Oil Pulling

Oil pulling comes from the Ayurvedic traditions in India, going back as far as 3,000 – 5,000 years. It involves swirling of oil in ones mouth to eliminate plaque, whiten teeth, strengthen gums and combat bad breath. It is also said to get rid of oil soluble toxins in the body. Thousands of different types of bacteria live in our mouth creating plaque, a ‘biofilm’ that adheres to our teeth. If the bacteria gets out of control it can cause cavities, gum inflammation, gingivitis etc. Bacteria and infection can enter the blood stream through the mouth, so good mouth care is vital.

How it works

  • Micro organisms are single celled so when oil pulling they stick to the fats, removing toxins and cutting through plaque
  • The mechanical action of swirling also assists in the breaking down of plaque and can get in between your teeth and to those hard to reach places.
  • It moisturises the gums and mouth which assists as a dry mouth increase bacteria growth.

There are also testimonials of people saying it helps with all sorts of conditions from headaches, to liver problems, to asthma, praising it as a cure for around 30 diseases.

Which Oil?

Oil pulling can be done with various oils such a sunflower, coconut and sesame. Choose a good quality, non-refined oil. It was traditionally done with sesame seed oil, which has lots of antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

Coconut oil is my preferred option and is excellent for oral hygiene. It contains Vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant, and also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties thanks to the lauric acid and monolaurin. Mixed with baking soda, coconut oil proves to be a great natural toothpaste.

When combined with digestive enzymes, coconut oil is is harmful to Candida and is also known to inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans – a sugar-loving bacterium that clings to teeth and produces acid, causing them to rot. With both of these commonly living in ones mouth, oil pulling with coconut oil helps reduce the overall toxic burden on your immune system caused by the spread of them through your body.

Science says?

As with many alternative health approaches, there are claims that feel the science behind oil pulling is unsubstantiated. For me it makes total sense to choose an organic, antibacterial, anti fungal treatment, over something high in toxic chemicals and alcohol that’s abrasive to your teeth. Some studies have shown that oil pulling it is not as effective as Chlorhexidine, but Chlorhexidine is suspected to relate to respiratory and immunotoxicity, and may cause anaphylactic reactions, skin irritation as well as asthma.


Oil pulling is best done before drinking or eating anything at the start of your day.

  • Take 1 -2 teaspoons of oil, swish it in the mouth for 20 mins. Although admittedly if I don’t have the time, I do it for less time and still feel its benefits.
  • Spit into the garden or the trash can… not into the sink as it’ll clog your pipes. And don’t swallow it as it will be loaded with bacteria.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm water.

Ancient Traditions

It is generally felt that 20mins is the optimal amount of time, but the ancient Gandusha and Kavala Graha traditions suggest otherwise. According to Dr Guha (assistant professor of Immunology and Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center and founder of The International Society for Ayurveda), Ayervedic texts from 700BC talk about two techniques:

Kavala: Put a comfortable amount of oil in your mouth hold it for a few minutes, then swirl and spit. Do this for 3-4 minutes, and repeat two or three times.

Gandusha: Fill your mouth with oil and hold it still for 3-5 minutes, spit and repeat

By | 2017-12-02T17:53:47+00:00 October 8th, 2015|Health|0 Comments

About the Author:

Natalie has a passion for healthy and circular living, and is always exploring spaces where she can learn from people with expansive knowledge. With a background in graphic/web design and film, she uses these communication skills to share the valuable knowledge she encounters. Following 10 years in London, feeling the disconnection of society on so many levels, she explored the more alternative lifestyle communities in Wales and France, and then spent a year in a camper van travelling around Australia, living in the bush and visiting eco villages, learning about health, nutrition and regenerative/natural living. She has since returned to her home country, South Africa, where she works in multimedia and communication with projects that focus on a healthy world. Some of these include African Earth Rights (Love local, love sustainable); Soil for Life (who teach organic gardening, and wellbeing in impoverished areas); Good Life Organics (suppliers of organic products); Wild and Waste Free (Packaging free, community focused shop); TAGDit (social media app for deep democracy and information sharing within groups); PHA Campaign (Protecting Cape Town's primary food growing area).

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