Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing oil around the mouth for between 15 and 20 minutes to kill harmful oral bacteria. Despite being a popular folk remedy in its native India, oil pulling only became known in the West when a Ukrainian oncologist named F. Karach began promoting it in the early 1990s.
Today, entire books have been written about oil pulling and the online health world is ablaze with testimonies regarding its apparent health benefits. In fact, if you believe what is written on some websites and forums, there doesn’t seem to be any medical condition that long-term oil pulling can’t at least improve.
Though evidence of oil pulling’s benefits remains largely anecdotal, a small but growing number of studies are starting to reinforce the claims of the Ayurveda. The most recent of these studies, which was published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research in November 2014, found that oil pulling is just as effective at reducing oral malodor (bad breath) as the popular antimicrobial drug chlorhexidine.