Why You Might Want to Try Oil Pulling

Why You Might Want to Try Oil Pulling
Lesley Mirza
Written by Lesley Mirza

Several celebs –- like Gwyneth Paltrow and Divergent star, Shailene Woodley -– swear by oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic practice that is said to boost your oral and overall health. But what exactly is oil pulling, and why would we want to try it? We asked Vancouver registered holistic nutritionist, Keyrsten Mcewan to give us the lowdown on this much talked about health trend. Here’s the scoop…

The Technique

We won’t lie; oil pulling sounds a bit gross: you basically swish a spoonful of oil around your mouth for 20 minutes, then spit it out, and rinse your mouth thoroughly with water. This swishing is said to “pull” toxins and bacteria from your mouth, before they invade your entire body via the blood stream. And you don’t want to swallow that swished oil, or you’ll be re-ingesting the toxins and bacteria that have been dislodged (“pulled”) from your mouth. Ewww.

If you feel that 20 minutes seems like a long time to be holding oil in your mouth, Mcewan suggests that you try swishing for 10 minutes, a couple of times per week. Then once you’re comfortable, work your way up to doing the full 20 minutes, 3-4 times per week.

Note: don’t spit oil into your sink as it could clog your pipes. Use a cup, Ziplock, or spit straight into the trash.

The Oil

“Traditionally, sesame oil was used,” Mcewan shares. “I promote the use of coconut oil for oil pulling because of its incredible anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, due to its lauric acid.” She recommends that we use only high quality unrefined virgin oils as lesser quality oils can have a negative effect (creating inflammation, etc.) in the body when eaten, and would have this potential in the mouth, too.

The Health Benefits

The noticeable and almost immediate oral health benefits are fresher breath, a reduction in plaque buildup, and whiter teeth, due to the reduction of bacteria in the mouth. “I think it is also important to make the link that good oral health is a part of good overall health,” Mcewan says. “The health benefits of having a healthy mouth spill over into other areas of the body as well, because all body systems are interconnected in some way.” She also shared that some of her clients have seen an improvement in their complexion, had more energy, and felt that they had less mucus (sinuses, throat), after implementing this technique into the diet.

If you’re all ready to ditch your toothbrush, don’t. Oil pulling can be used in conjunction with your regular oral health regime, but should not replace regular brushing, flossing and checkups with your dentist.

Have you tried oil pulling?

About the author

Lesley Mirza

Lesley Mirza

Lesley Mirza is the editor-in-chief for and travels the world tasting, sipping, and spa-ing.

In addition to heading up, Lesley has penned pieces for several publications, including Vancouver Magazine, Western Living,, (Tourism Vancouver's blog), and

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