I Tried Coconut Oil Pulling For A Week & This Is What Happened

Ad failed to load

Ah, oil pulling. I had heard this mentioned for years but never exactly knew what was involved until I saw the trend popping up all over my social media feeds. Oil pulling is basically swishing oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes. Jessica T. Emery, DMD, and owner of Sugar Fix Dental Loft told WebMD that the super popular trend "involves swishing approximately [one] tablespoon of oil — typically coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil — in your mouth for about 20 minutes and then spitting it out." I was already a coconut oil devotée, using it for dry skin, to fry veggies, to mix with aromatherapy oils, but I had never tried oil pulling with coconut oil.

The much-touted benefits of oil pulling include whiter teeth, an energy boost, clearer skin, and better overall oral health. Oiling pulling also helps reduce headaches, reduces hormonal changes, and helps rid your body of toxins. You're supposed to do it first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything. I'll be honest: swishing oil around my mouth sounded pretty darn gross. But I find coconut oil non-offensive, and I've been curious for a long time, so I figured why not? And went for it.

The Experiment

With the knowledge that I'd willingly be swishing coconut oil in my mouth over a seven-day period, I set forth with my experiment. I wanted try oil pulling for the prescribed 20 minutes a day for a week mainly just to see if all the buzz was true. Did it work? Would I see changes after seven days? (Or would I see them sooner?) I don't suffer from debilitating migraines (though I do get headaches often) or severe joint pain, but I was interested in the overall benefits: clearer skin, a healthier body, and improved oral health. I planned going to pay attention to things like my breath, my teeth, my headaches (which I get with annoying frequency), and my overall feelings of health. I remained skeptical but willing.

Ad failed to load

This is what happened:

Day One

Ad failed to load

I should have set a special alarm on that first day, one that would say: "Hey, dummy, don't brush your teeth or eat anything yet because you need to swish some oil!" But I didn't. So I got up. My mouth was its usual cotton from the dry winter air, so I stumbled to the sink to brush my teeth.

I'm gonna come clean about something here: Sometimes I fall asleep without brushing. I know. It's gross and probably pretty bad for my teeth. But it's only started happening as a result of having kids and accidentally falling asleep with them almost every night.

Ad failed to load

Anyway, on day one I brushed my teeth and scurried around trying to get my kindergartener on the bus. Only when I started snacking on his discarded waffle did I remember that I wasn't supposed to eat or brush before swishing the oil around in my mouth. I was also super thirsty, so I was really cursing myself that I hadn't gotten it over with yet because now I'd have to wait the half hour or so for the waffle to digest a bit before trying the oil pulling for the first time.

You're supposed to oil pull on an empty stomach because, according to Mama Natural, doing so helps to activate the enzymes and helps pull toxins, fungus, and bacteria, from your body before you start putting anything into it. Day one, and I was off to a bad start. After waiting a decent amount of time for my breakfast to digest, I pulled out my measuring spoons, and realized that, oh my god, a tablespoon is huge. Putting that much oil in mouth seemed like such a bad idea. I was immediately worried "what if I swallow it!?" Then realized, so what if I swallow it? It's just coconut oil.

Ad failed to load

The coconut oil was rock solid from the cold, but I figured it'd melt quickly enough in my mouth. Spoiler alert? That's not the case. I basically cheeked the oil for like, five minutes before it was swishable, and it still had solid bits. Blech.

Oddly enough, as the swishing began, I started to feel a little less thirsty. Perhaps it was because I was so parched and all the swishing was causing me to produce a lot of saliva.

After 15 minutes (whatever, I was close enough), I spat the oil into a paper towel (because you really aren't supposed to spit it in the sink as it might junk up your pipes). I'm fascinated with gross things like pore strips so I studied the oil, hoping it would be totally gross, but mostly it just looked frothy.

Ad failed to load

On the upside though, my mouth felt really clean. I could see the appeal.

Day Two

Ad failed to load

On day two I remembered to oil pull first thing in the morning so I tortured myself with not brushing or eating or drinking while I got my son ready for school. Yes, I could wake up earlier and do this, but I didn't want to get out of bed. It's too cold for that.

I put on a TV show for my daughter so she wouldn't try to talk to me for the 20 minutes that I needed in order to oil pull, which didn't end up working. I also had the genius idea of warming the oil up first. I put it in a mug and microwaved it for about 30 seconds and that's all it took for the big block of coconut to turn to liquid.

My daughter was not watching her show as much as she was watching me. Somehow she hadn't noticed me doing this the day before, but today she was rapt. She thought it looked fun, so she grabbed a crumb from the edge of the jar, popped it in her mouth, looked at me with these wide, disturbed eyes and spat it out. I didn't think she'd be trying that again any time soon. Although maybe she just needs it warmed up for her?

Ad failed to load

She then realized I was taking pictures of myself and TOTALLY wanted to join in.

After pulling on day two, my mouth felt really great — especially after doing it for the full 20 minutes. I ran upstairs to brush my teeth and they seriously felt like they were dentist-level clean. Maybe that's just some oil making them slicker, but maybe not, because I'm sure I had probably brushed off most of the oil. I was totally committed to keep going.

Ad failed to load

Day Three

Day three was basically a repeat of day two. There was so much swishing. And then so much ooh-ing and aah-ing over how great my teeth felt.

Ad failed to load

I was shocked that three days into this experiment had left me feeling so good about my oral hygiene. I felt like I was smiling wider and much, much more confident in my appearance. I wasn't as conscious of my breath or worried that harsh toxins were taking root in my mouth.

Day Four

Ad failed to load

I decided it was time to switch it up. I'd been using whatever coconut oil I could get at my usual grocery store, but on a whim, I got the expensive stuff. It was touted as being unrefined and pure and virgin. Well, I'm unrefined if not the other two, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I opened the jar and, OMG, the smell was amazing. Like pour-me-a-piña-colada-and-stick-me-on-a-beach amazing. The taste was definitely nuttier, where I hadn't noticed a taste at all with the more refined version. And I was getting considerably more comfortable with the process. So I was happily swishing it all around my mouth, whereas before I realized I had sort of been gluing my tongue to the roof of my mouth so I wouldn't accidentally swallow it. It already freshened my teeth, I wanted to let it work its magic on my tongue.

Day Five

Ad failed to load

Nothing really new or remarkable happened during my swishing session on the fifth day, except I had a revelation: I hadn't gotten a migraine since I started oil pulling. This could be good luck or it could be that I'd eaten enough protein or drank enough water. But the really remarkable bit was that I had been on my period this whole time. I never escape the first few days of my period without a killer migraine.

I know this is hardly the scientific evidence that we should all be oil pulling every morning, but I was pretty pleased, and if I don't continue oil pulling indefinitely, it might be worth a try a try during my period.

Ad failed to load

I also continued to notice the effects on the way my teeth and my breath all felt fresher all the time. The only problem I had with it so far was that it was still hard for me to not talk for the 20 minutes.

Day Six

Ad failed to load

I swished again on day six, and I told my friends about it. Since the experiment was going well and I was full enjoying the benefits of the miraculous, delicious-smelling coconut, I thought it was time to spread the word to my inner circle.

Despite my wide (bright and shiny) smile and my insistence that I thought it was really working, my friends and my mom thought I was nuts. Mostly they responded:

Using oil as mouthwash? Oil? For 20 minutes!?
Ad failed to load

I mean, I guess I was pretty skeptical at first. And, yeah, it does seem rather weird. But I swear it's not that gross! It's the opposite of gross! My teeth have never felt better! I was bummed my friends weren't on board, but I'm sure they'll change their tunes eventually.

Day Seven

Ad failed to load

I had reached the end of my experiment. It was my last day of removing my toxins via coconut oil (if I didn't want to keep going.) And tragedy struck, I dropped and shattered my beautiful glass jar of virgin coconut oil. I was pretty bummed, especially because cleaning glass when your 2 year old is barefoot and oblivious and you have to keep yelling at her to stay away is not the most fun.

I still had my other jar of less-fun oil, so that would have to do. And as a side bonus, that day I was going to be on TV. (I know. VIP over here.) I really wanted my teeth to be bright and sparkly. I was confident that my smile looked good. And really, I'd never been more thankful for a mouthful of oil ever before in my life. The week-long oil pulling experiment had worked as far as I was concerned, and I walked onto the stage feeling much more confident in my smile than I'd probably ever been before.

Even in all the hubbub of trying to get ready and pick out an outfit and eat something that wouldn't make me feel sick, I managed to fit in my oil pulling. Aside from the first day, incorporating it into my routine hadn't been that difficult. After all, I can do anything short of talking and eating (which, admittedly, are two of my favorite things) while I'm pulling.

Ad failed to load

One aspect of oil pulling I think I should mention though, because it freaked me out at first, was the fact that everything I'd read emphasized that you shouldn't swallow the oil. (And, I mean, trust me, I wasn't about to.) Because it's going to be full of gross stuff and toxins. But I was surprised by that because other than being frothier having been combined vigorously with my saliva, the oil didn't look or taste gross when I was done.

The Results

Ad failed to load

OK, I admit I was pretty sold. My teeth have never felt better. I skipped the dreaded period migraines. (It didn't cure cramps though. Darn.) Also, I had fresher morning breath. That's pretty huge, because morning breath is the worst part of the morning. (Except for waking up and getting out of bed.) I'm honestly considering trying it on my kids because ... man, they have some serious morning breath, guys.

I'm sort of relieved to be done with the experiment so if I forget to do it in my morning rush, I won't feel so terrible. The biggest relief I got from this week is the knowledge that if I'm ever stuck on a desert island without a toothbrush all I have to do is dehusk a coconut and press it into oil.

Ad failed to load


Images: Courtesy of Olivia Hinebaugh (10), Giphy (2), Meal Makeover Moms, Maurina Rara/Flickr

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

A Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the te…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

These Photos Of North West Then & Now Will Take You On A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

When Kim Kardashian welcomed her first daughter, North West, with her husband, Kanye West, in 2013, her whole life was changed. The social media and reality TV star became a mom for the first time and her Instagram presence took a very adorable turn.…
By Casey Suglia

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

This Is What It Means If Your Pregnancy Test Changes Overnight

The time between when a woman suspects she might be pregnant and when it is confirmed for sure is the longest of her life. Regardless of whether you are hoping for a positive or a negative result, the odds are good that you are sweating bullets when …
By Shannon Evans

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack