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Ayurvedic Oil Pulling

I have been wanting to try this age-old detox technique for some time now and have finally got down to doing it.

What Is Oil Pulling? 

Oil Pulling is an ancient healing method with its origins in Ayurvedic Medicine and has been used  for over 5000 years in India to treat just about every kind of ailment.

As stated on Earth Clinic, “It is a cleansing technique that consists simply of swishing oil in your mouth for a few minutes each day. This easy habit can kickstart your weight loss, whiten teeth, and improve your overall dental health. Remarkably, it seems also to have a potential for detoxifying the body – removing heavy metals and other pollutants while strengthening the immune system for better overall health”.

How Does It Work

Our mouths are home to various types of bacteria, viruses, parasites and their toxins, which can spread throughout our bodies and lead to serious health problems (think infections and inflammation) if our immune systems are under stress.

The act of swishing oil in the mouth acts as a powerful cleanser, pulling out these potentially harmful substances and thus producing a serious detoxifying effect.

What I also find so interesting is that according to Ayurveda, organ meridians are present in the tongue, so this would explain how the act of swishing oil can stimulate the body’s various organs.

Potential Cures

Apart from promoting general wellbeing – things like healthier gums, whiter teeth and glowing skin, Oil Pulling has also proven to help with the following:

– Mouth & Gum Disease
– Stiff Joints
– Hormonal Issues
– Allergies
– Asthma
– High Blood Sugar & High Blood Pressure
– Digestive Issues
– Migraines
– Eczema
– Heart, Kidney & Lung Diseases
– Arthritis
– Insomnia
– Chronic Infections
– Cracked Heels

… among others.

The Low Down

It’s super simple, cheap and easy to incorporate into your daily schedule.

I decided to try it out for general wellbeing and vitality but also to help with sensitive teeth (due to a root canal treatment) and digestive issues.

Initially I experienced some typical die-off/detox symptoms such as bad headache, tiredness and even more sensitive teeth, but after a few days I felt perkier. At first your symptoms can get worse – this is a sign that you are detoxing, so don’t stop. After a few days they should ease.

For instructions on how to perform Oil Pulling, see here – just make sure you do it for 20 minutes first thing in the morning, rinse with salt water and drink 2 big glasses of water after (to flush out the toxins).

Initially I preferred using the Sesame Oil as prescribed in the ancient texts, but nowadays I’ve been using Coconut Oil as it seems to agree better with me. Whatever vegetable oil you use, make sure you buy cold pressed & organic – I use the Crede brand.


Happy swishing!

LATEST UPDATE: 2/03/2015
I’ve been oil pulling pretty consistently for the last year or so using Coconut Oil, with some very positive results. The itchy rash I mentioned in the previous update eventually cleared up (it did take a good few months!); my bowels are more regular; teeth are happy (no sensitivity); strong immunity (living oversees it’s easy to pick up new bugs and foreigners tend to get sick a lot over here – the oil pulling definitely helps with prevention); clear skin; regular period (I’m in tune with the moon). It seems to help balance my hormones and thus make my skin/hair less oily too. I have noticed though that if I eat too much sugar or gluten I get a few itchy spots, nothing bad though, and it’ll clear up in a few days if I watch my diet.

All in all I’d recommend oil pulling for anyone wanting to improve their general wellbeing.

UPDATE: 21/10/2013:
I’ve been oil pulling for the last 2 months using mostly coconut oil. It has really helped my digestion, keeps me regular, but I still have an itchy eczema rash that has developed and  gotten worse, especially since I’ve been living in the very hot and humid Taiwan. Apparently I had eczema as a child so I think it might be an old, deep clearing taking place. I have noticed that while oil pulling I don’t seem to catch a cold or the flu.

UPDATE: 2/08/2013:
I stopped oil pulling for a while but have picked it up again 3 days ago. It seems every time I start oil pulling again some dormant condition arises. This time my glandular fever symptoms flared up (chronic fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, spaciness, head/neck pain, appetite loss, fever, etc), but I’m pleased to let you know they were gone within 3 days.

UPDATE: 27/06/2013:
I continued with the Sesame Oil for another week – the gum inflammation settled, notably reduced teeth sensitivity, whiter teeth, etc. but I noticed that my skin was getting oilier and so was my hair. I already have an oily skin, so this got me wondering if Sesame Oil is the right oil for me. Based on my constitution, according to Ayurveda, I’m Pitta-Vata dosha, so I decided to swap to Coconut Oil (more cooling for the Pitta element in me).

UPDATE: 13/06/2013:
I have been oil pulling on and off for the last 3 weeks. After reading this very informative article by Jon Barron, I’ve realised that it’s essential to oil pull for 20 minutes (I was only doing 10 minutes). This week I have increased my oil pulling time and already seem to have more energy, decrease in appetite, shiny white teeth and I’ve noticed that the gums where my wisdom teeth were removed years ago are very inflamed – perhaps old stored bacteria being released.

After using Coconut Oil for a week my skin looked great but I found that my tooth sensitivity returned and I’ve started to get weird itchy bites/rashes scattered around my body. I like the coconut oil (especially for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties) but it doesn’t feel as effective and deep-healing as the Sesame Oil.  So now I’m mixing it up a bit and doing alternate days Sesame & Coconut oil – I feel like I need a balance of both (heating & cooling oils).



    • Ayurveda is the best isn’t it Gretchen? I actually went to India to study it but unfortunately got really ill and had to return home. I must go and complete that training sometime. Do you think you’ll try the Oil Pulling?

      • I don’t know. Right now I am massaging my body daily with herbal ayurvedic oils in an effort to relieve rheumatiod arthritis. Ashwaghanda in hot milk, mahanayran oil, vata herbal seame oil. It is a ritual and at least is calming and intentive. Ayurveda is a most wonderous and grounding practice. I too spent time in India many years ago. One of the best experiences of my life. I was very ill along with my 6 year old daughter. Couldn’t decide to leave and so stayed and rode out the ailment with the help of ayurveda. So nice talking about this. It is a way of life. Do you know Dr. Ladd?

    • Hi Gretchen!
      Rheumatism and/or arthritis can be greatly relieved by nutrition! Have you read Dr Giraud Campbell’s book? My dad is now in better condition than 20+ years ago! Very eye-opening!

  1. Oh wow.. did you go for the whole panchakarma treatment when you were in India? Sounds like you are doing a lot already and Im glad you are feeling some ease. Ive heard of Dr Vasant Lad… same Dr?

  2. Tried this with processed oil and i could only do it for three minutes will build up to wo in one week.

    • Definitely don’t use processed oil… the refinement process damages the quality of the oil. Rather use unrefined, organic oils bought from a reputable shop like a health store.

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    • Kat Fiske…When you say “Try the Whole 30 for rheumatoid arthritis!” do you mean oil pull for 30 minutes? do you have more info on RA? Do tell! : ) I’ve just begun oil pulling (with coconut oil) (VCO) and am ingesting VCO as well (4tbsp per day or so). After one day my left hand is stronger (I can now lift my iPad whereas I have not been able to do this easily for months) and it is less painful. Whether from the oil pulling or the ingestion of VCO I don’t know. I just know something is working. I will continue with both.

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  8. Awesome article. Sesame oil is definitely an amazing substitute for a regular mouth wash, that’s for sure! I’ll give it a try.

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