Oil pulling – an everyday therapy at home. Fact or Fad ?

Ever wondered if any healing practice exists which could detox your body as soon as you got off the bed and even before you could squeeze out the toothpaste on to your brush! And the answer would be a ‘yes’ for there exists a very effective technique called ‘oil pulling’. The popularity of this practice runs not only among the Asians but also in the west. Well-known celebrities Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley have both recently shared their love for the all-natural teeth-whitening trick through "oil pulling"

Gwyneth when interviewed for the secret behind her pearly teeth and glowing skin stated, "I use coconut oil a lot. I do on my face, on my skin and in my cooking. And I just started oil pulling, which is when you swish coconut oil around [in your mouth] for 20 minutes, and it's supposed to be great for oral health and making your teeth white. It's supposed to clear up your skin, as well” [12], and so did Miss. Woodley, she says "It really makes your teeth whiter, because the plaque on your teeth is not water soluble, it’s fat-soluble. So the lipids have to dissolve in fats, which is why oil works in your mouth. I prefer sesame oil, but they’re both good." [11]. Introduced with a scientific sense by our ancient Ayurvedic sciences is the technique of ‘oil pulling’ also called ‘Kavala Gandusha’. ‘Kavala’ means oral cavity and ‘Gandusha’ meaning gargle, hence an oral cleansing technique, specialized to treat as well as to prevent oral diseases.


The technique involves swishing a cold pressed oil of sesame or sunflower oil, in the mouth for 10-20 minutes and then spitting it out. This practice is observed to prevent caries (cavities), reduces oral bacteria, and promotes healthy gums [1]

Oil pulling: How to perform this? [2,3]:

The practice of oil pulling is done as the first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and even before you brush your teeth so as to avoid even a drop of water from being taken into your system. On placing a tablespoon of oil in the mouth, as the swishing of oil begins, the oils mix with the saliva, turning it into a thin, white liquid. Swishing activates the enzymes in the mouth and draws toxins out of the blood into the oil. Lipids in the oils begin to pull out toxins like harmful bacteria, fungus, and other organisms from the saliva. As the oil is swished around the mouth, teeth, gums and tongue, the oil continues to absorb toxins, and usually ends up turning thick and viscous and white. This is the appropriate time when one should spit out the oil, which is now white and viscous as continuing the swishing process further may result in reabsorption of toxins.

It is important to understand that during the oil-pulling/swishing process one’s metabolism is intensified and leads to improved health.

Principle behind oil pulling [2,3]:

The oil used in this therapy being a vegetable fat be it sesame oil or the sunflower oil is an emulsifier in nature. There by during the process of oil pulling a soapy environment is created in the mouth due to saponification. Further more, the lipids in the oil both pull out bacteria, as well as stop bacterial from sticking to the walls of the oral cavity resulting in cleansing of the mouth.

Benefits of oil pulling on oral hygeine [3]:

  • Prevents diseases of the gums and mouth, such as cavities and gingivitis
  • Prevents halitosis (bad breath)
  • Potential remedy for bleeding gums
  • Prevents dryness of the lips, mouth and throat
  • Overall strengthens teeth, gums and jaws

Effects of oil pulling on overall health system [5]:

Benefits of oil pulling on the oral health are logically acceptable as one swishes oil in his/her mouth for a reasonable amount of period to let the goodness of oil gets into action. However, Ayurvedic sciences claims and proves that this is an overall health beneficial therapy for the human system, ever wondered for the logic behind this? Well, Ayurvedic science maps the tongue with organ-locations. The tongue on the whole has defined segments that are connected to the kidneys, lungs, spleens, liver, heart, pancreas, small intestines, stomach, colon, and spine. Oil pulling eliminates toxins from the whole body through the tongue.

Reflex Zones on Tongue
Picture of the tongue showing the link of vital organs in the segments of the tongue [4]

Therapeutical benefits of oil pulling on overall health [2,5]:

  1. Relieves migraine headaches
  2. Addresses hormone imbalances
  3. Reduces arthritic inflammations and pain
  4. Helps gastro-enteritis and healthy bowel movement
  5. Reduces the symptoms of allergies and eczema
  6. Reduce symptoms of bronchitis and sinus congestion
  7. Helps support normal kidney function
  8. Helps reduce insomnia
  9. Reduced hangover after alcohol consumption
  10. Enhances skin tone and radiance
  11. And overall detoxifies body of harmful metals and organisms

Scientific evidences on oil pulling as a beneficial therapy:

Decrease in plaque-induced gingivitis: Randomized, controlled, triple-blind studies of 20 age-matched adolescent boys with plaque-induced gingivitis were selected for this study. They were divided randomly into the study or oil pulling group (Group I) and control or chlorhexidine group (Group II) with 10 subjects in each group. Statistically significant reduction of the pre- and post-values of the plaque and modified gingival index scores in both the study and control groups ( P < 0.001 in both) were noted. This proves there was a considerable reduction in the total colony count of aerobic microorganisms present in both the groups [10].

Steps to practice oil pulling [6,7,8]:

Step 1: Purchase any variety of cold-pressed organic oil. Best recommended after study trials are sesame oil, virgin olive oil, sunflower oil and coconut oil; sesame oil being considered the most effective. Consider alternating oil varieties every couple of days to get the full benefit of all the oils and see what works best for you. Note: Avoid canola oil and other varieties processed with additives.

Step 2: Do this first thing in the morning; before you've consumed any food or drink in the day and also before you've brushed your teeth. Measure out 1 tablespoon of the oil and hold it in your mouth.

Step 3: Slowly start swishing the oil around, pulling it through your teeth. Tilting your chin up gets the oil to your back molars. Get it all round your mouth and tongue. Do this for at least 10 minutes but preferably 20 minutes, during this time oil will absorb toxins, usually turning somewhat viscous and milky. Note: Do not gargle in the throat. The oil should be swished in the mouth only.

Step 4: Spit out the viscous oil and rinse your mouth out thoroughly with warm water. Do not hold the oil longer than 20 minutes once it has turned milky as the toxins start to reabsorb. Spit into the trash can or sink and rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water to get out all oil remains.
Note: Do not swallow the oil. It contains bacteria and toxins.

Step 4: Spit out the viscous oil and rinse your mouth out thoroughly with warm water. Do not hold the oil longer than 20 minutes once it has turned milky as the toxins start to reabsorb. Spit into the trash can or sink and rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water to get out all oil remains. Note: Do not swallow the oil. It contains bacteria and toxins.

NOTE: In the beginning you will notice certain symptoms like headache, excessive drowsiness, feverishness, runny nose, stomach ache, etc. Do not stop, it is an indication that the oil pulling is working.

Risk of oil pulling [9]

The only side effect of oil pulling is a “study” that suggests oil pulling can lead to lipoid pneumonia, discussing the experience of a single patient. A 56-year-old female Korean patient had aspirated (inhaled) the oil, rich in bacteria, into her lungs, causing 4 successive lipoid pneumonias. Ceasing oil pulling resulted in no further bouts of pneumonia. This is an isolated incident with a patient who appears to have had difficulty not inhaling the oil. Aspirating oil while pulling is not part of the protocol, and should be avoided at all costs. If you feel that you frequently cannot control the desire to cough, oil pulling is not an activity for you.

Where to buy beneficial oil for oil pulling

Product nameDetailsBuy Here
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil Pure Oil Pulling Whiten Teeth Strengthen Fresh Breath!4 ozShop at eBay
Sesame Oil16 fl oz to 128 fl ozBanyan Botanicals
Oil Pulling by GuruNanda - Authentic Ayurvedic Formulation60 Capsules, Suggested Use: Take 1-2 capsules daily, or as directed by a physician.Shop at eBay
GingerChi Oral Detox Ayurvedic Oil Pulling Blend 8 fl ozOpensky

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