Does Oil Pulling Really Work?

Is oil pulling worth the hype? Meredith Baird shares her experience.

This post comes to us from Meredith Baird

Nothing has made a greater impact on my morning routine than oil pulling. When I first read about it many years ago, I was a bit skeptic. How could swishing oil around in your mouth possibly make an impact on your health? But the health improvement claims were so extensive I figured it was worth a try.

Oil pulling is the basic method of swishing one to two tablespoons of sesame or coconut oil in your mouth for at least twenty minutes. The prescription for this recipe is to do it daily on a completely empty stomach to experience optimal improvement. Traditionally, sesame oil was preferred – but coconut oil, olive oil, and sunflower can also be used. In my mind coconut oil makes the most sense. It tastes the best, and has the most potent antiviral, anti fungal, and antibacterial properties of any oil on earth.

Although oil pulling is an ancient method of improving oral health, the benefits are just starting to be recognized in western culture. The practice originated in Ayurvedic tradition as a means to improve dental hygiene. Oil pulling works by dissolving the toxins and bacteria in your mouth, cutting through plaque, and absorbing into your skin through your gums and tongue. Unlike the harsh effects of fluoride or traditional mouth washes, oil is nourishing and nurturing to your skin and gums. As you read more, it starts to make sense. When oil and water (saliva) emulsify- you are literally pulling out toxins and bacteria that can’t just be brushed off.

I’ve been oil pulling fairly regularly for the last 7-8 years. I was personally drawn to the practice after experiencing symptoms of eczema and extremely dry skin. Even though I had been eating a healthy diet for many years and always had good skin, I started to experience these negative shifts. Cold NYC weather wasn’t agreeing with my skin, and my high raw, high fruit diet wasn’t suitable year round. Ayruvedic traditions and remedies seemed like viable solutions- more fitting to constitution and seasonality. If my dry skin was caused by an internal imbalance, oil pulling seemed like it was worth a shot.

When I first started, my housemates definitely thought I was on the weird wagon. Another hippie fad. Then something started to shift, my teeth became noticeably brighter and whiter. The cosmetic benefit alone was enough to motivate me to stick with it. After a few months of regular practice I started feeling significant improvements in my overall health. My digestion improved, my skin cleared, and I literally felt cleaner in the mornings after swishing. Any gum sensitivity that I’d experienced in the past was completely gone, and morning breath was zero. When I don’t do it, I notice a significant shift in my morning mood. They say it increases energy and I definitely feel that it does.

It really is important to oil pull first thing in the morning before brushing, before breaking the fast of a nights sleep. I find the ritual to be meditative because it forces you to be silent. I pull when I first wake up and do little chores like make tea, feed my cats, make the bed etc. Twenty minutes flies by in the morning. If it seems like a daunting routine, I assure you it’s not. It helps that my fiancé is now on the program- he swears that his mouth feels notably cleaner and his system feels more detoxified.

If you don’t buy into the detox, and you’re just concerned with basic oral health- I can testify that my dental reports have been cavity free with A+ scores for almost a decade. Is oil pulling a health fad? Maybe not. I certainly won’t be stopping any time soon.

Reducing our toxic overload has the ability to improve our health in ways that we are just now starting to understand. I believe that the benefits of oil pulling are just now starting to be understood, and will only become more extensive.

There are many health claims, but some of the most easily noted improvements include:

  • Whiter teeth
  • Stronger teeth and gums
  • Better breath from reduced mouth bacteria
  • Less gum and mouth sensitivity
  • Increased energy from boosted immunity
  • Removal of mucus
  • Increased energy from improved heath
  • Clearer skin from reduced toxic load
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Lymphatic system improvement
  • Alleviates headaches or hangovers

The prescription is simple:

1-2 tablespoons cold pressed, organic – coconut or sesame oil

Swish 1–2 tablespoons of oil around in your mouth for at least 20 minutes. Spit. Rinse mouth with warm water. Brush and floss like normal.

New year, new highly recommended routine!


+ Have you tried oil pulling? Share your experience in the comments!

Visit Meredith’s website

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4 years ago

Wow, that sounds so interesting that I just have to try it!

4 years ago

Oh wow. Never heard of this before. I might give it a go.
I feel like I wouldn’t be able to keep it in my mouth for that long without accidentally swallowing it haha but it sounds like it’s worth a shot.
I’ll research in to this more.

Jenna von x

4 years ago

I love oil pulling! But it’s a good idea to spit out the oil in the trash though … otherwise it might clog the sink.

4 years ago

I’ve tried this before but have little time in the morning. I might have to give it another shot.

4 years ago

Sounds great, but I’ve heard cases of some people having the oil negatively affect previous fillings/root canals/etc. Anyone else hear about that? I really want to try, but am a bit hesitant

6 months ago
Reply to  Aerie

I dont see that threat in oil pulling. Been recommending this from years to my patients

4 years ago

I’ve been reading about oil pulling for so long now and have just not got around to trying it! But I think I definitely should considering oral health is one of those things I’m always unhappy about. This will probably be a good resolution to try out for this year!
Kyah /

4 years ago

I use olive oil and I have to say that it really helps my gums a lot. Sometimes I would get one of those painful bumps inside my gum and it would take it away the next day and I never had gum issues at oil after I started, it really does work well for that type of thing.

4 years ago

Tried this for the first time, but how do you manage 20 minutes?? Also found I wanted to swallow or gag!

4 years ago

i did it for a month but saw no benefits. I guess I have to stick with it for a few months. Looking forward to starting up again, as coconut oil is delicious!

4 years ago

I’m definitly going to try it

4 years ago

I used to do oil pulling some time ago but after few times I just stopped doing it. However, I absolutely loved it! I didn’t notice any significant changes but the taste of coconut oil is amazing. I am sure I need to do it again for much longer time and maybe I will see progress!
My advice for those who don’t have tons of time in the morning: just pull oil while you’re showering!

4 years ago

I have done oil pulling before but always fall out the habit which is a shame as i had some great results! I’m going to take this as a sign to give it another go and stick with it this time


4 years ago

Super into coconut oil, and have recently tried oil pulling. I find, since it takes 10 minutes, it’s best to do in the shower. I feel like it’s a subtle brightening, which is more natural and beautiful. Worth a try for sure!

4 years ago

I’m so happy that you posted your experience. It seems like most articles I read about oil pulling are written when it’s too soon to see any results. Thanks so much for sharing. I can’t wait to try it out!

4 years ago

Oil Pulling is really amazing! I was also very sceptical at first – but once established into your morning routine, you quickly realise how amazing it is once you miss a day. I would highly recommend – my teeth are definitely brighter! I am obsessed about oral hygiene and oil pulling has made a significant difference.
You seriously have nothing to lose – give it a try! x x x lovely article :)

4 years ago

I have done oil pulling previously and loved it..although after accidentally swallowing a couple of times I threw it in..I am worried I am ingesting more toxicity by doing it and accidentally swallowing than doing nothing at all! Maybe I should revisit :)

4 years ago

I’ve been oil pulling for about 3 weeks with coconut oil and I absolutely love it. My teeth look so much whiter and I’m looking forward to more benefits of it.