Look & Feel Better with All Natural Oil Pulling — Part 1

The body must be credited with an immense fund of know-how. 

– Deepak Chopra


Over the past few years, I’ve heard various people mention the health benefits of oil pulling, saying that they absolutely swear by this all natural, ancient Ayurvedic tradition. Evidently, the term did nothing to initially draw me in, as I subconsciously filed it away in my mind under the ever-expanding category of ‘odd health practices,’ assuming that’s where it would safely stay — tucked away in the dark recesses of my info-saturated memory, along with Saved by the Bell re-runs, Ace of Base singles, and hot yoga (shudder).

And there it did stay for quite some time, until a few weeks ago when I suddenly starting seeing those two words appear side-by-side everywhere I looked — accompanied by rave reviews from professionals and laymen alike. I decided to get to the bottom of this pressing question — “to pull, or not to pull” — by asking one of my dear friends, Isabelle Vauthier (a health-care professional in her own right) to explain the process, and help us understand what makes this ancient tradition so fantastic.

Years ago, witnessing a scene like this might have caused me to think, “and there it is: more proof that I do not understand healthy people.” Nowadays, seeing a photo like this elicits a response of, “oh wow! That looks so cool!” This indicates our natural ability to change, and try new things — like Qi Gong, which is what the people on the beach are doing, and something that I now practice!  Photo courtesy of Isabelle Vauthier.

An ancient Ayurvedic remedy

To catch everyone up, oil pulling is basically the daily practice of swishing around high quality oil in one’s mouth (in the morning, prior to eating) in order to pull out bacteria and other stuff:

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for oral health and detoxification. It involves the use of pure oils as agents for pulling harmful bacteria, fungus, and other organisms out of the mouth, teeth, gums and even throat. It helps to reduce the amount of germ count in both teeth plaque and mouth saliva. The lipids in the oil both pull out bacteria, as well as stop bacterial from sticking to the walls of the oral cavity.”

One of the liveliest people I know, Isabelle and I have shared many moments together dancing, and sharing tips on the latest (and oldest!) health tricks and trends. In the first of two parts of an investigation into oil pulling, she shares with us her experience with this useful, inexpensive practice.

I know Isabelle from our dance classes here at the yoga studio, which we’d follow with chatting about health. We never got around to talking about oil pulling, though, so I was happy when she offered to lend her insight about it here. (She’s top left; I’m second from the bottom right.) Photo by Kimberly Bryant.

K: Why did you start oil pulling?

IV: “I started to do oil pulling at the same time as using a skin brush, with the intention of detoxifying my digestive track. In Chinese medicine, large intestine, lungs and skins work together as organs of detoxification. Both oil pulling and using a skin brush have positive effects on the lymphatic system.

We know that the mouth has the highest concentration of bacteria in the body, so we may as well start there to clean up our overall system.”

Dry brushing is something I do know about: is a wonderful way to exfoliate our skin — our largest organ. As Kris Carr explains, it “loosens dead cells, stimulates acupressure points, tickles your chi, massages your meridians, moves the lymph, helps reduce CELLULITE, stimulates your immune system, wakes up circulation and makes your skin soooo soft and velvety!”

Dry brushing is another all natural practice that benefits our health, as well as our appearance: this cost-effective, sustainable daily ritual helps to release toxins, increase blood circulation, and make our skin smoother and shinier. Photo by Kimberly Bryant

About oil pulling, Isabelle notes that, “not only is it good for cleaning out the mouth and throat, but it is also used to cure a variety of other health concerns.

K: What do we need in order to do oil pulling?

IV: “You need very little! Just very good quality oil — organic, cold pressed, and unrefined. The best oils to use are:

– Sesame oil: the best according Ayurveda tradition.

– Sunflower oil or coconut oil: which contain a lot of healthy proprieties.

– Coconut oil: what I use; a great way to fight Candida.

Oil pulling helps to improve our oral hygiene both aesthetically and on a more holistic level: not only will our teeth appear whiter, but we will be helping our body function better overall. Photo by Kimberly Bryant

K: Can you walk us through your oil pulling routine?

IV: “I swish as soon as I wake up, for 20 minutes, preferably while sitting (and checking my emails!) and before drinking or eating. Your stomach should be empty so that your system is not preoccupied with digestion, but is available to engage in the detox process.

Swish the oil everywhere in the mouth, dynamically, so that the oil goes everywhere and touches every part of teeth, gums, and the inner flesh of your jaws. Sometimes my gums bleed when I swish: this indicates my gums are releasing excess heat and inflammation, which means toxins are probably being pulled out.

You should stop swishing when you feel the consistency of the oil has become like fluid — no longer sticky, and now colored white. It takes about 20 minutes for it to get to this point. It now contains a high level of toxins. Spit it in the toilet preferably and keep everything well cleaned.”

Finding all natural ways to solve health issues is better for our bodies, minds, and spirits — avoiding chemicals and drugs will only serve us in the long-run. Photo by Kimberly Bryant.

All natural, inexpensive, and eco friendly

What I love most about this all natural beauty and health practice is that it is also incredibly cheap and sustainable — eco friendly, and good for our pocketbooks, too! In Part 2, Isabelle will give us some more detailed tips for practicing oil pulling daily, and share her personal morning routine for feeling energized all day long.

Staying balanced is all about nurturing ourselves on the inside — and then witnessing those results in our outside, everyday lives.


Foolish the doctor who despises the knowledge acquired by the ancients. 

– Hippocrates