Oil Pulling: A How To Guide for Better Health
Have you seen my guide on oil cleansing?
Oil pulling, also known as pulling oil, oil swishing, and Kavala gandusha or gandusha, is an ancient practice of moving oil around your mouth to remove toxins. It has become popular again in recent years as an easy way to improve your health without a lot of effort.
It’s also my favorite way to start the day. My teeth have never felt cleaner, are whiter than ever, and the skin around my jaw has tightened back up.
What surprised me most is that it clears my head from sleep and wakes me up better than a cup of coffee. I feel invigorated, happy, and ready to start the day.
Why Pull Oil?
Oil pulling is simply swishing oil around your mouth in a deliberate manner for 20 minutes. It’s usually done once a day before your first meal and on an empty stomach.
Moving the oil around helps to loosen stuck on plaque, remove unwanted bacteria and stains, and acts as a form of detoxification. It has amazingly whitened my teeth by 2-3 shades.
The detoxification process is said to happen by pulling toxins through the lingual artery and vein, the large artery and vein that runs through the underside of the tongue, but I haven’t found any evidence to support the blood detoxification claims.
It’s more likely that the action of swilling gets stagnant toxins in the sinus cavity and lymph nodes in motion so they can be carried through the body to be removed. The increased intake of essential fatty acids also help to nourish and detoxify.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
Fat is a super important part of our diet. A lack of healthy fats can contribute to inflammation, depression, anxiety, arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, and many other health conditions.
Adequate intake of essential fatty acids can prevent and help reverse these symptoms of disease.
Originally recommended in the Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic manuscript written around 200-400 BCE, oil pulling is considered an ancient health practice. The Charaka Samhita is one of the original guides on internal medicine and is still in practice today.
Fun Fact: It was originally written in Sanskrit as poetry, so it could be more easily committed to memory.
Oil Pulling Benefits
- better breath
- can increase energy and ‘clear the cobwebs from your brain’
- whiter teeth
- clearer skin
- reduced puffiness (including bags under the eyes)
- reduced stress
- toned facial muscles
- mild detox
- increased intake of EFAs
- clear sinuses
- relief from TMJ disorders
- reversal of gum disease and tooth infections
- reduced canker sores (often causes by ingredients in commercial toothpaste)
The Oil Pulling Method
- Put 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth and start slowly moving it around. It’s not like the vigorous swish of mouthwash.
- “Pull” the oil through your teeth for 20 minutes. Push the oil to the front of your mouth and suck through your teeth back into the mouth cavity. Work around from the one side to the other and all around. I set the timer and do some tasks around the house to keep myself distracted.
- When finished, spit the oil into a disposable jar or into the wastebasket to avoid the hardened oil clogging plumbing pipes. Do not swallow.
- Brush your teeth with a natural toothpaste.
- Find reason to smile all day, so you can blind people with your new bright smile.
- The oil is filled with all the ick you just removed. Avoid swallowing it when possible. It will contain elements that could harm your body if swallowed (the same idea as heart attacks that are caused by extensive dental work).
Use 1 teaspoon until you get used to the sensation, and then add more oil to future pulls once you get used to the mouth feel.
Start with 5 minutes at a time if you need to and then work your way up to 20. It may make your jaw and cheeks a bit sore from working new muscles. Mini face lift anyone? Yes please!
Oils Used (most common)
It’s important to be sure you are using high quality oils when possible (where to buy*).
Sesame Oil — (traditional Ayurvedic recommendation) Fatty Acid profile – Linoleic- 45.69%, Oleic- 39.21%, Palmitic- 8.57%, Stearic- 4.26%
Sunflower Oil — Fatty Acids Profile* – Lineolic-15.81%, Oleic-71.31%, Palmitic-4.05%, Stearic-3.70%
Coconut Oil — Fatty Acids Profile* – Caprylic- 4.6-10%, Capric- 5-8%, Lauric- 45.1-53.2%, Linoleic- 1-2.5%, Myristic- 16.8-21%, Oleic- 5-10%, Palmitic- 7.5-10.2%, Stearic- 2-4%
Olive Oil — Fatty Acids Profile* – Oleic- 55.28%, Palmitic- 19.8%, Linoleic- 17.84%, Linolenic- 0.73%, Stearic- 2.56%
There are many warnings on the Internet for those oil pulling with amalgams (metal fillings).
We are told that the metal can leach into the oil and be absorbed in the soft tissues of the mouth, and there have also been reports of metal fillings being loosened and falling out.
After extensive research, I have been unable to find evidence of leeching. There are many reports of loose fillings becoming more loose, so I recommend that you proceed with caution if you have old or loose fillings.
Mercury-based fillings are known to expand over time and can crack the tooth.
Bentonite clay and activated charcoal are known to adsorb – not absorb – heavy metals and draw them from the body, so I recommend adding them to your oil pulling routine to be on the safe side.
The Ancient Ayurvedic Writings by Michael Dick, MS
Jennifer Nervo is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Reiki Master Practitioner & teacher, and Aromatherapist. Her focus is on digestive, nervous, and immune system dysfunction and the fields of functional nutrition & psychoneuroimmunology. She works with all conditions and diseases including environmental and food allergies, autoimmune diseases, multiple chemical sensitivity, diabetes, eczema, anxiety, weight loss as a symptom of dis-ease, and gut-brain disorders like autism.
When she’s not herding her small troupe of monkeys or seeing clients, her free time is packed with researching and perfecting new wellness techniques (her not-so-secret passion). Jennifer is currently a group leader for the newest class of Nutritional Therapy Practitioners out of Ann Arbor, MI, studying for the national board exam in holistic nutrition, and running a combined distance and brick and mortar practice in metro Detroit. She’s also a homeschooling suburbanite, foodie, and mama to two littles and a schnoodle.