The deets on oil pulling

Hi guys! How’s your day going so far?? We’re having an amazing time in NYC! I’ll be back soon with pics from the official event (we met Miranda Kerr!!) and some more New York adventures. As you guys probably know, there was an explosion in East Harlem this morning. We are all ok, but there are many who were injured or affected by the tragic events. Keeping them in my heart and prayers today <3

 

Details on oil pulling

So, let’s talk about oil pulling. You may or may not have seen the oil pulling trend flooding the internets lately, and I thought it would be a fun Reader’s Request type post. I’ve been oil pulling for about a month now and really love it! Edited to say: As always, it’s up to you to use your best judgment when deciding your unique health journey. Consult with a medical professional before making any changes. Just wanted to share my experience with oil pulling since I’ve been using it for a while and enjoy it. 

Even though it’s currently surging in popularity, oil pulling is a technique that has been around for thousands of years. This ayurvedic practice involves swishing oil around in your mouth for up to 20 minutes in order to facilitate detoxification, healthy gums and teeth, and aid in digestion. The toxins and plaque are believed to adhere to the oil, and when you spit it out, all of the “ick” goes down the drain with it. It’s also believed to improve mouth muscular strength, balance hormones, improve arthritis symptoms, mood, and assist in preventing dementia.

So how do you do it?

You take about a teaspoon of vegetable-based oil (sesame, coconut and olive all work well) and swish it in your mouth with the goal of 20 minutes. The first time I tried this, I only lasted six, but now it’s fairly easy to get up to 17 minutes or so. After swishing around, spit and rinse. A little tip: don’t spit the oil down the sink as it will solidify and could cause plumbing problems. Spit it into the trash can or flush it down the toilet. Also be sure not to swallow the oil after swishing… it’s pretty gnarly by the end 😉 

Pros:

There are only a handful of studies regarding oil pulling, but it has been proven to reduce plaque, gingivitis and the total count of aerobic microorganisms in the plaque of study participants.It’s also proven to reduce halitosis, and I definitely notice that my breath smells fresh after oil pulling, especially when I wake up the next morning.

It feels great. My teeth always feel shiny and clean after oil pulling, and recently a friend asked why my teeth were so white. Even though the coffee and wine I drink stains them, I think it helps reduce the stains.

It’s inexpensive. I’m always looking for holistic ways to improve my health, and feel like this one really has no risk in trying since I have coconut oil on hand. If it works, great, but if it doesn’t, it’s not going to break the bank. 

Cons:

The evidence of the benefits of oil pulling is mostly anecdotal. Like I said, there are a handful of studies but it hasn’t been extensive.

20 minutes is a long time! I usually try to do it while reading before bed, as I find that it’s a peaceful and almost meditative thing.

The “detoxification” claim. “Detox” is a huge health buzzword, and I think our body is capable of taking out the proverbial trash on its own. At the same time, I do like the potential health benefits and notice cleaner chompers.

Do you oil pull? Is it something you would do or try?

What’s something unique that you do for your health?? I used to be a huge fan of dry brushing but have gotten away from it. Since Miranda Kerr said she’s a fan, I might have to get back in the habit. 😉

Hope you have a great day <3

xoxo

Gina

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61 Comments

  1. Laura B @ FitMamaLove on March 12, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    I have been seeing this phrase mentioned here and there, but hadn’t read anything yet. I wouldn’t put it past me to try it, but I’m not sure I can wrap my brain around it just yet. I am currently oil cleansing my face, though, so it makes sense that it would clean your teeth too.

  2. Amanda @ MoveLoveEat on March 12, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    I’ve seen it mentioned but ignored it as I thought it was just another fad. I don’t know if I could actually do it for 20 minutes! But good to know it exists and is working for some people 🙂

  3. Amanda on March 12, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    This is something I keep on reading about and thinking about trying. Do you rinses out the residue with water or “regular” brush your teeth afterwards?

  4. Andrea on March 12, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Sounds like a major fad to me, and not something that’s very maintainable in the long term. I’m never inclined to try “health” tips that aren’t backed up by medical literature. I’ll stick to brushing my teeth.

    • Courtney on March 13, 2014 at 1:28 am

      You still brush your teeth lol. My gum infections went away with this! Even with my sonicare and flossing, oil pulling in addition finally gave me healthy gums!

    • the delicate place (@misathemeb) on March 13, 2014 at 10:25 am

      agree! oil pulling is total snake-oil science and i am all about finding natural remedies etc. however, as a scientist myself, i just cannot get behind the weak claims on this one. maybe it works but there is clearly not enough research and literature out there to believe.

      i do dry brush nearly every day and have experienced the benefits there. i am a HUGE skeptic so i gave it a full 8 wks before i jumped to any conclusions on that one but it works!

  5. Debbie from WBL on March 12, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    I’m a dental hygienist and hadn’t heard of this until recently. I asked 3 dentists about it and they weren’t familiar with it. Would love to get some more info!

  6. Amber Schumann on March 12, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    I tried oil pulling a couple months ago and couldn’t hold back my gag reflex. The feeling of oil in my mouth is right up there with my enjoyment of chewing chicken fat.

    I find it funny that you posted this today–I actually gave it another try this morning. This time melting the coconut oil first, and also using a smaller amount. It was more tolerable. But I only lasted 12 minutes before the munchkin woke up and I needed to tend to her. You mentioned that you do it at night–I thought it was supposed to be a first-thing-in-the-morning-straight-outta-bed thing to do?

    Gunna give it another chance tomorrow.

    • Anna S. on March 13, 2014 at 6:22 am

      I thought it was a morning thing as well, before you drink anything – the idea being to get rid of whatever nastiness your mouth made while you were sleeping instead of swallowing it?

      • JennP on March 13, 2014 at 10:35 am

        From what I’ve read, the recommendation is that you do it on an empty stomach (it has something to do with the enzymes released in your saliva when you haven’t had anything to eat/drink in 3-4 hours). Since most people don’t go that long without eating or drinking throughout the day, people just tend to do it in the morning. I’m not saying that I necessarily believe it makes a big difference, but that’s the explanation I read before I started it a few weeks ago 🙂

  7. Nikki Rae on March 12, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    I’ve heard a lot about oil pulling too. Thank you for sharing your experience. I was on the fence about trying it but after reading your post, I think I’m going to go for it. Doing it in the morning while showering could be a good way to multitask.

  8. Deanna on March 12, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Have you seen this article? I thought it was an interesting take on the craze.
    http://jezebel.com/the-oil-pulling-health-craze-works-just-not-in-the-w-1538252677

  9. jo on March 12, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    I like to oil pull but don’t do it as often as I like. You mentioned you oil pull in the evening. I’ve read in many places that its best to do it in the morning. The ayurvedic theory (don’t quote me this is just from what I remember) is that all your toxins are removed while you sleep and that it should be removed in the morning via oil pulling and tongue brushing. Not saying you are wrong. Just an FYI.

    • Fitnessista on March 12, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      i think i read that before, too. however, in the am guzzling coffee > swishing oil 😉

  10. Kim @ FITsique on March 12, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    I have seen this everywhere but the 20 minutes really intimidates me! I am a bad “swisher” and afraid that I don’t have the endurance required lol

  11. Christine @ BookishlyB on March 12, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I think it’s funny that when we hear that something has been around thousands of years we instantly assume that it must be legit. I read the Jezebel article (and a few others) that someone posted and thought it was really interesting; keeping your mouth clean is important for overall health, and it’s not going to hurt, but in the long run I’m not really sold on it being worth the time and effort.

    Plus it sounds kind of gross.

  12. Lindsey on March 12, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Miranda Kerr!!! Awesome!!! Have fun! Glad you guys are safe!

  13. Foodandfarm on March 12, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Hmmmmm… You know though, coconut oil does wonders as a facial cleanser…. Why not teeth? My friend is also a dentist and never heard of it…

  14. mama on March 12, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I did this for the first time this morning and am excited to see results. ..hopefully 🙂

  15. Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs on March 12, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Can’t wait to hear more about NYC! 🙂

  16. Katie on March 12, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    I’m currently oil pulling right now! Ah 20 minutes is such a long time…. Looking at the clock nonstop! After chatting with the lady at the local food store, she said she went to the dentist the other day & he was so impressed (she started a month or so ago) I had to give it a try!

  17. Ali on March 12, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    I tried this the other day and I used melted (not hot) coconut oil. I was totally gagging until it “thinned” out. It wasn’t a big deal after that and I was surprised that I lasted the full 20 minutes. The thought of gagging in the beginning has kept me from trying it again. I wanted to try it because I had a few people tell me that it helps with sinus issues – I always get sinus infections this time of year. My sinuses felt like they were draining more but it could have been coincidental.

  18. A on March 12, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Hi Gina- I’m a long time reader to your blog and generally love your posts. However, I’m disappointed that you acknowledge that there is only anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of oil pulling but that you still recommend it. This is exactly how false medical claims (e.g. “detoxing”) spread on the Internet.

    Earlier today, a medical doctor surveyed the evidence on oil pulling and concluded “There is no evidence or plausible rationale to recommend oil pulling for any indication other than as a poor substitute for oral care.”

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/oil-pulling-your-leg/

    Moreover, he noted that there are risks to oil pulling:

    “I did come across one other published paper on oil pulling – a report of recurrent lipoid pneumonia from oil pulling. Lipoid pneumonia is a chemical lung disease caused by aspirating (breathing in) small amounts of oil. The long duration of mouth swishing with oil recommended by oil pulling advocates may increase the risk of lipoid pneumonia as a complication. This is a good reminder that no matter how “natural” and “ancient” a treatment is, we should not assume it is entirely without risk.”

    To avoid spreading misinformation, my advice is to source your health claims from experienced medical doctors and rigorous published evidence in the future.

    • Fitnessista on March 12, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      i didn’t say there is only anecdotal evidence, but that most of it is. i linked to some peer-reviewed studies that did indeed show that it helped to reduce plaque and bacteria in the mouth. as always, i think everyone should determine what works best for their unique needs with the guidance of a medical professional, but just wanted to share my experience.

  19. Cheri @ Overactive Blogger on March 12, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I read something about oil pulling on Fashion Lush – this is the second post I’m reading on it! Couldn’t hurt to try it, right?

  20. jen on March 12, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try it as like you said it can’t hurt and the teeth whiting bonus, I’ve heard to do it while your in the shower!

  21. Kristin on March 12, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Yeah, I’m not sure if I would try it. I’m sure it won’t do any harm, but I think I prefer a good ole’ fashioned gargle. The studies are pretty scattered too. Here’s what snopes has to say: http://www.snopes.com/medical/homecure/oilpulling.asp

  22. Adrienne on March 12, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    I was here to post the snopes article as well!

    But as a medical professional, I choose to avoid fads with such lack of evidence. Coconut oil is too expensive to spit into the trash! If it actually provided benefits, wouldn’t we have known about it long before now??

  23. Erin on March 12, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    I’ve been oil pulling for a whopping 5 days now, I started oil pulling for the teeth whitening benefit. I was a long time smoker and coffee/tea drinker and have deeply stained teeth because of that (I have sensitive teeth so whitening strips are out of the question). I also have a gap in my front teeth that tends to get plaque build up. After just one day of oil pulling the plaque in my gap was almost completely gone and after 5 days I definitely see a difference in the color of my teeth. So while there may not be any proven health benefits to oil pulling, I am very happy with the results I have gotten at this point.

    Good luck.

    XOXO,
    Erin
    thevaughnlife.us

  24. sandy on March 13, 2014 at 1:19 am

    been oil pulling for like 8 years on and off. love it.

  25. sandy on March 13, 2014 at 1:23 am

    btw, I am a medical professional as well. didn’t know it was a ‘fad’. it’s been used for a very long time in ayurvedic medicine, so for those who said ‘we would have known about it by now’, um many have known about the method and its benefits for hundreds of years.

  26. Runner Girl Eats on March 13, 2014 at 6:12 am

    I tend to assume all detox claims are pretty hokey pokey but am intrigued about the teeth whitening claims. Maybe have to check into this more… Thanks for sharing!

  27. Cara's Healthy Cravings on March 13, 2014 at 7:14 am

    I don’t know if I could handle the 20 mins. I really dislike the feeling of oil in my mouth for some reason, which is why I can’t take fish oil as a supplement.

  28. JennP on March 13, 2014 at 8:03 am

    I started oil pulling 3 weeks ago, and the teeth whitening/clean mouth/fresh breath claims are 100% legit. I have gotten several comments about how white my teeth are from friends and family who had no idea I was even doing it. 20 minutes sounds intimidating, but it goes by fast. It’s not all that different from the amount of time you’d spend with White Strips on your teeth, and it’s not like you can’t do other things simultaneously. I’m a believer based strictly on results!

  29. Chicago Jogger on March 13, 2014 at 8:26 am

    This is so interesting – I have heard about this everywhere lately but hadn’t stopped to figure out what exactly people are talking about. I’m not sure I could handle the ‘gag’ issue, but it’s worth a shot. I’m very interested to hear how it goes for you!

  30. Rhiannon @ Bound to be a Buckeye on March 13, 2014 at 8:37 am

    I just saw this last week too. I’m all about the whiter teeth benefits because the strips tend to hurt my teeth. I’ve only pulled once, but I managed to last the whole 20 minutes. I think the key is to find something to take your mind off your mouth, lol. I’m going to continue with it because I don’t think its harmful and I like the idea of its benefits.

  31. Jen on March 13, 2014 at 8:43 am

    I came across this about two weeks ago, and now it seems like I see something on it everyday. I did decide to give it a shot, and so far so good. I have been just grabbing a little scoop of coconut oil on my way out the door in the morning, melting it in my mouth and swishing all the way to work, and spitting it into a paper cup to be thrown out. So far I find it to be pretty good, but I did have to stop for the last few days due to having a hacking cough that makes it interesting. Coughing with a mouthful of coconut oil isn’t pretty, especially while driving- one bad experience the other morning caused me to put it on hold. I do plan to pick it back up soon bc I do think it has already made my teeth better…and I’m hoping my dentist notices on my next visit!

  32. Courtney Bentley on March 13, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I oil pull everyday! I do it before I do anything in the morning which is what my practitioner recommended as that is the best time to do it! Lots of Love C

  33. Laurie W. on March 13, 2014 at 9:30 am

    I’ve been oil pulling for about 2 weeks and love it. My teeth are whiter and my mouth and teeth feel cleaner! Initially, after about 4-5 days of OPing I broke out really bad! I was a nervous wreck (my face hadn’t looked like this since high school!) so I did some major online “research” (mainly online forums and comments on other blog sites) and found that acne is a common occurrence within the first 2 weeks of oil pulling. So, I made myself a promise that I was not going to give up and was going to at least keep it going for 2 weeks. I’m so glad I did. At about a week in, my face cleared up and my skin has never felt or looked better! Literally, my fiance has said your eyes and cheeks are glowing! I, also, have OPed twice now on mornings where I could have had a slight hangover and after OPing I instantly feel fresh, better, and ready to take on the day! Personally, I highly recommend OPing. I have convinced my fiance and most of my coworkers to try it. It’s probably not for everyone, but I have had a real positive experience thus far.

    Thanks for posting about this Gina!

  34. Daisy on March 13, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Snopes recently debunked oil pulling. I’m not taking Snopes as a peer reviewed study, but they made some good points.This is the part that stuck with me:

    Scientific research documenting that oil pulling really works- and how it works- is lacking. The topic has been the subject of a mere handful of clinical studies, primarily small ones performed in India that focused on oral hygiene and suggested, at best, a possible connection with minor improvements in gum health. But even that much benefit may simply be the residual effect of regularly rinsing one’s gums with water (or any other fluid), not necessarily the results of specifically using a particular type of oil for that purpose. (The fact that several quite different types of oil are all proffered by various sources as the one “proper” substance to use in oil pulling therapies argues against the idea that some property specific to the type of oil used is actually producing the claimed effects.)

    Read more at http://www.snopes.com/medical/homecure/oilpulling.asp#kS8kpgWMf4pOFv0d.99

  35. Brynn on March 13, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I have recently started oil pulling. I learned about the routine during my schooling and think it is a positive way to start your day. And I totally agree – it is a bit strange at first, but I like the end result.

    My unique health habit is starting each day with a HUGE glass of water. It makes me feel awake, fills me up a bit and hydrates my body.

  36. Alexandria on March 13, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Just a note – As I looked into trying it, I found several people saying that it PULLED THEIR DENTAL WORK OUT. So to anyone with veneers or the like, please please please think twice before doing it.

    I don’t doubt the health benefits and am always up for some natural alternatives like this (especially for whitening teeth!) but just a little warning if you’ve spent lots of dough like me on dental work! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this though, Gina! Happy people are seeing results from it. Enjoy NYC!

  37. Erin (Running Tall) on March 13, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Oil pulling and dry brushing are on my “try it out” list! I’m currently trying the oil cleansing method for my skin and loving it so far. Waiting a bit longer to see if it really works (I’ve only been doing it for 2 weeks).

  38. Jen on March 13, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I just hopped on the oil pulling- today is day 5 for me. I’m a huge fan of coconut oil; I use it for so many other things from homemade vicks rub, makeup remover, lip balm, body lotion, cooking.. I thought I’d give it a whirl with oil pulling. I have to melt my oil to a liquid state before I start- putting cold press coconut oil in my mouth the first day made me gag- but I have no problems swishing the liquid form for 20 minutes in the morning. I still brush my teeth afterwards though. I’m going to look up this dry brushing!

  39. Racheal @ Running with Racheal on March 13, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks for posting this Gina! I plan to try it tomorrow morning!

  40. Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork on March 13, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I have heard so much about this lately and weighing the pros and cons in my head of doing it. I supposed I could just try it, after all. I have the oil at home. I do feel like I may get an odd look (or ten( from my husband.

    I’ve heard you’re supposed to do it first thing in the morning, but you mentioned that you do it at night. Is that just because that time works best for you? Also, would love to hear more about dry brushing!

  41. Kate on March 13, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I just started this yesterday — I read a good tip online to incorporate it into your “shower” routine. I have my tub of coconut oil on my bedside table, and I just took a spoonful and did the oil pulling during my shower. By the time I finished making my coffee, I was done! I am hoping to see the benefits everyone has talked about:)

  42. Cat on March 13, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    I’ve been considering oil pulling more recently – the more I read about it the more it sounds like a great idea! Currently I do it on mornings I need to run out of the house and my flatmates are using the bathroom – a convenient alternative to brushing in a pinch!

  43. Samantha on March 13, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    I started oil pulling this week as well! I do it right before bed, while I’m packing lunches for the next day. I am getting the benefits from the oil pulling, while also not being able to “taste test” the lunches I’m making 🙂 two birds, one stone.

  44. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on March 13, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Hi Gina,

    I’m so glad you wrote about this, not only because I’ve read a lot about it, but because you’ve offered your own experience. How much do you use? It seems like most suggest 1-2 teaspoons.

    I am definitely going to give it a try.

    Best,
    Ashley

    • Fitnessista on March 13, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      i do 1 teaspoon because it thins out while you swish it 🙂

  45. Meg @ A Dash of Meg on March 13, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    great post! and i totally laughed when you said gnarly haha oh i love you

  46. Kara on March 13, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I’ve been hearing about oil pulling more and more recently as well. I have a friend who introduced me to it about a year ago because her dentist and dental hygienist actually do it and sing it’s praises. My friend has receding gum problems and the hygienist mentioned having the same issue as well and oil pulling relieving the problem some. She also mentioned that she and her daughter both had cystic acne and since oil pulling their skin has drastically improved.
    I’ve been reluctant to try it until recently and have been considering it more and more based on hearing about it’s skin benefits, as well as teeth whitening, and overall health benefits. I have chronic sinus infections, eczema, periodic acne, and my skin has just been looking lately so I gave it a shot a couple of days ago and found I CANNOT tolerate the solidified coconut oil in my mouth, I immediately almost gagged. Once I warmed it up then tried while I was getting ready for the day, the 20 minutes seemed to breeze by. I definitely don’t think it’s something I could do while I’m just sitting around. I’ve also yet to see anything regarding whether it is more beneficial to do in the morning or at night, I would think it’s about the same.
    It’s also not much of a surprise to me that traditional “main-stream” medicine doesn’t really support or acknowledge whether or not there are health benefits….they’re not really known for emphasizing holistic health in general. It’s much easier to write someone a prescription for high cholesterol or high blood pressure than it is to tell them they have to diet and exercise (assuming no hereditary factors of course)…I also work in the “main-stream” medical field so I feel I’m allowed to have that opinion:) I actually love that you inform us of your experiences with things like this and I loved your yoga teacher post too btw. I myself have been considering becoming a yoga instructor as well. Keep up the good work!

  47. Shaina Anderson on March 13, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I’ve seen a lot about this lately. I love me some coconut oil for tons of stuff, especially as a night cream or even full body lotion when it gets reeeeally dry out. I actually just ordered some activated charcoal for teeth whitening purposes. I have a friend that SWEARS by it and she has gorgeous teeth so I’m all over that.

  48. Tia on March 13, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    I tried this last night, and I made it16 minutes. My boyfriend thought I was being weird, but then tonight, he said he wanted to try. He took a swig right from the olive bottle and then went to go play video games. He lost track of time and made it 29 minutes before almost spitting it out in the sink. I stopped him just in time. Oh boys.

  49. char eats greens on March 14, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I do still want to try this out!! Especially since, like you said, if it doesn’t work, it’s not expensive! I’m definitely intrigued and have been for a while now!

  50. Livi on March 15, 2014 at 9:48 am

    I am so interested in trying this! Thanks for the info!

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