The Science of Oil Pulling : Myth or Fact

I believe I first saw oil pulling on an Oprah show with Dr.Oz back in the days when he was a regular guest. In short, you place some edible oil in your mouth and swish it around for 20 minutes and then spit out. If you would like some detail on its origins, then Fran of HeyFranHey, gives a pretty good overview for you.

The Claims
1. Oil pulling can help with oral hygiene, getting rid of bad breath, reducing gum problems
2. The reason why the oil changes e.g from yellow sunflower oil to a white colour is because the oil is able to detoxify the body. There are some that say oil pulling is able to draw toxins from the main body not just the mouth and therefore help with allergies, eczema, diabetes, circulatory problems.

The Facts
1. Oral Hygiene Claims - True
- One particular study from scientists in Thailand showed that coconut oil, sesame oil and sunflower oil did have specific antibacterial and antifungal effects (Asia Journal of Public Health, pp 62-22,2011). The link here is that dental caries are usually a result of low pH (acid foods including fruit) and bacteria in the mouth. Reduction of bacteria is a good thing in this instance.
-A study from India shows that oil pulling can reduce bad breath (Jjsppd, pp90-94, 2011). This was again linked to reduction of bacteria

2. Detoxifying Claims - Not Researched
I have scoured multiple places to find a link to oil pulling having a systemic effect on the body. The reference that many people picked to site was a review published in 2013 (Dental Hypotheses, pp 131-134, 2013) . This journal is often used as proof that oil pulling has a detoxifying effect on the whole body but the actual sentence in the journal does not refer to any research. It states:

'The proponents of oil pulling would agree and would add that oil pulling could have positive systemic effects on other, more serious conditions. They feel that toxins and bacteria from the body might be expelled through the tongue and trapped in the oil and removed from the body.'
This is just a statement of opinion not real data. It may or may not be true, it would be nice if it could be researched!

3. Why does the oil turn white?

My guess is that it is partly because you mix the oil with saliva which is mostly water and create an emulsion. Saliva does have stuff like enzymes and mucus which will actually help the emulsion be more stable than if you just mixed oil and water. Nonetheless, I did a little experiment and mixed water with oil and shook it for just 2 minutes.......I got an emulsion! This however does not take away the fact that oil pulling at the very least can help with oral hygiene, but it does not mean that you are pulling toxins out of your body......not until someone does the research!

Making emulsions with oil pulling and just oil and water

Are you oil pulling? Does it work for you?


  1. This is why I love your blog Jc! I'm an on again, off again oil puller and i like it. I've experienced the positive oral hygiene benefits of it. I hope research will be done on the removing toxins bit, that would be awesome if it is true!

    1. Thanks hun! Yes I am watching out for this research, I think with all the attention oil pulling is getting, it is bound to happen!

  2. I've always wondered about the science behind oil pulling! Thanks for sharing

    KLP | SavingOurStrands

  3. I watched HeyFranHey's video when it first came out and when I first did it, I was amazed by how clean my teeth felt with no brushing; dentist like clean. Twenty minutes after I did it, I started to get dizzy and then I promptly threw up. That scared me because I don't get dizzy and haven't thrown up in years but I wasn't sure it was the oil pulling. I did it again the next day and this time about two hours or so, I had threw up again. That was the last time I have done it :(

    1. Eek, I have never heard anyone say they threw up after doing it because you do spit out the oil and not swallow it. You are right to respect your body, it clearly is not for you.

    2. Did you oil pull on an empty stomach? The number one thing I've read was to do it on an empty stomach, not to gargle with it but only swish, rinse your mouth out (2x), and then brush your teeth. Of course, if you have vomitted twice already you may not want to do it again. Sorry to hear that.

    3. When i did my research on oil pulling for myself all the sources i found said that 20 mins was enough for the method to work and pull toxins out but more than that risks absorbing back that same bacteria and toxins right back into your body.

      I can not add links but you and JC are free to look this up to confirm this for yourself. I'd be interested in a follow up if more information is found on this method. Otherwise, i agree with JC, you are right to respect your body maybe oil pulling is just not for you.

    4. I did not see any scientific (i.e peer reviewed journal) talking about toxins being removed from oil rinsing. Do send me your links using the contact the scientist button please :)

    5. Thanks for all the replies :-) @Rece A: I did do it on an empty stomach but I am glad its working for someone out there.

  4. I started oil has helped with my allergies. When my daughter gets olders I would like to try it with her to see how much of a detoxifying effect it has due to her allergies being worse than mine and she has eczema.


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