Oil Pulling: Does it really work?

Coconut Oil Pulling

What is Oil Pulling?

The practice of oil pulling has become very popular amongst the natural health community in recent times however this practice is nothing new since it has been around for since ancient times. The idea is to take a large spoonful of oil and swish it around your mouth, between your teeth and even gargle it for about 10-20 minutes before spitting it out.

You will then notice that the oil that you spit out is clouded with a great deal of sediment. The idea is that all the sediment in the oil is from the drawing out bad bacteria and toxins from your mouth and capturing it in the oil.

There have been a limited number of studies done about the effectiveness of oil pulling and it appears that the jury is still out on whether or not oil pulling is as effective as many people have made out in recent times.

Generally vegetable oils of some kind is used in the oil pulling process. Sesame oil has been said to be the most effective whilst coconut oil appears to be the most popular form of oil pulling since the taste is slightly more bearable and pleasant than other types of oil.

The limited number of studies that have been undertaken in relation to oil pulling have shown that it can reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth, help fight tooth plaque and gingivitis in other words it can be helpful for your overall general oral hygiene.

However, there appears to be a lack of scientific evidence to show that oil pulling offers substantial overall health benefits as promoted by many in the natural health industry. I think we should be somewhat cautious about how effective the overall process of oil pulling is on our health and well being. Some people in the natural health industry have been claiming that oil pulling is the be all and end all health remedy for many health ailments.

Why do we say to be cautious about whether or not oil pulling can be beneficial to treating various health ailments? Well it is because that there is simply no solid scientific evidence or studies to show that oil pulling can go beyond being beneficial than just oral hygiene. But in saying that there is certainly no evidence to say that oil pulling can be harmful to you so if you have been making a habit of oil pulling every morning and you feel good and feel as though it has been beneficial to you then who are we to tell you to stop oil pulling.

If it’s not harmful to you or your body then we’re not against it but all we’re saying is that you should be a little bit cautious to the claim that oil pulling is a be all and end all remedy for many substantial health ailments.

The Origins of Oil Pulling

Like many modern day natural health remedies that all of a sudden gain a huge amount of popularity generally these health remedies have been around for a long time dating back to ancient times where there was no solid medical science around to create synthetic prescription drugs to treat health issues.

Like many natural health remedies or practices oil pulling has been around since ancient times and it can be dated back to the Ayurvedic health habits in ancient India. It has been suggested that oil pulling helped alleviate symptoms from ranging from headaches right through to high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and oral health.

If you want to be sceptical about effectiveness of oil pulling back in ancient times then one could say that it was the rich and wealthy who were able to afford these expensive oils in their day to swish around in their mouth and then promote the alleged wonderful health benefits from oil pulling. But in order to be able to afford these expensive oils these ancient Indian people would generally be the type of people who were not struggling to survive in society and would have had better health than other poorer people who had disadvantages when it came to their own personal health. So it begs the question to be asked as to whether oil pulling was the real remedy for maintaining a person’s good health or was it that these people who were taking part in the oil pulling already had a health advantage over many other people who could not afford to participate in the practice.

Definitely something to think about.

Why is it so popular right now?

The natural health and wellness industry is exploding at the moment. It is 2014 and gone are the days where natural health treatments and remedies are reserved for hippies and oddballs. Instead what we are seeing are start up companies and even well known brands selling a whole range of natural health remedies and let me tell you they are profiting off it big time. Not only this we are seeing small independent people and companies taking a slice of the hugely profitable natural health and wellness industry through the use of the internet.

In this healthy organic age people have a keen interest on optimizing their health by looking at alternatives to synthetic prescription drugs. These alternatives have been found in the natural health remedies and ideas which have actually been around since ancient times. There are many natural health remedies which are very good and should be praised for their effectiveness however the concern is that “some” of these natural health remedies have been glamorized and sensationalized as the latest and greatest new health remedy when in actual fact the true nature of these health remedies have been scientifically untested. Perhaps they have been talked up so much by bloggers and natural health companies to help build more of a buzz in their industry or perhaps people actually believe that they have yielded some fantastic results from these practices.

Whatever it may be there is no denying that such natural health practices such as oil pulling has been marked by many to be the latest and greatest natural remedy for putting an end to a number of health ailments.

If you go to Google and search for oil pulling benefits then you will see a raft of websites and blogs discussing the incredible health benefits you can get from oil pulling. Many proclaim that oil pulling can be a great natural health remedy for the following health ailments:

  • Migraine and headaches
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Arthritis inlammation
  • Gastro-enteritis
  • Eczema
  • Bronchitis
  • Kidney funtion
  • Sinus congestion
  • Vision
  • Insomnia
  • Alcohol hangovers
  • Certain allergies
  • Detoxify the body of harmful substances

If you want to look into these apparent health benefits that are said to come from daily oil pulling then check out the book entitled Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing by Dr Bruce Fife.


There has been some research to show that coconut oil COULD help prevent tooth decay since it helps in the break down of certain type bacteria.

“The team from AIT tested the antibacterial action of coconut oil in its natural state and coconut oil that had been treated with enzymes, in a process similar to digestion. The oils were tested against strains of Streptococcus bacteria which are common inhabitants of the mouth. They found that enzyme-modified coconut oil strongly inhibited the growth of most strains of Streptococcus bacteria including Streptococcus mutans – an acid-producing bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay.” (AIT researcher show coconut oil could combat tooth decay)

There have been some other studies out there that say coconut oil, sesame oil and some other forms of vegetable oil pulling can help prevent tooth decay through its enzymatic breakdown of specific bacteria but at the end of the day the research is pretty minor as too are the results in promoting oil pulling as a number one form of preventing tooth decay.

Other articles and minor studies suggest that oil pulling has shown good results for dry mouth conditions which to us makes perfectly good sense.

An article from the American Dental Association titled “The Practice of Oil Pulling” suggests that “Based on the lack of currently available evidence, oil pulling is not recommended as a supplementary oral hygiene practice, and certainly not as a replacement for standard, time-tested oral health behaviors and modalities.”

Clearly, greater testing and formal scientific studies need to occur in relation to the effectiveness of Oil Pulling before we can turn around and start putting tags on the practice as a all in one natural health remedy, likewise we have not heard of any known side effects and should not just write the practice of oil pulling off as a useless over sensationalized snake oil remedy….pardon the pun.

Final Words on Oil Pulling

Aside from some small studies and books which have been written about the effectiveness of oil pulling, there is no hard scientific evidence to prove that oil pulling is the magic pill that is going to save humanity from all health ailments as many would proclaim. Well perhaps I am over exaggerating the point but the point is that whilst many health bloggers and self-proclaimed natural health experts will hype up the benefits of oil pulling the reality is that there is very minimal scientific and medical evidence to suggest that oil pulling therapy is as effective as many make out.

However, in say this there appears to be no reported side effects whatsoever from oil pulling so if you’re into it and enjoy it then “Pull Away” and do as much as you want. But I certainly wouldn’t be replacing oil pulling for any of the more standard oral hygiene practices that have been scientifically and medically proven such as brushing your teeth and using anti-bacterial mouthwash from time to time.

Unfortunately, if you were looking for a silver bullet for a raft of health ailments then I am sorry but I am unable to report that oil pulling therapy is it. There may be some minor natural health benefits when it comes to oral hygiene however I do think that many people and self-proclaimed health experts to rate oil pulling a little too highly for my liking.


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Joshua Boorman
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Joshua Boorman


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Joshua Boorman

We aim to provoke your conscious thought and discuss all topics to help you live more meaningful and purposeful lives.