Oil Pulling: Why is It Such a Thing?

A version of this article originally appeared in GO Haute in 2014. The post has been edited to reflect my current views. 

Oil pulling: everyone is talking about it, but is it really worth the hype? I've been doing it for YEARS, and I have to say "hell yes." 

What

So what is it?? If you haven’t been on the Internet in recent days, or you live under a rock, then you probably have no idea what I am talking about. Oil pulling is the practice of literally pulling toxins and potentially harmful bacteria from one’s mouth/body by swishing a tablespoon of oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes a day.

Gross, right? Admittedly, it takes some getting used to. The texture is ....unusual. Some people say it’s best to use two tablespoons of oil; some say it doesn’t matter. Some people say swish for 20 minutes; some say five is sufficient. I say do whatever works for you. Personally, I am super texture averse, so I can only handle like a spoonful of oil at a time. I will say it is best to oil pull on an empty stomach, so I try to swish first thing in the morning. I don't do this everyday anymore. (I used to work 100 percent from home, so I did it errday, but now I work part time at home, so I do it on days I don't go into the office.)

How long

How long do I have to "do" this? I’ve experimented with time amounts a little bit, and I’ve found that some days I have no trouble reaching the full 20, but others I’m just not feeling it, so I opt to break up my sessions into two 10 minute mini sessions. Some days, I'm just like "nah" and only do it for 10 in all. If you’re going to take the jump into oil pulling, I recommend organic, unrefined coconut oil. Other pullers have claimed success with other oils, but coconut oil is definitely the most popular, and from what I have read, the most effective.

Why

But like what are the benefits? I know you’re all dying to know why oil pulling is such a thing right now, so I won’t hold back. The benefits really are limitless. In my on again, off again love affair with it, I’ve noticed my teeth are significantly whiter, I have been sleeping better, and though I have gotten a couple headaches (I am such a headache person), they have been so much more bearable. It also helps clear my skin *praise hands emoji*. Other benefits include: overall body detoxification, sinus relief, cavity and gingivitis prevention, assistance in hormonal imbalances, strengthened gums and jaw, and many, many more.

My main incentive for oil pulling is the skin benefits. My skin is not terrible by any means, but I have a mild case of seborrheic dermatitis, which is definitely exacerbated by the South’s fickle weather. Though it certainly has not cleared completely, I have noticed improvements in my skin that are substantial enough to keep me oil pulling. My only advice is keep an open mind — you aren’t going to see results within the first couple of sessions. And I cannot stress enough how important it is to not spit out the oil in the sink. Coconut oil solidifies and can potentially clog your plumbing — no thanks!

Have you tried oil pulling before? What's your favorite oil to use?? Happy oil pulling!