My First Experience with Oil Pulling
Is the secret to better health hiding in the ancient tradition of oil pulling? Could swishing oil around in your mouth really deliver the plethora of promised benefits? I was determined to find out.
I was intrigued, confused and a little bit grossed out by the concept of oil pulling, so I decided to give it a try. Trust me; the experience was one I’ll never forget.
It can do what for my health?
Oil Pulling Health Benefits
Oil pulling, by Wikipedia definition, is a traditional Indian folk remedy that involves swishing oil in the mouth. Ayurvedic literature describes oil pulling as capable of both improving oral health and treating various ailments. While no medical research can solidify these claims, the amount of information available online definitely supports it. Here are a few of the numerous claimed benefits of oil pulling:
- Strengthening of teeth, gums and jaw
- Whitening of teeth
- Oral problem prevention—cavities and gingivitis
- Prevention of bad breath
- Relief of migraines and headaches
- Reduction of inflammation of arthritis
- Normal kidney function support
- Potential improved vision
- Relief from sinus congestion
- Increase in energy
- Clear skin
- Regulated menstrual cycles
- Helps detoxify the body of harmful metals and organisms
- Reduced hangover symptoms
- Helps with better sleep quality/reducing insomnia
You want me to do what with that oil?
Oil Pulling Instructions
In my research, I found very few conflicting recommendations. There are definitely recurring tips from different blogs, and various other Internet digging I did. With that, here is my three-step guide to oil pulling:
1. Choose an oil. Coconut oil is very popular, because of its sweet, tolerable taste. However, lots of people suggest that sunflower and sesame have been shown to be the most effective. Make sure the oil is liquid; some people suggest putting solid coconut oil in your mouth and letting it melt, while I found it much easier to just begin with liquid. One tablespoon of oil is recommended, however I suggest starting with a teaspoon and working your way up to a tablespoon.
2. Swish the oil. Slosh it around your mouth, through your teeth, aiming to reach all areas. One thing I found helpful was to floss my teeth beforehand. This made it easier to “suck” the oil between my teeth. You’ll find that this is quite a jaw/neck workout, and it takes some getting used to. Swish for up to 20 minutes, but again, building up time is almost necessary. I found that I could only last for 3-5 minutes for the first few times I tried it.
3. Spit. It’s important that you spit the oil into the toilet or trash, as it can clog drains in the shower or sink. I like to spit mine into a small cup and dump it in the trash. I found it most comfortable to rinse my mouth out with warm water afterwards, and then brush my teeth shortly after.
Oil Pulling Tips:
-Research suggests that oil pulling be done in the morning, on an empty stomach. This creates a more thorough detox.
-Some people suggest oil pulling while you’re in the shower. This is when I found it to be easiest, as it fits into my schedule. You could also do it while watching TV, making breakfast or really any time you see fit.
-If the taste is what’s keeping you from oil pulling, try adding some mint extract to the oil. I put 2-3 drops of peppermint extract in ½ tablespoon, and it was a much more pleasant experience.
Does it actually work?
My Oil Pulling results
I’ve always practiced pretty great oral hygiene, so I (not-so-humbly) must say that I didn’t have a lot of problems to begin with. I do think my teeth got a bit whiter, and with continued use, I think they’d continue to improve. My experiment ran for about two weeks, and I don’t think that was long enough to notice any other benefits throughout my body.
When I first tried it, I honestly didn’t know if I’d be able to continue. The flavor, consistency and overall experience made me never want to do it again. But, as I tried it a second, third and fourth time, it got much more bearable. I first tried it with coconut oil, then olive oil. They were similar in consistency, but coconut oil definitely has a better taste. Olive oil is quite disgusting at first, but after a minute or so, it doesn’t really have a flavor. (Side note: If you love coconut oil, check out this post on 50 ways to use it!)
After I tried those two oils, I followed one of our Facebook user's tips (see below) and added a few drops of peppermint extract to the coconut oil. That made a huge difference. I highly recommend getting some (Hint: we sell peppermint extract!).
I then tried sesame seed oil, because a lot of research suggests it’s the most effective. Sesame seed oil, by far, had the least terrible taste of all that I tried. If I were to continue—I haven’t decided if I will—I think I’ll use sesame seed oil going forward.
Overall, I’d say that this was a unique process, but I’m not sure it was effective enough for me to want to continue on a regular basis.
And the crowd says …? [Facebook Fan Input]
I posted the topic on Facebook, and it turns out, a lot more people were familiar with the process than I would have imagined. Here are a few of the most interesting, useful or unique posts:
I have been "pulling" for about 5 years. I take weekends off and instead I brush with Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda on those days. I do both first thing in the morning prior to eating or drinking anything. I "pull" for about 15 minutes while I fix tea and other small projects. It has cut way down on plaque and NO cavities. My mouth feels so clean. I know I have not been sick more than 2 or 3 times in the 5 years I've been doing it. I plan to stick with it for the rest of my life. Love it! ~ Janet S.
I've used different oils (always cold-pressed) - coconut oil seems to do the best for teeth whitening, sunflower oil tastes the best especially when you rinse with salt water, and sesame seems to have the best overall health benefits for me. Sometimes I rinse with Himalayan salt and a pinch of edible bentonite clay, I could hardly believe it, but it somehow made two tiny cavities disappear. YES I definitely recommend it. ~ Choral A.
We (kids too) oil pull w/ coconut oil for 15-20 min (the longer the better) on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. Haven't had oral issues since. In fact, energy increased & brain fog has eased up. My ADD son also could concentrate a whole lot better! ~ Sarah L.
I've tried it with both coconut (melted) and food grade almond... usually for about 20 minutes while in the shower. Coconut seems to work best for me. My teeth seem whiter, and my tooth sensitivity is nearly non-existent. ~ Jenee P.
Coconut oil- tastes nice. I swish for about 10 minutes in the morning while I choose my clothes, wash my face and start getting ready for work. ~ Karin E.B.
Unrefined sesame is the suggested, I like sesame taste, so it works for me. I put a little bottle in the bathroom and swish as long as I'm in the shower. Whiter, less sensitivity - very happy with the results. (don't drink straight from the bottle though, you can contaminate it... Ick... Use a little medicine cup). ~ Tracy N.
I use coconut oil and pull for 20 minutes 1st thing in the morning while I am juicing. For a portion of time I was having sensitivity with one of my teeth, and mixed clove oil with the coconut oil and after a couple weeks the sensitivity went away! ~ Kari W.
I prefer sesame oil......it resolved problems I had with some sensitive teeth following dental procedures. ~ Wanda C.R.
I like to add a drop of organic peppermint essential oil to the pulling oil. I have some flax seed oil I've been trying to use up so I just use that for now - coconut and olive oil seem to be the most common though. I have found that using a small amount, about a teaspoon, reduces the gagging and is still effective. ~ Brandy E.
I LOVE oil pulling! I use olive oil and usually 10-15min. I sit and watch a hockey game, browse pinterest, or edit films (I film birth stories/weddings) I love it, and wish I would remember to do it more often. When I first started I too tried coconut oil and gagged as well. The texture and I weren't a match. Olive oil has an "off" taste for about 10-15sec and then it is just fluid in your mouth that you swish around. My gums and teeth feel amazing afterwards. ~ KatieandBrad J.
This post was written by Jenessa McAllister.
I’d love to hear any tips you have on oil pulling, or any other unique health practices that you think I should try!