advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Is Oil Pulling a Realistic Remedy?

I have recently read about "Oil Pulling," or swishing sesame or sunflower oil around the mouth without swallowing for 15-20 minutes every morning as a way to address many health issues. Is this (effective)? The sources claim it is Ayurvedic medicine. 

A
Answer (Published 11/20/2008)

It's true that oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice. That system of medicine, which originated in northern India centuries ago, includes a sophisticated tradition of herbalism and lifestyle recommendations. Ayurveda views health as a radiant state of increased vigor, energy, and balance and emphasizes detoxification of the body.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet! - Everything you need to get started eating a healthful, satisfying diet is here - including eating and shopping guides, over 300 recipes, and an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid! Start your 14-day free trial now - and start eating anti-inflammatory today!

Some traditions of Ayurvedic medicine can be helpful for chronic conditions such as asthma, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, digestive disorders, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions, and chronic skin problems. Several Ayurvedic practices, such as dietary changes, herbal remedies, and steam bathing seem sensible and safe; others, such as bloodletting, seem out of place in modern treatment.

Oil pulling is a curious and ancient folk remedy recommended by Ayurvedic physicians, without any scientific proof of its efficacy, to prevent tooth decay, bad breath, bleeding gums, dryness of the throat and cracked lips, and to treat weakness of the teeth, gums, and jaws. On the Internet, oil pulling is promoted as a cure for a long list of disorders including headache, bronchitis, toothache, thrombosis, eczema, ulcers and other diseases of the stomach, intestines, heart, blood, kidney, liver, lungs and female reproductive organs. I've also seen claims that oil pulling can prevent the growth of malignant tumors. I know of no evidence to support any of these claims.

In fact, I have been able to find only one scientific study on oil pulling. The study was designed to evaluate the effect of oil pulling on bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) in plaque and saliva of children, and to compare its antiseptic power with that of using a conventional mouthwash containing chlorhexidine. The researchers found a reduction in the bacteria count in the plaque and saliva samples in both the study and the control groups and concluded that oil pulling can help maintain oral health. The study was published in an Indian dental journal.

Bottom line: Oil pulling won't hurt you, but I wouldn't depend on it to help you improve your overall health or treat significant medical problems.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here