What Is Oil Pulling?

Oil-PullingOil pulling is an ancient Indian folk remedy first mentioned in the early Ayurvedic text, the Charaka Samhita, which was believed to have been written approximately 1500 years ago.

A person “oil pulls” by simply swishing a tablespoon of oil (sesame, coconut and sunflower are commonly recommended) in one’s mouth for approximately 15-20 minutes on an empty stomach and then spitting it out. (For a “how to” video click here)

The Charaka Samhita describes oil pulling as effective for improving more than just oral health, but also 30 other systemic diseases ranging from headaches, migraines, diabetes, and asthma, as we are finding that dental and total body health are connected!

Modern scientific inquiry increasingly confirms oil pulling’s benefit to oral health:

  • Proven to be as effective as the chemical chlorhexidine (as in Oral B mouthwash) for chronic bad breath (halitosis), but without the side effects.
  • Proven to be beneficial in patients with gingivitis and can result in whiter teeth and pinker gums.
  • Proven to reduce the cavity-linked Streptococcus mutans bacteria in plaque and saliva of children.
  • Proven to exert antibacterial actions through emulsification and saponification.


Wiseman Health Take-Home Advice

We personally prefer coconut oil because it is healthy and versatile (e.g., can be used as a cooking oil and as a moisturizer for skin and hair).

  • Put a few fingers worth (approx. a tablespoon) in your mouth and swish for 10–15 minutes and then spit it out. You can substitute this for mouthwash, as many of the brand names are not ideal in terms of toxicity.
  • Try to perform it 3–5 times a week during your morning routine. Hope this gives everybody another tool for natural disease prevention.

Editor’s Note: This content was created by our Wiseman Health content and writing team, without the influence of artificial intelligence engines. Our goal is to be your trusted source for natural health and medical information. This article was originally published on December 3, 2013 and has since been updated.

12 Replies to “What Is Oil Pulling?”

    1. Hello Byron,

      If you are referring to MCT as medium-chain triglycerides, then yes. Coconut oil is a rich source of MCTs. As far as pure MCT oil made in the laboratory, it is usually heavily processed from coconut oil and palm kernel oil and I would stay from it. I prefer to use more natural sources of the vegetable oils mentioned above;)

  1. Thank You for continuing to set the standard for integrative health.

    This is information I’ve never heard before today and I consider myself pretty knowledgeable as it relates to natural heal.

    Keep up the Great work!!

  2. Fantastic article and testimony…the first shower I take when I return home to Austin from Houston this week will indeed incorporate coconut oil. So far everything I’ve tried from native Indians has resulted in significant results…just sayin:) i’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out. If I’ve learned anything in the last year is this: What do you have to lose with regards to testing something out that could benefit you immensely and at a much lower cost, to see if it works? Especially (and more importantly) if the ingredients are natural/holistic? Again, just saying 🙂

    1. Hello Tempa,

      Unfortunately, grape seed oil, along with corn, canola, cottonseed, and soy oil, is usually heavily processed and chemically treated. These oils should generally be avoided for oil- pulling and consumption in general. The oils that are best are coconut, olive, almond, sunflower, and sesame seed oil. My favorite is coconut oil!

  3. I’ve been doing oil pulling for years. However, I always spit out the oil in the commode or outside as the oil, especially coconut, can clog up your smaller pipes. At Peoples Pharmacy, we sell an oil pulling product that also contains some herbs such as clove, along with the sesame seed oil. This leaves your mouth also feeling refreshed and helps pull out the toxins.

  4. Thanks Lorraine for informing me about the oil pulling product at People’s Pharmacy. I have chronic bad breath and am always looking for remedies that will fit my lifestyle.

  5. Dr. Jeremy, I nearly fell off my chair when I saw this! You’re the first MD I’ve known who’s ever known what this is, let alone does it. Now, if you can only convince my Indian born husband to do this. How about a demo of a morning routine with the oil pulling, dry loofah rub, and ending with a hydro treatment?
    Thanks for all you do!

  6. Awesome, several extremely valid suggestions! I appreciate you penning this post and the remainder of your site is exceptional!

  7. Great topic! I am a fan of both oil pulling and coconut oil. I have a 3 oz. bottle of olive oil that I pack for oil pulling when I travel. It’s really convenient and takes up no more room than a travel-sized bottle of mouthwash. I also keep a small jar of coconut oil on my bathroom counter to use as eye makeup remover. It’s gentle, non-toxic, and removes makeup better than the commercial products I’ve tried.

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