What's the StraightDope on 'oil pulling'

Basically, from what I can tell, ‘oil pulling’ is essentially rinsing your mouth out with vegetable oil before you go to bed. This is supposed to have some beneficial effects, and I have a friend who is considering trying this. I don’t see any harm in it, off the top of my head, but it sounds like complete horseshit to me. So, I figured I’d ask here…what’s it supposed to do for you, how is it supposed to work, DOES it in fact have any beneficial effects, and what, if any, are the downsides or dangers?

The most plausible claim I see is that it may help with sinus problems - that doesn’t seem too off-the-wall - if you have some junk at the back of your throat that’s soluble in fat but insoluble in alcohol or water, it might help where usual gargling doesn’t. No idea if there are any common ailments that would meet these qualifications, though.

That one sorta-plausible claim isn’t something I’d give much weight to, though, seeing as it is mixed in with so much obvious nonsense. If that claim stood alone, I might try it for my own chronic sinus problems - but since it’s claimed that it also clears up blood disorders, arthritis, hormonal disorders, etc, I wouldn’t bother with the twenty undignified minutes it would take to confirm that it’s utter bollocks.

I had a co-worker who swore that gargling olive oil was good for preventing colds. I gave this all the serious consideration it deserved.

Also, if you do this right before bed you’ll get oily drool on your pillow and that’ll be hell to get out in the laundry.

Did a quick Google search, and found this debunking article.

So, doesn’t seem harmful anyway…and might actually have some sort of benefits, even if it’s not going to cleanse you of toxins and such.

Dental hygiene is associated with numerous health benefits- and through legitimate medical research. This includes, bizarrely, heart health, and things you wouldn’t expect to be associated at all.


Oil pulling is merely one way to clean the mouth- and quite vigorously (twenty minutes of swishing is madness).

But there may be less time consuming methods, like a good old fashioned electric toothbrush and some mouthwash- or more pleasurably, xylitol based chewing gum.

If you like oil pulling, go for it- it might make your mouth cleaner (and that does affect the rest of your body). If you don’t like it, you’re not missing out on the possibility of a clean mouth- just use some other method.

Why is it called “pulling”? They think it pulls toxins out of the body?

It’s punchier than “oleaginous ayurvedic lower-limb tugging.”

I think it’s because oil is capable of dissolving things water and/or alcohol can not, so ‘pulling’ out that gunk from your mouth as it dissolves into the oil.

Not the usual woo, it went all the way to the 5th paragraph before talking about detoxifying. That must be some kind of record.

As usual, if the claim is that it eliminates ‘toxins’ from your body, it is bullshit.

Oh, and the Ayurvedic medicine mentioned is the old ‘5 elements’ of earth, water, fire, air/wind, and sky.

I think this was covered in a Bruce Willis documentary.

I think you are supposed to put the oil in your mouth then use a candle to pull it out of your ears!

Sounds good to me!!

Right. Real therapies for removing crap remove specific chemicals from your body, and it says precisely what they remove.

None of the woo-sellers have the first idea what specific chemicals their crap is good for; makes sense, really, given that it isn’t good for anything at all.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Get suspicious when you don’t get real answers.

We sneered at our mothers about cod liver oil, witch hazel, and never leaving the house with wet hair in the winter, too.

And you were right to do so.

Cod liver oil is a vitamin supplement at most, and potentially toxic. Witch hazel is an astringent like many others. And leaving the house with wet hair in the winter will result in, at worst, a chilly head, not a viral infection.

hey now, it might help people who don’t have a functioning liver :wink:

The Gyrate Guaranteed Detox Diet:

  1. Drink two or three glasses of water over the course of the day.
  2. Stop eating and drinking crap.

Nothing you put into your body will “detox” you. As long as you’re not dehydrated, your body will “detox” itself as long as you stop putting in more of whatever toxins you’re trying to get rid of.

I think you pulled this idea out of your ass. :slight_smile:

It’s a scam to solve the Greek debt crisis by upping sales of olive oil.