how to oil pull and why you should
Education, Personal Care, Protocols and Detox

How to Oil Pull and Why you Should

Over the past few years I have heard a lot about oil pulling as a form of detoxification but never quite thought that swishing oil in my mouth would be that effective. Oil pulling is an Ayruvedic practice of pulling cold-pressed oil (like sesame oil) through your teeth for between 10-20 minutes in the morning. The idea is that the oil is supposed to stimulate the eliminatory system while “pulling” bacteria and toxins out of the saliva. You then proceed to spit the oil and toxins out, causing a cleansing effect for the whole body. You can read all over the internet all of the conditions that it “cures” but there seems to be only one scientific study done on oil pulling. The study was done in an Indian Dental Journal and studied the effect of oil pulling on the bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) in plaque and saliva of children. The researchers found a reduction in the bacteria count in the plaque and saliva samples in both the study and the control groups and concluded that oil pulling can help maintain oral health. So that sounded promising, so this post is all about how to oil pull and why you should.

I had been dealing with receding gums and a slightly coated tongue for while now, so I thought this might be the perfect time to try oil pulling. As any good nutritionist would, I committed to doing it once every morning for a full month to see what effects it had not only my gums and mouth, but for my body as a whole. The following is a little timeline of my experiences:

First Day: I get up at 6:00 am, go straight to the bathroom and pour a heaping tablespoon of sesame oil in my mouth and swish. Then pull, then swish again…. 20 minutes is longer than I thought… swish again. Think to myself, I definitely need to bring a book in next time. 15 minutes goes by, oil gets thicker, jaw gets a little tired. Pull, swish, pull. 20 minutes. Spit oil out into the toilet, it looks clumped up, flush. Brush teeth. Notice they feel nice and clean.

First Week: Repeat process, but this time bring in my recent read “Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Perfect time to catch up on reading.

End of First Week: Notice that the coating on my tongue is completely gone. Excited, but cannot come to a conclusive decision until it remains gone for at least another week. Teeth are definitely feeling cleaner, definitely less plaque.

Second Week: Becoming very used to the swishing and pulling… easier to forget about it for the 20 minutes. Time goes by quickly. Coating on tongue is still gone, no sign of its return… so check. Redness in face has subsided quite a bit. Didn’t really notice it there in the first place, but now realizing that my skin is looking much more even. Great News.

Third Week: Master of swishing, have improved swishing and pulling capabilities by ten fold! Gums are still receded, but are no longer inflamed or irritated. When I floss, there is no bleeding, no pain. Awesome! Things must be healing.

Fourth Week: Love love love the oil pulling. Teeth look clean and bright, tongue is light pink, gums are not irritated and sensitive, and skin looks great!

After testing oil pulling for over a few months now, I must say that it is an excellent addition to your detoxification and dental program. While I cannot tell you that it cures all of the ailments that they claim, it is most definitely effective. So much so that I continue to do it about four times a week. The great part is that you also will no longer have to use those toxic mouth washes either.

Oil pulling is one of the cheapest, easiest forms of detoxification and I think it is a really great place for people to start. All you have to do is put 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed sesame oil in your mouth first thing in the morning (no drinking or eating). Tilt your chin up and slowly swish, and pull through the teeth. Do this for at least 10 minutes. 15 –  20 minutes is better. You want the oil to become a thin, white foam when  you finally spit it out.  If the oil is still yellow, you haven’t done  it long enough.

The oil will start to thin out after a few minutes because saliva is  constantly being mixed in and swished about. The longer you swish, the  more saliva will be produced, filling your mouth. When finished, spit it  out in the toilet, so it doesn’t clog your sink drain.  It is important to rinse your mouth out well.

What oil to use?

I always recommend using high-quality, organic oil such as sesame or coconut oil. Traditionally, sesame oil is used, but coconut oil can be a good substitute if needed. When buying sesame oil, make sure it comes in a dark bottle. The dark bottle protects the oil from sunlight damage, ensuring that the oil is fresh and therapeutic. My personal favorite is Organic Sesame Oil by Banyan Botanicals.


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  • Reply Deb October 5, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Wow I was doing this all wrong! 20 minutes!? I don’t know if I can last that long, but you’ve re-inspired me to try it again 🙂

  • Reply Samantha February 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    This may sound silly, but what do you mean by “pull” through the teeth? As in, clench the jaw together and suck the oil inward between the teeth? I’m definitely planning on trying this cleanse!

    • lauren
      Reply lauren February 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm

      That is exactly right! It feels a little odd at first but you will get the hang of it!

  • Reply The Ultimate Detoxification Guide | One Green Planet March 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    […] to spit the oil and toxins out, causing a cleansing effect for the whole body. To learn more go here.5. Lymphatic Massage: By stimulating the lymph nodes through massage, it helps to clear any […]

  • Reply Lola March 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Hey Lauren!

    Could one use coconut oil in replacement of the sesame oil? I tried sesame, and I can’t stand the taste!

    Thanks for your awesome blog- I reference it daily! 🙂

    – Lola

    • Reply Tine Niehoff June 19, 2013 at 12:54 am

      Yes you can use virgin coconut oil, it is very good and tastes great

  • Reply Emma March 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Hi Lauren!
    Is there a reason why this is usually done in the morning, without eating first or anything? I’m kind of a get up and go person so I’m just curious if this could be done in the afternoon or late evening.

    Thanks a ton!

    • lauren
      Reply lauren March 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm

      From what I understand, you want to target the body before there has been any digestion or the presence of any food. As you eat and drink, there remains particles in your mouth that you do not want to interfere with the pulling. Furthermore, this is a detoxification process, so you want your pathways open and clear, and you need your enzymes available for processing toxins, not for digesting food. It is possible to feel sick if you do it on a full stomach.

      • Reply Emma March 24, 2012 at 8:16 am

        I see, good to know! 🙂

  • Reply Roro April 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Is it safe to do “oil pulling” while pregnant?

    • lauren
      Reply lauren April 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      While I would always consult with your doctor, I would not see any counter indication as it is a gentle cleanse.

    • lauren
      Reply lauren April 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      While I would alway consult your physician, I see no counter indications of doing oil pulls – it is a gentle cleanse.

  • Reply Kate October 7, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Hi Lauren. Love the blog – great info. More info on the ‘pulling’. Why sesame oil and why not others? Is it just tradition or something more to it? The only thing that stands out to me about sesame is its oestrogenic activity….

    • lauren
      Reply lauren October 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      Sesame oil is the traditional oil used in Ayurveda, and to be honest I am not 100% certain on why sesame vs. say coconut oil. But I would recommend sticking with the sesame oil because it does have the most anecdotal evidence for being beneficial.

    • lauren
      Reply lauren October 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Hi Kate. Sesame oil is traditionally used for oil pulling and was the oil used in the Ayurvedic practices. I know that it has shown to have great effects in regards to inflammation and detoxification, but I am not sure why it is more beneficial than say coconut oil. With that being said, it has the most anecdotal evidence, so I would recommend sticking with sesame vs other oils.

  • Reply annette February 17, 2013 at 4:22 am

    Do you think this would increase wrinkling around the mouth? I really wrinkle up like someone smoking a cigarette when I am oil pulling. Thanks for your blog! Great info!

    • lauren
      Reply lauren February 20, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      Hi Annette, I have actually never experienced that from oil pulling. The only thing I can relate it to is dehydration and lack of essential fatty acids. These two factors would decrease skin elasticity, meaning that wrinkles could appear. I would suggest focusing on drinking half your weight in ounces of water daily along with increasing your essential fatty acid intake. This would include chia and hemp seeds, olives, olive oil, raw nuts/seeds, and even supplemental omega 3/6 fatty acids.

    • Reply Debra April 28, 2015 at 10:13 pm

      I think maybe the young have not experienced the wrinkling, but at 59 I noticed increased wrinkles around my mouth in a few days! I watched in the mirror as I pulled and sure enough, as you said,puckered up like a ciggarette smoker. All the wrinkles I had noticed were emphasized when pulling.Very upsetting, as I want the benefits of pulling, but not the wrinkles!

      • Lauren aka The Holy Kale
        Reply Lauren aka The Holy Kale April 30, 2015 at 2:57 pm

        Hi Debra, a really important thing to do is hydrate. Are you drinking half your weight in ounces of water a day? Also, are you consuming enough healthy fats from avocados, coconuts, raw nuts/seeds, hemp and chia seeds, wild fish? The two things that dramatically cause wrinkles are lack of healthy oils (and over consumption of unhealthy ones) and dehydration. Oil pulling can cause a detox which requires more water and oils, leaving you deficient. I would try those two things.

  • Reply Sharon December 11, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Hi! I know this post was done 2 years ago, so I hope you will see this. I just tried oil pulling for the very first time. I used sesame oil for 15 minutes. I have two questions: first, did you ever gargle? I read somewhere that you dont want the toxins to touch your throat, but it seems like if you did it at the beginning it would get whatever toxins are there better. Second, the oil did not foam… Only barely. It did turn thinner and white though. Do I just need to do it for 5 min longer? Thanks!

    • lauren
      Reply lauren December 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Hi Sharon, I do not gargle, I simply pull the oil. I think this helps to prevent swallowing. As for the foam, as long as it turns white, you are doing it right. I usually suggest that people start with 5 minutes and then build up from there. Thanks!

  • Reply Elizabeth December 29, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Hi Lauren! I’m one week into oil pulling, thanks to coming across your site, but I’m using coconut oil instead. I’m anxious to see if I have similarly noticeable results as you did, but already I find my teeth feel much cleaner. I was hoping you might have some advice for me as I’m trying to combat acne. I was on thhe pill for years and noticed that my hair, which had once been incredibly thick, had become scary thin.. I’m only in my twenties and my father at 65 has significantly thicker hair than I do, so thanks to your guidance and other research, I got off it birth control. I braced myself for acne problems by avoiding processed foods and dairy, I’d already cut out most refined sugar about a year ago for candida problems ( and that diet change was more effective than all the prescriptions I took). Well, five months later and I’m still suffering from acne, and I’m having trouble figuring out what’s causing it. I starting using coconut oil to cleanse my skin about a week ago, so it’s too soon to say if that’s helping or not. Any advisce would be appreciated,thanks you for all your informative posts!

    • lauren
      Reply lauren December 31, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      Hi Elizabeth – I am so glad to hear you are liking the oil pulling, coconut oil should be just as good, plus it tastes better! As for hair loss, I would check out my post on getting off birth control, because I have a recommendation for a hair product there that I have had great results with. As for the acne, that is a more difficult issue because it can be both hormone and/or gut related. If it is hormone related, then I would suggest following the guidelines in that BC post and see how you do. Specifically the DIM detox, the Eternal Jing and Adaptogen Energizer work well. If after a couple months you don’t see a difference, you may have to get your levels (hormone) measured – salivary tests are the best. If you are also experiencing digestive issues such as constipation, inflammation, gas etc. then I would suggest doing my intestinal cleanse. I hope that helps! Good Luck!

      • Reply Kimberley March 14, 2014 at 6:56 am

        Hiya, can I please ask what the BC post means? As I am having the same problem? Many thanks

        • Lauren aka The Holy Kale
          Reply Lauren aka The Holy Kale March 22, 2014 at 1:37 pm

          Hi Kimberely – I am not sure I know what you mean. Can you explain further?

        • Reply Katie August 6, 2014 at 5:02 am

          BC stands for birth control. So, her first post on birth control, I believe.

  • Reply tomato January 21, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Hi. Nice to read your blog.
    I have been oil pulling almost a week.
    I do it for whitening teeth.
    My teeth are yellowy since i used the brace.
    I found that my teeth got a bit brighter today.
    Just a bit though.
    Did your teeth get whiter during the days you oil pulling?
    if they did, how long it took till you got the effect?
    The suprise was that..
    My waist was always in pain everyday i woke up.
    the pain was away this morning.
    also, my skins looks brighter now.
    I cant wait to see more benefits op will bring.
    I really want my teeth turn white as soon as possible
    as i will have a important meeting next month.:-)
    I think i can just be patient and keep going on this nice theraphy.
    Hope it brings you more suprises.
    I am glad that i decided to give it a try. 🙂

    • lauren
      Reply lauren January 22, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      I hope it continues to help you as well. We have had a lot of success with it!

  • Reply ann March 8, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Hi there…I know this is an older post, but I was curious if you experienced this problem when you first started oil pulling. I started with 1/2 teas of coconut oil and within the first 30 seconds my mouth was completely foamed up. To the point where I could not keep it in my mouth because I was afraid of swallowing it. Is this normal when you first start?

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren aka The Holy Kale March 11, 2014 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Ann, I have not personally experienced this, but that does not mean that it cannot happen. Maybe try using a different oil such as sesame and see if that helps. If not, continue, but just do short periods of time. I am sure that you will be able to build up over time.

  • Reply John Hammond September 4, 2015 at 4:22 am

    So, if I understand this correctly, this should be done before brushing my teeth and scraping my tongue?

    • Lauren The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren The Holy Kale September 16, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      Hi John, yes first thing in the am. But if you find it more convenient to do it after brushing your teeth and tongue scraping that is okay too. You just don’t want to eat or drink anything before hand.

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