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What Is Oil Pulling? How A Healthy Mouth Can Mean a Healthy Results for the Body

Updated on September 12, 2013

Toxic Mouth

Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic remedy in which one holds pure, unrefined oils – sesame or sunflower – in the mouth for several minutes, swishing from time to time. The method extracts impurities of the body through the mouth. These toxins include mercury, anesthetics, bacteria, lead, arsenic, and so on.

This doesn’t sound like a particularly appealing cleanse, does it? However, this means of detoxing offers visible effects. In her book, Radical Medicine, Louisa L. Williams recommends oil pulling for a few days after a trip to the dentist. She suggests holding a tablespoon of oil in the mouth for up to ten minutes, swishing and “chewing” along the way from time to time. During this time, the gold color of the oil turns to a white color, thus being the toxins withdrawn. She offers the added relief of gargling and rinsing with baking soda and salt to expel the oiliness, then a good tooth brushing.

It is said to help reduce gingivitis, plaque buildup, and halitosis.

The mouth acts as an indicator of the health of the rest of the body. It has good and bad bacteria in it, just like the rest of the body. However, when the bad bacteria become unruly, it can access the rest of the body via the mouth, which is why tooth brushing and flossing is so important.


What Does My Mouth Indicate?

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are major issues that can be caused by or indicated by oral health. Cardiovascular disease may be caused by gum disease. HIV/AIDS can be indicated coupled with mucosal lesions, while losing teeth before the age of 35 may indicate the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Gum disease allows for cuts in the mouth which can be the gateway for more harmful bacteria to make their way into the blood stream, carrying it to the heart, lungs, and other organs, and over-all affecting the immune system. Gum disease has been suggested to be linked to premature births and underweight births as well.

The American Heart Association’s studies have shown that when periodontitis, a form of gum disease, is at work the immune system attempts to combat this, causing inflammation in the gums. When this happens, it not only inflames the blood vessels in the mouth, but throughout the rest of the body, thus causing blood pressure to rise, and increasing risk of heart attack and/or stroke.

Dental Relationship Chart

Here is a chart developed by Dr. Fritz Kramer, D.D.S. and Dr. Reinhold Voll, M.D, showing the meridians that connect different parts of the body with different teeth
Here is a chart developed by Dr. Fritz Kramer, D.D.S. and Dr. Reinhold Voll, M.D, showing the meridians that connect different parts of the body with different teeth | Source

My Teeth and My Liver?

As mentioned before, Dr. Louisa Williams writes about Focal Infection, relaying that a tooth with a focal problem could affect another part of the body that is seemingly unrelated. The example used was an infected wisdom tooth affecting a joint or an organ, due to the bacteria within the infection.

Dr. Fritz Kramer, D.D.S. and Dr. Reinhold Voll, M.D. created the “Dental Relationship Chart”, which is based off Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM) elemental principle – that there are five elements into which each part of the body and ailment fall: earth, water, fire, wood, and metal. They found that each tooth corresponded with an acupuncture meridian, and thus to said meridian’s correlating organs, tissues, and functions. For example, the right lower canine falls into the element of wood, and corresponds to the right posterior knee, hip, and lateral ankle, the testicles, the right side of the liver, gallbladder, and right side of the biliary ducts. The upper right canine follows suit.

Dr. Francis Pottenger validated the theory that the liver, the most stressed organ in our body with all the toxins we take in, would be connected to the strongest teeth: the canines (cuspids). He did this by feeding devitalized food to several generations of cats. “In three to five years, all the incisors and most of the molars are missing,” he reported, and that the cuspids were the ones that were most resistant to abscesses.

How Often Do you Brush Your Teeth?

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What Can I do?

Because of the importance of a healthy mouth to the rest of the body, it is necessary to take preventative measures. Nutritional supplements are highly beneficial, especially coenzyme Q10 which is quite effective against gum disease and will strengthen all dental tissues. Brushing twice a day, or after each meal is of course the standard preventative, as is flossing at least once a day. Baking soda and tea tree oil are both very good for DIY toothpaste or gargles.


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    • ThompsonPen profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicola Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      An AYM - The oil pulling is a much debated method of detoxing. I have read many who have sworn it works, and I have read studies which say that it doesn't. I don't know how it works, or if it works. It's just a method I found interesting enough to share and hopefully spark conversation amongst readers so that we can all learn more about it :)

      As far as how metal contaminants accumulating in the mouth go - check out your tongue. Do an experiment. If you have a white covering to it, as most of us do, monitor it for a few days while altering your diet, how much water you drink and so on. Do a mini detox. When the body is healthy, the tongue should be a light pink.

    • profile image

      An AYM 

      7 years ago

      Mmm, I found this interesting, but I have a couple questions:

      1. How would heavy metal contaminants accumulate in a mouth? Even if you had dental implants and such, those would go into your digestive track as they wear down in your mouth.

      And 2. I can't think of a mechanism by which the presense of oil would liberate heavy metal ions from tissue. I don't personally know of any particularly strong attraction between ions and lipids (But then again there are many things I don't know), so failing that the only thing I can think of would be osmosis and you could do that with a mouthful of water, were that the case?

    • editsvcs profile image


      8 years ago

      I find ayurvedic remedies fascinating. Have long been using turmeric in the diet as an anti-inflammatory and oil as a skin cleanser, as counter intuitive as that seemed at first. I'm not so sure about oil in my mouth though... I agree with the prior poster, makes me a bit queasy too.

    • ThompsonPen profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicola Thompson 

      8 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      Yeah, I can't say I'm fond of the idea myself. I once tried it ago with it must have been standard veg oil, and it was not tasty. I haven't tried it since, but it's on my list of things to experiment with. However, having said that, I hated mouth wash when I first started using it, and now I can't start my day without it. There's no official "proof" that it works though, at the moment. But they are also only just now investing money in studies of the long-known effects of standard herbs, even though we've all known lavender works for relaxation and garlic will support the immune system for hundreds if not thousands of years. Oh science and your reliance of funding for studies :)

    • QudsiaP1 profile image


      8 years ago

      This is such an important hub and you have shared quite an informative article upon the health of the mouth though I have to admit that the very idea of having oil in my mouth makes me a bit queasy.

    • ThompsonPen profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicola Thompson 

      8 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      Thanks so much!

      Pamela-anne: I did have a look because I had the same question. I love coconut oil. Im sure it wouldn't hurt, but I only saw suggestions for sesame oil and sunflower oil, but the most emphasis and recommendation for the former.

    • Pamela-anne profile image


      8 years ago from Miller Lake

      Great informative hub I was wondering if coconut oil would work as well? Thanks for info. Voted up!

    • Melis Ann profile image

      Melis Ann 

      8 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Fascinating perspective on extracting toxins through the mouth. I am already aware of the importance of a healthy mouth and the link to heart disease but this takes it to a new level. Great advice and thanks. SHARED!


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