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Oil pulling: silly trend or health revolution?


What if we told you that there was a simple practice you could do daily, that would treat acne, allergies, bad breath, chronic pain, digestive issues, cavities and asthma? What if we told you it was ultra affordable and that it only takes 20 minutes? If any of this sounds familiar to you, you’ve probably come across oil pulling – the latest health trend to do its rounds on the internet.

This practice dates back to ancient times and is believed to have originated in India around 3000 years ago. The process is simple: take more or less a tablespoon amount of your favourite cooking oil (coconut, sunflower, vegetable, or olive) and swish it around your mouth and throat for twenty minutes before spitting it out.

The idea behind it is to “pull” harmful bacteria from your mouth, and as a result, limit (or possibly eliminate) health problems caused by bacteria and germs. But how does the oil actually do this? The problem is that not everyone agrees on whether or not it does.

We can all agree that we harvest a lot of bacteria in our mouths, and we know that bacteria have an outer layer consisting of fatty membranes. The principle behind oil pulling is that lipids love lipids, and the oil you swish around in your mouth “pulls” or attracts the oil from the bacteria, removing it from your teeth and gums. After about 20 minutes the oil mixture will become white in colour, which is believed to be the result of the bacteria that has mixed with the cooking oil.

Some medical professionals believe that the bacteria in our mouth can quite easily enter our bloodstream, and thus cause a host of issues in our bodies, of which heart disease is the most prominent. Removing it from our mouths before it has the chance to spread is thus the ideal thing to do. But how effective is it really?

Doctors and dentists seem to be divided on the subject. Though many studies regarding the health benefits of oil have been done, there aren’t any conclusive medical studies on oil pulling. Until those have been conducted, it’s up to each person to decide what they want to believe.

If you’re keen to give it a go, do it – there aren’t any health risks or dangers, so you won’t be causing your body any harm.

Other articles you may be interested in:
Why you should include oils in your skincare routine
What omega oils can do for you
Can it be… Coconut oil?
God fats, bad fats
Hair oils, glorious hair oils


10 Responses

  1. I tried it once, I didn’t last 20 minutes and don’t think I will do it again as you have to do it every day. Nobody has time for that.

  2. I am indian and we were practically “forced” to drink castor oil when we were kids. Apparently it helps clean your “system (tummy) and prevents bad skin etc. The taste is HORRIBLE and you keep burping it up. You also have to continuously drink hot sweet black tea to make sure it works. And during that process you have to stay at home and cant go anywhere because it works like a rocket hahah!

  3. It sounds like it could make sense, much like oils in a face product that help pull makeup off your skin for example. But the idea of swishing oil in my mouth for 20 minutes totally puts me off so I definitely won’t be trying this.

    If you’re drinking lots of water and brushing your teeth thoroughly and at least twice a day – I don’t see why that isn’t enough.

  4. I dont think I will enjoy the taste of any oil in my mouth although it sounds like a great idea !

  5. I stand by the oil theory!!! I use olive oil as a cleanser on my face every night, to remove makeup and it helps with acne breakouts! I’ve been using olive oil as a cleanser for a couple months now and I absolutely love it! “Extra virgin olive oil” to be exact.

  6. I heard about this and I was curious. I tried it but I did not last 20 minutes – I couldn’t last long. Maybe a different oil like coconut I could try.

  7. Suppose if a person can get beyond the oil-inside-your-mouth-for-20-minutes-thing and you want to do what ever you can to keep healthy this would be a good practice.
    But me, aikona!

  8. I read about this last year but the thought of oil in my mouth, yuck! I tried this last week Saturday, & I’m going to try it again tomorrow, I read that sesame oil is best or coconut oil, but I must say it is horrible in the beginning before the oil mixes with the saliva but after that its bearable.

  9. I have read a lot about oil pulling. A few of the articles have said that sunflower oil is the best but its a person’s personal preference. I would try it but the thought of putting oil in my mouth makes me want to gag.. :/

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