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Oil Pulling Therapy

What is Oil Pulling Therapy?

Oil Pulling is a therapy that has its origins in the ancient Ayurvedic medicine practice of oil gargling. It involves rinsing your mouth with vegetable oil for between 15 and 20 minutes. This has the dual effect of improving the health and appearance of both the teeth and soft tissues of the mouth, but also acts to systematically pull toxins from the body in general. 

Oil Pulling was popularised by Dr. F. Karach, MD in 1992 who found that it personally helped to cure both his arthritis and a chronic blood disorder that he had suffered with for 15 years. Dr. Karach’s method involved working the oil around the mouth and he considered this best done on an empty stomach ideally before eating breakfast. When finished the oil is discarded - and never swallowed since it is loaded with bacteria, toxins, pus, and mucous. 

Oral health often improves and people notice that their teeth become whiter, their breath fresher, and that their tongue and gums take on a healthy pink colour. Even problems such as bleeding gums, tooth decay, tooth mobility, receding gums and gum disease are greatly diminished or completely healed. 

Dr. Karach claimed that Oil Pulling Therapy can help those with:

  • Asthma, bronchitis and other lung disorders
  • Allergies
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney and liver disorders
  • Headaches and migraines
  • PMS and other hormonal problems
  • Digestive problems 
  • Cardiovascular and heart problems
  • Chronic skin problems
  • Arthritis
  • Neurological disorders
  • Toothache and
  • Chronic insomnia.


All of which may sound fairly outlandish until you realise the intimate connection between oral and bodily health. The oil pulling may work in one or both of two ways.

First, the oil dissolves fat soluble toxins such as elemental and organic mercury. As these toxins are pulled from the mouth and expelled in the waste oil more fat soluble toxins are progressively mobilised and redistributed from around the body. In addition, fat soluble stains such as those of spices are also progressively drawn from the teeth causing the teeth to become whiter over time.

Much of the mercury from dental amalgam fillings may have been absorbed directly through the tissues of the mouth and into the many nerve endings that serve the region, from where the mercury tracks into the central nervous system in what is know as retrograde axonal transport. So regular oil pulling may help to reverse this process causing the mercury to progressively be pulled out of the nerve endings (and ultimately the CNS).  

Second, the oil attracts and binds the lipid cell walls of microorganisms. Our mouths are home to literally billions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites and their waste products and the link between these microorganisms and oral and systemic disease is now well established. In fact, using DNA profiling over 19,000 different types of oral bacteria have now been identified.

So that by pulling microorganisms and the toxins they produce from the mouth, and by decreasing the load on the immune system and the amount of pro-inflammatory chemicals produced there in a knock-on effect upon the health of the whole body. Although the concept of a 'focus of infection' was rejected by allopathic medicine nearly a century ago, many in the naturopathic world consider that the mouth is a prime focus which can adversely affect the health of the entire body.  

Oil Pulling can start to work almost immediately, but serious or chronic problems may require a few weeks or several months or more of diligent application depending on lifestyle issues. Dr Karach's programme involved not only Oil Pulling using medicated coconut oil, but also nutrition, supplementation and diet, select nutrients, oral pH balancing procedures and, for those who have amalgam (mercury) fillings or metal crowns, a detoxification procedure designed specifically to remove heavy metals. All of which combine to greatly enhance the effects and healing properties of Oil Pulling. 


The best oils to use for Oil Pulling

The best oils for use in Oil Pulling are the organic, unrefined, cold pressed oils which preserve the life force of the oil as much as possible. Sunflower and sesame seed oils are the most commonly used, but olive, coconut, almond, and other edible oils will all work. It literally is a matter of taste with extra virgin olive oil proving a bit strong for many and some preferring coconut oil for both its health benefits and pleasant taste. Although some people may find that using coconut oil can promote a fairly pronounced detoxification reaction which may be unwelcome. 

Do not use any refined oils which have been heated and chemically treated such as corn, canola, cottonseed, grape seed or soy oil, and any oils that go rancid very quickly such as flax oil. Polyunsaturated fats are generally not as good as monounsaturated or saturated oils, but grape seed oil has other benefits and can be used in small amounts. Do not use toasted oils which will have been damaged by high heat.


How to do Oil Pulling Therapy

Oil Pulling is ideally done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach before breakfast or drinking any liquids, but can be done before any meal. Take one tablespoon of your preferred oil and swish it around your mouth without swallowing it. Work it through your teeth, but don't gargle and the oil will soon become milky as your saliva mixes with it.



Some people find that they may feel a little queasy at first or that the Oil Pulling may promote mucous production prompting them to want to swallow. It is important not to swallow any of the oil and if you cannot suppress the urge, spit the oil out and try again. Some people may even need to vomit as their body expels toxic waste. 

Children should use less oil and only do Oil Pulling if they can manage not to swallow the oil. After 15-20 minutes the oil should then be expelled. If it is a liquid oil then it is alright to spit into the sink, but if using an oil such as coconut oil which can become solid at low temperature expel it into the refuse instead to prevent it blocking the drains. 

After spitting out the oil it is a good idea to rinse the mouth with salty water which acts as an antimicrobial and also helps to remove any residues left in the mouth. Then it is a good idea to brush your teeth using a toothbrush that you use only after Oil Pulling.

Reports suggest that even some teeth that seem to be teetering on the brink of devitalising (sensitive to hot and cold, in the early stages of dying) seem to be restored by oil pulling. 

Some report relief of minor ailments remarkably quickly - within a few days or a few weeks. However, more serious, chronic problems may require several months or more of application depending on lifestyle issues.

Oil pulling is cheap with the only expense being the oil that you use. It is very easy and compared to other forms of detoxification it is relatively effortless and completely harmless. In addition, all but the most infirm person can do it. Don't be fooled by the simplicity - sometimes the simplest procedures produce the greatest results. 


Further resources

You might also be interested in the following: 

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The Causes of Gum Disease

Bad Breath: The Causes


Illness IS Toxicity

Aloe Vera

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Coconut and Palm Kernel Oil

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Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body

How to do Oil Pulling

Dr Bruce Fife: The Benefits of Coconut Oil


Or for all media use the Search facility at the top of the page

          Oil Pulling Therapy book cover

Subtitled Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing by the naturopath, Dr Bruce Fife. To buy or for more information go to: 



Oil Pulling: Article summary

This article looks at the practice of Oil Pulling which is derived from the Ayurvedic practice of Oil Gargling. Not only does oil pulling (swishing the mouth with vegetable oil) improve the health of the mouth and teeth, but it is reported to have many systemic health benefits.


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The Natural Recovery Plan Early Summer Newsletter 2013 Issue 42. Copyright Alison Adams 2013. All rights reserved
Dr Alison Adams Dentist, Naturopath, Author and Online Health Coach

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