Oil pulling might seem like the trendy new health fad, after all, it has been growing in popularity over the past few years, but in reality, there’s nothing new about this practice.

Oil pulling comes from the Ayurveda system of health and wellbeing, with a focus on balance, harmony and interconnectedness. Fans oil pulling claim it lightens the load on the immune system by extracting toxins, bacteria and even fungi from the mouth before they have the chance to enter the body and start causing problems. Aficionados claim benefits including brilliant dental health, glowing clear skin and increased energy levels. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

But what is oil pulling, and how does one go about doing it? Oil pulling is washing your mouth out with oil. It differs from using a conventional mouthwash one major way, the length of time. Oil pulling takes about 20 minutes to gain the full benefits. So with that in mind, you’re going to want to go for a more gentle swooshing action than you're used to or risk some serious jaw cramp. 

 Here are our top tips to get you started. 

1. Start with a bit less oil and work your way up. When you’re into the swing of things, you’ll be using a tablespoon of oil to pull with. A tablespoon is bigger than you think! Start with a teaspoon the first time and see how you get on. Be prepared for the oil to ‘grow’ as it picks up any nasties from your mouth. Don’t be surprised if it doubles in size, so start small and build up. 

2. Don’t go for the full 20 minutes. For your first oil pull, 5 minutes is plenty. If you’re feeling fine after 5, by all means, keep going, but don’t feel defeated if you have to spit the oil out way ahead of the 20 minutes mark. It’s quite an adjustment from the 30-second mouthwash we’re used to. 

3. Have a plan to dispose of the oil. Drains can’t cope with oil, it can cause serious blockages, and you’re not going to want to swallow it. Make sure you have a bin and a paper towel handy for when you’re done. 

The first time you try oil pulling, we’ll be honest; it might not be too pleasant. It’s not unusual to experience a headache or nausea. This is caused by a combination of the toxins being drawn up and out, and the strain you’re putting on your mouth. Don’t worry, just stop and try again tomorrow. It usually takes about two weeks of daily oil pulling to start getting brilliant results.

It goes without saying that the oil you choose makes a huge difference. Your mouth has excellent absorbency so you will get the benefits all the brilliant vitamins and antioxidants that we take such care to keep in our olive oil. Not to mention that olive oil is packed full of anti-inflammatory compounds and vitamin e, meaning any little sore spots will be on the road to healing in no time.

The dental community are pretty much in agreement that whilst there are limited scientific studies to show the effects of oil pulling, it’s not going to do any harm, so if it works for you, then do it! There’s certainly a huge amount of anecdotal evidence to demonstrate how well it works, plus the few studies that have been carried out have suggested that oil pulling may reduce levels of Streptococcus Mutans, a bacteria responsible for tooth decay.

 With that said, oil pulling isn’t a replacement for your regular dental hygiene. Add it to your usual daily routine at the very start then give your mouth a quick rinse with water before moving onto brushing and flossing. You might find that warm and slightly salted water gives you the best results when washing out your mouth. 

Have you tried oil pulling? What did you make of it?