UPDATE: This post originally ran on February 4th but wanted to share this useful beauty tip again!
Oil pulling. Have you heard of it? Would you try it? Have you tried it? I first heard of this seemingly strange practice about a year ago, and immediately I was intrigued. Pull toxins out of my system by swishing some oil around in my mouth? Count me in.
But I never actually got into it… until now. This new year seems to be a year of much newness, wouldn’t you say? And oil pulling is just one of the many new habits I’ve adopted.
So what exactly is oil pulling?
Oil pulling is an ancient Indian practice that involves swishing oil around in the mouth for about 20 minutes on the premise that this will pull toxins out of the body.
What are the benefits?
Studies show that oil pulling has excellent benefits for oral health. It can help strengthen the teeth, gums, and jaw; whiten teeth; prevent bad breath; prevent dryness of the mouth, lips, and throat; prevent mouth diseases like cavities and gingivitis; and treat soreness of the jaw. It’s also been thought that oil pulling has many benefits that extend way beyond oral health, although this has yet to be proven scientifically. Examples include reduced headaches, hangover relief, kidney function support, general pain relief, reduced insomnia, and general detoxification of the body, just to name a few.
How do you do it?
First, pick your oil. Cold pressed organic sesame oil is believed to be the best for this practice, but cold pressed coconut, olive, and sunflower oils are widely used, as well.
In the morning, before you’ve eaten, drink a glass of water. Then, put about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth and swish it around, making sure to let it touch every single part of your mouth except the throat. Try not to swallow the oil, as this will reabsorb the toxins that have been pulled from your body.
Swish the oil around in your mouth for at least 5 minutes, with the recommended amount being a full 20 minutes. I like to do this while in the shower, and possibly continue for a few minutes after I get out. This way, I feel like I’m using my time wisely — and I never forget to do it.
You’ll feel the oil become foamy as it mixes with your saliva. If there gets to be too much in your mouth, spit a little bit out, and continue.
When you’re finished, spit the oil out into the toilet or the trash — avoid doing this in the sink, as the oil could solidify and clog the drain. Supposedly, if the oil turns to a yellow, you’ve done your job! The yellow color is thought to mean a substantial amount of toxins have been removed from your body. I haven’t gotten there yet, but I will!
Are there any negatives?
Nothing major that I’ve heard of! I’ve read about many people getting grossed out by the feeling or taste of oil pulling, but I can’t say I know what they mean. I’ve been using coconut oil, and I love the taste! The only other negative I could think of is the cost. Pure organic oil isn’t the cheapest to buy, and you’ll be going through bottles fairly quickly. But if you weigh the benefits, it could be worth it — that all depends on each individual situation.
Why should you try it?
Well, it’s up to you! Try if you’re curious… try if you’re experiencing any of the issues that this can potentially help… try if you’re looking for a use for that jar of coconut oil that’s been sitting on your shelf (although we can give you a bunch more reasons here)!
Personally, I’ve been doing this for about a week, and I really like it. It’s become part of my daily routine, and I love the way my mouth feels afterwards. I usually have dryness in my mouth, and after oil pulling I notice that it feels so much better. I plan to continue on this oil pulling journey!
How about you? Do you oil pull? Tell us about it!
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And I think I’ll join you on the journey… Wish there was something that simple for whole body detox.
Sounds very interesting, can’t wait to try it.
Hi, sounds great, thanks for sharing, I can’t wait to try it tomorrow…I have a question do you brush your teeth after with regular toothpaste? Thanks!
I have not tried it myself, but I work for a company that primarily produces an oil based toothpaste alternative (OraMD if you ever want to look it up) and we have a lot of customer say the oil pulling method is great. I just don’t have the patience to try it in the morning, maybe I will try it on a Sunday or something when I do not have to be anywhere.
I’ve heard this technique is also used for cavity repair (for minor small cavities)… I love that it can reverse tooth decay!
I’ve been oil pulling in the mornings since Thanksgiving when I first heard of the practice! I’ll typically just do it while I’m showering so I’m not focused on how long I’ve been swishing the oil around in my mouth – otherwise I just get so tired of it!
Rita, I do brush my teeth afterwards, just because that’s what I’ve been told to do. I don’t know about anybody else though!
Oil pulling is only one step of a few for overall daily mouth care in traditional Indian Ayurveda care, one still brushes their teeth, massages the gums and scraps the tongue.
@Jessie That’s such a great idea, doing the oil pulling in the shower. Don’t know why I haven’t thought of that before. Does anyone get nauseous oil pulling? I want to do it and pull through with it but I just end having to spit it out within 5 min because I start to gag
I’ve been oil pulling for years and nothing makes my mouth feel cleaner. I use sunflower oil and “pull” for 20 minutes while I do yoga and dishes, spit and then brush.
@stephanie- do you see any benefits besides it makes your mouth feel clean?
I’ve been oil pulling for months now with coconut oil and I love the clean feel it leaves! And to answer the question, I brush my teeth right afterwards.
YES I have been dying to do this. Thank you so much for doing a post on it. Can’t wait to try!
I’ve tried it and it did nothing. Lots of people say that when they spit out the oil it’s brown, but it wasn’t for me. Maybe you need to smoke or something for that to happen?
You said that “Studies show that oil pulling has excellent benefits for oral health. It can help strengthen the teeth, gums, and jaw; whiten teeth; prevent bad breath; prevent dryness of the mouth, lips, and throat; prevent mouth diseases like cavities and gingivitis; and treat soreness of the jaw. ” I wasn’t about to find a single reputable study that supported it at all – it seems like one of those things to try for fun, but does it actually do any of those things? Probably not. Except for the moisturizing, it is oil after all.
If you can link to any study though, that would be very interesting to read.
I’ve never spat out brown oil after pulling. The oil DOES do the dental things claimed in the above article because it removes plaque, which causes tooth decay, bad breath, gingivitis, etc. Plaque is a film of bacteria and it isn’t brown. While the detox/insomnia/kidney health claims are definitely unsupported, it isn’t a stretch to understand that mouthwash cleans the mouth, yes? And of course everyone’s body reacts to treatment differently.
Please find a description of a 2009 study about halfway down the page.
After 20 min of swishing, the oil mixed with saliva and impurities should become creamy, whitish and have a thinner, milky, watery consistency. If you spit out too early and do not have a movement of oil in your mouth, it will preserve the original state – an oily, brownish substance.
Does anyone get nauseous oil pulling?
If you start the procedure on the empty stomach, you do not get nauseous. It is very important to start oil pulling as the first thing in the morning. Later on once you get use to the process, you can incorporate more then once a day. Generally you should stay away from liquids for 1h and 3h from food to have a pleasant experience with oil pulling.
do you brush your teeth after with regular toothpaste?
You should definitely rinse you mouth with warm salty water but the toothpaste is not necessary.
I’ve done this for about a year and have noticed dramatic improvements in my skin! This also might have to do with the fact that at the same time, I tossed commercial facial cleansers and body lotions by doing the oil cleansing method and using oils as lotion. Not sure it’d work for everyone, but I’m pretty content with my outcome :)
I can’t wait to try this. I’m on an oil bend. I’ve always used oils for moisturizing but never imagined so many uses for them.
Trying this asap!
Love coconut oil
I have been doing oil pulling every morning for the past few weeks. So far, I love it. I love the routine of it as it makes me feel more grounded and connected to myself. So far I have noticed whiter teeth, and I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits after doing it for a few months. I do it with coconut oil for 20 minutes, and then rinse my mouth with salt water afterwards.
Is the oil suppose to be in liquid form or could you use in the solid form? Just wondering as many seem to like coconut oil which I have only found and use in the solid form. Thanks!
I have been oil pulling for years, everyday, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach with coconut oil. I never heard about having to drink water first though… I wonder if that’s really necessary. Make sure to rinse with a baking soda and water afterwards to neutralize the PH level in your mouth. Thank you for writing this article.
I have been oil pulling for years, everyday, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach with coconut oil. I never heard about having to drink water first though… I wonder if that’s really necessary. Make sure to rinse with baking soda and water afterwards to neutralize the PH level in your mouth. Thank you for writing this article.
I have oil pulled but wasn’t able to make a habit of it, although I’d like to. I was most put off by the swishing- until it was explained to me that the action isn’t a vigorous swishing that you would use for mouthwash. Instead, gently move the oil to all parts of your mouth and slowly strain between the front and backs of your teeth. Your mouth may tire but it shouldn’t hurt or be too difficult if you pace yourself. Doing this in the shower is the perfect time length. I use solid coconut oil and “chew” it until if soon becomes liquid.
So funny you posted this. I was at Whole Foods this weekend – and the guy in the Whole Body area thought I was NUTS when I asked about this. Thanks for explaining oil pulling for me!
does anyone know if you can do this at night before going to bed? just wondering ’cause i usually take showers then, thank you!