Discover how this simple morning ritual can transform your health.

Coconut oil has swiftly achieved ‘nectar of the Gods’ status, being linked to better weight control and digestion, improvements in immunity and metabolism, and even minimising fine lines and wrinkles. So, why would you want to spit it out?

The ancient Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling – swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil around your mouth each day - is enjoying a resurgence, and for good reason. A brighter smile, healthier gums, sweeter breath, increased energy, a clearer mind, fewer headaches and allergies, clearer sinuses, smoother menstrual cycles, improved lymphatic system and clearer skin are just some of the reported benefits. Oil pulling is like the function of your car’s motor oil, where the oil absorbs debris in the engine which is removed when the oil is changed.

A window to your body

According to Ayurvedic medical theory, oral health not only affects teeth and gums but also a person’s entire body and vigour: meridians, or energy pathways, that are present in the tongue are linked to every organ in the body, and when you swish oil around the tongue you soothe and stimulate these organs. Oil pulling as we know it today was introduced in a scientific paper in 1992 by Dr F. Karach, who claimed it had cured him of a chronic blood disease which he had suffered from for 15 years – his findings stirred up worldwide interest in the technique.

Traditionally, sesame or sunflower oil was used, but since the release of Dr. Bruce Fife’s book, Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing, there has been a switch to coconut oil. “There are added advantages to using coconut oil, because the lauric acid in coconut oil is anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal,” says naturopath Indra Share.

The mouth is home to billions of micro-organisms, most of them bacteria. Some have the potential to be pathogenic (disease-causing), and an unhealthy mouth can become a gateway to the bloodstream for them. “These organisms can cause untold harm in the blood, causing systemic and localised infections, chronic inflammation, and initiating an autoimmune response that can lead to many health problems, ranging from arthritis to heart disease,” explains Fife.

Sucking and swishing coconut oil around the mouth pulls pathogens and toxins out from around the gums and teeth so they are spat out, thus leaving the body. This lessens the load on your immune system, making it easier for the body to heal itself. “What is really remarkable is that the health benefits don’t stop with an improvement in dental health,” writes Fife. “Many disorders, including those which medical science has yet to find cures for, are also improved or cured.”

Anecdotal evidence supports a long list of ailments that have been helped with oil pulling, including serious ones like chronic fatigue syndrome, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, dermatitis, and migraines. “It also pulls congestion and mucus from your throat and loosens up your sinuses,” adds Share. “I have patients that swear by oil pulling for their sinus, headache, and hayfever issues.”

D-I-Y: Oil pulling

1. Immediately upon rising, and on an empty stomach, put a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and let it melt.
2. Swish the oil around your mouth, sucking it through your teeth, for 20 minutes.
3. Spit the oil into a rubbish bin. It should be white-coloured.
4. Rinse mouth with warm salt water, and brush teeth thoroughly.

Note: Never swallow the oil because it is loaded with toxins.

“Coconut oil worked like magic”

Jenni Madison, founder of Coconut Magic (, says coconut oil pulling transformed her life. After coming across the work of Dr Preston Price and Dr Bruce Fife and the many success stories related to the therapy, she tried it herself.

“Before oil pulling, I had a particular problem tooth, causing nerve pain and sensitivity for a year. Dentists wanted to do a root canal, but I refused. Since oil pulling my overall dental heath has improved dramatically, and I have had no teeth or gum problems.

“I also used to get acne blemishes, but after the first month of oil pulling I had no break outs at all! It made my skin clear and smooth again. I learnt that the therapy cleanses bacteria from the body and helps balance hormones. It has helped with period cramps, digestion, immunity, and PMS symptoms. Plus, the more subtle benefits of oil pulling include an overall improved sense of wellbeing: I have more energy and I feel lighter and clearer in my mind. Using coconut oil daily, both internally and externally, allows me to live a clean and toxin-free life. It is nourishing, healing, and energising.”