Updated: 2/24/2020 Dentists often recommend that patients swish daily with mouthwash to keep the mouth fresh and kill any bacteria left over after brushing the teeth. A method originating in…

Sesame Oil: The New Mouthwash?

Updated: 2/24/2020

Dentists often recommend that patients swish daily with mouthwash to keep the mouth fresh and kill any bacteria left over after brushing the teeth. A method originating in India, however, claims that swishing different types of oil can accomplish all this and more. The term is called “oil pulling.”

Before you say “EWWW!” let me explain how the process works (then you are free to say “EWWW!” if you so desire).

The Claims of Oil Pulling

Dr. F. Karsch is a major proponent of the technique, saying it cured him of arthritis and a blood disease. Writer Bharat Savur discusses Dr. Karsch’s findings in an article entitled “Oil Gargle a Day…” in The Hindu Business Line:

The first sign of improvement is in the teeth-they become firm and white, he says. Other healing indications: fresh, relaxed feeling on waking up, disappearing dark pouches below the eyes, a new appetite and energy, better memory and deep sleep.

Dr Karsch swears by the mouth oil-wash for anything from organ disorders, skin diseases, menstrual problems, paralysis to every ache and it is in the human anatomy. You can [swish] even when you have fever, he says, adding, it takes anything from two days to a year to cure a disease.

Dr. Karsch found microscopic bacterial organisms in the liquid after he swished and spit it out, indicating removal of bacteria from the body. Incidentally, he strongly warns against swallowing the liquid after swishing as it has become “poisonous.”

Vegetable oils contain several important vitamins, so the body is able to absorb those vitamins without ingesting the fatty oil. Proponents of oil pulling say that different areas of the tongue are connected with different organs. Supposedly removing bacteria from the tongue heals those parts of the body as well.

How to Swish with Oil

Unlike Listerine, 60 seconds of swishing is not sufficient. This process continues for about 20 minutes. These instructions explain how to swish appropriately:

  • On an empty stomach, measure one Tablespoon of sunflower oil or sesame oil.
  • Put the oil in your mouth and tilt your head back so it can reach the back molars (note: do not gargle or let it go back to your throat!)
  • Slowly swish and pull through the teeth for at least 10 minutes, ideally 15-20.
  • Spit it out only after it has become a thin, white foam. Do not swallow, or you will be swallowing countless parasites and bacteria with it.
  • Thoroughly rinse your mouth with water.

Proponents say you can do this up to three times a day for ultimate detoxification.

Is Oil Pulling a Legitimate Treatment?

Many people say it works beautifully for them, and people post on forums about how it has made them healthier and even healed their teeth and gums.

It brings up a lot of questions for me, however. Not that home remedies never work, but it has little scientific backup, and it mentions in this article from Earth Clinic that worsened symptoms are an indication that the ailment is being cured.

The Hindu Business Line article closes with:

While science needs to probe into this phenomenon, the anecdotal data is compelling. Besides, it’s a great way to exercise drooping cheek-muscles.

Mere anecdotes and lack of scientific research sure sounds compelling to me. It may have worked for some people, but I’m curious as to the scientific aspect of oil pulling. For now, I think I’ll pass.

Have you ever heard of this technique? Would you try it?

  1. Just used this today. Got to say that my mouth and teeth felt better afterwards than with regular mouth washes which leave a chemical mess in your mouth. My mouth and teeth have never felt cleaner. I think there may be something to it. Going to continue to see if there are additional results. It is definitely worth a try..what have you got to lose?

  2. My mum was telling me that she had stares doing this for a little while now. She says her teeth are whiter and her gums feel so much better and different. She said her breath smells much better as well. Plus her gums used to bleed a little whist brushing and now they don’t. She recommends that you clean your teeth before and after the process. I really don’t see what harm this would do and I’m going to try it myself. She has been doing it twice a day. I will get an opinion from my dentist when I next see him :)

  3. I am a huge believer in oil pulling. I was taught this while I was learning yoga in India. have turned all my friends and family on to it also. I wrote a report that can be downloaded from my web site for free. The report tells you everything you need to know and goes into detail. Just click on the second banner on the right side at Hypnosis.

  4. I imagine forcing any liquid through your teeth for 10 to 20 min would be likely to remove bacteria. I wonder if it is more the process than the substance, although oil is nice and dense so it may give more friction when being forced between the teeth. Very interesting.

  5. I don’t think I could even handle 30 seconds, let alone the minimum 10 minutes. And forget about 20 minutes! I’d be really interested in hearing testimonials from folks in the Western world who have tried this… especially if they were skeptical and ended up with great results.

    • don’t start with 20 minutes a day, work up to it, I started with 5 minutes for 2 weeks, and then 10 minutes for 2 weeks, and now am up to 15 minutes, I use the time to check and reply to emails. Gums tighten up, sinuses seem to benefit from the swishing action, sleep better, less snoring, mouth is fresher in the morning, and so is my out look. Now I am noticing my regular body odor is also changing.

  6. very interesting.. this is definitely the first I’m hearing about it. I think I would give it a try, but it’s too bad there’s not more science to back it up. I would go with sesame oil. I’ve heard of the benefits of putting that in your nostrils during cold season so I using it as mouthwash isn’t horribly crazy to me, but definitely very different. haha Thanks for the info!

  7. EWWW!!!


    If someone has tried it i would be interested in hearing your story…. I think I’m a little to chicken to try it myself. :-)

  8. Pingback: Tweets that mention Sesame Oil: The New Mouthwash? « The 1Dental.com Blog -- Topsy.com

  9. Interesting article. I actually have read a lot about the technique because I found it both interesting and odd. As i have read, apparently some people have have gotten much sicker and had to quit after doing this. Some develop rashes and dry skin.

    Some oil pulling can be used with other oils such as vco (virgin coconut oil) and apparently that battles a kind of bacteria that can develop in your body depending on your diet, which can really make you sick.

    i don’t know, all i know is that the more and more i read about it and other peoples experiences i can pull out two major things. 1. It does something. I have read so many testimonies of peoples experiences using it, whether its good or bad, obviously it does something. 2. It seems complicated. Most recommend fixing your diet before attempting it. Also some believe your blood type may play a major role as well.

    I think for right now i will stay away from it. In the future, after much much much more research, i may attempt it.

Leave a Reply