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The Truth About Oil Pulling

Ok, ok, I’ll admit it. The term “oil pulling” really isn’t appetizing, nor does it sounds like something you’d want to voluntarily do. In fact, when I first heard the term I thought it had something to do with skincare or cooking. Last winter I started doing some research about dental health after spending a hefty amount at the dentist on fillings and a crown even though I felt like I had top notch oral hygiene. I stumbled across oil pulling articles and found out the benefits go far beyond oral health.

It was fairly easy for me to add this into my daily routine. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up and usually read the news or make my coffee while I swish but sometimes swish throughout my shower and spit it out when I get out. It’s important to do first thing in the morning, so if you’re interested in giving it a whirl, make it a part of your ritual. Swish while you do your yoga stretches, prepare your kids’ lunches, or lay in bed and scroll the gram.

10-20 minutes sounds like a really long time, but you don’t have to stand in front of the bathroom mirror while you do it.

What does oil pulling mean?

So, let’s get down to the brass tacks. Oil pulling is the act of swishing oil (usually coconut or sunflower) in your mouth before eating or drinking in the morning for 10-20 minutes. Sounds bizarre right? Well, it kind of is, but it’s only weird if it doesn’t work, right? Every morning since January 1, 2019 I’ve swished coconut oil, spit it into the trash and then go about my day. I was definitely a skeptic at first, but have found many benefits to be true. It’s now a permanent part of my health routine.

So, what are the benefits of oil pulling?

The potential benefits of oil pulling are numerous. While it’s hard to find proof that some of the listed benefits are actually proven, I have noticed a (as has my dentist) handful of them myself. Here are the big ones:

  • Whitens teeth- I noticed this within about a week of oil pulling. My teeth are noticeably whiter without the harsh chemicals or damage to my gums
  • Strengthens gums and jaw- hard to say, if this is the case for me
  • Relieves headaches and migraines- I haven’t experienced this myself, but I tend to get tension headaches that originate in my neck
  • Reduces bad breath- after I oil pull in the morning, I definitely notice fresher breath and a cleaner mouth feeling
  • Improves immune function- this benefit is huge! I have only gotten sick (stomach bug) since beginning oil pulling in January. Of course, it’s not the only thing I do to stay healthy but the research shows that bacteria and viruses that lead to illness are in the mouth, so clearing this out daily is hugely beneficial
  • Helps prevent cavities- I’ve gotten a clean bill of health since starting oil pulling from my dentist. He believes oil pulling is certainly a part of the equation for me
  • Improved quality of sleep- hard to tell if this is the case for me, but I’ll take it!
  • Treats sore throats- again, I haven’t been sick so I can’t test this theory, but it makes sense that it would be soothing
  • Reduces acne- I attribute my switch the Beautycounter products to clearing up my skin, but I think oil pulling has been a great support for my skin as well
  • Detoxifies the blood- without a comprehensive blood panel, this one is impossible to prove, but it certainly can’t hurt

How do you do it? 

The steps are really quite simple. Here’s the how-to:

  1. Put ½-1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth using a clean spoon (I use unrefined organic cold pressed coconut oil). Make sure to use organic so you’re not swishing chemicals. Ew.
  2. If using an oil that’s solid like coconut, chew it up until it turns to liquid
  3. Swish around your mouth like you would mouthwash for a minimum of 10 minutes but no more than about 20. No need to gargle. Be careful not to swallow any of the oil since it’s pulling bacteria from your mouth, that would be bad news bears.
  4. Spit it into a trash can with a liner to avoid a messy cleanup. The oil should be white (not clear) when you spit it out. Word to the wise here, DO NOT spit it in the sink. It will re-harden and you will get stuck with a bill from a plumber to clear your drains.
  5. Immediately rinse your mouth with warm water and brush your teeth.

I hope this mini tutorial and review on oil pulling is helpful. I’d love to hear in the comments if anyone has tried oil pulling and noticed benefits I haven’t listed.

Happy pulling!


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