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What Is Oil Pulling?

The ABCs of Oil Pulling: What Is It and Should You Try It?

Over the last few days, we've been talking nonstop about the latest detox phenomenon called oil pulling, the act of swishing oil around your mouth. Now, gargling with oil may sound unappealing, but it has been an Ayurvedic practice since ancient times. It's said that oil pulling can do everything from whiten teeth to cure eczema. On the fence about trying it? Read the facts below to see if it's the right treatment for you!

What Is It?

The process is simple. Swish a spoonful of oil (coconut, sunflower, or sesame are most popular) in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes. Then spit it out in the trash — not down the toilet or in the sink because that will only up your plumbing bill.

How It Works

"People swear by it — that it can fill cavities, relieve toothaches, whiten teeth, freshen breath, absorb harmful bacteria, and cure the common cold," said Dr. Jessica Emery, DMD of Sugar Fix Dental Loft Chicago. "From a dentist's perspective, tooth decay is caused by bacteria and studies suggest that coconut oil treated with enzymes seems to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria." Some would also claim that it fixes acne and brightens complexions.


So in layman's terms, the oil actually pulls germs and bacteria from your gums (and we found one study to back up this up claim). Overall the process is about removing the toxins from the mouth before they can travel to other parts of the body.

Should You Try It?

There is substantial evidence that oil pulling could improve your oral health, and it's a great DIY solution if you run out of mouthwash (be it a bit slimy). But as far as the claims that it's a cure-all, we're going to take our cue from Dr. Weil, who wrote, "Bottom line: Oil pulling won't hurt you, but I wouldn't depend on it to help you improve your overall health or treat significant medical problems."

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Mark Popovich
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