What is "Oil Pulling"?

Picture of coconuts used for oil pulling

What is "Oil Pulling"?

The history of oil pulling dates back over 3000 years. Before modern medicine, elders in India developed Ayurveda, a form of mind-body health system. The basic tenet of Ayurveda is that when balanced, your body has amazing powers to heal itself.

One of the practices of Ayurveda is oil pulling. Oil pulling is swishing and rinsing your mouth with oil. It has been used in traditional Indian folk remedies to prevent tooth decay, bad breath, bleeding gums and to strengthen your teeth and gums. Some believe oil pulling may have more extensive benefits to your health, but most claims are unsupported.

How to Oil Pull

If you’d like to try oil pulling, it is currently recommended to use 1 TBSP of coconut oil and swish the oil around your mouth, using your tongue and cheeks to pull the oil through the teeth for up to 20 minutes once or twice per day. Try to relax the jaw muscles to avoid muscle fatigue. Although you'll want to use it as if it were mouthwash, you don't want to gargle it or swallow the oil you've been pulling. If you feel the urge to swallow, it's important you spit it out and start again. When you are finished, spit the oil into a garbage can rather than the sink.

Benefits of Oil Pulling

As you swish the oil around your mouth, it breaks down the bacteria, and coconut oil protects against yeast infections (thrush) in the mouth. Oil pulling is an effective mechanical method of cleansing your teeth and the smallest crevices along your molars that the bristles of your brush cannot reach.

What we do know about oil pulling is that it can’t hurt; but it can be quite stressful on the muscles of your face and jaw if you are predisposed to facial pain or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD).