Oil pulling, that’s a thing.

On a random Facebook scroll I came across this post:

Actively exercising my first “oil pulling” attempt and trying not to gag on my whole mouth full of coconut oil and spit. I am going to be vastly disappointed if I don’t have whiter teeth and better digestion by tomorrow. Thanks, Pinterest…

My immediate thought was, ‘Oh, there’s no way my gag reflex could manage that.’

My second thought was, ‘Wait, what’s oil pulling?’

My third thought was, ‘Why haven’t I seen that on Pinterest?’

Apparently, it’s the new thing. Oil pulling, or oil swishing, is a traditional folk remedy, popular with advocates of a holistic lifestyle, that involves swishing oil, coconut oil for example, in your mouth. There are claims that it improves oral health and treats digestive issues, there’s even some research to back that up – but it’s not necessarily for you. If you’ve got a weak stomach or an overactive gag reflex, just step away and wait for the next ‘thing’.

Now of course, I want to try it. (You do a little too, if we’re being honest.)

I’m not certain my stomach will hold – yes, I’m going against the advice of the masses, shocking – but let’s do this.

Regular or Premium?

First things first – you’ve got to pick your oil. In my research, Coconut and sesame oils are the most popular choices, though sunflower oil was also mentioned. My friend I mentioned picked up her coconut oil at Whole Foods.

How Much is Too Much?

This is oil, so ‘too much’ will come a lot faster than you think. A tablespoon will do the trick. For first-timers, you could start smaller and work your way up to the tablespoon.

How Long?

I’ve read several different things. It ranges from 5-20 minutes. If you’ve never done it before, start with 5 minutes, or a couple of minutes and work your way up. If you can jump in for 20 minutes, well la-dee-dah.

Where Do I Spit It Out?

Didn’t think of that did you? Not your sink. Definitely not your sink. Spit it out in your trashcan – it’ll probably look milky instead of the clarity it had when you spooned it into your bacteria-laden mouth. (Not judging.)

It’s not over!

The cloudy-ness is all the stuff you don’t want in there. But you’re not done – this isn’t a stand-in for a toothbrush. Go brush your teeth and get all of that oil and goop out of there or you’ve defeated the purpose of the exercise.

According to my research, besides the occasional yak, this doesn’t seem altogether harmful. But don’t take it from me – check out this blog post by Dr. Sarah Villafranco, an emergency physician who practices oil-pulling.

What do you think? Will you try it?


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