Recently a lot of people have been trying oil pulling. Although it seems like a growing trend, it’s nothing new. Oil pulling dates back 3000 years!!! It is a type of Ayurvedic method used to maintain oral health. The concept is to swish oil in your mouth for around 20 minutes and then spit it out. This technique is supposed to remove bacteria and promote oral hygiene.

Oil Pulling – How to Do It, Health Benefits, and Side Effects


Recently a lot of people have been trying oil pulling. Although it seems like a growing trend, it’s nothing new. This technique dates back 3000 years!!! It is a type of Ayurvedic method used to maintain oral health. The concept is to swish oil in your mouth for around 20 minutes and then spit it out. This technique is supposed to remove bacteria and promote oral hygiene.

oil pulling
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Some medical practitioners also believe that oil pulling does much more than just oral hygiene. The explanation behind the claim is that oil pulling activates the salivary enzymes. These enzymes absorb toxins like bacterial, chemicals, and environmental from the blood. Which are then removed from the body through the tongue. Hence, oil pulling is beneficial for the whole body as it detoxifies it.

While there is less scientific evidence about oil pulling and more debate about its benefits, this article is going to provide an overview. You will learn about how you can try oil pulling, its health benefits, and its side effects. You can then make your own decision whether it’s worth the shot or not.



Which Oils Are Perfect For Oil Pulling?


The most important component of oil pulling is oil, of course. There are multiple edible oils you can choose from:

Things to keep in mind when choosing the oil

  1. Cold-pressed:

It means that no heat was used in extracting the oil. Other names for cold-press you may find on the packaging are cold-drawn or virgin oil. Cold press oils are purer. And because they are cold-pressed, the healthy antioxidants are retained in the oil. The oil tastes a lot better and it’s overall healthier as compared to other oils.

  1. Unrefined

Although refined oils work fine for oil pulling. But unrefined oils are much better. Refined oils by definition mean that they have been ‘purified’. However, purification can happen in several ways. The oils might be treated with acid, alkali, or bleached.

  1. Organic

Organic oils ensure that the product is free of conventional pesticides and other by-products. It also further implies that the farmers who grew the plants for the oil extraction did not use any artificial agents or pesticides during the process of harvest.

Here is the list of best oils for oil pulling

  1. Coconut oil

Coconut oil is the most preferred oil when it comes to oil pulling. It provides multiple benefits like reducing inflammation, improving gum health, teeth whitening, reducing bacteria, healing tooth decay, etc.

  1. Sesame Oil

Sesame oil was one of the oils used originally by the Ayurveda to do oil pulling. It has been extensively used for its healing properties. Sesame oil is also loaded with antioxidants which are great for oral hygiene.

  1. Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil was another one that was used originally by the Ayurveda. It has been found to improve gum health, reduce plaque-induced gingivitis, tooth decay, and strengthening teeth.

  1. Vitamin E oil

Vitamin E oil is new the list of oil pulling oils. But dentists have been using vitamin E to treat various oral problems. Especially problems related to the gums. It promotes gum tissue healing, alleviates pain, and protects the cells from damage.

  1. Olive oil

Olive oil is also great when it comes to reducing gingivitis causing bacteria and plaque.



How to Do Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is very simple to do. Just follow these five steps:

  1. Measure a tablespoon (14 g) of oil of your choice.
  2. Swish the oil around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Try to force it through your teeth for a better cleanse.
  3. Spit the oil in the trash bin once you are done. And Not in the sink because oil can cause clogged drains.
  4. Just rinse your mouth with lukewarm water before eating or drinking anything.
  5. Repeat the process 3-4 times per week.

It will be hard to keep swishing around for 15-20 minutes at the start. So, you can start with 5-7 minutes and then increase it gradually to 20 minutes. The taste of the oil might also bother you at first, but once you get used to it. It will not matter.

If you are using coconut oil (in winters) for oil-pulling, then it will take a minute or two for the coconut oil to melt in your mouth before you can swish easily. So be patient.

At first, the oil will seem to be not enough, but as you swish around it will promote saliva production. Might sound gross, but the oil will saliva will mix and in around 15 minutes you will more than you can handle. Be careful to not swallow any as it contains lots of toxins from your mouth. Therefore, don’t go over a tablespoon of oil. Trust me it will be enough.

Note: Oil pulling is an added oral routine. It does not replace brushing and flossing in any way.



Benefits of Oil Pulling

Essentially oil pulling “pulls” out the toxins and bacteria. These toxins are not necessarily related to just your mouth. By swishing the oil in your mouth, you encourage healthy blood circulation and saliva production. So, when you rinse your mouth, you are basically pulling the toxins from your heart, lungs, kidneys, stomach, intestines, colon, and even the spine.

Oil pulling promotes healthy organs and when done correctly it can help in reducing headaches, asthma, diabetes, and various skin problems.

1. Improves Oral Hygiene

Hundreds of harmful bacteria can live in your mouth. And 350 of them can be found in your mouth at any given time. These bacteria play the role of ruining your oral health. Whether be it the form of plaque, gingivitis, cavities, or bad breath.

Oil pulling deep cleanses your mouth to pull out all the microbes, tooth decay, and plaque-causing bacteria.  One study even showed that oil pulling is almost as effective as a standard chlorhexidine (anti-bacterial ingredient) mouthwash when done correctly.

Oil pulling can help reduce inflammation and promote overall gum health. You will also notice a reduction in bad breath. As oil pulling will get rid of the bad breath causing bacteria in your mouth.

2. Helps in Weight Loss

While there is not enough evidence to back-up this claim. But, according to the Ayurvedic and several herbal medical practitioners, oil-pulling can help in weight loss.  As oil-pulling has detoxifying properties, it has an anti-inflammatory effect on the whole body. 

A decrease in inflammation in the body can lead to a decrease in water retention and the feeling of bloating. Hence, a healthy loss of weight.

.3. Improves Skin and reduces acne and breakouts

Several ayurvedic practitioners believe the oil pulling can improve the skin. Especially aid with reducing acne and breakouts. There isn’t enough research done to back this theory with scientific evidence. 

Yet, people who have been performing oil pulling have confirmed a much better skin than what they had before. However, I would not recommend oil pulling alone, if you are looking to improve your skin. It’s better to consult a dermatologist for your skin problems.

4. Improves Overall Immunity

There is one thing for sure, our mouth is the hub of bacteria. Our mouth has more bacteria than anywhere in the body. The bacteria then find their way into our which then leads to several health problems.

Oil pulling acts at the basis and removes maximum bacteria from our mouth. Hence saving us from several of the health issues. Although, there is less scientific research done on this factor. However, if we connect the dots, it is clear that oil pulling can be very beneficial for our overall health.



Probable Side Effects of Oil pulling


Oil pulling is all-natural. Hence there are no significant side effects of the procedure. However, there are few things you need to keep in mind regarding the side effects and safety of the procedure.

1. May Cause Lipoid Pneumonia

The oil, while swishing, is full of toxins and bacteria. Therefore, it’s so important to not swish the oil so violently or so quickly that you mistakenly inhale the oil. Because, If you accidentally inhale the oil, it can cause lipoid pneumonia. It is an inflammatory condition that may happen when the fat particles enter your lungs.

A few of the symptoms of lipoid pneumonia include fever, reduced appetite, and severe coughing. To prevent this side effect, it is advised to swish the oil with control. Oil pulling is also not recommended for children especially. As they might swallow the oil while swishing.

When done correctly, it is 100 percent safe for all adults and teens.

2. Dry Mouth

Oil pulling is essentially deep cleansing your mouth. By this, it means that you are adding an extra step to your already established oral hygiene routine. Which may result in a dry mouth. Nonetheless, brushing, flossing, and oil pulling are all great for maintaining good oral health. Slight mouth-drying would be a normal side effect. 

To counter the dryness, you must stay hydrated and drink at least 6-8 glasses of water throughout the day.

3. Jaw Aching or Stiffness

Swishing the oil around for 15-20 minutes daily is not easy. And you need to put in that effort to see some noticeable results. Swishing the oil requires more stamina and push than it would if you were using a liquid mouthwash.

Especially the first few days of oi pulling are the worst. Your jaws might get achy or stiff. That why it is recommended to work your way up. Start with 5-7 minutes and increase the margin gradually. Think of it as a new face exercise and you will not regret the effort.

4. Slight Nausea or Indigestion

The oils used for oil pulling are edible and of the utmost quality. Like I mentioned at the start of this article that the oil you choose should be cold-pressed, unrefined, and organic. This ensures that the oils are safe to use.

However, swallowing the oil you have been swishing around in your mouth is like ingesting the very toxins and bacteria that you are trying to remove. If you swallow the emulsified oil-saliva version then basically you are swallowing dead skin cells, bacteria, plaque, toxins, and several other build-ups accumulated in your mouth with a good amount of oil. Your stomach then has to try to breakdown these particles which might seem alien to digest. This may lead to temporary nausea or indigestion. 

To avoid such nasty accidents, don’t take more than a tablespoon of oil. You can even start with a teaspoon and then adjust the amount as per your swish handling expertise

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