But Seriously, Though: What Is Oil Pulling?

Updated 04/21/19

If you live in L.A., or anywhere really, you’ve likely heard of oil pulling. The same way we’ve all heard of gluten. And, like gluten, you may be wondering: What exactly is oil pulling? (In full disclosure, it took this editor a while to learn what gluten is. In case you’re wondering, gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat. Bookmark this article.)

But back to oil pulling: It’s a buzzy term, but seriously, what is it? Recall this honest firsthand account from Byrdie’s editorial director, who learned one thing: Oil pulling is not is tasty. In short, oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic tradition of swishing oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for at least 20 minutes to improve oral, and in turn, overall health.

According to Meredith Baird, the owner of Nucifera Body, a plant-based skin nourishing balm, “Oil pulling is the easiest thing to add to your morning routine, and it’s a game changer.” In our book, Meredith is the queen of oil pulling, so we turned to her for a step-by-step, how-to guide on the practice. Keep reading to learn how oil pulling has improved her health and how easy it is to try at home (she even has a tip for improving the taste).

Hello Glow

Meredith tells Byrdie, “I notice that I’m less foggy and more clear on days that I oil pull.” The health enthusiast began oil pulling about seven years ago in an effort to improve her dry skin and scalp issues. “I started doing it with sesame oil, the way it is typically done in Ayurvedic tradition, but I switched to coconut oil because of the added health benefits and antimicrobial properties of coconut oil,” she says.

How it works:

“Oil pulling works by dissolving the toxins and bacteria in your mouth, cutting through plaque, and absorbing into your skin through your gums and tongue,” shares Meredith.

The benefits:

Meredith adds, “Oral health is linked to overall health, so the benefits of this practice go beyond just whiter teeth and less sensitive gums.”

Three easy steps to oil pulling:

Step 1: “Always oil pull before brushing your teeth, drinking water, or putting anything in your mouth or your stomach in the morning. You want to do this first thing so that you are removing the toxins that have built up in your mouth overnight,” she explains.

Step 2: “Swish one to two tablespoons of oil around in your mouth for at least 20 minutes. You can do this while you are showering and getting dressed. (I actually find it meditative because you can’t really talk, so it is a bit of forced quiet time),” she says.

Step 3: For the final step, “Spit. Rinse mouth with warm water. Brush and floss like normal.”

Pro tip: Meredith recommends to add an essential oil like tea tree, cinnamon, or peppermint for flavor and added health benefits.

Have you tried oil pulling? If so, has it improved your health? If not, are you willing to give it a go?

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