Oil pulling has been surging in popularity in alternative health circles for some time now. If you do yoga, you are probably open to other new health modalities and techniques to help improve your quality of life. Oil pulling just might be one of these practices – but is it for you? The following is a description of oil pulling, its main benefits, and how to get started:

Oil pulling originates from Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient practice with a goal and basis of supporting health in an ongoing manner to avoid internal imbalances. Illnesses are addressed with an intention of restoring balance and harmony within the human system. Within Ayerveda, oil pulling is a holistic dental care technique that involves swishing cold-pressed oil around in the mouth for several minutes in an effort to “pull” out and expel toxins that could otherwise have a negative impact on health.

Oil is swished between the teeth, around the gumline and all around the mouth to draw out any toxins. The oil as well as the swishing motion cause enzymes in the saliva to react with the oil and have a detoxifying effect. The most popular oils used in oil pulling are coconut oil, olive oil and sesame oil, preferably organic.

According to Ayruvedic medicine, the benefits of oil pulling are as follows:

General detoxification. One of the top benefits of oil pulling is detoxification, since the process is anti-microbial and anti-fungal. With fewer toxins in the body, people who perform oil pulling regularly report relief from issues and symptoms such as:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Sinus issues
  • Skin problems such as acne, eczema and rashes
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches

Other oil pulling benefits include reduced inflammation in the body, leading to relief from:

  • Arthritis
  • Joint pain
  • PMS

Oil pulling also helps with:

  • Better overall dental and oral health
  • Healthier gums and teeth
  • Less plaque on teeth along the gumline
  • Better breath
  • Softer, healthier lips
  • Relief from TMJ due to strengthening of the jaw

How to Get Started with Oil Pulling

The following is a sample oil pulling regimen.

1. Put 2 to 3 teaspoons of organic coconut oil, olive oil or sesame oil into your mouth. (Many feel that coconut oil tastes the best and is the most palatable for the process.)

2. “Pull” (swish) the oil all around your mouth, running it back and forth between your teeth for 5 to 20 minutes.

3. Take care not to swallow the oil, as during the oil pulling session, it will become full of the toxins, germs and bacteria it is “pulling” from between your teeth and around your mouth.

4. After you are finished oil pulling, spit out the oil and dispose of it in the garbage (to avoid clogging your sink.)

5. Rinse well afterward and brush and floss as normal.   

Oil Pulling Tips

  • Be aware that oil pulling can feel strange and uncomfortable at first. Try using a small amount of oil to start until you get used to the sensations.
  • If using coconut oil, it will be congealed. You may warm it up briefly to melt it before swishing; however, it will also melt naturally in your mouth after a few minutes, and you will be able to swish it.
  • Pace yourself and don’t swish too rapidly. Keep a consistent motion and concentrate on pulling up toxins from your gumline and between your teeth.
  • Consider doing a short task while oil pulling to distract yourself and help the time to go by faster.
  • Don’t swish the oil too far back in your both, as this could increase the likelihood of accidentally swallowing some.

Despite its emergence as a health trend in recent years, oil pulling is part of a healing tradition that has a rich and respected history. Oil pulling just might be an effective way to complement your yoga practice and improve your overall well being. Consider giving oil pulling a try and see what it can do for your health and quality of life.