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Oil Pulling

This week we explore the healing possibilities of an ancient ayurvedic technique with a question from a site visitor. Melanie asks the following question:

Hi Cynthia, I wondered what was your knowledge/experience with oil pulling or oil swishing? I have done a bit of online research and it seems everyone’s abuzz with the benefits of simply swishing cold pressed sesame oil in your mouth for 15 minutes! I don’t understand how this works, honestly, and no one is able to truly explain it. Also, I wondered about how this would effect metal fillings. I know my fillings are harmful, but they are there and I don’t have the resources to have my amalgamated fillings removed (I have quite a few). I’m a little scared of most detoxes because of the Herx/die off effects – to which oil pulling is no exception from what I’ve read. Is there a way to lessen the effects? I have a very very weak stomach! Thank you for reading my questions! I’m sorry they’re rather varied. ~ Melanie

Hi Melanie,

I don’t have any personal experience with the oil pulling therapy so I can’t speak to whether it is really effective or not, however, here are my thoughts on the matter.

It seems pretty harmless and is exceptionally affordable so in most cases there probably would be no harm in giving it a try. Although I am a holistic health advocate, I always advise my clients to proceed with caution and keep their expectations realistic for any new technique or method of healing they pursue.

The alternative health field, like any other field, is vulnerable to a lot of marketing schemes that are full of hype, half-truths and incomplete stories, so it’s important to always do your homework. Research your condition and the technique in question and look for user experiences. However, when reading user experiences, keep a couple things in mind. Even if you’re finding a bunch of reviews that lean one way or another that results can be skewed. Only certain types of people tend to share their experience online.

Many people may have had a good experience or a bad experience but just don’t have the time to make a post on a blog or a forum. They may be too sick to get online and talk with others or they may feel so great they never bother looking for more information. While other people just don’t want to bother with the hassle and there may be others who’ve tried the method that don’t get online. Additionally, it’s important to note, what works for one does not always work for another.

Proponents of oil pulling are claiming it can be used for healing everything under the sun. That seems a little unrealistic to me, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any benefits to be found for some conditions.

What is oil pulling?

Oil pulling therapy is an ancient ayurvedic technique made popular by a Dr.Karsach who claims to have used it to cure his own chronic blood disease and arthritis.

The theory behind it’s healing properties is that the oil mixes with saliva and somehow this activates the enzymes in the body to pull toxins like heavy metals, bacteria, viruses etc., out of the body and they are discarded in the saliva. Other’s feel that it sublingually infuses the body with essential fatty acids and increases the bodies metabolism. So essentially what we are saying, is that it stimulates the bodies detoxification system and abilities.

There may be some wisdom in this theory, because it is believed by some in the alternative health field that the tongue has sections that are connected to all the major organs of the body and when you’re pulling oil it massages the meridians connected to the organs and thus provides them with stimulation.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • The technique should be done in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat or drink and before brushing your teeth.
  • Take 1 TBSP of oil in the mouth
    (cold pressed sunflower or sesame oil are the recommended oils, however a lot of people us a variety of different types, like coconut and olive)I would add that it should be organic oil. You’re engaging in a detoxification method, so you want to use a product that is free of pesticides, otherwise you’ll be absorbing more toxins.
  • No gargling, just swishing
  • Swish the oil around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Suck it, pull it back and forth between the teeth and coat the entire oral cavity. The oil should become a thin white foam.
  • Spit it out in the sink. Flush the sink with hot water afterwards or spit it in the toilet, because after time the oil build up could clog up your drain.
  • Don’t swallow the saliva, because it is believed to contain toxins and you will just reabsorb them. Clean your mouth out good with hot water afterwards. Clean the sink very good to remove the toxins.
  • Perform this technique 3 times a day before meals.

Benefits of Oil Pulling

Proponents of this method claim that the benefits of oil pulling range anywhere from relieving common aches and pains to helping more serious conditions like diabetes and kidney disease.

They say it has been used successfully for constipation, asthma, halitosis, acid reflux, allergies, sleep disorders, headaches, eczema, candida, bronchitis, leukemia, digestive disorders, arthritis, hormonal imbalances, heart disease, migraines, increased energy, decreased mind fog and to drastically increase the life span.

Supposedly the greatest benefit is seen in dental health with improved gums, tightening of loose teeth, relieving tooth pain, eliminating infection, stopping tooth decay, reducing tooth sensitivity and even whitening the teeth. This seems to me to be the benefit that is most likely to occur because the oil makes direct contact with the teeth and mouth.

Some people report a variety of side effects that are believed by most people in this field of thought to be a healing crises or a herxheimer response. There may be a worsening of whatever condition or symptom you experience, sneezing, accumulation of mucous in the sinuses, phlegm in the throat or an urge to relieve the bladder or have a bowel movement

My position on healing crises is this, a little healing crises is a good thing, but a severe healing crises is overburdening the bodies organs in the detoxification process and that’s not healthy either. Although I feel it’s good to push the body through a mild or minor healing crises, if a healing method creates a severe crises, I believe the technique should either be slowed down or stopped all together.

Steps that can be taken to make a healing crises a little easier to ride out include: high doses of vitamin c, exercise, bentonite clay and activated charcoal.

Some people with metal fillings in their mouth report they use oil pulling with no problem, while other people report that they have had some troubling symptoms. Most people use the technique after having their fillings removed. My personal opinion would be one of caution if you have metal fillings. If the oil pulling works as it is believed to, and pulls toxins and heavy metals out of the body, it would likely pull the toxins out of your metal fillings and thus be giving you more intense exposure to mercury and metal. You’ll have to make a personal choice whether it’s a risk you want to try. If so, I would encourage you to do more research and support your body with other detoxification methods like charcoal, bentonite clay, chlorella and epsom salt baths.

Anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes or any other serious health conditions that can be life threatening should be careful. Anytime your dealing with detoxing the body it can be dangerous and should be performed under the supervision of a good holistic medical doctor. Sometimes the body is not strong enough to handle detoxification. If you have an allergy or sensitivity to sesame or sunflower, you would want to avoid oil pulling as it would be the same as eating it.

Hope that helps you sort out the confusion.

5 thoughts on “Oil Pulling”

  1. I still have yet to try it out myself because I’m not to confident with the information I’ve found elsewhere. All the sites I come across seem like infomercials and I was hoping to find some solid aryuvedic writings on the matter. It seems it wouldn’t hurt it to try in the meanwhile. ūüôā What you say about those who post reviews is very true. I always research methods and natural remedies (along with conventional ones) before I try them myself, and I often wonder if I’m getting the whole ‘spectrum’ of opinions when I read online reviews.

    Anyway, thank you for your ground-and-centered opinion on the subject!

  2. Hi Cynthia,
    I was doing a research on oil pulling and came across your site. I started OP about couple month ago. Since I had a stressful year with my teen son, I’ve got some issues with my health, especially my gums due to poor diet and not drinking enough water. I found OP therapy and did it for few weeks. Then I stoped. After I got gum problems, I started OP again, and got bad reaction. At the very begining I had a good results-pinkish gums, whiter teeth. Then, when I started OP again after a break, my gums and glands on the left side were swallen. I switched to sesame oil, it got worse. I felt like I had a severe flue, gum infection, bodyache. It lasted for 7 days, the 4th, 5th days were horrible, the 6 and 7 were better. I stoped again OP, then after a week I came back OP but not everyday. Before I did 2 or 3 times per day. After 3 weeks I felt again similar reaction on my gums but only this time on right side, same symptoms – swallen gums and glands, horrible pain in right side of my jaw. I did research on OP reaction, and found out that it typical reaction of healing process. Now its 6th day and I feel better. But weird thing is exactly same symptoms after 3 weeks in different sides of the mouth. And now I realized that I have a metal fillings and that’s why I had that reaction. Is that possible? I don’t want to stop OP but afraid if those fellings cause that reaction. My dental aptmnt at the end of April and my dentist told me that I have to do deep cleaning. I feel that OP helps heal my gums and want to do it before my dental apmnt. Is safe to continue OP? Thanks a lot for any info.

    1. Admin - Cynthia Perkins

      HI Anna,

      As I mentioned above, I don’t use the oil pulling so I am not an authority on this subject. However, as mentioned above, my research indicates that advocates of this technique say that, Yes indeed, the oil pulling can pull the mercury from the amalgam fillings and cause symptoms. I can’t say one way or another, whether it is safe. If you read the next to the last paragraph above, I have answered this question.


  3. Hi…..,

    I just tried oil pulling last Monday for the 1st time hoping that it can heal my many health problems related to acid reflux and also to boost the immune system. [Remark: hv frequent sore throat with thick phlegm]

    There are however no results yet.

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