Move over mouthwash – here's something else you can swish around


Oil pulling is used for oral hygiene – that of the tongue, lips and mouth but its use extends further. It is used to help prevent bacteria and viruses entering through the mouth and is sometimes seen as a form of mouth wash.  It has also long been used as a technique for women to improve reproductive health.

Some poisons in the human body are fat soluble.  It has also been theorised that swishing oil under the tongue pulls toxins out of the blood vessels under the tongue and removes them from the body.

Oil pulling is the name given to swishing vegetable oil around the mouth over a series of days for up to 20 minutes. Oil pulling is usually done once per day but some natural medicine practitioners recommend doing it 3 times a day. It is recommended to spit and not swallow the oil – as the oil has accumulated bacteria, it’s best to be spat out rather than absorbed down into the gut.

Oil pulling comes from the Indian tradition of Ayruvedic medicine and is a 1500 year old technique. It was first documented by the Indian physician Charaka, a scholar who lived around 400 AD and wrote one of the most important and authoritative writings on Ayurveda.

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Although any type of vegetable oil can be used for oil pulling, Sesame oil is one of the most common oils used. I recommend olive oil to be swished for up to 30-45 minutes, but coconut oil and oregano oil are also some of the latest trends to ‘oil pull”. I also recommend varying the types of oils used and to get the most pure source possible.

The technique is to choose the amount of oil that feels comfortable in your mouth and swish it around the tongue and teeth for up to 20 minutes. Spit the oil into the garbage, not the sink and rinse your mouth with water. It can also be beneficial to drink water beforehand to stimulate the flow of saliva.

You can also try adding herbs that have been traditionally used to prevent tooth decay to the oil. There have been numerous testimonials on the benefits of oil pulling therapies though a small number of people experience jaw pain with oil pulling. This may be due to it removing the toxicity or simple over use of the jaw muscles.