Healthy Ritual Of The Week: Oil Pulling

oil pulling for wellness

Oil pulling is a habit with all kinds of epic lore surrounding it.

The claims I’ve heard from people about this “oil” ritual seemed wild and intriguing: whiter teeth, clear skin, rashes disappear, healthier gums, gums that re-attach where they’ve detached,  no more sinus infections, greater energy, better digestion.

Swishing oil in your mouth for 15 minutes a day seemed a foreign idea until the anecdotes poured in and moved me to action years ago!

Oil pulling could be the least-indulged habit in the healthy ritual department…and while it’s not fool-proof, it’s pretty wonderful.

how to do oil pulling

The Ayurvedic ritual of oil pulling is thought to work by pulling bacteria, toxins and mucous from the body as you swish oil in your mouth. Documented benefits that have been studied include helping to heal tumors, repairing diseased gums, re-fastening loose teeth, decreasing systemic candida, decreasing blood diseases, reducing allergies, curing sinus infections and much more.  Some claim that the oil pulling method is a key to longevity.

All you need: unprocessed sesame oil or sunflower oil (thought to be the best 2 oils… others have used virgin olive oil and coconut oil with great results).

To do the oil pulling:  Put a tablespoon of oil in your mouth first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything. Swish it for 20 minutes through your teeth and mouth. Sort of pull it through your teeth gently. It becomes bubbly, it changes textures and it is quite weird the first time you do it.

Do not “gargle” it in your throat and please don’t swallow it. If you can’t make it through a full 15 or 20 minutes, spit it out early.  You’ll want to spit the oil in the trash, as some have clogged their drains with this oil.

When you are done with the swishing,  the oil is considered toxic and filled with pathogens.  If you spit it out, some advise to wash your sink.  Others say to spit the in in the toilet which is one step easier! (Note:  If you want to do this more than once a day, wait four hours after eating and at least an hour after drinking any liquids to try it again!)

The first round of doing it: my teeth were gleaming!  I felt… a bit nauseous though.

Then, I had a reaction called Herxheimer where the die-off and release of toxic
stuff was so profound that it stitted up my autoimmune condition that was in remission for ages.  I have read about people who power though the detox period and emerge healthier than ever, but I am not that brave and it was unwise for me to go further.

For most of you, I’m guessing this won’t be a problem at all, but I mention it so you’re not as surprised as I was!

I decided to do this very gently and occassionally so that I could reap the benefits even a bit without the heavy downside.  The occassional swish leaves me feeling fantastic, and no wild reactions at all.

If you have a medical condition talk to your doctor first because this can stir things up as it “detoxes.”

Have you tried oil pulling?

If you have already done it, please let me know how it works for you…and please let me know if you have any refinements to add to the process!

xoxo Dana


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xoxo Dana

karen August 15, 2012 at 11:30 pm

When you say swish it for 20 minutes do you really mean 20 MINUTES!!!!?????? Really, 20 minutes!!!!???? X

danaclaudat August 16, 2012 at 12:09 am

lol, yes, 20 minutes. I am thinking I’ll walk my dog or take a shower and do it!

Reese August 15, 2012 at 11:42 pm

I started oil pulling w/coconut oil about six months ago. My allergies haven’t cleared up the way I’d hoped, but my teeth and gums have NEVER looked better. I do it for about 20 – 30 minutes twice a day. It was a weird habit to develop, but now I’d never give it up. Get the coconut oil at Trader Joe’s; they have a very good product and it is a lot less expensive than Whole Foods. Try it; I bet you get hooked on it.

danaclaudat August 16, 2012 at 12:09 am

So exciting!

Kristin August 16, 2012 at 12:56 am

I’ve read about the benefits, but I’ve only tried it once! It just didn’t seem like it was working (I know, I know, I should do it more than once before stopping). Anyway, I’d love an update on this from you in a week or two!

Selina August 17, 2012 at 1:18 am

I’ve been reading a lot about this lately as well! I didn’t know about all those documented health benefits though. That’s awesome and totally worth a try! If you’d do it in the morning, would you do it after or before you brush your teeth? I’m assuming do it before you brush. Can’t wait to try this in the morning!! 🙂

Maggie August 27, 2012 at 11:45 pm

I’d love to know too! I’m sure we’ll get a great follow up post.

danaclaudat September 4, 2012 at 9:58 pm

I’m totally obsessed with this now! I will totally do a follow-up post! Wonder if you guys have tried it?!

Anita May 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm

I tried this it this morning, all I had was olive oil, but it seemed to work O.K.. It felt a little strange but the 20 minutes went by rather quickly. I did it before I brushed, I also rinsed very well before brushing. I can’t wait to try different oils.

Ruth K May 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I’ve been doing this since March, usually with coconut oil in the morning. I started out doing it for as long as I could (about 10 minutes) and worked up to 20 minutes. (I do it while I am fixing my coffee and breakfast and giving the dog his pills and food, etc.) Coconut oil is solid and will return to solid once you spit it out so you’re best to spit it in the trash rather than clog your sink or toilet with it. It definitely breaks up the mucous in my schnozz–sometimes my nose starts running, as far as the other benefits, I don’t know for sure, I’ll find out about my teeth and gums in a few months, but my mouth definitely feels cleaner. Also it may be contributing to helping to right my hyperthyroidism–again, hard to know but my bloodwork has changed pretty dramatically since I started oil pulling and taking Vit. D supplements (which I definitely think helped, since D deficiency is a factor in hyperthyroidism). At any rate, it sure doesn’t hurt anything.

danaclaudat May 3, 2013 at 5:59 pm

what awesome tips…and really incredible feedback! thank you so much!!!! i love hearing this!

Kathrin May 27, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I was so keen to try this, but I had to learn that coconut oil is solid… can you advice on how you do the oil pulling with it? I tried to melt it in my mouth, hell! Hard to keep it inside! Next time, I tried to melt it in my hand, a plastic bag… nothing seems to really work.
Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks in a million 🙂

danaclaudat May 31, 2013 at 4:38 pm

make sure its good oil. and melted first. putting it in a cup sitting in a dish of hot water always does the melting with minimal mess.

hema October 15, 2013 at 4:19 pm

I have been trying since o week and i am experiencing great improvements such as good sleep, reduced heel cracks and good energy

danaclaudat October 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm


Rany March 9, 2014 at 6:49 am

I am on day 5. I was complimented 2 times on my teeth today. I am hoping it helps with tonsil stones, but happy with white teeth and no morning breath.
Give it a try, it can’t hurt.

danaclaudat March 10, 2014 at 7:39 pm

thats awesome. its so simple, but powerful stuff!

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