I Tried Oil Pulling So You Don’t Have To

Every so often I decide to put my body through a wholly unpleasant experience so that I can make jokes about it and save you from the horror and inconvenience of having to experience it yourself. In the past I’ve dealt with stupid cleanses and even more stupid diets, so this time around I thought it’d be nice to not starve test out something that’s supposed to actually be good for you. Spoiler alert: it still wasn’t nice.

Oil pulling is an old folk remedy stemming from Aryuvedic medicine practices. The current incarnation of oil pulling gained popularity in the 1990’s thanks to a South Indian man named Tummala Koteswara Rao, also known as the newest addition to my “Fuck This Guy and His Opinions on Health” list.

The process: once a day you must willingly look into the depths of a gelatinous jar of coconut oil before you scoop a tablespoon of the lardy substance into your mouth.

It doesn’t end there. Proceed to swish this gooey mass around, pulling it through your teeth until it liquefies into a lukewarm slimy substance that you have to try and avoid swallowing for the next 15-20 minutes. Please hold the jizz jokes you’re about to make; I’ve already heard them all and they aren’t that funny.

The supposed benefits of oil pulling are endless. Oil pullers boast whiter teeth, stronger gums, less cavities, fresher breath and clearer skin as a result of their weird ritual. Some also claim that oil pulling has lessened their headaches, relieved their hangovers, cleared their sinuses, improved their sleep cycle, cured the California drought and reversed the #Brexit. Still awaiting confirmation on those last two.

The basic idea is that oil pulling is supposed to reduce the toxins in your body and make you feel like a better person. As someone who pours seemingly endless amounts of toxins into her body on a fairly regular basis, it seemed worth a shot.

I spent ten days oil pulling and I’m going to be honest with you: I have zero concrete results to show from it. Is my skin clearer? Maybe. But that could be just as easily be the result of the Korean snail excrement face cream that I drunkenly ordered on Amazon. Are my hangovers less miserable? They probably could be, but sticking a glob of coconut oil in my mouth sounds like the absolute last thing I want to do while I’m suffering the consequences of drinking a bottle and a half of wine during The Bachelorette. I like to think my teeth are a little whiter, but not enough for me to give this entire practice an official stamp of approval. Overall I’m feeling pretty lackluster about the entire experience, but to be fair that’s the most positive review I’ve ever given throughout one of these experiments.

Full disclosure, I’ve only been doing this for ten days. Die-hard oil pullers do this shit every single day, and probably actually see results after a month or so. Will I continue this experiment and see if I get to that point? Hell no, but I encourage all of you to try it and prove me wrong.

Before you do, I have some advice that may be of use in your journey:

  • If you’re a rational person and the idea of spooning mass amounts of oil into your mouth sounds questionable at best, start small and work your way up. I started on day one with a teaspoon of oil for ten minutes, and slowly increased both amounts and time until I got to a full tablespoon for twenty minutes.
  • A shocking amount of effort goes into twenty minutes of non-stop swishing, so maybe avoid this if you have jaw related issues. Alternatively, if you’re jaw line challenged (like myself) this might be good exercise for you to pick up.
  • Don’t sit next to friends, roommates, relatives or even pets while you pull, because the sound of you aggressively swishing a melting glob of oil around your mouth will horrify and disgust any living being with ears in a ten foot radius.
  • Try not to watch anything remotely funny while pulling, because laughter could cause you to either dribble oil all over yourself like a fucking toddler or abruptly swallow half a mouthful and immediately want to die. Neither are especially enjoyable experiences.
  • Definitely don’t forget about pulling, only to remember halfway through a pregame and insist that you can do it then and there no problem. There will be problems, and they will range from you grossing people out to scooping out way more than a tablespoon to giving up five minutes in because you’re missing out on drinking. Also your drink will taste weird afterward.

Happy pulling to those of you bold enough to try. May your teeth be white and your gag reflex be minimal.

If you have an awful health or diet trend that you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t hate yourself enough to follow through, leave it in the comments and we’ll see how far I’m willing to go for the sake of a story.


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