What is Oil Pulling?


Oil pulling is an Ayurveda (gets at the root of the problem) practice that dates back 5,000 years. Swishing oil in your mouth is supposed to clean your teeth, get rid of bad breath and bad bacteria, reverse gum disease and inflammation, regrow your gums, get rid of tooth decay and whiten your teeth. It is also is said to cure many ailments such as arthritis, migraines and to stave off Alzheimer’s by completely eliminating toxins from your body.

I started thinking about this when our traditional dentist said my daughter had inflamed gums and wanted to shoot antibiotics into her gums. No thank you. I always prefer to address the problem rather than mask it. I consulted a trusted pharmacist. He said to switch her regular store-bought toothpaste to more natural one. I switched her to The Honest Company’s toothpaste which I’ve been using for a year with good results. She was hesitant because it’s not “minty” enough. She now likes it. He said to take her off dairy, have her rinse her mouth with aloe gel and glutamine powder (bought the capsules and broke them open) two to six times per day; swish and swallow.

After a month of this, I sent her to a holistic dentist. They said her gums were fine! They said that sometimes your gums can seem inflamed during a certain time in a person’s cycle because of hormone fluctuation. They also suggested oil pulling. They said if everyone did oil pulling, they would be out of business.

I’ve been doing this for about two weeks. True to form, I jumped in before I thoroughly researched it and I’ve come to find out I’ve been doing it wrong. That being said, I think it’s working anyway.

The way you are supposed to do it is first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, take one tablespoon of either sesame, sunflower or coconut oil (sesame oil is supposed to be the best, coconut the least favorable, but most tolerated) in your mouth and swish and pull gently for 20 minutes. Make sure the oil is COLD-PRESSED, UNREFINED, and preferably ORGANIC. You should do this before you even take a sip of water in the morning.

The best way to do this is to sit quietly, even meditate while doing this for your 20 minutes. When you are finished, spit the oil into the trash, not the sink. Then rinse your mouth with warm, salty water and brush your teeth.

I don’t know how it is at your house, but when I wake up, I’m in such a rush that I don’t have 20 minutes to sit. I am going to try to wake up earlier, but I don’t see myself sitting. I can probably manage to swish while I’m getting my son ready for school.

I believe this is like exercise; you may not be able to do it perfectly every day, but the overall commitment is what counts.

I have been oil pulling with coconut oil in the bath every night while I read. I find the time passes quickly. I keep a small trashcan next to the bathtub and spit my oil into it when I’m finished.

Even though I have been doing this on a pretty full stomach, my teeth do seem whiter. Of course, I didn’t think to take a “before” picture two weeks ago. But that slightly horrifying picture above is from today. SO, I’m going to say that I’m starting now, with the whole empty stomach thing. I am going to switch to sesame oil. I’ll post the “after” pics in a month or six weeks.

It is important to do this for at least a month to see results. I have read that you may wake up one morning and find that after you have swished and spit, you see that your oil is yellow instead of white. Mazel Tov! That means you have released your toxins.

Oil pulling is something that can be practiced even after you have released your toxins. You can cut back to several times a week.

Don’t spend money on books or fancy oil pulling products. Do spend your money on a quality cold-pressed, unrefined, organic sesame, sunflower or coconut oil. Please post questions or comments.



Author: Lauren

Plant-based educator and speaker

9 thoughts on “What is Oil Pulling?”

  1. Hi Lauren! So interesting….but the 20 minute thing would probably make me crazy….still….great info…good to know. Happy holidays! Diana.

    1. I think it’s okay to do it at night. The dentist that told us to do it, does it at night. Just try to do it several hours after dinner. Let me know how it goes!

  2. I tried oil pulling and really loved the results. I agree, though, doing it correctly (first thing in the morning) is really, really hard. Reading your post has inspired me to try it again. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes…baby steps 🙂 Thanks!

    1. Sarah, I am going to update this, but I never switched from coconut oil. I think it is the most pleasant to use, therefore, I do it. Let me know if you have questions!

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