Oil Pulling: Miracle Treatment or Woo Mouthwash?

The phrase “oil pulling” probably makes you think of a Texas wildcatter putting up derricks and extracting black gold from the barren earth. But to some alternative medicine advocates, it means something else entirely: an ancient method of improving oral health and treating diseases of the mouth that will whiten your teeth, strengthen your gums, cut through plaque and most importantly, detoxify the body, relieve pain and even play a role in curing deadly illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

Obviously, those are the kind of lofty claims that skeptics salivate over debunking. But people who practice oil pulling absolutely swear by its benefits – and unlike so much of what we poke holes in, this could actually have some.

As you can read on the many, many websites devoted to it, oil pulling (or oil swishing) is quite simple to do. Just put unrefined oil, such as coconut or sunflower, in your mouth, swish it around for a while, making sure to coat your teeth and gums. The oil kills bacteria, viruses and fungi, strengthens your teeth, promotes general immune system balance and, of course, rids you of toxins by “pulling” them out of your mouth. Once you’ve finished your swishing, you hork the swished oil into a garbage can, rinse with salt water (sea salt, of course), brush as normal, and go about your day healthier and toxin-free. You do this each morning, or more often if you want. Good health ensues!

Coconuts, before the Whole Foods markup

Coconuts, before the Whole Foods markup

Or does it?

The idea of rinsing one’s mouth with oil is thought to have originated in the ancient Ayurvedic Indian natural medicine text Charaka Samhita, where “oil gargling” was described as a natural remedy for oral diseases. It was unknown in the western world until the 1990’s, when, as the story goes, a doctor named F. Karach gave a presentation to the All-Ukrainian Association for Oncology and Bacteriology on how he used it to cure his own blood cancer. Incidentally, I found no biographical information on Dr. Karach, and I’m not convinced he’s even a real person.

Regardless, it didn’t break into mainstream alternative circles until a naturopath and nutritionist named Bruce Fife started evangelizing it in his 2008 book Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing. Fife’s breathless descriptions of the incredible things that swishing with coconut oil could do, done as part of his role as president of the Coconut Research Center (which is apparently a thing), worked wonders.

Oil pulling took off like a granola rocket in the natural cures crowd. There are now countless websites and blogs devoted to the benefits of this ancient Indian treatment, full of before and after pictures, tips and flowery testimonials from people who say it’s drastically improved their health. Oil pulling is said to treat chronic pain, insomnia, cavities, allergies, thrombosis, diabetes, asthma, bad breath, gingivitis, digestive issues, meningitis, low energy, heart disease, kidney disease, “toxic bodily waste,” PMS, leukemia and even AIDS. Oil pulling, it would seem, is truly a life-changing medical miracle.

If the glowing anecdotes from people who “don’t know how it works, but it just does” and endless list of vanquished diseases seem familiar, it’s because they’re the same as the ones thrown out there by users of pretty much every miracle food product, from Kangen water to juice cleanses. And while oil pulling seems to have a lot in common with the rest of the woo food aisle, it probably is a safer and less dubious natural treatment than many of the others marketed as cure-alls. It has little risk involved, and it might even have some actual benefits.

For one thing, it’s done as part of a good oral hygiene regimen, something everyone needs to do anyway. It has less potential for physical harm, given that it doesn’t actually involve ingesting or applying any goofy substances. And it doesn’t come with the massive financial risk that MLM schemes do, though high quality coconut oil can get fairly expensive. Additionally, the process of swishing, sucking and rolling the oil around massages gum tissue, which could improve blood flow in the gums. And the fatty acids in in coconut and olive oil can lead to healthier skin, though that’s probably a side effect of swallowing small amounts of the oil.

Oil pulling’s positive effects are based entirely on anecdote and not at all on clinical research – because there’s been very little. Pubmed lists six clinical studies related to oil pulling, all performed in India, and their quality and results seem all over the map. Some do indicate mild improvement in gum health, comparable to mouthwash use. But they’re not well blinded, use very small sample sizes and involve oil pulling only as part of a proper oral hygiene regimen. So it’s impossible to tell what’s causing said improvement.

Charts = science. (www.dwattsrejuv-a-nation.com_

Charts = science. (www.dwattsrejuv-a-nation.com)

But what we do know is that oil pulling doesn’t draw toxins out of your body. This is because detoxification is a myth, other than what your body already does with the kidneys and liver. Just as Kinoki foot pads don’t pull toxins out of the feet, herbal cleanses don’t pull toxins out of your gut, and cupping doesn’t pull toxins out of your sweat glands, oil pulling doesn’t pull toxins out of the mouth. This is just basic, though incredibly popular, pseudoscience.

All of oil pulling’s other supposed miracle benefits, such as “activating enzymes” or “balancing the immune system” or “easing brain fog” or “supporting normal kidney function” or the endless list of diseases it cures, are all either implausible, untestable or just sciencey sounding word salad. The people pushing these miracles give no thought to how or why coconut oil swished in the mouth would do any of this – because they don’t have to.

Oil pullers say “on the contrary, the oil is clear when you put it in your mouth and cloudy when you spit it out! Toxins!” The oil IS cloudy – because it’s been reacting with saliva, bacteria and air for 20 minutes. And what kind of therapy leaves a person with a mouthful of toxic glop that will harm them if swallowed? No doctor on earth would prescribe that.

Another reason to be skeptical of oil pulling is that nobody can seem to agree on how to actually do it. While the basic technique is always the same, some people (including Bruce Fife) say you can only get the full effect with coconut oil. But others say you can use sesame, sunflower or olive oil, all of which are very different substances. Some people say you can swish one tablespoon, others say two or even three. Some say 10 minutes of swishing is enough, other say it only works if you do it for 20. I couldn’t even find a consistent definition of why it’s called “pulling.” Some websites reference the toxins being “pulled” from your body, others say it refers to pulling the oil through your teeth.

The point of pointing out these discrepancies is this: the difference between a proven medical treatment and an unproven natural one is that the proven medical treatment has exact recommendations for use and dosages derived through copious research, while the natural one is basically whatever you want it to be for however long you want it to be.

So where does that leave us? With an old folk remedy that probably won’t harm you, might have some slight benefit and is in no way a miracle cure. If you want to pull oil and think it’s working wonders for you, that’s great. But you’d probably be better off rinsing with high-quality mouthwash and saving the oil for cooking a healthy meal.

About Mike Rothschild

Mike Rothschild is a writer and editor based in Pasadena. He writes about scams, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and pop culture fads. He's also a playwright and screenwriter. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/rothschildmd.
This entry was posted in Alternative Medicine, Pseudoscience and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

254 Responses to Oil Pulling: Miracle Treatment or Woo Mouthwash?

  1. Jon Richfield says:

    Mike, let’s be fair here. We should not get things out of proportion. Personally, though I don’t like oily foods, I assure you that this method of gargling and rinsing and spitting (especially spitting) strikes me as more attractive than urine drinking or gargling, if no more persuasive as a prescription for my health.
    ‘Scuse me… must run…

  2. Reg says:

    I have been told that if, for some global roaming reason, I must go without brushing my magnificent teeth, cheese is not a bad final mouthful if it’s to be found anywhere on the icy wastes. I can’t help thinking that bacteria, as with all other means of reduction, requires oxygen and this oily mass should help deprive the little buggers of their oxidizing medium.

    Roquefort please.

    • lwojo says:

      It has been shown (with actual clinical data) that the minimization of aerobic bacteria in the oral cavity lets the nasty anaerobic bacteria that cause gingivitis and periodontal disease take over the mouth. While your reasoning makes a lot of sense, it does not take into account the other critters living in one’s mouth.

    • Meg says:

      Cheese works well because it acts as a buffer. It order for tooth decay to begin the pH in your mouth has to get below 5. Cheese buffers the pH keeping it about 5 and thus helping to prevent cavities. It has nothing to do with depriving the bacteria of air.

  3. Tina Johnson says:

    There are plenty of natural based treatments that state specific dosages and time frames. Not all natural treatments are unproven, and you shouldn’t lump them all together. There is plenty of research being done by respected institutions into such fields. Besides, where do you think today’s medicines are derived from?

    • Dr E Matheron says:

      So true Tina. The author here has not done any research, just expressed his mind based on the little he knows. There are countless testimonials on the effectiveness of Oil pulling. His facts on toxins are all wrong too.

      • Eric Hall says:

        Do you have specific examples of studies showing the effectiveness of oil pulling? What are the specific toxins being removed? In what amounts? How is it measured?

          • Eric Hall says:

            A couple of things Nate –

            First Mercola – known quack who doesn’t use evidence but conjecture to support most of his writings. Which is exactly what he did here. There is mercury in fillings – it doesn’t mean the mercury is leaching out in amounts that will cause harm. He doesn’t provide any evidence for mercury causing all of these medical issues (no studies measuring mercury levels).

            Second – he doesn’t say anything about oil pulling in the article. In fact, based on Mercola’s conjecture – if it were true – the mechanical action of swishing oil in your mouth would only increase the amount of mercury coming off the fillings and thus entering your body.

            So that fails on his research, on the connection to oil pulling, and on plausibility.

        • kariedwardsKari says:

          Here’s a link for you… There are not very many studies out there but they do exist.

          file:///C:/Users/David/Dropbox/Downloads/60b7d514d29faa8d58.pdf

          and here’s a website with links to a bunch of studies…

          http://www.healingteethnaturally.com/oil-pulling-dental-healer.html

        • jerry says:

          My gums were so bad that if I bit soft pear youd see blood on the pear. When I brushed my teeth blood would be everywhere. Bad I know but didnt have dental insurance and was out of work. After 3 days of oil pulling with coconut oil my gums stopped bleeding. Its been 2 weeks now and I can eat an apple and nothing happens. Dont believe the testimonilas, try it yourself, what do you have to lose?

      • bob cooley says:

        I’m not judging either way, but testimonials are NOT research. if you were truly a doctor, you’d recognize that.

        • lwojo says:

          Bob Cooley & Eric Hall: I could not agree more! Looking at actual peer-reviewed clinical studies, oil pulling is about as effective as brushing & flossing to eliminate S. mutans biofilm, but all these other claims have not been verified by scientific studies.

      • PaytonB says:

        A testimonial is not research. It is not even really fact based because people saying “it did such and such for me” can’t really be sure that the oil pulling is what caused whatever supposed health benefit they received.

  4. “Checking the world around me” is not science. Testimonials are not science. Oddly enough, well-controlled and blinded studies ARE science, and if you read the piece, you’ll find that such studies haven’t been done for oil pulling – at least not to the degree necessary to declare it a miracle cure for dozens of diseases.

    • vtgrn says:

      No fortune will be made from OP, therefore no funding will be available for proper studies.

      • Eric Hall says:

        You don’t think if it actually worked, oil wouldn’t be repackaged with brand names right next to the toothpaste and mouthwash? Before Rockefeller saw his kerosene business drying up, Standard Oil used to throw away gasoline as an unusable by-product. Once he found a way to market gasoline, it became a huge hit.

        The oil is already there – so if a company can find a legitimate use for it, they would. Because it is a food product, it wouldn’t need much in the way of government approval. All they need is something showing it works and a little marketing.

        • John D. says:

          You’re forgetting the business of making money… There are huge companies already invested in making billions of dollars off of toothpaste, mouthwash and such. Introducing natural plant oil which is very cheap to buy, will change everything.

          The manufacturers of oil will make the money, not the companies such as Colgate, Pfizer, Crest… Colgate and co will have to cut a substantial deal with companies who make the oil thus not making as much money as they do now.

          You apparently do not realize that huge successful companies spend a lot of money on what will make them the most profit in terms of how much they need to invest to gain profit. It is very likely they all looked at how to capitalize on the vegetable oil market but realized they will essentially will just be a distributor instead of a manufacturer. Also, their facilities are already setup to produce toothpaste and such and have contracts with chemical processing plants which are very cheap compared to manufacturing oils…

          Also, to make tons of money, you need a constant consumer base to keep buying your product. If the product works so well, guess what, you get less sales. You can brush without toothpaste, with just the toothbrush and your teeth will be just as clean as if you used toothpaste… If oil pulling is really this beneficial, there’s ultimately no money to be made. In the first introduction, there will be tons on money made BUT in the long run, you wont make profits especially since other companies will also mimic what you’re doing and will be competing against you for market shares thus spending more money to get people to buy your product.

          Overall, anything that is really beneficial and don’t need to constantly to be bought – you will not make money.

          There’s a lot more than just “oh well, if this truly worked then companies will find a way to profit from it”.

      • MLSA says:

        Exactly! And this is why homeopathic remedies/cures are dismissed as quackery. I would like to see a legit study on op. Come on government, I dare you!

        • Jv80 says:

          John D , Mouth wash and tooth paste are significantly cheaper than coconut oil and if demand rose for coconut oil the price would only rise. Your logic is not working. We reintroduce bacteria into our mouths daily, we would need to continuously use the product daily and most people would not be willing to sit around for 20 minutes swishing oil considering most people are unwilling to brush 2x a day and floss.

    • Phronk says:

      Am I missing something here? The conclusion of that study seems at odds with the results. The control group seemed to have a reduction at more time points than the pulling group. With saliva, only the control group had an effect. If anything, this would imply that pulling has a NEGATIVE effect on tooth health.

      Hard to judge without seeing the full paper, but I’m confused.

      • Clark Wells says:

        In this study, the control was not “no treatment”, it was treatment with chlorhexidine mouthwash. The conclusion suggests that oil pulling did not perform as well as chlorhexidine, but might be an acceptable alternative, for example if chlorhexidine were unavailable, contraindicated, or was not likely to be used by the patient.

      • Lis says:

        The study is saying that the study group had a significant difference from the controlled group, but the control group also had a significant difference between them swishing and the baseline rates. So if going off of this article, any of the two types of swishing is better than none at all, and the oil pulling was better than the control mouthwash.

        • lwojo says:

          Not quite, Lis. It is saying that there is a statistical significant reduction in S. mutans in both groups, so, at least in this study, oil pulling is as effective as chlorhexadine. However, the n only was 20 patients. The study, as a whole, is really not that well done and has some arcane techniques.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The only thing I can imagine oil pulling helping with is if there are fat soluble compounds in the mouth that cause bad breath that would then dissolve into the oil and leave the mouth when spit. What do you guys think?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know how it works or if it detoxifies the body and frankly I don’t care, but I do know that it has improved my oral health, cured my sinusitis of 15 years and it gives my eyes a beautiful glow(that I love so much :)). My efforts towards not being so skeptic have helped me to just give it a try and I still cannot get over the fact that I am able to breathe through my nose like normal person again :). FYI I have been doing oil pulling for a month.

    • Amy Lewis says:

      I feel the same way. I don’t buy into all the claims that it will cure everything, but I do see how reducing the bacteria in the mouth can have a an overall effect on total health. I try to keep an open mind about things, and I can def. see positive results for myself so far. Sinuses included.My advice to people, try it if you want and you might like it, but I still recommend brushing and flossing.

  7. Anonymous says:

    my very western research based oral surgeon told me to stop using mouthwash and if I insist something very mild with no alcohol.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been oil pulling for about five day’s now and I have seen dramatic changes in my coffee/ cigarette stained teeth the stains are almost all gone.. As for repairing the gum line I don’t know but will find out in February if there is any change in my gum line when I visit my periodontist. I will continue oil pulling until I’m told by my dentist it’s harmful as for now I’m pleased with the results and to the skeptics just try it for a couple of weeks and if you don’t see any results then you have extra oil for cooking.

  9. karaline says:

    I can guarantee I have used almost every type of mouth wash to almost every type of tooth paste and almost every kind of teeth whitener on the market to no avail of getting my teeth as white as when I get a cleaning. That being said my teeth are stained from years of smoking and drinking coffee not severely stained nor slightly stained but it’s noticeable I am a smoker. I’ve been oil pulling twice a day for the last five day’s and my stains are all but gone. My last dental visit they couldn’t get all the stains out. I know it’s not scientific evidence but it’s pretty good evidence for me and if the only thing that oil pulling does is keep my teeth white I’m a happy camper. If there are other benefits even better. In fact I will find out next month if oil pulling is assisting in repairing my receding gum line. and don’t think I went into this thinking it was a cure all because I didn’t I went in being very skeptical but thought I cook with sesame oil coconut oil and various other oils so if it doesn’t work the oil won’t go to waste. Thus far I’m impressed! I will add since the FOLK REMEDY can be pulled right from the kitchen cabinet for pennies on the dollar highly unlikely mainstream medicine will support research of oil pulling and it’s possible benefits no money to be made.. In addition find the episode from the Dr. Oz show that recommends oil pulling.

  10. Eric Hall says:

    For everyone offering your anecdotes on this working – have you considered another possible cause for your improvement? Namely – the fact you are paying closer attention to your oral health? If you have severely stained teeth, perhaps before you started you didn’t brush as much, didn’t rinse your mouth as often, etc. Now, you think about it. You also have added the salt water rinse. Maybe that’s the cause? Maybe it is more frequent brushing on a regular schedule?

    Humans are really good at pattern matching. Oh look, I wished for something and it happened – that means wishes work – except your brain is ignoring the previous 300 wishes you made and nothing happened.

    • Brad says:

      Ignorance brother, just ignorance.

    • Jamie Lee says:

      I agree with this being a possibility.. I’m going to give it a try paying close attention not to change my habits and just introduce the oil and salt rinse.. stay tuned..

    • lwojo says:

      Eric, I love the way you think.

    • shy.tack says:

      There is some science behind it, but it’s the same science behind chewing gum/herb sticks/whatever after a meal–increased saliva flow. For all their faith in nature, I don’t understand the naturopathic community’s lack thereof for their own body. The body is phenomenal at cleaning itself.

    • Jessy says:

      No eric im sorry that is not correct for i have always had a very good mouth care routine, all i chaged was what i swished with ( changed my mouth wash to coconut oil) i do not use the salt water… i have a serious change in my teeth and gum color and in my tongue color, i ALSO was in the starting stages of a cavity, my first one at 28 years old… oil pulled for about two months and my dentist was not sure how i no longer have any stages of a cavity…..can you explain that…or instead of a ton of typing why dont you just try it?? i love how people trust chemicals over a organic earth grown product…clearly animals have all they need on this earth to survive completely…why is it so hard for some people to understand that this could also be true about humans…. just a thought. Ps i dont think that it has MANY of the benifits that it claims but i am 100% sure that it has some, much more then your alcohol based, human made, mouthwash. 100!!!

      • Eric Hall says:

        You do realize coconut oil is a complex mixture of chemicals, right? If it wasn’t made of chemicals, it would be just…nothing.

        As I’ve stated – in each of these cases, it is an anecdote for which we have no proof, no are other controls in place to determine if anything else was changed in the routine.

        Humans used to live 25-30 years. So we had all we needed to survive – for a much shorter time than we do now.

        Alcohol is also a natural product actually. If you take natural fruits or grains, and add natural yeast, you will get natural alcohol. In fact our body naturally makes a little alcohol in digestion. Listerine uses “natural” Thymol which is oil from the herb thyme. Why is that so “artificial?”

        I don’t doubt your story. I just doubt the oil as the sole cause.

        • Stephanie says:

          Actually humans have always lived to be 60-70-80 years old. The “average” age at which our ancestors died is distorted by the number of people who died in childhood. If you could make it to adulthood (and especially if you didn’t have to give birth or survived childbirth), you had a decent shot at reaching old age.

        • Hannah says:

          I’ve been told by my dentist to stop using listerine as it was too harsh. I have been oil pulling for 2 weeks now and I don’t even get morning breath anymore( my husband had the unenviable task of checking). I haven’t changed my routine at all and I’m not rinsing with salt. So so far I’m a fan.

          • Eric Hall says:

            I imagine it was more that your dentist told you to stop using alcohol based mouthwashes, not that you shouldn’t wash/rinse or that that automatically leads to oil pulling. It is reasonable to assume oil pulling does cleanse your mouth – but no more than standard care. It also does have some risk with it as well. http://skeptoid.com/blog/2014/03/08/oil-pulling-revisited-where-the-danger-lies/

          • Hannah says:

            Thanks for the link. I was never naive enough to believe this was a cure for everything and a solution for world peace. However my experience has been that it is more effective than mouthwash and also cheaper so I will continue to use it. The only concern I had was that excess drawing of saliva would cause an imbalance of some kind but have not read anything to support this.

  11. maria says:

    You need to get over the dogma of doctors and medicine, or at least seriously and critically rethink it. You also have to take into account the fact that we live in a capitalist world where making more money is the first & foremost goal. Issues like public health and public well-being are not that important.

    The vast majorities of these scientific studies (that would help you accept a hypothesis as reality) are sponsored by Big Pharma itself. ” A study published in 2006 estimates that costs vary from around $500 million to $2 billion depending on the therapy or the developing firm.A study published in 2010 in the journal Health Economics, including an author from the US Federal Trade Commission, was critical of the methods used by diMasi et al. but came up with a higher estimate of ~$1.2 billion.[wikipedia]”
    So you are saying that a Pharma company which just spend an average 500million and 5-10 years on a new drug will reject it because the findings were not appropriate?!?!? yeah right, and I grow wings during the night and fly!

    Keep in mind that these are the same doctors that promoted smoking as healthy… ” In the 1930s and 1940s, smoking became the norm for both men and women in the United States, and a majority of physicians smoked. At the same time, there was rising public anxiety about the health risks of cigarette smoking. One strategic response of tobacco companies was to devise advertising referring directly to physicians. As ad campaigns featuring physicians developed through the early 1950s, tobacco executives used the doctor image to assure the consumer that their respective brands were safe.
    These advertisements also suggested that the individual physicians’ clinical judgment should continue to be the arbiter of the harms of cigarette smoking even as systematic health evidence accumulated. However, by 1954, industry strategists deemed physician images in advertisements no longer credible in the face of growing public concern about the health evidence implicating cigarettes.”
    the same doctors who continue to use the medieval cut, burn & poison method (chemotherapy protocol) to weak, elderly people and call it therapy!

    I am not saying we need to reject western medicine, just to keep an open mind. Doctors are just ordinary people, living in a capitalist society and trying (like most of us) to maximise their profit. Your health is beside the point. So be critical in what you’re thinking and especially in what you’re promoting in your article, and the first step to do that is to get rid of any dogma.

    • waldorfteacher says:

      Excellent points! I don’t reject the training and knowledge of medical doctors but I always research. 8 years ago I had a large lipoma on my leg that needed to be surgically removed. It was biopsied and the biopsy came back that it was a localized precancerous tumor. I was sent to a radiologist who wanted to put me on a 6 month schedule of twice weekly radiation therapy. But the more I researched and asked questions of my own doctor, the more I learned that the chances of it becoming cancer were low and that the therapy was being suggested because there was a minute chance that it could become cancerous. But even if it were cancerous, they told me, it would not be the type to metastasize. Yet, I was still told to have this treatment, which would be expensive, painful and probably not useful.
      I chose against it – and the doctor was flabbergasted – and I have never had any regrowth of tumor or any problems.

    • lwojo says:

      Let’s think about your argument: if oil pulling actually worked, then why aren’t these giant capitalist companies be jumping on the bandwagon? They could easily market it as an add-on treatment to brushing & flossing, not as a substitute. That would increase profit, wouldn’t it? They don’t do it because it doesn’t work as well as brushing and flossing (I”m not saying it does nothing, but it is not as effective as brushing and flossing). You, correctly, say how we’ve replaced older medical strategies (like leeches or poisoning or, say, oil pulling) with newer strategies that work better because we have a better understanding of science.

      • patrick says:

        The point is what works for our health is not always Big Pharma’s motivation. Oftentimes their motivation is based on cost, their ability to patent and produce, and how addictive it is. Coconut oil which is widely available and produced outside of pharmaceutical companies would not be attractive as a potential product. maria makes a great point. the real question is why are we entrusting companies whose main goal is profit, NOT your wellbeing to conduct scientific studies. i’m a mental health professional and i have to look very closely and do extra research to follow the money of studies being passed around amongst my colleagues. more often than that, they are conducted shell research groups, funded quietly by international pharmaceuticals “proving” through clinical trials that medication is most effective in treating any number of pathologies. unfortunately, what we call scientific proof isn’t to be trusted as it once was. it’s been bought and sold with the rest.

        • I’m having trouble finding the logic in this comment. Pointing out flaws with the medical industry says nothing about the efficacy of oil pulling. And if a for-profit business model is the sign of an unreliable product, then show me the company that’s giving away coconut oil for free.

          • lwojo says:

            So true, Brian.

          • tr3ocrue says:

            The irony of this thread is both sides are, essentially, concerned about the same problem – getting fleeced. One says that Big Pharma is only after money so we can’t always trust them (there is evidence of this idea) and the other (the whole point of ‘debunking’ things (and there is evidence of marketing BS to sell ‘natural cures, too), is to not trust a product someone is trying to see you that doesn’t do what is says. This is why consumers tend to buy the middle price point in a store when they don’t know about the product. I think the point is, if we are choosing to research something, we should also research the research these days.

      • Bitty says:

        Iwojo, no. Wrong. Big pharma can’t “market” natural oils to increase their own profits. They don’t market ANY natural products because they wouldn’t make any money doing so, and they can’t take over rights to a product that is available through many non-medical companies. How many companies sell organic sesame oil for three dollars a bottle? Your questioning is indicative of a trust in the pharmaceutical companies that 100% positively DO do studies on natural products, say it’s quackery even though they found them to be effective, and then devise a way to make a synthetic, chemical-based product to mimic those natural products solely so people who believe pharmaceutical means better will pay about ten to fifty time more for an inferior product. Try researching these companies. They are the dirtiest, most money-hungry human beings you will find. If you were on the inside of this business like I am, you wouldn’t trust a word they say.

      • Avion says:

        Good point, however they don’t do it because they can’t create a patent on just an oil. They can only create a patent on a compound that they created based on precise measurments and ingredients. With out the patent they will never be able to market under there own brand and make it profitable.

        • lwojo says:

          Well, maybe . . . while a company will make more profit on a patented product, that does not stop them from profiting on a non-patented one. Most OTC products are not patented – toothpaste, ibuprofen, vitamins, shampoo, body lotion, etc., and manufacturers still make them and make a huge profit on them. Maybe “big pharma” isn’t interested in manufacturing oil for pulling, but if it worked better than brushing and flossing, you can bet J&J, P&G, Unilever, or GlaxoSmithKline would be marketing it. The fact remains that (according to the peer-reviewed journal articles) oil pulling is only as effective, not better, than brushing and flossing. If you really want to waste time and money on it – go for it, but I, personally, think that is foolish.

    • Mimi says:

      Bravo Maria……!!!

      You’ll NEVER find any “scientific evidence’“Big Pharma can’t patent it so they’re not interested.”
      There are so many AMAZING Testimonies out there about natural cures…..yet we live in a society that puts more Value on “scientific evidence’“

      http://www.cureyourowncancer.org/testimonials.html
      https://medium.com/cured-disease-naturally/11d2ebe47162
      http://healthwyze.org/index.php/component/content/article/496-alternative-medicine-and-why-we-are-proud-not-to-be-qscientificq.html

      If it WORKS for you…..DO IT!

      • Eric Hall says:

        “Natural” cures are also a multi-billion dollar industry. Why don’t they invest those profits into some science to help convince us skeptics in the scientific community then?

        Big Natura is actually worse than Big Pharma – because they don’t need any proof, approval, or even the strict oversight like the pharmaceutical companies. They have a much bigger profit margin (if we are using the capitalism fallacy).

        • Bitty says:

          Incorrect, Eric Hall. People like you who are completely ignorant of how naturopathic medicine works and how educated naturopaths are IN science blindly follow everything big pharma says because you’ve essentially been brainwashed to believe they are the only ones doing legit studies. Look up homeopathy, water therapy or acupuncture. Thousands of legit studies done, and all prove these treatments to be effective. Studies are done all the time on naturopathic treatments, you just haven’t bothered to do the research. The reason there are LESS big budget studies done on naturopathic treatments is because that industry has FAR less money than big pharma, who make their billions by suckering people like you into thinking they need thousands of dollars per year of needless, and often detrimental, drug treatments. Keep your eyes open.

    • OT: I am so glad to see someone saying this. I had a good friend who went through chemo and radiation for her already-metastasized lung cancer. I asked her doctor if the chemo and radiation would not work, what her life expectancy would be. He said about 1 to 2 years, but that the chemo and radiation may make it shorter. I asked what her life expectancy would be without chemo and radiation and he actually told me that it might be longer! I was shocked. So, basically, if you get cancer and it’s in stage 4, the chemo and radiation will go ahead and kill you off much faster. I watched her die a painful quick death, it killed her in about 2 months (she could not eat, etc.). I can tell you this, there are many studies that show that chemo and radiation don’t actually do ANYTHING to help ward off cancer cells and it’s a huge myth promoted by standardized, western medicine to make money because these “cures” are already in place and have to be paid for.

      I had a similar experience with my mother and her kidney failure. She was 69, in poor health, a bit overweight, and had a series of non-life threatening strokes. The doctors of the Kidney Wing (keep this in mind) pushed for a kidney transplant from a family member. While this seemed like a great idea, and there were plenty of family to get kidney from, I kept wondering what the big push was for. She was fine, getting daily dialysis, etc. I asked her doctor what her life expectancy would be WITH the new kidney, he said about 3 to 10 more years. I asked what it would be without the new kidney…? 3 to 10 more years, but he stressed that her “quality of life” would be much better. Yeah, right.

      She got the transplant from my brother, against my protests that it was a bad idea. Due to the surgery and her body’s slow recovery, she started having all kinds of problems. More strokes, dialysis machines clogging from her thick blood, so doctors prescribed more blood thinners. Medicaid would not cover the “best” kind, so she got the cheapest, Warfarin. Within 3 months, the new kidney failed and she began to internally bleed to death due to the blood thinners. She died within 8 months of the transplant.

      How’s that for quality of life and a longer lifespan? Hey, thanks, Doc!

      These doctors and hospitals are in the BUSINESS of transplanting kidneys. So, they push for this no matter what the patient’s own health is. Why? They need that money. The almighty dollar rules the day, not what is best for the patient. There is a board that is making sure these people GET TRANSPLANTS no matter what, to keep that place running and keep their bank accounts full.

      I realize this is off-topic, but it has shown me that to trust your life with a westernized, standard medical doctor is quite foolish and can lead to your own death just as easily as any other so-called “quack” cures.

  12. Anonymous says:

    For everyone who has replied with negativity without trying oil pulling, you have no reason to post! I have been doing this with Coconut Oil for over 2 months twice a day for 10-20 each time. I rinse lightly with water each time, have stopped using fluoride toothpaste and don’t brush 1/2 as many times a day as what I used to. I now brush with baking soda only or mix it with the coconut oil.

    I no longer have tooth pain, gums no longer bleed they are pink instead of red. I have cleared sinuses my eyes no longer drain constantly as they did for the past 10 yrs. I sleep more soundly and my eyes and skin are clearer.

    I believe that there is a “natural” cure for everything our culture has exposed us to and caused damage to our bodies.. It is up to us to STOP relying on modern medicine and Dr’s. and to do our own research, try and learn for ourselves what works for us and what doesn’t. I have cured my own Crohns Disease with the herb “Cats Claw” 1000 to 3000mg a day for the past 13 yrs, have weened myself off of harmful prescription meds and have had numerous Drs actually get mad at me for not taking harmful meds for this disease which I’ve had no symptoms for years.

    If we continue to rely on modern medicine than we will pay the consequences of that choice. I serve the God who created and designed the body I live in, I believe with my whole heart that that same God put natural remedies and herbs on this planet to heal anything and everything modern man can dream up.

    I will always put my trust in the natural things available that the God of the universe designed first and foremost prior to anything man can make in a laboratory. Oil Pulling is amazing and Cats Claw is what everyone should be taking for improved overall health. Do your research ppl!!.

    • Bronze Oceans says:

      Uh huh.

      Have fun in the oncology ward, when the time comes.

    • waldorfteacher says:

      I’m with you. I’ve been oil pulling on and off for the past few months and one thing that has happened is that I have not gotten sick one time this past “flu season” – and I’m a teacher of small children! I have always gotten at least two or three colds each year! This year, each time I have felt the beginnings of a cold, I have started oil pulling twice a day and it goes away almost immediately! I’m sold just for that reason. My teeth are also less sensitive and my last dental cleaning was more comfortable than it ever has been – usually I need laughing gas to get through a cleaning but didn’t this last time.
      Whether it is based on science or not, it is an easy and useful thing to do.

    • jaz says:

      Yes, natural means healthy, I found a great natural cure for everything that has ever ailed me, it is called hemlock… look into it it does wonders.

      • Emerald says:

        Arsenic is natural. THINK before you post that natural is healthy. Foxglove is beneficial to the heart in tiny doses, highly controlled (digitalis) for those with heart disease, and a poison at higher concentrations. Natural is not safe. Natural is not healthy.

    • Sandy says:

      “I serve the God who created and designed the body I live in,”. Do you believe that same God did not create the minds of the doctors and scientists who have come up with countless MEDICAL cures that have saved COUNTLESS lives? I suppose if someone you love goes into cardiac arrest and an ambulance arrives with a defibrillator and an injection of adrenaline that can restart that loved one’s heart you will say “no thank you”.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I began researching this today because yesterday my dentist recommended I try it instead of peroxide mouthwash. I have some inflamation and irritation in my gums and a wisdom tooth that is only partially exposed, the tissue around it gets irritated easily (yes I know they should be pulled). I have very good oral hygene habits and brush/floss regularily. In any case, I find no reason to not try it, it’s not dangerous and might help. I’m interested also about the sinus issue, I’ve found relief from doing a nasal flush, but it’s always short lived.

    I get so tired of medical professionals who won’t acknowlege value in these home remidies. Years ago was getting of canker soars, all along the gum, one after another and they never ended. My dr recommened gargling with salt water and ambesol for pain. thanks. A coworker told me to try L-lysine, it’s an emzyne, I was in so much pain, figured what the heck. I was AMAZED – the canker soar I had at the time was the last one I had (after years of gargling salt water for relief) for about 10 years when I then decided I didn’t need to take l-lysine anymore. Guess what, they came back. Started again, they went away. Also my nails tend to be brittle and crack and break. I noticed while taking l-lysine, they became durable and much stronger.
    Now 20 years later, I’m shocked that my doctor still disagrees that L-lysine can’t possibly work that well. There is no money in doing a scientific study for this, sometimes you have to listen to anecdotal, and take a chance.

    My dog has allergies, pretty bad. Vet said to give him benadryl,zyrtec, chlor-trimaton, we tried them all, but still bit all his fur off and scratched soars, red watery eyes Vet said we may have to do steroids. Out of desparation I looked on the internet for alternatives. Saw blogs about chinese herbal called tri-snake (windkeeper and many other names). Called vet, he had not heard of it of course, and doubted that it would do anything. I ordered one bottle for $17, and I’ll be if the scratching didn’t stop the next day. I tell everyone about who has a dog with allergies, it works better then any of the antihistamines we’ve ever tried. I don’t care if there aren’t any studies, it works!

    So I’ll try the coconut oil. Maybe my gums will feel better, maybe not.

    and for Mr. Hall who inplied that maybe there was a “placebo” effect, sorry you can’t hope away canker soars for 10 years, and I’m pretty sure my dog had no idea the “treats” he was getting might help his allergies.

    • Eric Hall says:

      I didn’t say it was placebo. I’m saying an anecdote doesn’t control any variables.

      For example – your L-Lysine example is interesting. L-Lysine shows some interesting data in helping prevent certain viruses from being able to duplicate. One area of research is in cold sores. So perhaps you were really treating a sore froma viral infection, and not just a canker sore.

      L-lysine can also cause dehydration. So perhaps when taking it you were forced to increase your fluid intake. This might have meant you were drinking more often and thus keeping your mouth cleaner and preventing a sore from forming.

      So again – I’m not saying it didn’t work – but perhaps it was working in a different way than proposed, or it was because of something else that it worked. If it was the second (increasing your fluid intake and/or drinking more frequently) then you could skip the Lysine all together. That is how science can help.

      • bri says:

        Why don’t you try oil pulling for a few days and see what you think. There is no harm in that. :)

        • Rebecca says:

          I agree, try it instead of slamming something based on a bunch of data that seems weird or because there is missing data to say 100% that this is proven. One day coffee is good for you, one day it is bad for you. Science reports don’t get it right, either. I was TOTALLY skeptical, I mean, really, how could this work? But I was desperate for bleeding gum relief until I could get to my dentist. Within 3 days, my gums stopped bleeding. I can now floss without bleeding & plaque buildup that forms between all my teeth and behind my front bottom teeth is gone, for the first time in my life. My skin is no longer dry. Another lifelong ailment that corrected itself. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t experience it myself. And I wouldn’t say that is a placebo effect since I went in with a “can’t hurt, but no way this is going to do anything” attitude. There are true physical improvements that doing nothing would never have brought about. Teeth that have been increasingly painful don’t magically heal themselves.

          • No, the good scientist knows that his personal experiences are susceptible to all sorts of uncontrolled variables: personal biases and beliefs in effectiveness, to name just two. Rather, to learn whether something works, we use the randomized controlled trial to eliminate all such variables. Then we know whether the product works.

            When I wrote my Skeptoid episode on oil pulling, I found that only one guy has been doing any trials, and found that it’s comparable to any average mouthwash for whitening teeth. Lots of people (like yourself) make all sorts of wild claims beyond that: “My skin is no longer dry, a lifelong ailment corrected itself”, etc. I would not expect any well performed trials to have been done on those, because there is not yet a consistent observation to be tested. In order to construct a useful experimental protocol, you have to know what you’re looking for, and that requires a coherent hypothesis. For example, you could say “oil pulling relieves the pain from untreated dental cavities”. Then someone could do a small pilot study (which usually has less restrictive protocols) and then if it shows statistical benefit, a true controlled trial could be performed. (This is not a great example, because it would of course be unethical to perform a trial requiring people to leave dental cavities untreated — but you get the point.) But just about every oil pulling fan has different ideas of what it does for them, so I don’t expect a coherent hypothesis to arise.

            So, no, it should not be “tried before slamming it”. There’s no reason to personally sample something at all, if you want to learn whether it actually works.

          • Also, if you’re hearing that coffee or anything else is “100% good for you” or “100% bad for you”, chances are you’re not hearing that from a science based souce. More likely media or marketers.

  14. Anonymous says:

    you’re a rothschild , nobody needs to listen to you, naturals medicine is like that, and EVERYTHING you do starts in your thought first, so EVERYBODY has a different reality, so your skepticism is only for you on you’re reality ……. so theres really no point on having this blog, unless you’re are trying to make a written bank of your own experience on this planet, and again nobody needs to hear it

    • Bronze Oceans says:

      Wrong.

      Everybody does not have their “own reality.” And to be honest it sounds like you could use a little dose of reality yourself.

      To quote old Mr. Moynihan:

      You are entitled to your own opinion. You are NOT entitled to your own facts.

      • Bitty says:

        Bronze Ocean, your comments are completely nonsensical. I can’t even begin to correct all of the unbelievably ignorant statements, but I find your high horse attitude comical, seeing as it’s clear you know nothing about science. If you knew anything about natural medicine, you would know that NDs are required to take 64 credits more than MDs, on top of the same exact courses MDs take their first two years. The curriculum is rigorous to the nth degree and I am positive you would drown in the sea of SCIENTIFIC FACTS you must learn to become a doctor in this field within the first week, based upon your statements. NDs are the ones practicing these treatments, and they have an extremely high success rate, with a nearly non existent injury rate and virtually non existent death rate. But I suppose someone who’s been brainwashed will not listen to obvious facts that oppose their mechanical opinion…

    • Nick Gordner says:

      Bronze Oceans is correct. You can cover your hears and scream all you want, gravity is still real. Just because you say something works doesn’t mean it does. You are using the “Reality exists as defined by an individual” 100% out of context. I would say that you were doing it on purpose, but your complete lack of sentence structure and spelling ability lead me to believe that you actually believe what you’re saying.

      For the future:

      You’re = You are, eg: “You’re making stuff up”
      Your = Something you own, eg: “Your ignorant OPINION”

      You’ve also used “On” incorrectly many times. Your whole post is one long sentence, and you don’t know how commas work.

      If you can’t even grasp the English language, why do you think ANYONE would take you seriously on anything that is as OBVIOUSLY fake as everything listed in this article?

      Telling me that the sky is purple doesn’t make it true, no matter how much you scream and cry about it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lay off the drugs.

  15. gralan says:

    I find that every systematic study under a proper canon of presuppositional truth and constraints can be called science. It is a method, not anything else. There are many who understand that medical science generally only assists your body healing itself. So, I really enjoyed this article and looked up some of the referenced links. Those who contradict themselves logically in their complaints and diatribes simply expose themselves. I’m hoping they might learn something from that and join the rest of us in the real world. Thanks a bunch, Mike Rothschild.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone tried pulling with just water? what is the oil doing (that water can’t) in this case? Just curious…..

  17. AnonK says:

    You should also add some silver colloidal to the oil, that really helps for a number of reasons and you can find some information on that if you search.

    A lot of modern medicine is based off of very primitive concepts and has a lot of failings. Human beings are nowhere near as smart as most want to claim they are. To this day the vast majority of our advances are simply harnessing natural phenomena. Whether it be electricity, wave theory or the like. Actually we still can’t figure out how to construct the pyramids from Ancient Egypt with all our modern technology.

    Science was thrown for a loop with Einstein’s relativity, as it disproved pretty much all of our science prior to that. Oil pulling is worth trying IMHO.

    • Bronze Oceans says:

      You do realize you just contradicted yourself, right?

      “Modern medicine is based off very primitive concepts.”

      What the heck do you think oil pulling is?!?

    • DonBon says:

      All of modern medicine is based off of harnessing natural phenomena. The point of science is to accurately observe natural phenomena and find which ones would benefit us.

    • jaz says:

      Relativity disproved nothing. Newtonian physics works fine except in very specific situations, i.e. extremely high velocities and very large gravity wells. Relativity merely refined existing theory, it did not completely supplant it. We still use Newtonian mechanics far more often for calculating real world systems.

  18. Numenaster says:

    AnonK, if you’re concerned that “a lot of modern medicine is based off of very primitive concepts”, how is is that your answer to this problem is to go back even FURTHER to more primitive concepts yet?

    We totally could construct the pyramids with modern technology–who told you that was impossible? And relativity didn’t disprove Newtonian mechanics–gravity still works just the same way it did before Einstein published, and force still equals mass times acceleration. In fact, relativity didn’t disprove anything–it explained how things work in an area where previously we just didn’t know.

    As for the colloidal silver, it’s somewhat effective as a topical antibiotic, but google “argyria” to see what can happen if you start taking it internally. Your body doesn’t clear it out, so it builds up, and it turns out silver can oxidize, i.e. tarnish, even inside your body.

  19. Unfortunately, without actually understanding ayurveda or having any proper understanding of the treatment from which oil pulling comes from you are drawing conclusions out of the air.

    If you wanna know where this really came from and what it really is
    http://trueayurveda.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/oil-pulling-an-ancient-ayurvedic-treatment/

    • Brad says:

      I just really think it is so funny all sorts of comments from people with so much judgement of something they have not even bothered to try to understand.

      • Bronze Oceans says:

        Give the details of how and why it works, with specifics of the mechanisms involved from a completely objective point of view, and then people will “understand.”

        On another note: it’s funny how in this day and age having an “opinion” about something means you’re being “judgemental.”

        People need to grow a thicker skin.

        • lwojo says:

          Not to mention the fact that one can’t really have an “opinion” about the scientific method. Some commentors here seem to think science is biased.

    • Jaibee says:

      Thank you shifashakti108Brad for your link to “trueayurveda”. It was most illuminating! If everyone on this thread would take the time to go to this link I think the discussion would be very different.

      I realized after reading on this link about real Ayurveda that we’re all ignorant about oil pulling – both the skeptics and the open-minded experimenters they ridicule. Unfortunately, as long as the western medical orthodoxy under the control of big pharma and the profit motive remains dominant, the open-minded experimenters have to be the guinea pigs for all these unproven therapies and have to suffer not only the possible negative effects but also the ridicule of the cynical skeptics (I differentiate here between open-minded skeptics and narrow-minded, cynical skeptics who lack scientific curiosity) who are not helping when they sneeringly ridicule those who are brave enough or desperate enough to resist the orthodoxy and experiment on their own bodies.

      Western health care organisations are letting us all down. We are all being deprived of crucial health knowledge because of ignorance and the dominance of the profit motive. The old “western” way is in desperate need of a paradigm shift. Let’s all open our minds and look to our eastern friends and take into consideration their wisdom and the results of thousands of years of experience they have to offer us.

  20. Danni says:

    As someone who is interested in finding natural replacements for things to benefit myself and the environment, I see a lot of pseudo-science crap and as I’m also studying a science degree I have the logic and the common sense to see it’s bullshit immediately. However, I did see oil pulling and wondered whether it would work, not so much for the ~~detoxification~~ but the oral hygiene. I tried it for about a week with coconut oil and must say I did notice an improvement with my oral hygiene, my mouth just felt cleaner after using it like I’d just come back from the hygienist. The reason I stopped is because it’s pretty expensive, it takes far too much time and I have problems with my jaw and so swishing my mouth constantly for 15 minutes was really putting strain on it.

    Now that I have more of a reason to keep really good oral hygiene as I have an impacted wisdom tooth I am tempted to start this again as mouthwash makes me gums really sting and most brands off the supermarket shelf are proven to have chemicals in them that harm aquatic organisms, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it for quite so long and I certainly won’t be hoping it protects me from cancer!!

    Great article!

    • Eric Hall says:

      Hi Danni –

      One interesting note in your comment is the 15 minutes. Why do I find that interesting? Because that is exactly what I am addressing in the idea of anecdote not being evidence. If I brushed for 15 minutes, or rinsed with a solution of water and baking soda for example – I would bet my mouth would feel cleaner too. If I had to form a hypothesis, it is the time of the mechanical action, not the oil that is causing the cleaning. Similar to how surgeons spend time scrubbing thoroughly to remove germs from their hands – because it is largely the mechanical action that kills and removes them.

      Thanks for your comment – I think it actually lends great support to Mike’s point.

      • Danni says:

        That is a very good point Eric and I agree. I have actually been trying out coconut oil as a mouthwash in the past week and must say I do still think its a great alternative to your typical mouthwash, and I’ve only been swilling it around my mouth for about a minute. This is probably better for me than mouthwash because I can only keep that in my mouth for about 10 seconds as it stings so much!

      • Julie says:

        Eric, thank you for your comments. A breath of fresh air.

  21. Thanks to everyone who has commented, it has been an interesting read. The main reason I practice oil pulling is for the benefits it has on my oral health (regardless of the pathway of action). I’ve found a few articles here on the antimicrobial effects of coconut oil.
    It is my opinion which happens to be shared by many dentists and dental surgeons that mouthwashes can be damaging to gum health and shouldn’t be used regularly. Oil pulling is a much safer way.

    Its great to have these discussions to learn different perspectives and natural medicine definitely needs more natural health practitioners doing research to set the paradigms.

    Mike I think you acting as the ‘devils advocate’ is a clever way of encouraging debate and discussion, pretending to be so narcissistic and derogatory really encourages people to comment…genius.

    1.In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria. DO Ogbolu, AA Oni, OA Daini… – Journal of medicinal …, 2007 – online.liebertpub.com
    2. Inhibition of Listeria monocytogenes by monoacylglycerols synthesized from coconut oil and milkfat by lipase-catalyzed glycerolysis
    LL Wang, BK Yang, KL Parkin… – Journal of Agricultural …, 1993 – ACS Publications
    3. Coconut ( Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): In health promotion and disease prevention
    M DebMandal, S Mandal – Asian Pacific journal of tropical medicine, 2011 – Elsevier

  22. Mouth Care says:

    “Oil pulling” did sound absurd when I first heard about it. But I have to say that this article is quite convincing and may give it a try. I do not fancy it has a lot of effects (yet I’m not skeptical), what I’m looking for is simple make my teeth/gum healthier.
    Ron

    • lwojo says:

      Brush and floss at least twice daily. Much less expensive and time consuming. I love my new Philips DiamondCare Sonic toothbrush (even though it is very expensive, but there are cheaper versions of it). No, I don’t work for Philips, but I did spend 10 years reseaching Streptococcus mutans, the causitive agent of dental caries (cavities). When I needed to break up S. mutans biofilms, I used a sonicator, which is exactly what these sorts of toothbrushes do. I’ve read several of the oil pulling journal articles, and the best they can say is that oil pulling is “as effective” as brushing & flossing, which is why I’d say to save your money and time and forego oil pulling.

      • Spelljammer says:

        Coconut oil is very good for knocking out Candida (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17651080), it also works with bacteria and some viruses. Your teeth are porous and 100’s of millions of microorganisms live in the teeth pores. Brushing and oil pulling both make your teeth cleaner and whiter, but only coconut oil penetrates into the pores, slowly, to kill the rest. It doesn’t detox the liver, that would be absurd. It does decrease the microorganisms load in your mouth and frees up energy so that your body can more easily clean the rest out. Imagine if you had a surgery and a piece of gauze was left inside. You would get sepsis and die. This is because the bacteria live in the porous cloth and there is not a blood supply in the cloth to deliver white blood cells. The bacteria at the edges are constantly being released into the blood supply after the gauze becomes saturated. Same thing with a root canal. The tooth is porous and dead…NO BLOOD SUPPLY. It is like a piece of small gauze left after an operation. It should be removed, or you can oil pull at least 3 times a week to help your body out. Some people oil pull and they already have a relatively healthy mouth and they don’t see any results. Some people have low level infections that can only be slowly killed through oil pulling. Antibiotics can’t even get in to those areas of the teeth because there isn’t a blood supply to them. Anyway, food for thought…it is feasible.

  23. I think it probably works by suffocating any & all bacteria that breathes & reproduces with oxygen. I have been trying pulling with ordinary corn oil & there is a benefit to the breath & sensation in the mouth. Does not matter what oil you use. The reason water & brushing are standard treatments is because water is clean thus it cleanses. Oil is beneficial insofar as doing it long enough to suffocate resistant oral bacteria that causes bad breath. It is likely particularly helpful to coffee drinkers & smokers (those with a daily disadvantage). People with excellent oral hygiene who do not smoke etc will likely not see a benefit. I once had a boil on my gum & I used black sav to drain it.

    • Heather N. says:

      Other oils may have beneficial properties that I don’t know of, but coconut oil is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. I think that is part of the reason it is the one usually recommended, and perhaps part of the reason it seems to provide so many benefits… :)

    • lwojo says:

      Most oral bacterial are anaerobic or microaerobic. They don’t need oxygen, especially the ones that cause gingivitis and periodontal disease.

  24. Tonya says:

    Here is my 2 cents (worth exactly that). I am an engineer…so am naturally skeptic. I love stacks of data to support claims. I love new ideas (or in this case recycled) but the claims shouldn’t come before the data. I am also hesitant of medical claims from a time in the world when the life expectancy was 30…..that has never made sense to me. Anyway…I am one of those people with a high mineral content in my body. I form tartar quicker than others and have even had to have build-up removed from my salivary glands (I know…yuck). I have never smoked and drink a limited amount of coffee. If you look my teeth they are fine because I stay on top of it. I was online looking for dental tools to use in between cleanings and ran across oil pulling. There was ‘logic’ behind it but very vague facts (logic and facts are way different). Since it was basically harmless I thought I’d would give it a try. Here is my one data point study and my logic. I have done this for one month. My teeth are visibly whiter and feel better (that smooth feeling you have from the dentist) and I have virtually no plaque. Do I feel better all over?…nope. But, then again, I felt fine before. This can not be attributed to additional focus on my dental care. I am just doing different things. I believe the oil coats your teeth and all of the nooks and crannies in a way water or mouthwash can’t. Think of a baked on lasagna pan. If you rinse with water, some things come off. If you scrub….even more comes off but you have to scrub really hard to get it all. But, if you fill the pan with liquid and come back 20 minutes later the gunk is loose and pretty easy to remove. Since we can’t remove our teeth to soak them we need to coat them to get similar results. I think the coating action of the oil enables it to ‘soak’ the tartar off and get into places brushes can’t reach. I can not speak to which type of oil has better healing or bacterial properties. We also know (with proven scientific data) there is a correlation between gum health and heart disease. That study is widely accepted. So, I believe this process does really help with dental and gum health….so it could logically be a preventative measure. (And I didn’t have a heart attack in that month so there is more proof…just kidding!) Will you cure the long list of ailments I have seen listed? My opinion is no. I believe this process actually does help mouth health a great deal. My teeth have virtually no buildup (and I didn’t use my pick for that whole month and I normally used it a couple times a week). The smooth feeling is being clean but also because I put oil in my mouth (duh). To answer the person that asked why it isn’t widely done if it works so good….because it is gross and time consuming. I gagged the first few days…started with a 1/2 tsp and could make it 2 minutes tops. I can not casually go about my morning routine while doing this like others have said. The oils taste and feels nasty and the spit collects fast. And, it takes time. So, it is a lot like exercise…..one of those things that is really easy to find a reason not to do it because we are human…but if you do it you will see individual results.

  25. Anon says:

    What’s the Dr. in Matheron? It sure isn’t in anything to do with science.

  26. Anon says:

    As a dentist, it really pains me to see parents try and “heal” their child’s cavities with oil pulling that they found out about on the internet. What was a simple filling turns into a root canal because their parents tried to “heal” it first and delayed treatment. Also, because they could not afford the root canal the teenager lost the tooth at such a young age. I don’t see much of a difference in these type of parents and those who harm their children using “faith based” medicine. If you believe oil pulling helps your oral health then great keep doing it but don’t put your children at risk because you won’t accept science.

    • Sheepfollowblindly says:

      Anon: agreed. I’m all for less chemicals in your body and I’m not discounting holistics but being a science mind, I am always looking for that hardcore proof. I can see how perhaps the oil effect/moisturizing effect (along with some other beneficial properties) may help keep the teeth lubricated and delay plaque formation but it will regardless. Much like those who think FL is good/bad for you etc etc and Fluoride can go above and beyond and “repair” that cavity – uh no. It MAY arrest the process for a time but the hole is there..it will not help fill in but prevent it from tunneling further at a faster rate (considering other factors like diet, home care etc etc). I hate when these findings turn skewed and misinterpreted. Clinical studies seem to go on forever because they explore the influences of other factors aka ecological fallacy. This needs more study before it is officially proven. In other words – “take it with a grain of salt”.

  27. CM says:

    Holy! With language like that I sure hope you’re never MY doctor, lol!

  28. Peg says:

    I do take this info with a grain of salt. But I am going to try it. I have been going to dr.’s for years for a pain issue and they have not helped me. (No, I do not think the oil is going to cure my pain.) My point is that dr.’s don’t know everything and sometimes their treatments are even harmful. I know they have harmed me. I could write a book. My current pain dr. is a jerk and he is MAD at me because I no longer want to subject myself to some of the tortures available. It is not easy to just change dr.’s when you take strong pain meds, because then they think you are a drug-seeker, and a dr. shopper. Some natural remedies do help and work. Isn’t that one reason everyone is concerned about rain forests being destroyed, because of the natural cures that could be there? Didn’t they find out some years back that there actually is something in chicken soup that helps you get well quicker? It is not expensive, and I don’t see it harming me. If it does not whiten my teeth or help my gums, I will stop, period. If my hubs tries it and it does not help his sinuses, then he will stop. What is the big deal? I have a science degree and I am a vet tech. I believe in science, (not religion, but we won’t go there.) I have seen things work for animals that a vet would NEVER recommend because it would cut into their profits. I do things myself that help my pets that no vet would EVER endorse. But they work sometimes, and if there is NO HARM in trying, go for it. That does not mean I will stop going to my dentist, it just means I have an open mind. I am using coconut oil, it is good for you anyway, and I have some. I have the time, as I cannot work due to my severe pain. I think the dr.s will kill me anyway. I have made a topical mixture of coconut oil, avocado oil, and shea butter for my skin, and it has helped my dry itchy skin more than my prescription did, so what the heck?

  29. Peg says:

    I would also like to say that I recently read that mouthwash with alcohol is now being looked upon as a carcinogen. People use this daily, swish it around in their mouth, and I think dentists still recommend it. I stopped using it long ago. If you brush your teeth very well, and clean your tongue, you don’t need mouthwash. Yet people spend (waste) tons of money on that daily. I don’t see anyone commenting on that! Unless you have a special mouth condition, from what I understand, mouthwash is a complete waste, and can actually harm you. It kills good and bad bacteria in your mouth.

    • Can you elaborate on “now being looked upon as a carcinogen”? By whom?

      • Jan says:

        Brian, I got curious about this and did a quick search using the words ‘mouthwash carcinogen” on Google and top of the list was this article in a UK paper: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/4223380/Mouthwash-can-cause-oral-cancer.html
        Here’s an excerpt: Professor Michael McCulloch, chairman of the Australian Dental Association’s therapeutics committee and associate professor of oral medicine at Melbourne University, said the alcohol in mouthwashes “increases the permeability of the mucosa” to carcinogens like nicotine.

        I don’t want to spend any more time on this but I think it’s worth following up if anyone is curious.

  30. Julie says:

    The act of oil pulling isn’t a cure-all, the health benefits are coming from the coconut oil in ways ill likely never understand. There are numerous studies regarding the health benefits of coconut oil and if you take the time to read, you’ll see those benefits line up with the stated benefits for some with oil pulling.

    I get what you’re going for here though. It’s very “look at how clever I am with my witty satire masking the fact that all I’m doing is ranting”. You keep demanding proof from the general population, but you see, those who swear by this already have their proof. Why don’t you start petitioning the medical field, the medical colleges, or someone with authority to conduct all these tests you so desperately want to see? Because let’s be real, anyone with the opinion that it works bc of what it is or the natural product used, is posting to share their truth and their proof but you merely use their life experiences as a target to rant on further. We get it, you think it’s silly and you’ll not take part. You have many stories here of wonderful effects that people have had, yet that’s not enough, bc you tell all of them “gee it’s cause you’re doing something else differently” or “no it’s just better hygiene practices giving you good results”. You clearly believe yourself to be an authority on this matter, but discredit EVERY persons experience as naive and without authority. Yet we’ve heard nothing of YOUR personal experience, and why is that? This is very much like the little kid screaming that he hates Lima beans without ever tasting them. Eventually that kid grows up and either tries them, liking or hating them but forming his opinion upon experience, or he grows up and admits he has no intention of trying something he doesn’t like the sound of, and he is revealed as the real petulant frightened weenie that he is.
    If you personally hate the idea of oil pulling then hate it. If you hate alternative medicine, then keep the big drug companies in business that many of us might not support. If you love medical doctors then continue to see them. If you think the idea of swishing oil in your mouth is so offensive and controversial that you must rant about it, perhaps you could leave a little room in your bag of tricks for respect. Respecting and being glad for others that have a good experience with it while clearly, as you yourself stated, doing no harm to their health… Now THAT would be the adult thing to do here, instead of suggesting it’s all in these peoples’ heads. You don’t need to discredit other peoples’ experiences just because you don’t agree.

    Personally I’m not sharing my experience, if I even have one, on this topic. I’ll say… If you’ll pass on the coconut oil then hurray there’s more for the others who aren’t too scared to give something new a shot.

    • Julie, I’m not sure how you’re interpreting my piece as a rant against oil pulling. Though I guess if by “rant” you mean “challenge the completely unscientific idea that swishing oil in one’s mouth can cure all of their diseases” then yes, I’m ranting.

      At no point did I say people shouldn’t try it. In fact, I was straight up in saying it might have a slight benefit. Except that benefit hasn’t been proven in clinical trials. So until it is, I’m not going to throw up my hands and say “people say it works, so it works.” I don’t have to “hate” something to have reservations about it doing what its supporters say it does.

      • Marien says:

        Maybe your right Mike, but if you’re going to write a piece on a topic like this, please try it yourself first. After all, you back science and the process of evaluating something, what better way of doing that than trying OP yourself? It’s harmless and non-toxic. I think it would be great for you to try and it would make your post much stronger.

    • lwojo says:

      Scientific method does not have a bias.

      • Jan says:

        Iwojo, I thought I’d ask Google if there was any bias in science. At the top of the list was answers.yahoo, where the voters choice for best answer is: “Bias and belief exists in scientists, not science.” (From http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100121140315AAgxM1n) It seems that no matter how much we try to ensure that humans behave like machines, they seem to almost always show evidence of their vulnerable humanity, with all its flaws and virtues. I see this whole thread as a perfect example of that.

        If I ever get the time, I’ll do some more (scientifically credible) research on the question of bias in science.

        • lwojo says:

          Note I said scientific method, not scientists. Peer reviewed journals help to eliminate bias.

          • Jan says:

            Iwojo,
            Sorry, my mistake. I intended my reply for the second sentence of your other comment to Bronze Oceans, i.e. “Some commentors here seem to think science is biased.” I’m not actually against the scientific method itself – I’m all for it – if it’s applied correctly and honestly. Sadly, that’s not always the case. For examples of scientific misconduct, check out: http://www.thescientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/33695/title/Top-Science-Scandals-of-2012/ This lack of honesty might be part of the reason that the public’s trust in science has been eroded – we are the ones who suffer the consequences of their mistakes, or even of their outright dishonesty in service of the profit motive or academic kudos. The scientific method in itself may be watertight but those who apply it are just human beings.

            With regard to your other comment, “Peer reviewed journals help to eliminate bias”, a quick search reveals that, unfortunately, the journals themselves appear to not be free of bias. That is, if we are to believe such articles as this following one at the International Council for Science’s website in which they discuss the problem of bias from researchers, editors and reviewers: icsu.org/publications/cfrs-statements/bias-in-science-

            I don’t mean to dismiss the huge importance of good science, which is what I hope this website is about. It’s just that I’ve learned over the years that the ideal of an infallibly bias-free science is simply that, a conceptual ideal which, in practice, is subject to the vagaries of human nature. I believe it’s crucially important to keep all this in mind.

        • Naheta says:

          ………. Yahoo answers? Because that’s allowed in college research papers …………

          • Jan says:

            Naheta,
            I didn’t mean to say that yahoo.answers was a scientific source, only that it was voted the most popular view in a public forum in a discussion about science – it was simply meant to be an indication of the general public’s opinion about science. In the second paragraph of my post I did add that if I had the time I would do a further search for a more scientifically credible source for an opinion on bias in science. I’m not able to spend a lot of time on this but I did do a quick search and if you’re curious you’ll find the results in my reply to Iwojo.

        • lwojo says:

          Yes, humans mess up everything, don’t we?! I’ve seen double blinded studies where the conclusion is skewed, based on the author’s previous research, even though the data suggest otherwise. Not everyone goes where the data take them, sadly.

  31. kevinandrew6 says:

    Mike hits an important point in his skepticism of “alternative” therapies: that they are untested, unproven. The sad fact is that it’s in nobody’s interest to run rigorous studies on natural therapies. There’s no money in it, so no one to invest. Drug companies will invest in studies that support the benefits of their $20-a-pill treatments, but no one with any financial sway has an interest in proving the benefits of coconut oil, green tea, or cupping.

  32. fritz says:

    Mike stated “what kind of therapy leaves a person with a mouthful of toxic glop that will harm them if swallowed? No doctor on earth would prescribe that.” and then suggested using a high quality mouth wash. Mike, do you not know that mouth washes contain ingredients that are poisonous if ingested? The “scientific” remedies that can be purchased or prescribed come with more side effects and many times less results. Do a little more research and pull your head out of the corporate ass hole before you try to debunk something.

  33. Kemal Evans says:

    All of you are wrong… and all of you are right… Oil pulling has benefits to it as do most medicinal practices that human beings take the time to add to scripture and preserve. Coconut oil is a superior medicinal and nutritional oil for many reasons but I will leave it to you to research them for yourself. What’s most important is the “real” testimonials of real people with real experience (I’d take real experience over some in-house funded clinical trial. After a orking in the natural medicine, bio control agriculture field (when I’m not making music) as a self study, I’ve seen first hand how bent so many of these so called “clinical trials” are… SRI antidepressants, Monsanto, Bayer, Systemic fungicides… you name the trial, I can almost surely tell you who bought… I mean “funded” it).
    I agree some minimal policing aimed at charletons trying to dupe people into buying false hope and those who prey on sick peoples desperation in general is warranted… However… Being one of the candle blowers that spits on every thing that doesn’t fit into an incomplete human understanding of “science to date” is totally counterproductive and short sighted (ergo lacking space for evolution). Just because you can’t see or define the connection between a mother and child, or twins, or a feeling that someone is watching you…… or thinking about you, doesn’t mean that it’s quackery to call it a present energy… It just means that you’re either not yet educated or evolved enough to understand it… Or perhaps just too ignorant. You want to talk cutting edge science where science and religion intersect? Try the power of thought, hope, love, anger, greed… Feelings and thoughts generate an energy that travels at the speed of light cubed through time and space, lead or star unimpeded (they tested it on the last flight back from the moon)… That’s a scientific fact… Also, a machine capable of recording a visual image of thought/feeling energy has just been developed.
    So what I say, is that anything that gives people hope and or makes them think they feel better is a blessing… I would spend a little more time focusing on things that are actual unfounded BS rather than peppering everything that is liable to get some attention while you rip it up… Santa may not exist… And no doubt that Christmas is cross pollenated with some materialistic, religious fueled commerce stimulating insanity… but seeing your kids faces light up in the morning and seeing everyone act out their seasonal love and generosity… Families together, time off work… That is a blessing… (Even if a blessing sporting a faux fur coat ;).
    Let people drink monopole magnetic water, wear crystals and ground their bodies while they sleep… because as much as some fancy brained human hasn’t figured out how to label these miracles of natures primary mode of action… They still work and make people feel good… Isn’t that what really matters?

    Kemal Evans ~

    • Kemal Evans says:

      I just read my “rant” :) and wanted to clarify that I meant to say “We” instead of “You” and that I include myself in the group that is both wrong and right. I don’t think this site or it’s author are evil, I just think there are actual evils that go unscathed happening in our medicine and our food sources that could use this kind of skeptical attention… Like: is Prozak really something you should give your kids? Does aspartame contribute to MS? Is GMO driving food allergies and leaky gut syndromes? What should we do about the pandemic of antidepressants and prescription pills killing us or worse making us kill ourselves? Why can’t unicorns have existed…? Ok the last one was just comic relief but there’s a lot of quack that needs real reporting and a forum to answer questions. So ya, peace! Kemal

  34. justamom says:

    Ok first let me say I am not a Dr just a massage therapist w 3’kids. Now out of those 3 kids 2 are disabled (some would say) one with autism and the other with…..oh yes that right none of the 30 doctors that we have Been to know what is wrong w my baby. So after sitting in drs offices w him and spending weeks upon weeks in the hospital while he fights for his life I made a decision for us. Not for the whole world just us ..w my son w autism I had started changing his diet giving him more natural food and less chemicals in his body so I that I would do the same w my other son and only take him to the Dr when all else fails. With that said my kids are doing great and the one w physical trouble has not had any in 3yrs. So when I hear anything that has a natural ability to help me or my children then I try it. Everybody should have common sense and know what just sounds to good to be true. I oil pull and so far so good..I may suggest my children try it. Do I think its gonna make them better in any way ? Absolutely not but it does take away a few more chemicals put in their bodies. So the way I see it is you will always have at least 2 different opinons on everything and anything so why not just find out for yourself(as long as its not Looney tunes run crazy).Like I said I’m nobody special its just my opinion.

  35. lwojo says:

    You made me snort coffee out my nose, thanks!!!

  36. Sarah says:

    I think the point which many people are missing here, is a grasp of the ‘medical model’ which we are accustomed to in the western world. In that it is about disease, diagnosis, treatment, Following the course of treatment, the patients condition is then reviewed and evaluated in terms of treatment effectiveness. That’s me putting it into my own words, not something I’d write in an essay. No haters please, I’m sure most people will get the gist of what I’m trying to say.

    What I think we are talking about with this oil pulling, is holistic, I’m not a practitioner in this, or anything, but I understand that a holistic approach, treats the person as a whole, treatment is prescribed based upon a full assessment of the whole person, not what medical conditions they meet the criteria for. It’s not a disease/cure kind of model. So the effectiveness can not be measured through double blind randomised controlled trials. Using alternative/holistic is about keeping your body in ‘balance’ which is what helps you stay free from disease, and as far as I understand this, you wouldn’t start doing this because it has helped 9 out of 10 females age 37 with wine stained teeth. It would be something a holistic specialist would recommend for you based upon an assessment of you as a whole.

    • lwojo says:

      I do understand what you’re saying, Sarah, but my beef with most holistic treatments is that there is no data behind them. I’m not saying all natural treatments/medicines don’t work (sialic acid/aspirin is a great example of one that does work). Most of the claims I see with holistic treatments are completely anecdotal. The vast majority of the claims made about alternative medicine have been debunked by science (as Tim Minchin said, “Do you know what they call “alternative medicine” that’s been proved to work? Medicine.”)

      The studies done on this particular treatment show that oil pulling is as effective as current treatments (including brushing and flossing), so why not save time and use those (there are all natural tooth pastes). My major concern with this sort of non-science is that someone may think this is an actual cure for a disease and not consult a doctor.

  37. Naheta says:

    He did and said it wasn’t blinded very well every hear of the placebo effect? Hell we learned about that in my intro stats class

  38. Sarah says:

    But this is why there is no data behind them, they are impossible to evaluate, they are based on a completely different belief system. Not a medical model.

    I take medication prescribed by a medical doctor, one medicine is prescribed to me ‘off label’ another is prescribed as indicated, but the second one does not work for me as it claims to. Also, I have suffered excessive weight gain from taking these, my doctor blames the one which states weight gain in her BNF, whereas I’m certain it’s the one that doesn’t state it causes weight gain, although this is the one she prescribes me ‘off label’ so I’m like…’it might not say weight gain, but it also doesn’t say it treats the condition you are giving me it for’ It works for me, but the medical literature does not explain why, but doctors are still prepared to prescribe it.

    If we were to evaluate the effectiveness of holistic treatments, approaches or whatever, as far as I understand it, it would have to be a study of ‘people who use holistic therapies, incidence of disease and stained teeth’ if it shows that people who use alternative/holistic therapies are generally free from disease, have good teeth, hair and skin, and sleep well..for example, then you can propose that they are effective, but you’d never be able to say that those individuals are healthier cause they used the alternative approach to wellbeing. You just cannot prove it. It will always be backed by anecdotal evidence.

    People use alternative approaches because they believe in them, not cause they need scientific proof.

    I agree, the study you are talking about is indeed nonsense, no way you can compare a holistic treatment to a conventional medical treatment, they are not of the same philosophy.

    • lwojo says:

      This is where the alternative stuff enters into “woo”. One can evaluate lifestyle choices: people who eat low-fat diets are healthier than those who eat high-fat diets, for example. We can perform longitudinal studies to evaluate lifestyle choices (the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study is a great example of one), so it isn’t about a belief system. If it comes down to belief, you’re describing the placebo effect. People can purchase/use whatever they want, but I worry about people who are either wasting money on treatments they don’t need or are treating a serious medical issue with something that does not work (healthy lifestyle choices notwithstanding).

      The main reason the FDA allows for off-label use is because there is some clinical evidence of efficacy for the secondary use, which is usually observed during the initial clinical trial, or after as more data starts coming in after the clinicals are over and the drug is on the market. Viagra is a great example – it was in clinical trials for treatment of hypertension when male patients in the study started reporting those “other” side effects.

      Doctors are able prescribe off label because of this additional scientific data, even though the manufacturer has yet to do a full clinical trial. In the meantime, if the manufacturer wants to add this additional indication to the package insert, they must do another study proving the “side effect” is real. This is what happened with Botox – the initial indication was for treating wrinkles, but a multitude of side effects kept popping up, such as migraine relief and lessening acne. The manufacturer decided they wanted to add these things as indications in their labeling, so they did specific studies on each side effect, thus generating more scientific data. Also remember that any clinical trial is looking at lots of people, and they don’t always catch every side effect and how a random individual will react to the drug (much like the experience you described). Sorry to go on so long – this is the field I teach in, so it is a passion!

      I don’t want to sound like I’m attacking you – I agree on the fact it is more difficult to evaluate lifestyle choices compared to a normal clinical drug trial, but it is possible.

      • Sarah says:

        No, I don’t feel you are attacking me, not in the least. But I know exactly what you mean, I have been a registered nurse for 18 years, so I know a bit about this too, but I don’t proclaim to be an expert, and I’m not currently working as a nurse on account of my health, so when I see something related to my values, I tend to pipe up….

        I’m quite passionate about not using medication for certain things, particularly mental illness, as this was the field I worked in, obviously at times it’s needed and it saves people, and their families. But the medications have such horrific and deadly side effects, and patients become tolerant of the drugs and continuously need to increase doses or move onto something else, and I believe, where possible, a holistic model of care for patients with mental illness should be the first plan, particularly young people who are having their first episode. I also believe in moving away from the medical model (which is happening, but not fast enough, cause many professionals really don’t understand it) i.e.. re-evaluating what is happening to you in terms of reactions to the outside world, and imbalance in your homeostasis for example….rather than grouping together your symptoms and being diagnosed with something. I think it would go a long way towards normalising mental ill health and people may accept what is happening to them as part of them changing in response to something, and the solution is to find out what.

        I know it’s not exactly a belief, in terms of a religion, but it is a perception, or understanding about what disease is, what causes it, and how it can be cured. In the western world, we believe that an illness should be treated according to what science and research shows is likely to cure that disease/illness. In some other cultures, it’s not about finding a cure from a list of possibilities for that disease, it’s about finding what is causing it for that individual, and treating that, and as we know, people from these other cultures have interesting unique ways of doing this. But what might be a suitable intervention for one person with halitosis, will not be for another, as it depends upon many other factors which course of treatment is used, so we couldn’t really just put everyone on 20 minutes of oil swishing a day…because it goes deeper than that…. I find it interesting looking at other ways of viewing disease and how effective that can be in terms of clinical outcomes, but I’m not sure how this could be conducted and measured in a controlled way, because you can’t just tell someone to view their illness in another way.

        I’m probably taking this to the nth degree, but I’m guessing this oil thing is some kind of Indian or Chinese medicine.

        Incidentally, I had acupuncture for morning sickness, and it was very very effective, after the first treatment he asked how it worked, I said great but it started to wear off after a few days and I had a headache, so he took more of a history from me, repositioned one of the needles and it worked for longer the next time. Could be coiincidence….who knows….

        • Sarah says:

          I wasn’t describing a placebo effect, I was describing alternative perceptions of what we call ill health…here I go again….

          • lwojo says:

            I understand – it is difficult to have this conversation via the comment section! I do see what you mean on Western medicine being reactionary as opposed to proactive.

  39. I just tried this (not for 20 minutes, just a minute or two). It seemed like it made getting my mouth super clean much easier than it is normally. I think its possible that the oil just makes it a lot easier to scrape off plaque during brushing. Oil is a lubricant so it makes sense. The other stuff (diabetes/cancer/whatever) is obviously BS, but it might help make your mouth cleaner. I want a good study!

  40. Mandy says:

    He did say that there could be some benefits, let’s not forget that, people. But to be honest, I think if you do anything for 20 minutes a day you’re going to see a difference. If you rinse your mouth with chlorhexidine for 20 mins a day you would see a difference (however, this is probably not recommended, coconut oil is much gentler). If you play sudoku for 20 mins a day you’re going to get smarter, and if you run for 20 mins a day you’re probably going to see some results. But you wont turn into a genius or break the world record for speed. So lets be level headed. Coconut oil IS awesome stuff, but it isn’t a miracle cure, not matter how you use it.

  41. James says:

    Here is a medical journal article about the actual practice. Just thought you might want to read the science behind the practice.

    • Green Hygienist says:

      The study it uses only has 20 people in it, and the result was the same as with the chlorohexadine rinse…again they rinsed for long periods of time..and there is no follow up done after the initial one…all it proves is that if you rinse with something for that amount of time and are young then brush your teeth you wont have as much plaque…. with plaque gone your teeth look whiter, with the plaque kept off the tissues do become pinker and bleed less…. so it has proven with out a doubt that proper oral hygiene will keep your teeth white, and your gums healthy! ….. I also heard that if you wear a special type of shoe and start walking 2 hours a day this SHOE will actually make you loose weight!

  42. Green Hygienist says:

    Just saying that if you spent 10-20 min swishing with water, then swish with salt water, then brush your teeth for 2-3 min twice a day you would get the same outcome! You are exercising your tissues and jaw with this action and then most likely you are actually being more observant about your brushing habits so of course it is going to work! you don’t even need oil!! I am concerned because some forms of coconut oil especially homemade still have fructose in them which will cause cavities…. also I heard on some page somewhere on the internet that there are these studies that if you floss with hemp floss twice a day it lowers your risk of diabetes, heart disease by at least 75% AND cures periodontal disease!! ;)

  43. Kemal Evans says:

    For the record… ALL medicine starts out with anecdotal results!!!? As well, 99% of all medicine is rendered or synthesized from natural materials. Just like salicylic acid was turned into aspirin, fruits and vegetables turned into vitamin c powder, mold into penicillin… They ALL start with anecdotal results that warrant more discovery. If you go to the amazon and a medicine man heals you with herbs, they work with no need for a clinical trial… Why? Because they have been experimenting and following the anecdotal results to the best treatment. We don’t need millions of dollars and lab coats for something to work. Stop trying to fit everything you can’t explain into a rigid box. Let people experiment so long as it’s safe & no one is being swindled. Without experimentation, we would all be in the stone ages.

  44. Kemal Evans says:

    Mmm chlorohexadine??? No thanks… I’m no chemistry major but chlorine and hexane are not compounds I willingly put into my body? Especially swishing it in your mouth where it enters your blood sublingually, meaning without being filtered at all by your organs… Ya… No. Also, being that 70% of your immune system is in your gut, ingesting or orally swishing any harsh chemical antibacterials will surely damage your intestinal flora… Which is again 70% of your immune system. I would take some organic naturally occurring fructose over man made chemicals any day! And the shoes your talking about have a round sole, so your constantly stabilizing with your core… Your not going to shed 2lb a week but after a few months of wearing them, you have a pretty good chance of a firmer but and core. I’m a little skeptical of the coconut oil actually being a potent astringent but I do believe that it is an anti microbial, antifungal and good for your teeth, eyes, hair and skin… It kinda makes sense that it would benefit our bodies… We are hybrid chimps after all :P

  45. Amelia says:

    why don’t we just try a spoonful ?, instead of that torture, what’s the difference Dr. ?

  46. Frank Lamour says:

    I swished with coconut oil for 20 minutes each morning for a week and a half, spitting out etc, at which point I got a terrible throat infection. Not saying it caused the infection but if it’s so great it should have prevented it.

    • Spelljammer says:

      It is called a healing crisis, Herxheimer reaction. It is different with everyone. Mine lasted 1 day and after that I started feeling better all over. Complexion is more clear, eyes, thinking less foggy. etc. I play chess everyday on my phone on level 4. I can beat the computer about half the time and it was always difficult. Since oil pulling for one week, I can play at level 4 and it seems too easy now, my thoughts are much more clear and concise.

  47. Bill says:

    So nobody has ever just rinsed their mouth for 20 minutes then spit in a dish and looked at it under a microscope? NOBODY?

  48. Dennis Niewiadomski says:

    You “skeptics” make me laugh…HAVE YOU TRIED IT? Didn’t think so! If you think these natural remedies are foolish, i urge you to look at what we call medicine…RADIATION, CHEMO, PILLS BY THE TON THAT HAVE SIDE EFFECTS WORSE THAN THE DISCOMFORT. SERIOUSLY! Hippocrates, the father of medicine said “above all, do no harm”. “let food be your medicine & medicine be your food”. Mainstream America would rather eat processed crap, & then go to a doctor for a pill to cure them…PURE LUNACY, WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!

    • Eric Hall says:

      Do you have a natural remedy for rabies? How about diabetes?

      Cancer survival has dramatically increased since the use off chemotherapy and radiation. Would you avoid those treatments for you or your family iff they had cancer?

      I am awake. Otherwise I couldn’t read your classic woo-peddling “wake up” comment.

      • Spelljammer says:

        Chemotherapy without a buffer added (sodium bicarbonate) is deadly. So, baking soda is added with all chemotherapy solutions. Tests long ago confirmed that cancer can’t survive in an oxygen rich environment. Baking soda has a higher pH therefore adds oxygen. So, is the chemo helping or is it really the baking soda? Is the chemo helping or is the patient more focused on health and what the eat and how much they sleep? Is it a placebo?

        • Eric Hall says:

          Not all use baking soda. The very first one I looked up is Pentostatin – which uses Sodium Hydroxide or Hydrochloric Acid – opposite of that. So…there’s that.

  49. NEW MEXICO RDH says:

    Time is money…20 minutes of my time will cost you $10.00. You want brighter teeth? You want healthy gums? You want to help your body feel better? Can oil pulling be beneficial? You can spend 20 minutes twice a day rinsing with 3 ounces (1.5 ounces each time) of coconut oil, sesame seed oil, or sunflower oil, Then another 2-3 minutes brushing and flossing each time. By the way, which oil is best? Oil is oil…So why not rinse with castor oil? How about Quaker State? Oil of Olay?

    Oral health is important. Good oral hygiene leads to better health. Oil pulling (40 minutes rinsing with 1 minute prep time and 4 minutes spitting into a trash can= 45 minutes daily) mixed in with proper flossing and brushing (4-6 minutes daily) combines for 49-51 minutes daily. The “testimonials of oil pulling” are all wonderful…but facts are facts.

    Plaque is the enemy that hurts your teeth and gums. Plaque can cause cavities, bad breath, and lead to gum disease when the plaque transforms into tartar. The capacity for how much harm plaque can do depends on the sugar/starches in the food in the plaque, the quantity of bacteria in the plaque, and the viscosity of the saliva in the plaque. Oral hygiene is the process used to clean the mouth of plaque. Practicing good oral hygiene is the key.

    Each night before you lay your head to your pillow, you should remove the plaque between your teeth with flossing, then brush for two minutes with separate applications of paste to the brush between your upper teeth and lower teeth. If you want to rinse with a mouth rinse, use one that preferably is alcohol-free. Alcohol-based rinses actually can dry out the gingival tissue. Very rarely does any one use alcohol rinses as directed because they are uncomfortable and burn.
    In the morning, you should brush as you did the night before. Flossing is optional unless you pulled a “Dagwood” during the night…so where did I learn this? Experience…AND dental hygiene school, AND 10 years of being a registered dental hygienist for thousands of patients.

    I have had patients who have properly and improperly applied oil pulling within in their oral hygiene regime. I have patients who properly care for their teeth (as described above) and those who are only concerned with fresh breath or whiter teeth. I have cleaned them all. Those who have spent 4-6 minutes a day flossing and brushing their teeth properly are a bit more easier to clean than the patients who add oil pulling to their oral hygiene. You notice I said I “have had patients” who did oil pulling. They don’t do it any more because it wastes 45 minutes of their day, and according to one patient “my trash can doesn’t smell so bad anymore.”

  50. April says:

    I’ve been oil pulling with coconut oil for about 20 minutes a day for the past week. I have moderate eczema that hasn’t went away with the strongest of prescription steroid creams, so any all natural fad that comes along I’m willing to try it. I haven’t noticed a difference in anything EXCEPT that I feel like I never have bad breathe anymore… No morning breath. I couldn’t remember if I brushed today because my mouth and breath didn’t feel grimy or nasty at all. Plus I love coconut anyways so I actually think it tastes great. I will probably give it a month to see if I’ve had any changes. I will be going to the dentist for a cleaning soon so I’m anxious to see if they say anything….Although I’m not banking on them noticing ;)

  51. OleGunnar says:

    Let’s talk about what’s really important here. I tried it because I had some time and I was curious. I used a regular (non-“organic”, though really, everything is organic, but I digress) refined coconut oil that my wife had purchased for cooking and baking. I swished/pulled a half tablespoon for 20 minutes, spitting out a bit here and there because my mouth was filling with wonderful natural saliva as I progressed. Then I purged the rest when 20 minutes were done. My mouth felt cleaner, like I had just used a mouthwash forever, but it didn’t have the tingly, burny sensation that’s often left over from my mouthwash. I rinsed my mouth out with water because, you know, I follow directions.

    Here’s the most important part though. As I was pulling, I made myself a nice pot of coffee. I used the same brand as I normally do, prepared the same way as I normally do. It’s nothing special, Costco brand house blend roasted by Starbucks, medium roast. Then I used the same amount of cream and sugar as normal. Will you know it, my coffee tasted better today than it usually does.

    Now, this is an anecdote. It’s not even a particularly well written one. I even used a made up word that Ralph Wiggums might have used in a Simpsons episode many years ago, though I think he actually said that it tasted like burning. My anecdote can’t really be tested or proven. It doesn’t change the end result though. My mouth felt cleaner than it did before I pulled, I didn’t have the burning sensation (yes, I wanted you, the reader, to think of an STD here) in my mouth after pulling, and my coffee tasted better.

    I don’t think this is going to cure my mild dandruff, my occasional acne, and it sure as heck isn’t going to make me more productive, but it sure did feel good, and that’s worth it’s weight in, well, coconut oil apparently.

  52. I do oil pulling occasionally. At first I tried it on the off-chance that it had some medical benefits, but now I do it because it grosses my wife out.

  53. trish says:

    Diabetes cannot be “cured” or treated with “oil pulling” . There is No cure for diabetes. I wonder how much truth is really behind any of this…

  54. Annee says:

    I have just learned of Oil Pulling in the last 10 days. I decided to give it a try, I already had the oil and had nothing to lose and a lot to gain. It was a little weird and hard to swish for the full 20 minutes. But… while oil pulling my sinuses improved, It was great. Now it nowhere near cured my sinus allergies and congestion, there was a noticeable improvement. My teeth were a shade whiter, It could be I wanted to see it. They do look whiter to me. Also after I was finished my mouth felt so clean, not even a dental cleaning made my mouth feel this clean. For me, those 3 (maybe 2 if I am imagining whiter teeth, time will tell) make it worth it. It was great to be able to breath through both nostrils again =D I will continue to oil pull and hope for the best. I

  55. Miranda says:

    I have been oil pulling for one week, each day, first thing, for twenty minutes each time.
    To be honest I’m not seeing any difference in my skin, eyes or the colour of my teeth. If anything I have slightly less plaque by the end of the day. I mean, I still have plaque, but maybe slightly less. Maybe. I also have a sore throat at the moment that the oil pulling has done nothing to alleviate or prevent.
    I am pretty healthy generally to begin with, no gum disease or anything like that. Maybe if my baseline health was worse oil pulling might have a more readily perceived benefit. Don’t know.

    TL;DR = I have been oil pulling for a week and it has had almost no noticeable effect.

  56. Laura says:

    Im a hygienist and high blood pressure is a pandemic. Your article does a disservice to millions who suffer with Asthma, allergies, sinus, diabetes, acid reflux, high blood pressure, etc . These conditions ALWAYS affect the mouth. People buy purell to disinfect their hands, pulling with coconut oil, tea tree etc…acts not only like a antibacterial and anti fungal rinse. Xerostomia is addressed without harmful chemicals. Further, nutritionally essential healing qualities to the whole system. Don’t even get me started on smoking !!! 15 years ago who would have thought that. Grocery stores would have antibacterial wipes. In the next 15 years, you will be encouraged to pull. Ive been working for 21 years

    • vic neff says:

      Jan, several years ago at a dental conference in El Paso, an oral surgeon who was speaking there was recommending Crest Pro Health or Biotene…two of his dental colleages had passed way from cancer that was linked to Listerene. Both dentists used it as directed. The surgeon also said studies are being done that link the use of alcohol-based rinses in oral cancer patients. Hope that helps…btw have you noticed that Listerene offers both a less burn alternative and Listerene Zero? Makes you wonder.

    • Doug says:

      Hi I noticed u mentioned asthma, are u saying oil pulling can help with asthma and other lung problems?

  57. annonymous says:

    I think the tone of your article is openly dismissive and abrasive towards the naturopathic remedies which are preceded western medicine. The “evidence” in your article says more about your prejudicial attitude and closed mindedness than it does about the actual subject matter. I am a Registered Nurse and Holistic Nutrition counselor. Words like quack and so on will only lose your audience and close them off to your clearly bigotted ideas. Take a look at today’s healthcare system. It is failing! However if you look at many Eastern philosophies and traditions. You are rude and your response to a number of your readers is obnoxious. Also you don’t state ANYTHING BUT YOUR opinion; which I can’t see is respectable or expert FOR ANY REASON!

    • I never used the word “quack” in the piece. It’s also not my opinion that detoxing is a myth. It IS a myth. The only people pushing the pseudoscience idea of toxins are those selling you products to remove them.

      • Spelljammer says:

        The human body detoxifies all the time. We have a lymphatic system just for that. There is always natural byproducts or waste from your body or foreign organisms that get produced and must get expelled. Hell, even breathing out is a expulsion of toxins.

  58. DIZ says:

    Snort cinnamon and grow new hair !

  59. Connie Hansen says:

    I can think of one reason it would help with night time breathing problems. Use a neti pot to clear out sinuses, then do the oil pulling to create more of a moisturizing barrier in the throat. this keeps the mouth less likely to dry out and cause breathing problems.

  60. Dr. Frank says:

    Being a scientist who eventually became a naturopathic doctor I find all this human interaction to be amusing because it is the only way one can handle it. That is to be amused by it. There is a basis of science to oil pulling. Everything in life is made of substances. To give them names for reference in conversation we came up with chemistry. To discuss the processes of the body we came up with biochemistry and physiology. Most people including doctors, scientists and all writers/pundits are expert at some areas of biochemistry and physiology and suck at other areas of the same disciplines. This creates monkey talk like the previous discussions above which have most likely been frustrating to anyone of remote intelligence.
    The most fascinating point about taking care of one’s body is that it is a personal decision. One need not convince others to maintain one’s health. There are all these people out there evangelizing there health beliefs like it is going to give them extra health points. There are others like the owner of this site who are clever enough to use controversy to become professional story tellers.
    But you do not to convince someone that what you are doing is good to be healthy, just do it and observe the results yourself. If you like them then continue to do it and in the end you will see your results and make your judgement on the merit of your decisions. Get input from your favorite sources of info for health, but make your own judgement calls and forget about the pundits.
    BTW- Oil Pulling does work. The lauric acid in the coconut oil does alter the bacterial flora of the mouth. It does eliminate plaque. The toxin “thing” is semantics. Bacteria have been found in research to mediate several metabolic processes in the body. Some of the mediation is positive and some is negative. The negative effects of bacteria could also be called “toxins”. If any of you went to medical school you would remember that the bacterial flora of the human mouth is very dangerous when not controlled by the actions of saliva, white blood cells and stomach acidity. If a human comes into an emergency room with a dog bite you can close it immediately, but if a human comes in with a human bite it is advisable to keep it open for 12 hours to minimize the possibility of toxic infection so I am always up for maintaining a healthy mouth flora and lauric acid seems to be good at that. Reducing bacteria is also good for the gums because in healthy humans the gums can maintain barely themselves because they have passive circulation and there is so much bacterial damage due to plaque. Try oil pulling and see how the morning scum on your teeth disappears after 7 days. The oil can travel between very small spaces between your gums and teeth to dissolve bacterial populations and reduce stress on the mouth which for some people could be good for their heart valves.
    Other writers were correct, if everyone did oil pulling there would not be enough supplies to go around. Talk to the people in Bolivia about how the U.S. ate so much of their Quinoa that they cannot afford it anymore and if everyone started using herbs we would not have enough. So let them take pharmaceuticals and use toothpaste and mouthwash all they want. I will do what is best for me.
    Here are the scissors and a very sharp knife, have fun cutting this up because I do not really care.
    See you in the next life.

    • Eric Hall says:

      I noticed your e-mail address is for a website advertising a licensed acupuncturist. So my question is, why come see someone at all? Why not just let people stick needles in themselves and try it until it feels good? There is no need to study it. No need to use any sort of process to determine what is right.

      With oil pulling – why not try motor oil? Should we see if that feels good too?

      I am obviously being inflammatory. “Alternative” medicine claims some sort of superiority, yet they all claim to have proof and the “right” way of doing things – just like actual medicine. The difference is medicine has a process which is followed to remove bias. Alt Med likes to claim proof, but they instead start with a conclusion and assemble biased “evidence” to fit the conclusion.

      If coconut oil (which is not what the Ayurveda says to use, but I digress) does indeed change the bacteria, it should be measurable. Does it change the type of bacteria? Does it alter them genetically? Does it simply kill them? This should all be measurable by any reasonable scientific test. Bring the evidence, and we will all be happy to listen.

    • Karatemamma says:

      that is funny…i was bitten by a dog in January and they left it open! They said never ever close it because of the risk of infection was so high! I was also put on an antibiotic for the high bacterial count in the dogs mouth. Yes our mouth is no heaven of flowers and goodness, but the point is oil pulling alone does not replace proper oral care at home.. You still need to floss and brush. I am a dental hygienist and am seeing people that are oil pulling.. The people that do it with brushing and flossing are of course enjoying great oral health! But the people that have dropped the brushing and flossing have large amounts of Calculus (tartar) below the gums… and large amounts of facultative and anerobic bacteria… it is doing more harm to them then good. You don’t like toothpaste? find brush without, but don’t eat sugars or carbs, eat foods with a neutral ph more.

  61. You apparently do not realize that huge successful companies spend a lot of money on what will make them the most profit in terms of how much they need to invest to gain profit.

  62. Mouth Care says:

    Honestly I don’t know anyone who does oil pulling for dental treatment or as part of their oral hygiene but I have personally used virgin coconut oil for my hair treatment and it really is effective. However for oral care, I don’t think it makes much of a difference compared to eating foods that are good for your teeth and gums. A study was released not too long ago and it was based on dietary factors. It says, people from remote places whose lifestyles are quite primitive showed a healthier set of teeth and gums compared to people in the modern world who are exposed to all sorts of unhealthy food diets. I believe it to be true since health comes from within. Our body is nourished by our dietary intakes.

  63. Sceptical says:

    I agree that it is basically pseudoscience, but I also wonder if the ‘miracles’ people are experiencing at least facially are from the fact that swishing ANYTHING for 20 minutes is one hell of a workout for the mouth. Of course you are going to notice some small changes in your face, any time you start upping your engagement of muscle groups you are going to see a change. The increased muscle use may also increase blood flow to the face creating that ‘glow’ I so often hear about. I’m sure I would have the same results with water alone

  64. sean says:

    eat coconut oil after brushing teeth also yogurt is fine after brushing teeth both will add to the gums vitality and not contribute to the bad bacteria which causes things like gingivitis.

  65. Heather says:

    I did my first oil pull with coconut oil last night and was pleasantly surprised, to be honest, after being completely skeptical going in. I’ve always been a fan of coconut oil and it’s always been a major part of my healthy/beauty regime but had never used it as an oral aid because the thought of swishing oil in my mouth for an extended period of time sounded like absolute hell.

    This week, I’ve been suffering from pretty heavy congestion due to the weather changes. I broke my jaw two places in September and with the titanium plates, I get slight pressure and tightness in that region, but it’s not unbearable. I also have a front tooth that was recovering from being bruised in the process so it is often quite sensitive (it was loose for a good while and I was afraid it was dead and would need a root canal. Dentist said it was fine, but it would be very sensitive for a while.) My nose was completely stuffed due to the congestion and my proneness to seasonal allergies in general. Additionally, the skin on my face has been pretty dry due to the abrupt cold the east coast faced in spurts and from being wind battered while going running outside.

    My results of a 20 minute oil pull using organic virgin coconut oil were pretty pleasing. First and foremost, a few minutes after spitting, my congestion eased up and went away (for about the whole period I went to bed, or about a full 7.5-8 hours.) I hadn’t taken medicine all day or done anything differently to aid it other than the pull. Previously this past week, I’ve tried medicine and it would work for an hour or two before returning. Whether the oil was the reason it eased up or just the sheer movement of my jaw for 20 minutes loosened everything up, I’m not sure, but I do know that it absolutely helped.

    As a bonus, my teeth actually DID get a little lighter in color after the first time. And that’s saying a lot. I had braces for a good 5 years and I’m VERY diligent on my oral health especially because of that loose/bruised tooth. My teeth weren’t badly stained but enough to not appear as bright. As a control, I have a porcelain veneer implant because one of my adult canines never came in and subsequently shattered while trying to bring it in with braces. This tooth matched my teeth perfectly prior and there is absolutely a color difference now. The rest of my teeth are at least a shade lighter than that one albeit not too noticeable unless you’re staring intently at my eye tooth. I can also say that my teeth seriously feel like I just came from the dentist and had a cleaning. It really does loosen up plaque and build up, probably because of the “likes dissolves likes” rule, so when you actually do rinse and brush your teeth after, you brush it away. I made sure not to clean my tongue during the brushing just as an experiment and after spitting, noticed I didn’t even need to because there was nothing there.

    This morning upon waking, I noticed that my breath still felt really clean, teeth still very clean, and no bad “sinus” breath – which I’m very, very happy with because I always get a bad taste. I also noticed my tooth was not sensitive feeling when I took a drink of water or tea, another thing I fight with. Topping it off, my skin was soft and smooth (but I knew that would happen anyway due to prior experience just ingesting coconut oil).

    Added bonus for the ladies: it’s currently the lady week precursor for me, also known as PMS, where I crave very unhealthy sweets late into the night and into the morning. Maybe it’s just the fact that it has such a great and fragrant coconut taste, but I didn’t long for the Reese’s in my cupboard nor did I immediately dive into the donuts my roommate got this morning. Something I’ve done every day this week and do every day for a whole week every month.

    Case and point, maybe people do adjust their schedules when they try something that has been “hyped” up because they’re paying more attention to it. Maybe it is just a placebo effect in that manner, I don’t know. What I DO know is that trying it and seeing how it works for you will not kill you. In fact, you won’t be wasting money at all by buying it to try because there are so many uses. Not into oil pulling? Okay. The $5 I spent at Trader Joe’s also bought me a super affordable and very effective hair conditioning mask, a natural sun screen and effective moisturizer (OBX beach house tested for a bunch of hot and sunny summers), a great flavorful “good fat” addition to smoothies, and cooking aid. There are seriously a ton of other uses where it’s beneficial if not just for oil pulling. I’m just saying the oil pulling really did from some sort of benefit for me.

    Side note: a friend of my mother’s starting ingesting a tablespoon of coconut oil every day after her daughter’s friend (who’s family has sworn by it for everything for years so I assume she might have roots that extend to a culture who has an abundance of the stuff and eats a lot of coconut – which studies have shown are some of the healthiest) told her to try it because it “helps satisfy hunger so you don’t overeat”. This lady tried everything else to lose weight from dieting to exercise and nothing. She was steps away from gastric bypass. She lost about 150 lbs because it does just what that girl said. And this is a lady who DOES NOT eat too healthy at all, I swear to god. I didn’t believe her when she said it until I tried it out myself.

  66. ChrisU says:

    Oil pulling does work, but not exactly in the way claimed by many of its proponents.

    When you swish an oil, such as coconut oil for example, it acts as a soap, removing food particles, etc. It would be silly to claim that it doesn’t work, because what you’d be claiming is that soap doesn’t clean surfaces — Which is a far more absurd claim than observing that an oil acts as a soap, and therefore using it orally will clean your mouth.

    The important thing to consider are the broader claims about cancer cures, and other curative effects of this practice, and that is where it makes sense to be quite skeptical.

    But to be “Skeptical” about oil working as a soap? That’s being willfully ignorant.

    It is clear that this practice does provide benefits, in that it cleans the inside of the mouth, but as for the other claims? They seem suspiciously woo-y.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Yes, it may clean the teeth. It says that in this post – and I expound on that in my post as well. That’s not the point. It might clean your teeth – but it isn’t “removing toxins,” “giving more energy,” nor is it “chemical free.” There are now early reports of lipid pneumonia from oil pulling.

      It might clean your teeth – but no better than the remaining steps of brushing, flossing, etc. If one simply brushes properly and for a full 2 minutes, you get the same if not more benefit.

  67. C Haley says:

    Tried it for a week, no more bad breath, lovely white teeth and feel more energised. Worthwhile doing. Can’t see why people are slating it. I have spent more time and money on other treatments over the last twenty years and this is by far the cheapest with the best results. I’ve realised over time that experts that have tried to help me with acne and morning breath have just put a plaster on the ailment and not actually helped with the root cause. It’s all money orientated. If only I knew then what I know now about food, cleaning products and to listen to the body and look at alternative treatments. I don’t need a BA, I’ve got life experience.

  68. Suzan Gutta says:

    I have never heard of the oil pulling treatment, but some of office employees does you use this technique. They swear by its results. In my opinion, products only having natural substances work in regards to oral health. Nowadays, we can see that most of the people are buying organic products. Propolis, natural health are a few organic products. I use Propolis to maintain my oral health. Propolis contains anti bacterial qualities and ingredients, which help to stop bacterial build up in our mouth.

  69. lisa says:

    I started oil pulling 3 weeks ago. I have no other medications that I take. I would like to know how my fungal toenail of ten years has disappeared after just ten days of pulling. I have no other reason to believe it wasn’t the coconut oil. Try it people, there are too many pharmaceutical lovers out therNOT to try it!!!!

    • Eric Hall says:

      There is a small problem with this observation. It would be nearly impossible for you to know if the fungus has disappeared because the nail would still have the appearance of the infection even if the infection was cured. Toenails grow roughly 3 mm a month. So it would take at least 3 months in order to know if the infection at the base of the nail has indeed been killed.

      • Spelljammer says:

        More than likely she put the coconut oil on externally as well. Coconut oil is a great antifungal…http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17651080

        • Eric Hall says:

          A couple problems – one is that is in vitro – which lends plausibility to trying an external use trial but does not guarantee success. Many in vitro tests do not pan out due to the much more complex chemistry of the body.

          Second, again – even if the internal or external application killed the fungus, the damaged nail would take months to grow out to show the fungus being killed. The damage to the nail wouldn’t be reversed.

  70. Being it an oil, wouldn’t it help removing all the oil-soluble food wastes sedimented in our teeth?(Sorry for my English – not my native language).

  71. MaryAnne Tom says:

    You say that doctors don’t prescribe something that would be toxic if swallowed as therapy, but they prescribe toothpaste and mouthwash every day that are very toxic when swallowed in quantities…

    • Eric Hall says:

      Everything is toxic in the right dose. Water can kill you if you drink too large a quantity – I don’t expect doctors to tell you to stop drinking water either.

      • Kevin Ryckman says:

        I don’t see the point of arguing something that makes people happy. If everyone lived a pathetic life like your own Eric the world would suck like your attitude. I’ve been oil pulling for 3 months brushing as normal and my teeth are whiter, I no longer have trouble sleeping at night and my teeth aren’t sensitive to cold like they were before. All I have changed is swishing oil every night before bed so obviously it works. Those are the effects most noticeable to me…
        Maybe try it out?
        What I understood is that the bacteria in your mouth gets trapped in the oil and expelled when you spit it out.

  72. Anon says:

    I don’t understand why people like Eric Hall (nothing personal, your name is just the easiest to remember, and the one that pops up commonly) insist on being “right” about this. It’s silly. Whether it’s placebo, or anecdote, or the coconut oil itself, or the changes in oral health regimes that people make while oil pulling…whatever it is, people are seeing results. So what if it’s not the coconut oil itself? If people are seeing results, they’re seeing results. For you to tell them that they’re not actually seeing results is as “unscientific” as you claim oil pulling to be, since you’re not there to observe the results (or lack thereof) yourself.

    As many people have said, no one is exploiting anyone here…no one is getting rich off oil pulling. Coconut oil sales may have increased, but by no means is this a “scam” or money-grab. A fad? Maybe. But it’s an ancient technique, so maybe not. Either way, there’s absolutely NO scientific proof that it causes harm, or has the potential to cause harm, while there ARE some observations of benefit, even if it’s minimal (such as a decrease in bacteria, leading to an improvement of bad breath). And yes, observation is scientific…much more so than your bald assertions that the people observing benefit are wrong.

    • It’s actually NOT an ancient technique — that’s marketing rhetoric. To find out what the ancient Ayurvedic manuscript Charaka Samhita actually said, see the Skeptoid episode on this at https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4409.

      Of course, that’s to say nothing of the fact that therapies are determined to work or not by testing them, not by asking whether ancient pre-scientific people believed them.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Lets consider one proponent of oil pulling – Dr Mercola. Wouldn’t you know it he sells the “right” kind of oil on his website and says you should get it from him because he is trustworthy. In other words, they are at the very least taking advantage of your wallet.

      However, my problem with these kind of claims is the lack of disclosure of risk. It is a hallmark of pseudoscience to claim “ancient treatment” and “natural” so it is 100% safe. Nothing is 100% safe and at least science acknowledges that.

      And guess what, it turns out oil pulling does have some risk.

      http://skeptoid.com/blog/2014/03/08/oil-pulling-revisited-where-the-danger-lies/

  73. Anon says:

    Ok…it’s based on ancient techniques, but the modern technique is not the ancient technique, per se. Either way, you’re saying that neither technique, whether modern or ancient, is scientifically proven to be effective, correct? Does it really add anything to what you’re saying to point out that distinction? Or are you just trying to get more clicks on your website by posting that link?

    By the way, making claims and then linking posts to YOUR OWN website that contains YOUR OWN opinions, thoughts and research in support of YOUR OWN claims, is not really convincing…

    Bottom line is that some people don’t need things to be scientifically proven in order to evaluate truth and/or effectiveness. Some people are OK with just making the decision to do something because they feel that it’s beneficial to them without needing to get proof or approval from the scientific community. Consider that a good thing, because if everyone limited themselves to what other people told them is possible, science wouldn’t advance at all. The world would still be flat, and the Earth would be the centre of the universe.

    • Eric Hall says:

      A lead goblet can also make wine taste better. So since it makes people feel good should we ignore the science on that? I can think of many examples of things that are harmful physically that science tells us we shouldn’t do but might still illicit a good feeling.

      Even if there is no physical harm – there is a possible harm of either foregoing needed care or at the very least a waste of money.

      Guess what – it isn’t as harmless as those believers like to claim. And while those believers also like to claim dangers in standard care – at least science can quantify that danger.

      http://skeptoid.com/blog/2014/03/08/oil-pulling-revisited-where-the-danger-lies/

      • Anon says:

        Sigh…I now realize that you guys are just internet trolls arguing for the sake of arguing and so that you can post links to your own articles and therefore generate more “hits”.

        That’s the only explanation for comparing drinking/ingesting wine from a lead goblet to swirling some coconut oil around in your mouth and spitting it out. What a ridiculous comparison.

        Yes, there are risks that people may neglect standard oral hygiene care, but that’s not a risk that can be blamed on oil pulling itself, because there are also people who won’t neglect standard care while oil pulling. Those people who choose to neglect their oral hygiene while oil pulling would probably be more likely to neglect it even if they weren’t oil pulling.

        You said: “Even if there is no physical harm – there is a possible harm…” There’s a possible harm to EVERY thing we do in our lives. There’s a possible harm of you choking on your food and dying. Does that stop you from eating? There’s a possible harm of you getting killed in a car accident. Does that stop you from driving/bussing to work? Do you really think the “possible harm” from oil pulling warrants as much concern as you have for it? And how people want to spend their money is absolutely none of your concern. So why are you concerning yourself about it?

        Lastly, science can quantify the danger of standard care? Really? Please tell me what the quantified danger of any form of standard care is, according to science.

        If you’re going to argue on the side of “science”, at least argue logically and with some intelligent thought.

  74. Johnny says:

    Oh… I get it, so because no or not enough scientific research has been done to please some people, it’s got to be utter crap! I say balls to science research. God exists but unless science proves it, people like Eric Hall won’t believe.

    • Eric Hall says:

      As a scientist, I look for a few things in deciding if something is “true.” Certainly evidence, especially in the form of repeated testing and observation is some of the strongest evidence. Plausibility is another determining factor.

      Taking things on faith without at least examining the evidence is where there is real danger. You bring up god. I consider myself agnostic because, as a scientist, I find it difficult to form a testable hypothesis for the existence of god. I know plenty of scientists who believe in god and go to church, but at least they acknowledge they have critically thought about it and evaluated that their belief is based on faith, and the benefits of the social interaction far outweigh any possible risks in attending church.

      With oil pulling, there is some possible harm that has recently come to light. While I don’t find that definitive, and I don’t see much harm (yet) other than to the wallet, go ahead and spend time and money on it. Just know it is very likely a waste of resources as there are less expensive and faster ways to clean your teeth. Also know the other claims of “toxins” and such are total nonsense.

      FYI- other scientific takes on the subject – http://skeptoid.com/blog/2014/03/08/oil-pulling-revisited-where-the-danger-lies/

      • Ansley says:

        Some people need evidence, of the study of people who have gone before. Some people just know. We need to be more understanding of the scientific community of people without a strong inner knowing, with a mind that can only analyse and accept what is. Poor souls.

  75. As I read through the article (before I saw who wrote it)..I was thinking in my head ‘hhmmm, must be one of those cohorts and shills , again, perhaps?’.

    Then when I scroll down the end of article and I saw the author’s name

    …….Mike ROTHSCHILD. Everything = clear.
    Dang! Even the favicon says it all.

    No wonder oil pulling , detox, blah, blah,blah does “not” work even when there are people all over the world, at least majority of them including me, has benefited greatly from it. Real live testimonies vs A Rothschild’s “opinion”…lol.

  76. yolanda says:

    This is funny to me. Medical solutions normally cost lots of money and require you to make lots of trips to hospital for a medication that only treats symptoms and hardly ever cures a person. I’m in the medicl field and have resorted to using ONLY natural remedies since I never see any real improvement with pills that cause side effects that require you to take more pills to get rid of. Maybe if this blogger had actually tried it before tryin to disprove it he would be saying something very different. Js

    • Alison Edwards says:

      If you believe that ” medication only treats symptoms and hardly ever cures a person”, you should probably talk to an infectious disease doc. They will set you right.

    • Really? five bucks of amoxicillin cured my child’s ear infection and prevented deafness five years ago. Hasn’t had another one.
      Cheap…check, cured…check, needed more pills….nope. natural……nope.
      oil pulling implausible nonsense yup.

      • Nathan says:

        As humans we can remember everything & learn nothing. Good Nutrition & healthy practices are the best ways to stay above prescribed medication.No one denies the medical industry have cured disease, but if the food we eat is good enough to keep us alive, could it be good enough to cure ailments? If our body absorbs poisons & toxins through our skin & tissue into our blood stream coulld it be possible the oil pulling method (in it’ s simplicity) pulls toxins back through the same tissue from the bloodstream? No, I have no scientific proof, but when I’m in a darkened room I don’ t need to be shown the source of light,only the light switch… Oil pulling works for me….

    • Why would me personally trying something make it have a different outcome than it already has?

      Oil pulling is not a magical cure-all. Me personally doing it doesn’t change that.

      • Spelljammer says:

        You are right, semantically, that you doing it doesn’t change its real world properties. But you doing it could change your perception of it, especially if you had real health problems when you started. Imagine if Thomas Edison didn’t think that the electric light bulb was possible. The filament would melt too easily, hard to maintain a vacuum. Imagine he tried 1000 experiments and still failed (he did). But if he succeeds, then what he says about light bulbs from then on will be completely different.

        • Eric Hall says:

          Yes, but Edison started with a plausible idea, and then worked to use science and repeatable experiment to demonstrate it worked. Given his plans, I could build a light bulb and expect it to work in a similar fashion which strengthens his hypothesis of the light bulb working.

  77. Ansley says:

    Toxins are excreted on glands on your tongue, placing under your tongue things can go directly to certain areas. You have glands in your neck… I believe it can work but Im not sure why use oil, water should be fine when brushing your teeth.

  78. It irritates me and shows a racist bias that you would include the phrase “all performed in India”. This completely disregards the amazing tradition of scientific discovery that India has as well as the fact most scientific documents were translated in to hindi as the language is much more elegant scientifically than english. Next time you are doing some simple math to pay your bills, thank india for multiplication and numbers in general. In fact when westerners were running around in untanned hides, killing each other with stone axes…The Indians were performing astronomy and watching plays. Learn some actual science.

    • And you are confusing Indians with the Arabs. Learn some actual history. http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4316

      • sigh* why do you run a website claiming any sort of scientific anything and you blew past being an ignorant racist.

        You must have confused Al-Ghazali with Al-Khwarizimi and left an off topic rebuttal.

        Its glyphs are descended from the Indian Brahmi numerals. The full system emerged by the 8th to 9th centuries, and is first described in Al-Khwarizmi’s “On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals” (ca. 825), and Al-Kindi’s four volume work On the Use of the Indian Numerals (ca. 830). Today the name Hindu-Arabic numerals is usually used.

        • What is your justification for calling Mike an ignorant racist, as that seems to be the topic of most interest to you? I can assure you he’s not ignorant; and if your best analysis of his pointing out that most Ayurvedic papers are published the land where Ayurveda is practiced is that it can only be a racist slur, then I encourage you to seek other explanations for why this might be. Even if Mike had not referenced it, it would still be a fact; and thus remains so regardless of outside opinions.

          I have a Jeep in my garage, and it remains there no matter whether someone may think I have it because I’m bigoted against Fords.

          (Mad props to all things Stan Winston, by the way. He was highly influential on me as a kid.)

  79. Frank says:

    Here’s two articles with authentic information on oil-pulling from the classical form in which it is practiced in Ayurveda, which will hopefully shut all of you up already with your opinions.

    http://trueayurveda.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/oil-pulling-an-ancient-ayurvedic-treatment/
    http://toddcaldecott.com/what-is-oil-pulling/

    • In medicine, antiquity is a much stronger indicator of obsolescence than it is of effectiveness. Also, the only mention in oil swishing in the Ayurvedic texts was a quick gargle & spit after a meal, it had little to do with what today’s proponents claim.

  80. mbrittish says:

    I remain skeptical, but optimistic. I think there is clear supporting evidence that simply exercising the muscles in ones face can have positive impact on skin and muscle tone. The claimed sinus benefit might be related to that fact. Also, I suspect gargling with anything would help certain people whom do not engage in oral hygiene after eating. Furthermore, there are studies showing how saliva has a tooth restorative affect; and that could easily play a part on these claimed benefits (for some people). I think it is an interesting idea, but I have to be really skeptical about people or a low class network television channel using this idea to move an expensive coconut oil product, that likely has greater value than corn oil. Why is the ADental Association so proud of saying, ‘there are insufficient studies available’. Why don’t they show a real concern for the American health and, for once in their existence, take an official position. Is it so much easier and profitable to have no real opinion in the business or oral hygiene?

  81. asdwriting says:

    Even if it is only as effective as mouthwash, anyone would be smart to use it instead of mouthwash which more often than not contains chemicals BAD for health and oral hygiene.

  82. Dave Martin says:

    Though your blog is titled “skeptoid”, I sense that you are a true believer in mainstream medicine and nutrition.
    With my biology degree, I thought that the double blind study was the gold standard for truth and reality until I read Dr. Robert Atkins books about the millions of dollars that a double blind study costs and the control that drug companies have over which papers end up getting published. My belief in the status quo took a hit, and a healthy skepticism took it’s place.
    Probably my comment has little chance of your reading it. But the best arbiter of truth is the God who made us. I wish we would all seek Him more for true understanding of things.

  83. Which is healthier to use?? In my opinion, I would still go over mouthwash because it is chemically approved by the association. I’ve also read an article in which they use herbal as mouthwash, some only use ingredients which could be found at home.

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