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What is Oil Pulling?

Oil Pulling 101 from

Okay, we know what you’re thinking. Ew. Huh? What the heck is oil pulling? What is it pulling exactly? Does it hurt? Why am I so grossed out? Same, same. That was our reaction when we first heard about the term over on Lauren Conrad’s blog. Since we’re talking all things health this month, we thought we’d give you the scoop so you can decide if oil pulling is something you should add to your morning routine.


Oil pulling originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. It is part of the Ayurvedic health practice, one of the world’s oldest medicines. Basically, it involves swishing oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes first thing in the morning. Did we lose you at putting oil in your mouth? Not so fast. Let us at least fill you in on the supposed benefits of oil pulling.


There isn’t much scientific evidence for the benefits of oil pulling but there are many studies and LOTS of people (including celebs) that swear it can:

  • Cure hangovers
  • Reverse heart disease
  • Cure cancer
  • Whiten teeth
  • Freshen breath
  • Detoxify the body
  • Help prevent and cure cavities
  • Fend off gum disease
  • Break down plaque
  • Treat TMJ


Don’t just open a bottle of Canola and pour it into your mouth. Organic sesame, olive, sunflower and coconut oils are suggested, though coconut oil is a popular pick for its bonus of being anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and a natural teeth whitener.


Step 1: Make sure a wastebasket is within close range. When you’re done swishing, you don’t want to swallow the oil (!!!) or spit it down the sink because it can become solid and clog your drains. *shudder* You should spit it into a trash can, so be sure you have one ready when you just can’t take it anymore the time is up.

Step 2: Put 1-2 teaspoons of oil into your mouth and start swishing gently for 20 minutes. Some say 10-15 minutes will do the trick, but 20 minutes seems to be the sweet spot. Don’t go wild or get too aggressive when swishing, as you don’t want to overwork your mouth and lead to a sore jaw. It will feel odd at first, but once your saliva gets into the mix it will get easier. Just go ahead and set expectations by telling yourself things are about to get weird.

Step 3: Do something else. You’re going to get bored/grossed out just standing in front of the mirror watching yourself swish a bunch of slimy stuff around in your mouth. Do something productive that will keep your mind off your current situation. Ideas include: take a shower, answer emails, empty the dishwasher, feed the dog, write a blog post about oil pulling, go to Google and search “dogs wearing hats” or creep back into the bedroom, stand closely next to your sleeping spouse and wait for them to wake up. (Just kidding, maybe.)

Step 4: Spit the oil into the trash and rinse your mouth with warm water.

Step 5: Floss and brush. If you want to improve the health of your gums, teeth and overall mouth, don’t forget the basics that every dentist in your life has told you to do. Floss, then brush your teeth. Finish with mouthwash, then head to the office where you can brag to your coworkers about how sophisticated you are.


The only downsides are (maybe) a waste of time and being grossed out by swishing oil in your mouth. There are many fanatics of the oil pulling practice though, so hey, why not give it a shot to see if it works for you?


Looking to get even more coconut-y? Check out our favorite coconut oil-infused products below.

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