Oil Pulling with Coconut Oil

Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing  (image via Amazon.com)

Have you heard of oil pulling? It’s an ancient practice found in Ayurvedic medicine that flushes out toxins from the body by cleaning out bacteria found in the mouth. The philosophy behind it is that all disease starts in the mouth. You swish a spoonful of oil in your mouth for fifteen to twenty minutes once a day, in the morning, then spit it out. You don’t eat it or swallow it.

I first heard of oil pulling in an email that was sent to me by my Mum, but it wasn’t until some time went by that I actually decided to give it a try in mid-December last year after I did some further online research. I’ve been oil pulling now for a little over two months and I’m happy to report I’ve had positive results from doing it. The first noticeable thing was that my teeth became whiter (this is one of the first signs that many people experience during the initial stages of oil pulling). I continued to experience improvements, including clearer skin.

If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find all kinds of success stories and testimonials from people who have done oil pulling and their various (sometimes multiple) ailments vanishing that they’d had for years – asthma, diabetes, chronic congestion, sinus problems, arthritis, rheumatism, skin conditions, etc. –  some since childhood. (For women in particular, PMS symptoms including cramps and skin breakouts have gone away or have drastically been reduced with oil pulling. Myself, I have had improvement in this area also.) If you’re looking for an informative resource about oil pulling, instead of doing online research or in addition to, look no further than Oil Pulling Therapy by Bruce Fife.

Bruce Fife’s book came to my attention when I was beginning to find out more about oil pulling, as I was curious to try, and read an article by him about the benefits of oil pulling with coconut oil (at the bottom are links for a four-part video interview). Pure sesame oil (not toasted) is traditionally used, but he recommended coconut oil for its many health benefits. I found his book at my library and immediately put it on hold so that I could borrow it. It’s a slim volume, explaining the history behind oil pulling and its place in Ayurvedic medicine. It includes success stories, as well as his own personal experience with oil pulling.

The thing that generally puts people off oil pulling is that it’s…oil. And the fact that you’re keeping it in your mouth for up to twenty minutes. Some people think that that’s too long. It can seem that way when you start, although if you keep yourself preoccupied with something else like reading a book or making breakfast. Some people even oil pull while they have their shower. For me, when I was starting to oil pull and getting the hang of it, I would put a timer on and play a fast-paced game like Diner Dash on my iPod touch or I’d check email and read articles on Flipboard (my equivalent of reading a newspaper), or read a book I’d borrowed from the library; I wouldn’t even notice the time go by. I built myself up to doing twenty minutes; I started doing fifteen minutes once a day, in the morning.

Despite the fact you’re swishing oil in your mouth, it doesn’t feel oily. As you swish it in your mouth, the oil is mixed with the saliva, and when you spit it out it’s appearance is milky and opaque. Online, a tablespoon of oil is recommended – across the board – but in his book, Oil Pulling Therapy, Bruce Fife recommends starting with an amount you’re comfortable with. Most people can’t handle a full tablespoon at once and there also has to be room for the accumulation of saliva. He even has recommendations for young children, as young as five, doing oil pulling (half a teaspoon and for only five minutes, due to their shorter attention spans).

When I started oil pulling, I kept a journal to record improvements that I noticed and also recorded when I started. Whiter teeth, pinker gums, and clearer skin were some of the first signs. By the end of the first week, I actually looked forward to doing my oil pull and it’s the first thing I do in the morning as soon as I wake up. Then I brush my teeth, drink a glass of water, and have breakfast. In fact, I’ve noticed that I seem to enjoy my food more after I’ve oil pulled. It didn’t happen during the initial stages or within the first month of doing it, but as I’ve continued I’ve noticed that, sometimes, while I’m oil pulling I will start to feel hungry and by the time I’m done, I’m ready to eat. I’m not sure why this is – I’ve tried Googling about oil pulling and appetite, though haven’t yet found anything conclusive. It doesn’t greatly concern me, though, since I eat regularly and healthily.

Depending on how full of toxins your body is when you start oil pulling, it can take time for improvements to appear. One man in his eighties had his symptoms go away after he had been oil pulling for a year and a half. A woman with bad arthritis noted improvement in her hands and neck after eight days. These are just two examples. As described in Bruce Fife’s book, some people, when they start oil pulling, experience a worsening of symptoms and stop, thinking it’s the oil pulling causing it. It’s actually a case of “it gets worse before it gets better”, otherwise known as a healing crisis and the oil pulling is helping get rid of those toxins. Once people are past this healing crisis, they often report that they’ve never felt better and continue with the oil pulling.

If you’ve tried oil pulling, what are your experiences with it? If you haven’t tried oil pulling, would you be willing to give it a try and see the results for yourself? Sound off in the comments!

Update: After a Twitter conversation, I realized I forgot to mention this. You can use either solid or liquid coconut oil when you’re oil pulling. If the coconut oil is solid, let it melt in your mouth before you start swishing. (If you’d prefer to use liquid coconut oil, you could revert it to its liquid state by placing the jar in a pot of warm water. Do not submerge it.) According to the Tropical Traditions website, coconut oil is liquid at 75ºF (25ºC). Below that, it becomes solid.

24 thoughts on “Oil Pulling with Coconut Oil

  1. Great post. It is such an interesting thing to do. I have been doing it for over a year and I no longer have cystic acne that I was getting around my mouth and jawline! For some reason when I use coconut oil to do it, I break out more, but with sesame oil, I get rid of acne. I may have a sensitivity to the coconut or something. Oil pulling is awesome though.

  2. I first heard about oil pulling a few years ago. I don’t do with regularity, but I do use coconut oil when I do. I think what keeps me from doing it regularly is doing it before I do anything else and usually I’m trying to remember to take all my supplements as soon as I get up. I just need to stop messing around and work on doing it regularly. I have no excuses not to.

    1. Hi Debi, in my experience oil pulling is the same sort of discipline as brushing your teeth. Once you’ve practiced it enough and made it a habit, it’s hard to forget. Bruce Fife says that it’s okay, and even recommended, to have a glass of water before oil pulling if your mouth is dry. If your supplements are taken with a glass of water, it could be okay to take them first, then do your oil pull.

      Also thank you for sharing this post on Twitter! 🙂 I’m so glad this post has been helpful for you.

  3. I just started this today and it wasn’t as icky as I thought it would be. However, I did notice that my taste buds were a little extra sensitive or something. Ketchup was extra tangy. Has anyone else experienced this?

  4. I just started this today and was happy to say that it really wasn’t that bad! However, my taste buds seem to have been affected a little. Ketchup was so extra tangy. Has anyone else seen changes in taste buds?

    1. Hi Laura, I haven’t noticed any changes in my taste buds since doing the oil pulling. I don’t know if anyone else has had the same experience as you. Interesting!

  5. I know this is an old post, but I had tried oil pulling a while back (I need to get back to it!), and it cleared my sinuses almost immediately. It definitely takes a little getting used to swishing for so long…it starts to hurt my cheeks & under my chin. lol

    1. Hi Marjori, comments are always welcome – even on old posts! 🙂 I had that initially, too, with my cheeks being sore. That’s because those muscles aren’t usually worked that much, so oil pulling actually strengthens them!

  6. I have used coconut oil in cooking and my bath water, but was unaware of oil pulling and I’ve decided to give it a go ,starting today. (
    I’m swishing as I type to pass time.) I have a skin condition and ear problems/sinus/allergies. By commenting here it will make me more determined to keep up with this treatment!

  7. I came across oil pulling online by chance yesterday. I was actually looking for some English instructions for a bottle of Chinese menthol oil. Anyway after reading about oil pulling I was intrigued and decided to try it right away. I checked out a few websites and so I did oil pulling 2x before breakfast and lunch and ate a teaspoon before lunch and dinner (overload much!). This morning when I woke up I had no back ache at all and I felt so alert. Usually I dread getting out of bed every morning cos of my back ache. Unbelievable! Anyway I shall not stop…I look fwd to seeing what else it does for!…Teeth, skin,..

  8. I am 79 years old and have had sinus problems forever. I started oil pulling a month ago. Serious green mucous while blowing my nose after three days. Healing process according to what I have read. I use coconut oil. I am breathing just fine and will continue OP.

  9. I pulled for 6 days and suddenly got extremely painful gums. Kind of like all my teeth were loose and I felt like pulling them all out. I have googled this symptom and found nothing. I have stopped pulling because I am going on vacation and want to have a good time. It is my third day of not pulling and my teeth and gums are slowly getting less sore. Has anyone experienced this?

    1. I had the same reaction also after about 5 days of oil pulling. I can’t figure out neither can find any relevant information in internet what is going on and wheather I should continue with oil pulling or not. I used Coconut oil. Usually I am not alergic to anything. My oral health however is not the best condition.
      Have you got rid of the symptoms and did you start to oil pull again?

  10. Hi there,
    I started Oil pulling on Thursday morning last week. By Friday evening at 6pm I was overcome with exhaustion and went to bed by 8pm. I woke at 2am with the feeling of my internal organs being gripped and squeezed and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. The whole weekend I felt exhausted, and had achy bones and muscles, – basically flu like symptoms including cough, tummy probs and headache. I continued Oil pulling throughout, but didn’t link this to the symptoms! If I had I would have stopped! I didn’t think I would be able to heave myself out of bed this morning to get to work, but once I was up and showered I felt much better. Now I’m still a bit tired and achy, but well enough to go swimming for the first time in many months!
    I can only think this is due to the oil pulling… as nothing else in my diet or lifestyle has changed.

    1. Hi Harriet, it seems you experienced what is called a “healing crisis”, which is when your body responds to any built-up toxins being pulled out. This is when some people stop oil pulling because they link it as a reaction to the oil pulling, but in fact it’s part of the healing process. Not everyone who tries oil pulling experiences this, but some do. You can learn more about it and read about other people’s stories of their experiences with healing crises while oil pulling on curezone.org (just search “healing crisis oil pulling”).

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