About 8 years ago, while browsing a heath and healing forum, I ran across a very long thread about the benefits of Oil Pulling. This is the Ayurvedic cleansing practice of swishing vegetable oil around in your mouth. I went through the whole thread and could barely find a negative comment about it. It seemed too good to be true. The success claims were incredible; from any aspect of oral health to allergies to arthritis, covering internal diseases of every organ and system. I tend to be skeptical, but with such a resounding thumbs up across the board, I couldn’t resist trying it out.
What interested me most at first was that it could apparently help re-mineralize teeth. Since my late 20’s I’d been concerned about the further progression of what had become badly worn out enamel in a couple places. Receding gums didn’t make it any better, and “pulling” apparently helped that, too. I’m not a fan of whitening, but who wouldn’t want “brighter” teeth? So, that was another big draw.
I went to the health food store and got a bottle of cold pressed, organic sesame oil. “Cold pressed” and “organic” seem to be requisite in most circles. I love the taste of sesame, and thought it would be a better experience than the other most popular choices: sunflower or coconut oil. I’ve read quite a bit about folks using just about any kind of high quality plant oil imaginable though, and getting great results. Each oil contains different properties, nutrients and energetic qualities, so you might consider looking into that if those kinds of distinctions interest you.
The process takes about 20 minutes. It’s to be done on an empty stomach only, and you won’t be able to talk while you’re doing it. I started out “pulling” twice a day for about 10 days, then switched to once a day, first thing in the morning. I just sit quietly and swish away, as I wake up. I know folks who pull while showering and getting ready in the morning or in front of a movie at night.
Here’s how it’s done: take between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of vegetable oil and swish it around in your mouth, gently drawing, sucking, pushing and pulling through your teeth for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the oil feels thick and frothy. Spit it out in the toilet or trash. Rinse, swish, and spit a number of times, then drink a whole bunch of water. Do not swallow the oil, and do not gargle with it. However, if you accidentally swallow any oil, as I have a couple times, there’s apparently nothing to fear. It will be eliminated, and as far as I can tell, and despite my initial horror, nothing bad happened to me.
The mouth is teeming with bacteria, viruses, candida, and other toxins and debris that if given a chance to proliferate, can cause any manner of disease in the body. Gingivitis, bad breath, cavities, tooth decay and plaque are some of the local results of unchecked bacteria in the mouth. Oil pulling draws bad bacteria and toxins out of your body through your mouth via the saliva. This is why the oil should be spit out, and your mouth rinsed thoroughly.
I noticed benefits immediately. The whole inside of my mouth felt so clean and fresh; my breath seemed sweeter and my head felt clearer. By just the fourth morning, I’d noticed my teeth were definitely brighter. It was quite pronounced and actually kind of shocking. Those pervasive little yellow plaque deposits in between had gone away giving my teeth a nice, even, shiny consistency. My gums felt and looked healthier – less red, more pink. My complexion looked more consistent and rosier, my skin was less sensitive, and my springtime allergies seemed to disappear, just like that.
As the story goes, after a couple months I tapered off and gave it up for a while, then picked it up again, and so on. A couple years ago, during an extended off period, I started noticing pressure in an upper molar. It very quickly turned to pain in the root with more pressure and a shooting pain in my ear. It was clearly infected and a root canal was out of the question, so I started pulling twice a day. Ten days later, and the tooth was good as ever. Now, when it was at its worst, for about ten minutes during and after rinsing, the pain was tremendous. But when it soon subsided, it really subsided, as did the pressure and ear pain, and for a good number of hours. I haven’t had trouble with it since.
A few months after that event, I broke a different previously filled tooth on a sesame seed. It was on a Saturday morning and I couldn’t get an appointment with a dentist until the following Wednesday. I started pulling twice a day. I was curious and more than a little nervous about how things would look to him, considering I hadn’t been to a dentist in 15 years. The x-rays showed nothing noteworthy anywhere, even in that recently abscessed molar. Everything looked great and there wasn’t even any plaque for him to scrape with the terrible, little, sharp metal tool. He repaired the tooth with a composite and it’s still fine.
I’m also happy to report that enamel has returned to those worn out areas. It doesn’t look 100%, but it’s definitely shiny and well protected. My gums are less receded and generally healthier.
I say this was a great success story, and the proof was profoundly in the pudding. Even if the only results were brighter cleaner teeth, healthier gums, re-mineralization of worn enamel, clearer skin and no more allergies, that would have been good enough for me. It took so little effort and costs less than $.50/day. The acid test of a resolved abscess, saving me upwards of $1500, really impressed me, and that a dental exam verified that things looked great turned me into the firmest of believers.
I find that flossing just before pulling makes the pull much more effective and enjoyable. It allows that nice little space between the teeth to open up, enabling the oil to swish right through and clean those hard to reach areas.
Brushing or drinking even water prior to pulling is not recommended.
Apparently it’s not good to spit down the sink as it clogs up the pipes. However, if you do use the sink, it’s very important to thoroughly clean it out afterwards to get rid of all the bacteria and whatever else is present in the oil. Comet and a paper towel work great. Never use your kitchen sponge.
I’ve seen it recommended that you rinse with warm salt water. I’ve tried it and don’t like it one bit. I rinse with room temperature water, then do a 30 second final rinse and spit with a couple droppers of Colloidal Silver, because as we all know by now, C-Silver kills all bad bacteria, virus, and fungi to death, so I feel confident that everything’s nice and clean when I’m done.
It’s important to take a gentle, relaxed approach to pulling. Being overly zealous may just result in a sore jaw. Make it pleasant for yourself and something that you look forward to.
Some folks experience a prohibitive gag response from either the taste or consistency, and it seems that coconut oil is the biggest culprit. Coconut oil is a paste at room temperature, and can take a couple minutes to liquefy in the mouth. That would pose a problem for me, easily resolved though, by pre-warming it to a liquid. If it’s the taste that’s bothersome, try a different oil, or add a couple drops of an essential oil to your pull. Peppermint comes highly recommended to alleviate gagging, and all of them offer their own powerful healing properties for whatever ails you.
Like any other kind of cleanse, you may be subject to some short-lived healing crisis: skin breakouts, headaches, flu like symptoms, and the like. Best to stay on course and move the shmutz out. You’ll be so much better for it on the other side. The only overt “clearing” that I was aware of was that during a pull I’d suddenly cough up a large amount of phlegm. So for me, there seemed to be lung involvement in the process.
As we know from Chinese Medicine, and all the holistic traditions: everything affects everything else. So, when I read countless testimonies about the numerous internal diseases that have been successfully addressed by Oil Pulling, I’m not the least bit surprised. This is very big medicine. It’s completely safe, very pleasant, costs about $15/month at the very most, just plain works, and is definitely worth looking into.
Please consult your dentist, do your own research, listen to your gut, have some tui na, and know that the contents of this article are not to be construed as medical advice.
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