Benefits to Oil Pulling

Though oil pulling has been around for I centuries, I only began learning about it a couple years ago from some healthy living bloggers I follow. Since then, I have oil pulled periodically, but much more often in winter when sickness runs rampant. As soon as I feel the tinge of a sore throat, I oil pull consistently for a week straight until I realize I’m in the clear. For nearly two years–since Beau’s multiple bouts with RSV as a baby–I have been spared weeks-long horrible winter colds. That is, until last week. Despite not saving me from sickness this time, I still whole heartedly believe in the benefits of oil pulling–and I’m still swishing my way through the tail end of this sinus cold, hoping it will continue to speed up recovery.

organic coconut oil
Coconut oil from Costco (left) and Trader Joe’s (right)

So, what is oil pulling? In a nutshell, oil pulling is simply swishing oil around in your mouth for 5-20 minutes and spitting it out. I don’t time myself anymore, but I’m guessing I swish about 15 minutes. With three little ones underfoot, the only time of day I can manage to oil pull is that precious 30-minute time block in the morning where I am completely alone showering and getting ready for the day. Occasionally, I oil pull at night when the kids are in bed while we are watching a TV show, but it’s not a habit so I often forget to do it.

I personally prefer to use coconut oil not just for taste, but because it has so many natural qualities: antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal. And there’s this:

“According to research performed by Irish scientists from the Athlone Institute of Technology who tested the effects of coconut oil, vegetable oil and olive oil on dental health…only coconut oil was shown to prevent Streptococcus mutans, an acid-producing bacterium that is a common inhabitant of the mouth and a major cause of tooth decay, from binding to and damaging tooth enamel.” The Healthy Economist

That’s enough to sell me, plus I regularly cook and bake with coconut oil, so it’s a flavor I’m accustomed to. But if you don’t care for coconut oil, try another cold-pressed oil. Olive oil is too strong tasting to me, but avocado oil may be more tolerable. It tastes a bit nutty, just like avocado, but it’s mild and I had no problem pulling with it. I tried some flax seed oil I found in our panty and just about gagged–too strong and bitter. Do not attempt 🙂

Despite numerous substantiated and unsubstantiated benefits of oil pulling, there are three main reasons I oil pull:

  1. I believe that swishing oil pulls out impurities and bacteria that may lead to sickness. (Just think of all those germs in the back of your throat near your tonsils.)
  2. I think that oil pulling improves my dental health. (I really want to keep my gums healthy and I’d love to avoid dentures when I’m older.)
  3. I believe that swishing oil helps to lighten teeth that are stained from drinking coffee. (And seeing as how I won’t stop drinking coffee any time soon, I definitely appreciate this benefit.)

Coconut Oil Pulling Benefits


According to some quick searches on the internet, there are many more benefits to oil pulling: increases energy, detoxes the body, aids hormonal changes, reduces headaches, clears skin. And though I’m not quite sold on every claim, I definitely don’t think oil pulling will do any harm. Years from now, I doubt I’ll read and article bashing the effects of oil pulling using cold-pressed, organic virgin coconut oil.

My husband James, who drank raw eggs and took shots of olive oil just a few years ago, doesn’t believe the oil pulling hype. He tried it a couple weeks ago and said it was weird. All I know is that I’ve managed to stave off sickness for the most part, my teeth feel cleaner (less plaque) and they are whiter than before I started oil pulling. So, I’m supporting all the hype and will continue to endorse oil pulling.

Have you tried oil pulling? 


  1. I have questions! How much do you use? Did you ease into it? How long did it take you to get used to it? I have been reading about it for a year, but I was nervous to try. I’m starting to feel a sinus thing coming on – you inspired me to finally try it! I used a tiny big this morning – 1/2 tsp maybe. How do you keep from gagging before it melts?? Once it melted i did ok. I made it 5 minutes before Will interrupted me with a total meltdown. I’m going to give it another try this afternoon. I will report back at Bible study tomorrow 😉

    1. Hi! I use about 1-2 tsp. I think the recommendation is 1 tbsp but I feel like that would make me gag! Took me a week or so to get used to it. I don’t mind the solid form too much, but just swish it quickly in the beginning to get it to liquid form. Yes, timing is the hardest thing. With kids around, it makes it tough. A few times, I had a sore throat and some drainage but never got a true cold. I seriously think it was from the oil pulling.

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