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Should I Be Oil Pulling?

Sep 15, 2016 | Nutrition Articles | 0 comments

Oil pulling is a procedure that involves swishing oil in the mouth for oral and systemic health benefits. It can treat weakness of the teeth, gums, jaws and is an all around detoxifier. Some have even found oil pulling as an effective way to whiten their teeth. It is also used to prevent:
  • tooth decay
  • bad breath
  • bleeding gums
  • dryness of the throat
  • cracked lips


Bacteria has a lipid (fat) bilayer. Like attracts like. Think about what happens when you put olive oil in a pot of water when cooking spaghetti (sprouted whole grain spaghetti, of course!). The oil separates from the water and binds to itself.


The most common oils to use for this procedure are sesame, sunflower, or coconut oil. When you swish the oil of your choosing around in your mouth, the bacteria lipid bilayer is attracted to the lipid oil in your mouth and the oil literally pulls the bacteria off of your teeth, gums, and upper throat. It is important to spit the oil in your mouth out after you swish for a few minutes instead of swallowing it to eliminate the bacteria.


A 10 day study was conducted by Asokan, et al. (2009) to evaluate the effect of oil pulling with sesame oil on plaque-induced gingivitis and to compare its efficacy with chlorhexidine mouthwash (anti-microbial). The study included a total of 20 adolescent boys who were the same age with plaque-induced gingivitis. They were divided randomly into two groups of 10 for the study, oil pulling group (Group I) and the control and chlorhexidine group (Group II). Plaque index and modified Gingival index scores were recorded for all 20 subjects and baseline plaque samples were also collected. There was a statistically significant reduction of the pre- and post- values of the plaque and modified Gingival index scores in both the study and control groups (p< 0.001 in both). The oil pulling therapy showed a reduction in the plaque index, modified gingival scores, and total colony count of aerobic microorganisms in the plaque of adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis. This indicates that oil pulling is equally as effective at reducing microorganisms in the mouth as chlorhexidine.


If you want to start integrating oil pulling into your self-care routine, doing it while you are in the shower is the simplest way. If you are a shower singer, you might want to do it while you are getting dressed instead.


  1. Choose some high quality (organic, virgin, cold-pressed/unrefined) sesame, sunflower, olive or coconut oil in your mouth prior to getting in the shower. I suggest avoiding corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil and soy oil, and those that go rancid very quickly such as flax oil. NOTE: The oils can double in size while it draws in the bacteria and mixes with your saliva, so do not OVERFILL your mouth.
  2. Swish the oil in your mouth for 5-10 minutes, 20 if you are truly ambitious and want to really whiten your teeth.
  3. Try not to swallow or gargle the oil. You are trying to eliminate the toxins, not ingest them.
  4. Try to be patient.
  5. When you’re finished, spit out the oil in the trash. An old shampoo or supplement bottle works well for this if you are in the shower, and you can throw it away when full. (If this seems a little gross for some of you, I understand, but whatever you decide you’ll want to avoid spitting down the drain, especially if you are using a saturated fat like coconut oil. You don’t want to clog your drain!
Afterwards, you can rinse your mouth with a little warm salt water and brush your teeth as normal. Do this everyday for at least 30 days. You could start seeing results in as little as a couple days, but depending on the condition of your oral health, it may take up to 30-60 days to see your desired results.


While there are many benefits to oil pulling, there is some debate as to whether or not it is safe for everyone. Due to its detoxification effects, oil pulling is not recommended during pregnancy, nursing, or other situations where it might be unsafe to potentially release toxins in the body. Those with amalgam fillings or significant dental work should consult a dentist (preferably a biological dentist) to assess the risks and to determine if oil pulling should be part of your oral care routine. As with any lifestyle choice we make, it is critically important to do your own research and listen to your own body to identify what works best for your bio individual needs.

erin-fouschee_round.pngAbout the Instructor:

Erin Foushee, NTP, is the founder and owner of Fortis Wellness, LLC, a company dedicated to strengthening individuals and companies in the greater Washington D.C. area through preventative nutrition and fitness programs. Erin is also the developer of the Fortis Corporate Wellness Program, which provides a tried-and-true business model and workshop materials for NTPs to market, sell, and service the program to companies in their area. Erin has experience with numerous facets of the wellness field and has enjoyed working with a variety of clients, including nationally ranked athletes, business people, senior citizens, and children. Her passion and mission is to educate Corporate America and the next generation of NTPs about the power of preventative wellness.