Benefits of oil pulling for skin
Face Care,  Natural Skincare

Benefits of Oil Pulling for Skin

There are a lot of reported benefits to oil pulling but what about the benefits of oil pulling for skin? I’ve read so much about all the different things it may supposedly help with and the oral health and skin benefits are what really peaked my interest. Believe it or not, it’s actually quite a debated subject so I’ll try to share as much as I’ve found so you can decide for yourself what to think about oil pulling.

So before your imaginations start running wild and believe me, I know mine did, oil pulling does not resemble some strange workout involving large bottles of oil and a big long rope. It’s much simpler and far less strenuous than that (well somewhat less strenuous although your jaw and your face muscles might not agree). So, what is it, what are its claimed benefits and how do you do it?

What is Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is a very old technique that has been practiced for many years and it originates from India as part of the Ayurvedic medicine system. Oil pulling is done by taking a small amount of oil and swishing it around the mouth for 20 minutes to help pull bacteria and toxins out then spitting the oil away afterwards. Sesame oil was originally used but nowadays coconut oil is just as popular.

The theory behind it is that the bacteria and toxins within the mouth become trapped in the oil and the constant swishing also helps to dislodge any bacteria or stubborn particles that are trapped deeper within the mouth making for easier removal. There are a whole host of claimed benefits to oil pulling which I’ve listed below but let’s start with the non skin related benefits.

oil pulling oral health benefitsImproves Oral Health

One of the most popular reasons for oil pulling is its claim to help improve oral health and one of the first things most people report after they start oil pulling is their teeth getting whiter. This is by far the most commonly noticed effect so when you consider how much it cost for teeth whitening treatments and all the chemicals that are used to do it, oil pulling is a much cheaper and natural way to supposedly get those pearly whites so hence its popularity.

The removal of all the bad bacteria may also help to kill bad breath, heal bleeding gums and prevent tooth decay and cavities. Many people have even claimed that it helped improve their receding gums too and as an added bonus, as well as improving tooth sensitivity, the constant swishing is also said to help strengthen the gums and jaw area too.

Skin Benefits

We’ve all heard about facial exercises and oil pulling is a serious work out for the facial muscles and the jaw and as a result, many people claim that it has helped improve the firmness of their face especially around the jawline area. For the same reason, many claim that it has helped to lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles too.

There are even claims that oil pulling can help improve the symptoms of skin issues such as acne, psoriasis and eczema and that it can help to improve overall skin appearance due to its detoxifying nature. Unfortunately, there is no solid research to confirm this but only the word of those who claim to have experienced it.

oil pulling health benefitsHealth Benefits

There are many claimed health benefits associated with oil pulling ranging from improving gut health, clearing the sinuses and boosting the immune system but they mainly stem from the fact that removing bad bacteria and toxins from the mouth causes a detoxifying effect on the rest of the body. Basically, it means that the same bacteria is not making its way into the rest of the body.

The only problem with these claimed health benefits is that there is very little scientific research to back any of them up and for that same reason, most of these claims are debated on a regular basis. There’s even a debate about whether oil pulling has any detoxing ability at all other than removing bacteria from the mouth. Most of these claims come from people’s own experiences with oil pulling over the years but these same people do stand firmly behind their experiences and do swear that it’s all down to the oil pulling.

Are There Any Side Effects

Some people experience something called a healing crisis which is described as a detoxing side effect of things getting worse before they get better. Symptoms reported include sickness, breakouts, rashes and sore teeth and gums. Although most people report no such issues, those that do either limit their oil pulling duration and frequency to lessen the symptoms until the effects have passed or in severe cases, stop oil pulling completely.

Some people also don’t tolerate certain oils very well so sometimes this alone can cause side effects and changing to a different oil is the only solution. There’s also some reports of oil pulling causing lipoid pneumonia due to inhalation of the oil. Although the reported cases are relatively rare, it’s still important to avoid inhaling the oil if you do decide to try oil pulling.

One thing that does seem to be agreed upon is that you should seek professional medical advice if you have any underlying health issues before starting anything that claims to be a detox like oil pulling.

how to oil pullHow To Oil Pull

Oil pulling should be done on an empty stomach (do not eat or drink anything for 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after oil pulling – it may make you feel nauseous). Most people choose to do it first thing in the morning because it can have an invigorating effect and that’s the last thing you want just before bedtime.

Most people start with ½ a tablespoon of oil (organic unrefined coconut oil or sesame oil) and work up to 1 full tablespoon. The oil will melt very quickly in the mouth but if you prefer, it can be heated over some hot water first but just be careful not to make the oil hot. Swish the oil around the mouth and through the teeth for about 20 minutes then spit out the oil into a bin (not down the sink, it may block your drains). Rinse your mouth with warm salt water then floss and brush as usual to finish.

Do not gargle, swallow or inhale the oil, if you feel the need to cough, sneeze, hiccup etc, spit the oil out straight away before you do. You can always continue again with fresh oil afterwards. You probably won’t manage 20 minutes in the beginning (I barely made it to 5 on my first attempt) but you can work your way up to the full 20 minutes as you get used to it. Oil pulling can be done on a daily basis or 3 to 4 times a week depending on your preference.

My Experience With Oil Pulling

So I entered into this quite skeptical to be honest and quite nervous as well but I’ve been doing this for about 3 weeks now and I have to say that it really does seem to be making my teeth noticeably whiter. My whole mouth in general does feel much fresher, my gums look healthier and my teeth don’t seem to be as sensitive. It does also seem to have an invigorating effect as I feel like I have more energy so I can see why most people suggest doing it first thing in the morning.

My skin does seem to be smoother but it’s only been 3 weeks so this could just be a placebo effect. I’ll wait a little longer before I make a definite decision on that one. I haven’t noticed any other effects just yet but to be honest, the whiter teeth alone makes those 20 minutes of swishing well worth it (although I’m still trying to determine where exactly the 20 minutes comes from). Thankfully I haven’t experienced any kind of side effects so I’ll continue to do it and if I experience any of the other claimed benefits then to me that’s just an added bonus.

What do you think about oil pulling? I love to hear about any experiences you’ve had with it whether their good or bad so please feel free to leave a comment below.



  • dinh

    I have never heard of oil pulling before and this is a wonderful article explaining the benefits and side effects of it.
    It seems that 20 mins is a bit too long don’t you think? I don’t have time for that length of time, is 5 mins still beneficial?

    • Jessie

      Hi Dinh

      Yes, I’m actually inclined to agree, 20 minutes is a long time although you do eventually get used to it. The interesting thing is that while I was doing the research for this, I came across a few articles that stated in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, oil pulling wasn’t done for a set amount of time, it was done until the individual’s eyes and nose started to secrete liquid but there’s actually a lot more involved in the traditional technique.

      20 minutes seems to be the general consensus although some say anywhere between 10 and 20 will suffice but even 5 minutes is said to be of benefit although apparently the longer it’s done, the more bacteria is removed and the more beneficial it is. I hope that helps.

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