The How and Why of Oil Pulling

When a wise farmer is considering buying a horse, they always know to examine the horse's mouth. Because the condition of the horse’s mouth reflects the health of its entire body. No farmer will fork over top dollar for a horse with missing choppers or sore gums. In horses, like humans, dental problems signal other health problems.

Poor oral health has been linked to diabetes and ulcers, but the most striking correlation is with cardiovascular diseases (heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis). Several studies have reported that heart disease patients have higher rates of tooth decay and gum disease.

Roberts J. Genco of the University of Buffalo studied 1,372 people over 10 years and reported that heart disease was three times more prevalent for those with gum disease. Another study, published in the Brittish Medical Journal, reported that people with inflammation of the gums had a 25% increased risk of heart disease.

Researchers believe that the oral bacteria that cause dental disease, enter the bloodstream through small tears in the gums. These bacteria cause inflammation in the circulatory system. It seems that if you have good dental health you are likely to have good cardiovascular health too!

How Does Oil Pulling Work?

Oil pulling is 3,000 year old Ayurvedic Medicine practice that is used as an oral therapy. Turns out research supports this practice, oil pulling is believed to help in the excretion of toxic heavy metals, and works to “pull” bacteria, viruses and protozoa from the oral cavity. Oil pulling has been found to be effective in fighting gingivitis, plaque, tooth decay and microorganisms that cause bad breath (bacteria).

How does this work? Well most microorganisms inhabiting the mouth are single-celled. Cells are covered with a lipid (fatty membrane) that serves as the cell’s skin. When these cells come into contact with oil (fat), they adhere to each other.

According to Ayurveda the tongue is connected to various organs (kidneys, heart, lungs, small intestine, and spine). Oil pulling is believed to activate salivary enzymes which absorb toxins (chemical, bacterial, environmental) from the blood and are removed from the body through the tongue. Which is why this practice is said to detoxify and purify the entire human body. One counter argument is that since the oral mucosa is not a semipermeable membrane, toxins of the body from the blood cannot pass through it.

Here are the steps:

First thing in the morning, put one tablespoon of organic cold pressed coconut oil (this is what I use - thank you Costco and Amazon) in your mouth and swish it around. You can start with 5 minutes. And work your way up to 10, then 15, and ultimately reach the goal of 20 minutes of swishing. All you need is a gentle swish, move the oil all around and between your teeth. Do not swallow any of the liquid. Remember this process is “pulling” bacteria and toxins from your mouth. When you are done, this is very important, spit it out in the trash can. If you spit it in the sink, the oil can clog the pipes! Next, thoroughly wash your mouth with clean warm saline water or tap water and clean your teeth with your finger or use routine tooth brushing (use a different toothbrush than your normal one).

I personally jumped right to the 20 minutes per day of oil pulling. I did not have any jaw soreness or tightness, and I thought why not try to extract (pun intended) the full benefit? Admittedly on some days I swish for 15 minutes or 18 minutes. I use coconut oil, because I like the taste and also it has the added benefit of lauric acid which has anti-microbial agents and anti-inflammatory properties.


Your gums should become pinker and healthier. The practice is said to resolve dry mouth/throat and chapped lips. Really there are endless purported benefits, your teeth should become whiter, breath fresher, oral cavity muscles and jaws stronger. I am just going to keep going, but trust me this list isn’t exhaustive.

  • Prevention of dental caries, gingivitis, oral candidias and periodontitis
  • Tooth pain reduction
  • Fixes mobile teeth
  • Improves  oral hygiene.

When practiced regularly it will freshen and stimulate the mind and strengthen your senses. It is beneficial for sore throats, dry face, impaired vision, taste loss and anorexia.

Need I say more?

Get swishing,


P.S. please comment below or reach out to me if you have tried this method. I would love to know how it has worked for you. Also, if you try the method after reading this post, please let me know how it goes! Email, mahalo!