Oil Pulling

What is it?

Oil pulling basically means swishing edible oils in your mouth for a duration of time.

It is a traditional hygiene practice from Ayurvedic medicine used to prevent and treat various oral and systemic diseases. [1]

Why Oil Pull?

Antibacterial effect: viscous nature of oil inhibits plaque accumulation and adhesion of bacteria [2]

Deep cleanse: alkali hydrolysis of fat with bicarbonate ions in saliva results in saponification (“soap making”) process which has a deep cleansing effect in your mouth.

Antibiotic-like effect: antioxidants present in the oil cause detoxification by preventing lipid peroxidation, helping in the destruction of microorganisms and potentiating the action of Vitamin E in the oral cavity. [3]

Reduces dental carries: based on antibacterial activity above [4]

Effective against plaque-induced gingivitis: similarly from the antimicrobial activity mentioned above [5]

Reduces bad breath: produced from volatile sulfide compounds originating from breakdown of food debris, saliva, plaque and oral cells. Pathogenic bacteria also produce sulfide compounds. Oil pulling using sesame oil was found to be as effective as chlorhexidine rinses which are considered a gold standard. [6]

Oral thrush: oil pulling traps or pulls the toxins and other pathogens, out of the mouth. Antifungal properties of oils (esp. coconut oil) also kills the yeast causing thrush (candida). [7]

No side effects: such as unpleasant taste and staining from Chlorhexidine mouthwashes

Systemic effects: in ayurvedic texts, oil pulling may benefit >30 diseases such as Diabetes, Eczema, Cardiovascular diseases, Asthma, headaches and migraines [1]. I can see the link between these diseases and oral health, particularly with regards to pathogenic overgrowth in the oral cavity producing a downstream effect.

How to Oil Pull

1. Choose a good oil source – we recommend organic and cold-pressed oils like Sunflower, Coconut and Sesame oil

2. First thing on waking, swirl and swish 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes

3. Spit it out (DO NOT swallow)

4. Rinse your mouth with salt-water for extra cleaning (I just pinch a bunch of salt straight into mouth and add water)

5. Brush your teeth as part of your usual morning routine

Do this daily and you will feel the difference in a few weeks! Cleaner teeth, no more bad breath, even clearer skin as this is another way to pull toxins out of your system.

So far I have been doing it for a month and I can vouch that it is a simple and effective routine to add to your arsenal of healthy habits.

I oil-pull upon waking while writing my journal and doing my morning prayers.



Related Posts:

  1. Lifestyle Medicine
  2. Automate Your Life with Habits
  3. Mini Habits


  1. Woolley, J., Gibbons, T., Patel, K., & Sacco, R. (2020). The effect of oil pulling with coconut oil to improve dental hygiene and oral health: A systematic review. Heliyon6(8), e04789. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e04789
  2. Tomar, P., Hongal, S., Jain, M., Rana, K., & Saxena, V. (2014). Oil pulling and oral health: A review. IJSS Case Report & Reviews1(3), 33-37.
  3. Asokan, S., Rathinasamy, T. K., Inbamani, N., Menon, T., Kumar, S. S., Emmadi, P., & Raghuraman, R. (2011). Mechanism of oil-pulling therapy – in vitro study. Indian journal of dental research : official publication of Indian Society for Dental Research22(1), 34–37. https://doi.org/10.4103/0970-9290.79971
  4. An, T. D., Pothiraj, C., Gopinath, R. M., & Kayalvizhi, B. (2008). Effect of oil-pulling on dental caries causing bacteria. African Journal of Microbiology Research2(3), 63-66.
  5. Lakshmi, T., Rajendran, R., & Krishnan, V. (2013). Perspectives of oil pulling therapy in dental practice. Dental Hypotheses4(4), 131.
  6. Asokan, S., Kumar, R. S., Emmadi, P., Raghuraman, R., & Sivakumar, N. (2011). Effect of oil pulling on halitosis and microorganisms causing halitosis: a randomized controlled pilot trial. Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry29(2), 90–94. https://doi.org/10.4103/0970-4388.84678
  7. Ogawa, T., Nishio, J., & Okada, S. (2014). Effect of edible sesame oil on growth of clinical isolates of Candida albicans. Biological research for nursing16(3), 335–343. https://doi.org/10.1177/1099800413501539

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s