Oil Pulling: Pseudoscience or does it work?


Looks like a technique called “oil pulling”(Sensationalist article) is trending on Google. What are your thoughts on the claims people make of it?

Does it have a chance of improving oral health?

What makes oil pulling effective? According to its advocates, swishing the oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes eventually gets bacteria to cling to the oil. When the oil is spit out, so too are the toxins that are harmful to your body.

I have doubts on the magical properties of curing diabetes, etc that are mentioned, but I’m intrigued about the oral health aspect of it.

Tried oil pulling with Soylent

Umm… while it’s certainly not something that would be hard to test, my gut tells me this is just yet one more specious pseudoscientific trend playing on people’s fears of mysterious unidentified “toxins”.

I suppose it’s possible that there are some strains of icky mouth bacteria that have a love of lipids and will go swimming in an oil bath if given a choice. Or maybe something about vegetable oils acts as a surfactant. Who knows.

I suspect that there’s definitely something re: modern human oral bacteria populations that we haven’t quite figured out. I seem to recall there being some pretty decent research out there indicating that our paleolithic and neolithic ancestors had pretty damned healthy teeth for people who didn’t have any meaningful dental care.


Complete, abject bullsh*t. Like ear candles, and homeopathic remedies.


Well, i read some articles that actually sound reasonable from an oral health perspective, many of which quote (the same) studies. I was going to consider possibly giving it a try until one site suggested using limonene (?) oil “because of it’s dense electromagnetic field.”

Never mind.

Though, conceptually, extensive swishing with non-toxic but antiseptic oils followed by scraping the residue from your mouth may in fact have some beneficial effect over and above tooth brushing or mouthwash.


Since it was so easy to try, I tried it a few weeks ago. I tried it without brushing though, so only oil pulling. Resulted in massive plaque deposits after a few days, so I stopped.


Something to point out - The only studies surrounding oil pulling all come from the same group of researchers. For at least one of them, it’s the only subject they’ve done. Every bit of their research surrounds sesame oil and oil pulling.

Yeah, I’m not convinced. It looks like someone trying to justify an obsession.


Just because it’s pseudoscience, doesn’t mean doesn’t work (sometimes). There many oddball “cures” out there that “work” just because people beleive they do. Something to do with plecebo effect and the minds ability to influence some aspects of our physiology. Hence snake oil and faith healers.


Conceptually, yes. But there’s no known way a placebo effect can objectively make your teeth whiter and remove plaque.

Moderate blood pressure, change moods, remove pain, make you “feel” better, of course.

I’d like to see a real trial that compared oil swishing to water swishing over the same period of time. The fact is, washing your mouth for that long with anything is bound to cause SOME sort of change.

And what the heck is a triple blind study??


I’d say its pseudoscience supported mainly by the placebo effect. There are a few things that may some of it possible: I am unsure of the pH or salinity (salt content) of the oils they recommend, but altering these concentrations can cause cells to break down. Other chemicals in the oils that the body can absorb in the mouth may influence other aspects, but those may just be nutrients the ‘patients’ may have been deficient in.

Since most of the people pushing these studies are M.D.s I of course have concerns about their scientific method.

From a medical terminology dictionary ( http://www.medilexicon.com/medicaldictionary.php?t=85734 ):

  1. A double-blind study in which, in addition, the identities of those enrolled in the study and control groups and/or the details about the nature of the interventions (experimental medications), are withheld from the statistician(s) who conduct the analysis of the data.


So a triple blind study must be when the identities of everyone involved are withheld from everyone else involved.


It pains me that these loons are spitting out perfectly good coconut oil… :smile:


I tried it once out of curiosity. Seems like BS to me.