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Oil Pulling: Your New Morning Detox

Oil Pulling: Your New Morning Detox
Written By
Photographs By
Jolia Allen for Parachute
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Oil pulling is a growing trend, but it’s not new. The practice, which is based on 5,000 years of Ayurvedic holistic medicine, helps to “pull” bacteria out of the body. Swishing oil is reported to aid in everything from digestion and weight loss to healthier gums and better breath.

Really though? Feeling a tad skeptical – and slightly queasy – we turned to Sahara Rose, a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and author of the forthcoming The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda” and “Eat Right For Your Mind-Body Type.”  “Oil pulling is an easy way to change your entire day,” she promises. “Sure, it sounds weird at the beginning, and I will admit, I spit the oil out almost instantly the first time I tried, but once you get in the swing of things, oil pulling is a practice you won’t want to let go.”

We did some additional research and summarized the history, basic instructions and detoxifying benefits of oil pulling. Plus a refreshing – and convenient – DIY recipe for Coconut and Fennel Seed Oil Pulling Cubes you won’t find anywhere else.

Oil pulling image

History of Oil Pulling

A few fun facts before you start swishing: “Oil pulling comes from Ayurveda, the world’s oldest health system, originating in India 5,000 years ago,” says Rose. “Central to Ayurveda is establishing daily routine. Part of the recommended daily morning routine, called ‘dinacharya,’ includes oil pulling. This practice is called ‘kavala’ or ‘gundusha.’ The founders of Ayurveda knew the importance of a detoxifying morning routine to clean up stored toxins overnight, which we are only beginning to discover today.”

Benefits of Oil Pulling

The motion of swishing oil traps plaque and bacteria and “pulls” it out of your teeth and gums while simultaneously cleansing your tongue and mouth. Optimal oral health extends far beyond the mouth. “Internally, oil pulling helps remove oil-soluble toxins from the system (as these bacteria are harbored in our mouths), improving digestion, preventing inflammation and boosting immune system,” says Rose.

The benefits of oil pulling include the following:

  • cleanse teeth, gums and tongue of bacteria

  • combat plaque build up

  • prevent cavities

  • heal sensitive gums

  • fight bad breath

  • whiten teeth

  • moisturize lips

  • detoxify

  • soothe inflammation

  • strengthen jaw

How to Oil Pull

The basic practice of oil pulling is pretty easy to master. Swish 1 tablespoon of coconut, sesame or sunflower oil in your mouth for about 10 minutes every morning. We recommend coconut oil, since it tastes the best and has antibacterial qualities. Note: Coconut oil is sometimes solid at room temperature (depending on the temperature of your pantry), but it will emulsify in your warm mouth quite quickly. Oil pulling can trigger the gag reflex at first, so if you can’t make it the full 10 minutes, start by swishing for as long as you can and add 1 minute each day. If you’re the multitasking type, try oil pulling while you are in the shower or making your bed in the morning. Just be sure to spit the used oil in the trash rather than the sink or toilet because oil can solidify and clog pipes. Rinse with warm water and follow with your usual tooth brushing, flossing and tongue-scraping routine.

Oil pulling cubes

Coconut Oil and Fennel Seed Oil Pulling Cubes

Take your oil pulling routine to the next level and try our recipe for Coconut and Fennel Seed Oil Pulling Cubes. This recipe combines the sweet taste and antibacterial qualities of coconut oil with the refreshing, minty flavor of fennel seeds – a great substitution for essential oils (not deemed safe for internal ingestion). Why cubes? First and foremost, there’s no measuring or mess involved. Secondly, DIY cubes are easy on the environment (no packaging or plastic involved) – and your wallet!

What You'll Need


  • Melt 2 cups coconut oil in a saucepan over very low heat. Turn off heat when oil has liquefied.

  • Stir in 1-2 tablespoons fennel seeds and spoon mixture into an ice cube tray, filling half way or to the top as desired (using about 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon per cube).

  • Place tray in freezer and let freeze. Store cubes in freezer until needed.

  • Chew 1 cube per morning until it dissolves in mouth then swish oil mixture in mouth for desired time (10 minutes recommended). Dispose of used oil in the trash, rinse with warm water and follow with your usual tooth brushing, flossing and tongue-scraping routine.