I tried oil pulling for a month. Here's what happened!

You’ve probably come across the term oil pulling (also called kavala or gundusha). It’s the ancient Ayurdevic method of oral care that involves gargling virgin coconut oil or something similar everyday for 10-20 minutes. It is believed that oil pulling cleans and detoxifies your mouth, with the added benefit of giving you pearly whites and preventing a host of health problems. Sounds too good to be true, but I’m all for naturally whitening teeth so I added a jar of VCO to my cart on the following grocery trip.

Half a bottle later, here’s what I can share with you!

The Claims

If you’ve ever read through blogs, forums, or even just the comments section of beauty websites about the benefits of oil pulling, then you would understand what I mean when I say that the support for this practice is C R A Z Y. It’s so popular and well-loved, you’d think it’s half of a phenomenal teen love team. Seriously though, everyone seems to swear by it! Many regular oil pullers report better oral health, whiter teeth, less acne breakouts, and improved overall health. The list goes on and on. Personally I just wanted whiter teeth, but if it’s going to make me healthier, then who am I to complain? 

Unfortunately however, credible scientific studies on oil pulling are very limited. A study done in 2008 that compared oil pulling with sesame oil and using regular mouthwash found that while the former helps, the mouthwash still worked better in reducing the bacteria that contributes to tooth decay. While the American Dental Association does not advise against the practice, oil pulling is still not recommended to replace taking care of our teeth the good old way, so make sure to continue brushing and flossing as usual.        

The Directions

Once you’ve chosen your oil, you can start oil pulling in just three simple steps:

  1. Swish one to two teaspoons of oil in your mouth for 20 minutes first thing in the morning. It's best to do as soon as you wake up, before eating breakfast or even drinking water. You can also add a drop of peppermint oil to make the experience more pleasant.
  2. Spit oil out in the trash. Otherwise, it could clog your sink when the oil solidifies.
  3. Rinse with warm water or brine (a mix of salt and water) then brush your teeth as normal.

The Experience

I personally use Botany Works Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil, but any food grade VCO, sesame, or olive oil should work. On my first day, I tried to follow the common advice of swishing two teaspoons of oil for 20 minutes but around the 15th minute mark, the emulsified oil mixed with my saliva became too much for my mouth and I had to spit it out. So from then on (it’s been more than a month, btw!), I stuck to just one teaspoon to make the experience more comfortable. The 20-minute time frame, they say, is the duration that hits the sweet spot between being long enough to break through your plaques but not too long that it allows the pulled out toxins to be reabsorbed by your body.

What to expect on your first day, first week, first month? Honestly, swishing sucks, but it does get better! I’ve gotten quite used to the taste and the act of swishing constantly, that the 20 minutes now pass by like nothing. My advice is to just keep your mind off it and the time would just zoom past you. I keep busy by checking my emails and social media, which is basically the only dose of Internet I get until I get back home from work. If I’m in a particular hurry a.k.a. I hit the snooze button one too many times, I oil pull while I’m in the shower. I actually quite enjoy it now, and oil pulling has become my jolt of cold water in the morning! ;)

Last but definitely not the least: The Results

These photos are all untouched, swear! Not sure if I’m going mental or what, but it looks like I had whiter teeth around the three week mark. Did it whiten my teeth? I believe so, but the effects are quite subtle and I still want to see what oil pulling would do for me in the long run. Right now, I’m still dreaming of the day I can wear orange lipstick without cringing at my smile, but that’s alright cause I still have half a bottle to go!

As for the other claims, I still had quite a lot of sick episodes during the time I was oil pulling, but I had a lot of things going on as well so I can’t conclude whether the oil pulling helped me have better health or not.

Have you tried out oil pulling? How did it work out for you?