Tag Archives: oil pulling

Steven Novella on Oil Pulling (or oil swishing)

paleobetic diet

Good source of omega-3 fatty acids

I mentioned oil pulling before, without much cogent comment. It involves swishing edible oil around in your mouth for 10—20 minutes, for oral and systemic health benefits. Steven Novella over at Science-Based Medicine gave it more consideration. His conclusion:

Oil pulling is a suggestive misnomer, implying that something bad is being pulled from the mouth (toxins and bacteria). What little scientific evidence exists shows that it is probably not as effective as standard mouth wash, and what benefit it has is likely entirely due to the mechanical act of swishing to remove particles and bacteria from teeth and gums.

There is no reason either theoretically or based upon any evidence to recommend oil pulling (which should be renamed “oil-swishing”) instead of standard modern health care with flossing, tooth-brushing, and mouth rinse. However, it does appear to be better than nothing, and might have a role in developing countries without access to modern oral care. The one caveat is that extended periods of swishing that are commonly recommended (10–20 minutes) are likely not necessary and further present a risk of lipoid pneumonia from accidentally breathing in small amounts of oil.

Read the rest.

Oil Pulling for Dental Health


tooth structure, paleo diet, caries, enamel

Cross-section of a tooth

Medical student Kris Gunnars has a post on the topic, mentioning it’s a time-honored Indian folk remedy for treatment or prevention of dental problems.

I’d never heard of this before. I have no opinion on efficacy. Kris says to spit the oil out after swishing for 10–15 minutes because it contains “bacteria and nasty things.” I’d be tempted to swallow it unless I were concerned about the 180 calories in the oil. You’re swallowing those bacteria all day anyway. I imagine you have a mouth full of saliva after the first five minutes.

I’m filing this tidbit away for future reference.