here. You can use solid coconut oil. It’s actually easier to handle solid. Just take a spoon full and swish it around for 20 minutes.

      There is a bit of a learning curve to keeping the oil for 20 minutes. Some do experience gag reflex. Maybe the first few times, keep a glass nearby just in case. :)

      Unless you need to spit it out and start again, there is no need to put more oil in the mouth within the 20 minute swishing session. The oil will thin with saliva and become a whitish color. All perfectly normal. Remember to swish out with water after you spit out the oil to rinse any stagnate, otherwise toxin laden oil out of your mouth. Also consider tongue scraping after oil pulling to really put the finishing touches on your cleansing session.

      Holler with any other questions. We’re here to help.

      • Christina says:

        I just found this article and it seems really interesting to me and something I’m open to trying. The only hesitation I have is that I’m almost 7months pregnant. Are there any precautions I should take?

      • orawellness says:

        Great question Christina. If you feel in your belly (pun intended) that you should wait, then please follow that. From my perspective, the risks of brushing one’s teeth with commercial toothpastes run a higher risk than oil pulling, but that’s my personal position. Each of us must find our own position on such topics. If you have a question about whether oil pulling would be safe for you during pregnancy then my suggestion would be to wait until the beautiful, healthy baby is in your arms before trying it out.

        BTW, pregnancy is a really common time when the bad bugs that cause gum disease do make advancements in the mom’s mouth. Be sure you remember to care for your own oral health during these months. For more info, please check out our site at http://www.OraWellness.com. We have lots of free video tutorials there to help you navigate to greater oral health. Have an awesome birth!!!

        Holler with any questions. We’re here to help.

  5. Pingback: Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil Review & Giveaway [contest closed] » kellybelly.net

  6. Anita says:

    I started oil pulling with coconut oil about 4 months ago. I do it every night for 20 minutes. I’ve had periodontal disease for years and have lost 3 molars. I have dental appointments every 3 months for periodontal cleanings. At my last cleaning a month ago, my hygienist was astonished at the improvement. I didn’t initially tell her what I’d been up to because I wanted to see if she would notice a difference. She kept saying “works for me”, as if to say that she didn’t understand it but approved. She said she was going to talk with the dentist about it. You can bet I’ll keep this up. I only wish I’d known about it years ago and I’d probably have saved a few teeth.

    • orawellness says:

      Way to go Anita! Isn’t it powerful when we come across a tool that we can apply ourselves that makes such a dramatic impact on our health!? Thanks for sharing here. The good news is you found it right protocol for you at the right time. Sure, maybe you could have kept more teeth, but maybe you wouldn’t have had the ‘fire’ necessary to carry through without the emotional pain of losing some teeth! No regrets!

      Clearly you are heading in the right direction! Feel free to holler with any questions. We’re here to help!

  7. Ashley S says:

    Sometimes when I read/hear something it just clicks for me and I have a sense that, “Yep, this is right.” After reading this article and all about Orawellness and your products and the work you’re doing to help peoples oral health I have that sense. I am currently doing my very first oil pull as I type this. :) I’m so happy and excited that I have coconut oil on hand so I’m able to do it right away. I also just ordered your orawellness bass brushes for myself and my toddler and your brushing blend. I didn’t have any major oral health issues until I had my daughter. Since having her I’ve had two molars pulled because of extreme infections after my fillings fell out. I know I have a lot of decay and cavities and I hope that doing this and using your products will help! I can’t wait for them to arrive! While brushing my daughters teeth tonight I couldn’t get a stubborn speck out of one of her molars so I focused on it with the toothbrush and she winced and cried out and said it hurt. I think it’s the beginings of a cavity! I’d been on the fence about ordering your product but after finding this in her mouth (and she’s only 2!) I ordered right away. I’m so grateful to have found you so early in my child’s life so I can start her on this early and hopefully she won’t have to struggle like I have. :)

    • orawellness says:

      Aloha Ashley,

      Thank you for the kind words here. We are honored that our words have inspired you to be oil pulling as you wrote the comment! :) Please friend us over on facebook so you can know when we launch a free online event titled the OraWellness HealThy Mouth World Summit. We are interviewing the leading biological dentists and nutritionists around the globe! There is a ton of information in the summit that will help you and your daughter navigate to greater oral health!

      Thank you!

  8. Rachel B says:

    I’m so happy that I discovered oil pulling with coconut oil. I started a week ago and only the first day did I have a problem swishing it for more than 10 minutes. Once I figured out that I can dance on my trampoline while I’m swishing, it made it much easier to do it for 20 minutes!

    Then somebody said I shouldn’t do it with any metal fillings in my mouth. My gut response (before I read what you wrote) was that if oil pulling does leach out the mercury, then why wouldn’t the antibacterial properties of the coconut oil and all the other good things I eat be good things to get rid of that metal?

    I’m grateful to you for the HealThy Mouth Summit. I got notified by Sean Croxton from whom I learned so much during his Real Food Summit. Then I found your site where I read what you had to say about metal fillings and just ordered your Bass toothbrushes.

    I’ve been going to the dentist every 3 months for cleaning and laser gum treatments for many years because I have a constant tarter build-up around my teeth (it’s a family curse) no matter how often I floss and brush which often causes parts of my gums to bleed. I also have a molar that has had two root canals because the dentist left stuff in there and it got infected. I just cancelled my latest appointment for this cleaning/laser treatment as I have high hopes for the oil pulling being a good thing, plus it’s a lot cheaper than paying the dentist. :).

    And thank you again for all your good information.

  9. Rachel B says:

    Following up to say that my gums have no bled in 3 weeks!

  10. Harmony says:

    Hi, I have worked in the Dental field for many years. However, due to bad dental hygiene and no parental guidance of such when I was a youngster, I had extensive dental procedures done (2 root canals, teeth extracted, orthodontics, which had to be done twice due to improper adjustments the first time, a root canal that was done twice because the last Dentist said It had “silver points” which will eventually erode and cause infection; when the tooth was opened by an Endodontist, ($7,000.00 before the final crown was put on) The root was fine and the silver points had no evidence of erosion. But, because the tooth had been opened and exposed the second procedure had to be performed, (according to what the doctor said) He could not get the silver tips out because they were cemented in so strong, so I had to go back 4 times for this procedure, multiple x-rays, rounds and rounds of Lidocaine, and almost lost the tooth, however in the end he was able to get all 3 points out. The gum tissue and surrounding mucosa is now red, and the tissue surrounding the tooth is white and looks terrible. I feel I was misguided and mis-treated by the Dentists I have been to in my life by their being Ignorant, Money hungry, and so on. I did not get a good start in life with good oral hygiene and therefore have had a life of fixing, repairing, replacing lots of silver fillings due to the mercury. Mess ups by well intentioned Dentists and some not so well intentioned. I have done extensive searches for Holistic Dentists, have found a few, however, I trust no one now, I do not trust the whole Dental Industry and the use and tactics they apply to our over all health. It has taken so long to just get amalgam out of the office, and still with the known dangers some Dentists are still allowed to use it to unknowing humans. The use of Fluoride (Rat Poison) at Dental cleanings, in the guise of “healthy teeth”, the use of dental materials in which people are sensitive to, procedures that only set one up for more work needed the rest of ones life. I could go on and on. It is not unlike the Medical, and Drug mess this Country has us in along with Insurance companies. I know, after going thru “H” my whole life, that the only way to be healthy is to KEEP YOUR TEETH IN PERFECT HEALTH! Parents! take care of your children’s teeth at the first sign of a tooth showing, Eat organic whole “original” foods, Stay away from Dentists and Doctors if at all possible, Take your and your child’s health into your own hands, and do a superb job at it. Lot’s of info out there, like this site! Thank You for something real and devoted to our well being. I do the coconut oil pulling, and YES! it works! I have not been to the dentist in 3 years and I won’t until their Frankin work falls apart and I’m forced to. I feel great and the tissue around my teeth have improved significantly since I have been doing the oil pulling, I just started a couple of weeks on this aspect of my journey to perfect health.
    Thank You

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