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Oil Pulling: What It Is & Why It May Be Worth a Try

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UVA chapter.


I recently stumbled upon a new practice called “oil pulling” that’s been all over my Pinterest home page. No idea what it is? I didn’t have a clue either. Allowing my curiosity and desire to procrastinate get the best of me, I investigated further.  Essentially, oil pulling involves swishing oil around your mouth for an extended period of time (between 10 and 20 minutes) with the intentions of achieving health benefits from it. I know this sounds really weird- and frankly, kind of gross- but I did a little more research to find out the effects.

Many different oils can be used, but coconut oil is probably to most common, and easily accessible. Swishing it around your mouth for just several minutes a day has been proven to whiten teeth, strengthen your gums, get rid of bad breath, and prevent cavities. And those are just the oral benefits. Additionally, pulling oil can detoxify your body (don’t swallow it though!), help with sleeping problems, and relieve headaches. Perhaps it’s most interesting function is helping to relieve hangovers.  Although I have yet to try this personally, I intend to make a trip to CVS soon to pick up a fresh jar of coconut oil and give it a whirl. If you’re interested in testing it out yourself, here are some tips I’ve found online.

-Use about a teaspoon of oil (if it’s in solid form, allow it to melt in your mouth)

-Oil pulling works best on an empty stomach

-Doing it in the shower in the morning (before you brush your teeth) is a really convenient time!

-Try to “push” the oil between your teeth to maximize oral health benefits

-When you’re done, spit it into a trashcan, instead of a sink, to avoid clogging your pipes.


Whether you think this latest idea is crazy, gross, or just plain weird, oil pulling certainly doesn’t lack an intriguing aspect. I look forward to giving it a try and seeing if all the hype adds up!