what is oil pulling

What on Earth is Oil Pulling? Steps and Benefits Explained

March 8, 2014

You may have heard of the newest health craze of oil pulling and its benefits. I’ve seen it on Facebook several times, and never had any idea what it was.

It sounded like something you did for Exxon.

what is oil pulling

Turns out, oil pulling is actually something you do for the heaith of your mouth and teeth. I use coconut oil cleansing for my skin at night, and oil balances oil. So  that same thought applies here, oil pulling goes through plaque and removes toxins without disturbing the teeth or gums.

There are several studies on the benefits of oil pulling, as well as thoughts on how oil pulling works. People have made claims that oil pulling helps with skin conditions, arthritis, asthma, headaches, hormone imbalances, infections, liver problems and more. I have no idea about most of this – but I do know since I started I’ve slept better, my breath is more manageable in the morning, and my teeth clenching (from stress) causes less pain on my jaws as well. I’ve also noticed the constant allergies I had lately are gone.

Also it whitens your teeth. So if that’s all it did, I’d be in. My teeth are SUPER sensitive to other whiteners. In college I tried the whitening strips and for a week I felt like someone had sawed my teeth to nubs and made me eat sandpaper.

So. There’s that.

Oils you can use include any high quality (you’d cook with it); sesame, coconut, sunflower. You can buy my kind of coconut oil at Target. If you’d like it whipped (great to use as a cleanser) Love Maegan has a guide on how to whip and store coconut oil.

Curious about oil pulling? Here’s one of the most popular ways to do it:

  1. Take about a tablespoon of unrefined, organic coconut oil and place in your mouth. I let it melt in my mouth before swishing it around, some people melt it beforehand. It has a sweet, nutty taste to it that I actually don’t mind at all. Also – if a tablespoon is too much (it does mix with spit) you can start with less.
  2. Swish/pull oil for 20 minutes. This might seem like forever, but if you have something to distract you (book, Facebook, Instagram) it goes by quickly. Also you can build up – 5 minutes, then 10, 15, 20 when you’re able to. Pulling it means pushing it through your teeth and then back.
  3. Spit it out into the trash or a plastic bag. Don’t use a drain! Oil turns back into a solid and can clog pipes. Don’t swallow as it’s full of bacteria and toxins the oil removed.
  4. Rinse with warm water. Just a little – swish it around and you’re done.
  5. Brush and Floss! Now – some people don’t. They get to a point that they’re totally comfortable not brushing anymore. I am not there (probably ever), but it’s up to you.

I do this at night, but I’ve had many people tell me it’s better to do in the mornings. I simply don’t have time to not talk for 20 minutes in the mornings so I’m starting at night for now.

There has been concern over fillings and oil pulling, so be sure to talk to your dentist if you have questions. If you are pregnant or nursing, talk with your practitioner, although many women do this safely during these times. 

Are any of you oil pulling? How long have you done it for? If you’re not, would you try it? 

Is everyone just totally grossed out now? 😉 xoxo


  • Kristi Lawrie Ann

    March 17, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    try sunflower oil instead or as i read in a comment above mix in some peppermint essential oil !

  • Michelle Cunningham

    March 15, 2014 at 12:35 am

    How often are you suppose to pull?

  • Maripat Corrigan Olson

    March 14, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    A friend of mine was doing it, then found something about it on Snopes. You might want to check that out.

  • Bekah

    March 14, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Tried this for the first time JUST this morning! I didn’t want to eat breakfast because my teeth felt so sparkeling clean. (But I did) I’m anxious to see what it does because my teeth are that sensitive too – the hygienist has to warm the water to clean them when I go.

  • Jennifer Muscat

    March 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Trader Joe sells a jar for $8.99 I use I for Sienna's excema. It really works! I think it is virgin Coconut oil.

  • Megan Harkins-Horniak

    March 14, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    I have not done pulling yet but I use for cooking and on my skin love it!

  • Robert J Coyne Jr.

    March 14, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Hi Cassie, Danielle and I have been oil pulling for over a year now and organic is always best to use but for us using it in pulling we do not always get organic. We also use other oils like sunflower. What we have found doing this is improved dental health. Danielle had to go to the dentist every 3 months and there was a lot of build up but since she started pulling it is 95% better. It also removes bacterial buildup in your mouth which will help with congestion, runny nose, etc. We try to get the kids to do it but it is hard so we ask them to pull every other day for about 5 min! WE do love Coconut oil and use it in all of our cooking and baking. Hope this helps.

  • Cassie Hayes

    March 14, 2014 at 3:27 am

    Okay. A little grossed out (this is the 2nd article I've seen), but I recently started using Coconut oil for cooking, and would be happy to try it for this too since I have it in the house already.
    But, does it have to be virgin and organic ? I'm not sure if my kind is.

  • Natasha Walls Mcconnaughy

    March 14, 2014 at 2:06 am

    I have been oil pulling about 8-10 months now and am amazed at the results. My dentist and hygienist did not know I was oil pulling and made commesat my last exam about how there was almost nothing to clean from my teeth and that my gums sure did look great—told them my secret and my mouth became "show and tell" in the office! Also have noted an improvement in sinus issues—from the first time I put it in m mouth I felt a release in pressure in my sinuses. Also for any Costco shoppers, they now carry a huge container of organic-cold pressed coconut oil for only @ $15—great deal!

  • Rich Respondi

    March 14, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Im pretty sure it does not have to be coconut oil

  • Jonathan Mcsweeney

    March 13, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    It does nothing except sell a lot of coconut oil. Just like the almond industry found a way to sell stuff that they used to throw away and made almond milk.

    1. jonathon michael

      April 10, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      Wrong on this one buddy! I have severe gingivites and lost some teeth! I have been pulling for 3 weeks! I promise you after pulling in this time frame, my mouth, gums, teeth feels the healthiest in a long time! My breath feels fresh! My vigor has improved. I do not trust gimmicks. But coconut oiil pulling has made me a believer! Give me 6 months and I will respond again.

  • Dianna Stewart Douglass

    March 13, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    I have been doing this for about 4 months now when I first started using essential oils. I add 1-2 drops of oregano and peppermint to the oil. You have to be careful of the oregano that it is mixed well as it will be "hot" if it is not mixed well. All those I know that oil pull also brush afterward, some with salt water. People have noticed my teeth are whiter, my mouth feels fresher, and my sensitivity is gone. I pull first thing in the morning while i'm doing my morning routine (i, however, no longer have young ones at home!). I also pull several nights a week. I had to start out with less coco oil as it is a weird feeling when you place solid coco oil in you mouth and it melts! And the first time I tried it, I had to spit after only 5 minutes…so your advice is perfect! As a side note, it may be a "new" health craze, but i've known folks that have done it for years.

  • Nancy Jones

    March 13, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    I started a couple of days ago and seem to manage it quite well.

  • Kelsie Schwartz

    March 13, 2014 at 6:16 am

    im trying to start but i have such a hard time keeping it in my mouth, im not a huge fan of coconut. so if there is any helpfully was to get used to it i would love to hear them!!

  • Kelly

    March 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    I do it. I learned about the technique a few years ago when I started getting into essential oils. I’m one of those people who doesn’t floss anymore – that was one of the reasons I started oil pulling, because of how my gums became inflamed by flossing and brushing. I felt like I could never get them clean. I DO brush my teeth though and know of no one that does oil pulling and doesn’t brush. I think it’s a terribly important part of the process of oil pulling, to brush out the rest. I don’t use toothpaste though. I have an aversion to putting something in my mouth that explicitly says DO NOT SWALLOW. If I wanted to swallow coconut oil, I could. I wouldn’t, after it take the gunk out, but I wouldn’t even swoosh and swallow water (if cleaning my teeth out). … Anyway, I think it’s great and have noticed several benefits. I have noticed I have been sleeping great lately but I didn’t attribute that to the oil. My seasonal allergies have been greatly improved. My skin has been clearer. My tooth sensitivity has all but disappeared. Love it.

    1. Daniel

      June 7, 2015 at 11:31 am

      A friend of mine told me a myth about why they suggest not to swallow tooth paste. He told me that if they clearly state that you should not ingest it, then they don’t have to put the ingredients on it, besides medicinal ingredients. Part of the myth is that most toothpastes have sugar in them so that they don’t have as much of a chemical taste to them, and that children are more willing to brush. On the other hand sugar is one of the #1 causes of dental problems. Now like I said, this is a myth someone told me so i have no clue how much of it is true, but the premise makes sense.

  • Sarah

    March 8, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I’ve been oil pulling for about 2 weeks and have noticeably whiter teeth. Also I’ve had teeny tiny bumps on my upper arms for almost my whole life and they have suddenly completely cleared up.

    1. Kati

      March 13, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Sarah- have you been using the oil for lotion as well, or did they just happen to clear up since you have been oil pulling? Thanks!

  • Nikki B

    March 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I have been wanting to try this, and I have a few friends doing it. I think I might even add in a drop of an essential oil for some extra bonus benefits! Thanks for sharing!

  • Franchesca

    March 8, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    I started doing this just a few days ago and I like how it freshens your mouth up. The texture makes me want to gag, but I think it’s well worth the benefits:) I also do it at night for the same reasons.

  • Sarah [NurseLovesFarmer.com]

    March 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Interesting. While I’m sure there’s no harm in doing this, I’m very skeptical of all the supposed benefits. All the results of that study seem very subjective to me, but I do appreciate the research your put into this post. I can see how it would help oral health…but some of the claimed benefits of oil pulling alone like curing skin conditions and even for hangovers, I am very skeptical of. No harm though, as I say!

  • Grace Park Cho

    March 8, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    whitening teeth is why i'm in!! doing this tomorrow morning!

  • Jessica Pardee

    March 8, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Wow thanks for the explanation. I've seen this all over Facebook and was curious

  • Anne-Marie

    March 8, 2014 at 11:10 am

    I told my mom about this, and she laughed at me! The woman who once had an EAR CANDLE PARTY laughed at this idea, which makes total sense to me. Ear candles pull ear wax out. They work, but it’s weird. It’s especially weird that this was a once social event in my home as a child. SMH. “You try it first!” Ok! Because, why not?

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