What is Oil Pulling?

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It’s the latest health fad that has everyone wondering: What exactly is oil pulling? Simply put, oil pulling is gargling or swishing coconut or olive oil around in your mouth, and its proponents say it cleans teeth, removes bacteria from the mouth and prevents infections. It may sound a bit yucky, but many people claim to experience a variety of oral and overall health benefits.

Oil Pulling
Photo by Fotolia/joanna wnuk

Oil Pulling Benefits

While relatively new to the United States, oil pulling dates back to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine. While science hasn’t quite caught on to the latest fad, some studies suggest it can help reduce oral plaque and gingivitis when used along with a regular oral care routine. It has also been found to relieve toothaches from infection and even whiten teeth. The oil works as a cleanser, pulling out bacteria, fungi and other toxins from our mouth as you swish it around. Because of this detox function, many people also report relief from systemic conditions all through the body such as arthritis, allergies, diabetes and much more.

Oil Pulling Method

This method comes from Dr. F. Karach, who is said to have introduced the U.S. to oil pulling in the 90s. Most sources suggest oil pulling is only beneficial when done with a high-quality, unrefined oil such as coconut oil. For best results, swish oil in mouth for a period of 15 to 20 minutes, one to three times a day. Spit out the oil (do not swallow) and rinse with water. You don’t want to spit oil down the sink (especially if you have a septic system). Instead, spit oil into the trash. There are conflicting opinions on whether oil pulling is safe during pregnancy and nursing.

For more information on oil pulling, check out Oil Pulling Therapy by Bruce Fife or visit the Coconut Research Center.


Victoria Pitcher is Web Editor at Mother Earth Living. Find her on .