Today we’re talking about Coconut Oil Pulling–what it is, oil pulling benefits, how to do oil pulling and my (fascinating) oil pulling experience. I didn’t think I would ever write about this, but you will know why I chose to when you get to the end of this post!
So let me start by saying that I had heard about oil pulling a lot of time before I finally tried it out. I guess I thought it was a silly thing and that there wouldn’t be very many benefits of oil pulling, so why bother doing it?
Plus, oil pulling sounded messy to me.
Yes, I was an oil pulling skeptic.
Similarly, I used to be an essential oil skeptic, thought that the autism epidemic wasn’t real (until it hit our home), and I also thought that food allergies were just a way for people to stay on a diet (yup, that one became a reality in our family too).
Now, once I tried essential oils when I was really sick, I changed my mind about those. And once I had a son with multiple life-threatening food allergies, and I also had my own intolerances, that thinking about food allergies had to go too.
And once you have a kid on the autistic spectrum and you see all of the kids around you who have it too and you think back to how few there were when you were younger, you know that autism is on the rise.
But the oil pulling thing? It kept nagging at me.
I wondered if I was missing something.
But I didn’t know how to do it or what oil to choose or when on earth I would do this thing called coconut oil pulling when I am already way too busy.
This mama ain’t got time to just sit around and swish oil in my mouth, you know?
Well, one day, for some reason, my curiosity got the best of me, and I thought it was worth a shot. I looked it up how to do oil pulling on multiple sites, figured out what oil I wanted to try, found a way to incorporate it into my morning routine, and went for it.
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is simply swishing an oil (typically sesame, sunflower, olive, or coconut oil) around in your mouth for approximately 20 minutes a day to improve oral (and possibly overall) health.
Oil pulling cleans or detoxifies the mouth. It seems odd, but it really works. There are even studies showing the effect of It literally sucks the dirt (toxins) out of your mouth and creates a clean, antiseptic oral environment that contributes to the proper flow of dental liquid that’s needed to prevent cavities and disease.
History of Oil Pulling
Oil pulling originated in India as part of Ayurvedic medicine, a tradition of holistic medicine from thousands of years ago. Other oral health practices from Ayurvedic traditions included chewing on sticks and eating herbs.
Ayurvedic practitioners prescribed oil pulling for inflammation of the mouth, dryness or other ailments.
The pulling of oil through one’s teeth is often considered to be the oldest form of dental care. This is interesting since many of the studies that I cite below mentioned that they concluded that their work showed promise that this technique could be of help for those in developing nations where better dental care is often needed.
Coconut Oil Pulling Benefits
Oil pulling is a powerful Ayurvedic technique for detox that has recently become very popular as an alternative remedy for ailments. It has been used in India for many years and it has been claimed there, and elsewhere, that it has the following benefits:
- Boost Immunity
- Eliminate Bad Breath
- Improves Dental Health
- Clears Sinus and Throat Congestion
- Prevent Heart Issues
- Reduces Inflammation
- Whitens Teeth
- Soothes Dry Throat
- Heals Cracked Lips
- Can Help with Acne & other Skin Concerns
- Strengthens Teeth, Gums, and Jaws
- Fights Candida
- Helps as a Natural Allergy Remedy
Now, I’m not saying that the above benefits are all valid (though I have added documentation for some of them). However, I’m saying that these are benefits that have been claimed.
At the same time, since oral health is linked to many of the above health issues, it makes sense that if oil pulling has beneficial effects on oral health, that the other health benefits should or could result as well.
Some even say that oil pulling can treat sleep apnea and TMJ. I don’t want to make medical claims like that. Of course, there could be a connection depending on how vigorously one pulls. There are sleep apnea and TMJ exercises that have been reported to be very beneficial, so if one did oil pulling vigorously enough, I could see that possibly being the case.
Oil Pulling and Oral Health
There are some fascinating studies showing the benefits of oil pulling. I cited some above, but here is a summary of them so you can see the facts more readily.
Oil Pulling vs Chlorhexidine against Streptococcus mutans
In this study of twenty teens, sesame oil pulling was shown to be comparable to a popular dental antibiotic in reducing Streptococcus mutans bacteria, which is a significant contributor to tooth decay. The authors of this study said that “Oil pulling can be used as an effective preventive adjunct in maintaining and improving oral health.”
Oil Pulling and Gingivitis
In this study, oil pulling was shown to be comparable to chlorhexidine for its effects on gingivitis amongst teens.
Oil Pulling and Bad Breath
This study showed that again, vs chlorhexidine, oil pulling was just as effective in remedying bad breath.
Wow. So the next time your dentist recommends chlorhexidine, maybe you should pull out a jar of coconut oil instead!! It’s one way to avoid antibiotics.
What Is the Best Oil for Oil Pulling–Is Coconut Oil Really Better?
Some say that sesame oil is the most effective oil to do oil pulling with, but technically you could pull olive oil, sesame seed oil, coconut oil, ghee, or almond oil.
Misinformation About Coconut Oil Benefits in Oil Pulling
There is some misinformation on the internet regarding the benefits of using coconut oil vs other oils. Some (I found one blogger at least) are saying that in a study at the Athlone Institute of Technology, researchers tested coconut oil, olive oil, and vegetable oil and that coconut oil was shown to be the most effective as it was shown to prevent Streptococcus mutans from binding to and damaging tooth enamel. S. mutans is an acid-producing bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay. Also notable is that the modified coconut oil was effective against candida as well.
However, that’s not the whole story. The study showed that ENZYME-MODIFIED COCONUT OIL (not regular coconut oil) was the most effective. And sorry, but I don’t know where to buy that. In fact, I think you can’t. Maybe the enzymes in your mouth can modify the coconut oil, but I’m not sure, so it might not matter at all what kind of oil you use until some scientist makes and sells enzyme-modified coconut oil, in which case then that is the one you want to buy.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad coconut oil news. And really, so this study was back in 2012–so why hasn’t anyone mass produced this yet?
Apparently, sesame and coconut oil are somewhat more abrasive than other oils so those should, therefore, produce better cleaning action. At least I read that, but I couldn’t find anything substantial to back it up.
How to Do Coconut Oil Pulling
- Put 1 tsp – 1 Tbsp of oil in your mouth. I find about 1.5 – 2 tsp to be a good amount. Basically, I just put some on a small spoon and put the oil in my mouth :).
- If you are using an oil that is solid at room temperature, let it soften for a moment or two.
- Swish the oil back and forth between your teeth for at least 15-20 minutes (Note that throughout history oil wasn’t necessarily swished for this long.)
- Spit the oil out.
If you have to expel the oil before the 15-20 minutes are up (due to mucous accumulating), just get more oil and continue pulling until the 15-20 minutes are up.
Added Benefits with Essential Oils
You can incorporate a drop of a tincture or essential oil into the mix to add benefits. For example, if you are having a bone issue, you could add Comfrey Tincture to the coconut oil. For added antibacterial action, add an antibacterial essential oil blend or some other essential oil with antibacterial qualities. The coconut oil is an excellent essential oil emulsifier.
Don’t Clog Your Pipes!
Don’t spit saturated fats down your sink drain or any other drain in your house, as it might lead to clogs. The trash is a better place for spitting :).
Does Coconut Oil Pulling Make You Gag?
Since originally publishing this post, I heard that some people gave up on oil pulling since they have a gag reflex. It might help you to try to subdue your gag reflex by tipping your head a little bit forward when you oil pull. This stops the oil from coming in contact with the back of your throat. It might be more difficult to oil pull for a full 20 minutes in that position, but you can do whatever you are able.
My Experience with Coconut Oil Pulling
Over the course of several months, I did oil pulling. My morning routine would go as follows:
- Wake up
- Brush Mouth Guard
WalkStumble to the Kitchen
- Drink some warm water with fresh squeezed or bottled organic lemon juice.
- Take my probiotic (depending on which one I am taking, I will either take it before or after swishing.
- Put about 1 tsp of organic coconut oil into my mouth
- Swish the coconut oil for about 15-30 minutes before eating
- While swishing, start making my Homemade Coffee Substitute in my French Press Coffee Maker
I didn’t notice any incredible results regarding my oral health, but I will say that sometimes I thought that my mouth felt pretty clean without even having brushed my teeth. Interesting.
At my next dental checkup, however, my hygienist commented that I didn’t have much or any staining on my teeth. Hmmmm…
I mentioned to her that I had been oil pulling coconut oil, and she seemed intrigued.
Fast forward another 6 months.
I saw the same hygienist again. She commented again on how little staining my teeth had.
Fast forward another 6 months. Same hygienist.
This time, she said, “So what’s the oil thing you were talking about?”
So there’s definitely something to this oil pulling thing. I personally think it really does help to clean your teeth and keep your gums healthy, but for sure it helps with staining.
So skip the toxic teeth whiteners (and maybe the toxic antibiotics, but of course, consult with your dentist first) and swish instead.