Spring Allergies Got You Down? Try Oil Pulling!

By Erica Root 

Erica Root
Erica Root

I don’t think my sinuses have been completely cleared since I moved to Sacramento nearly five years ago. First came the allergies, then came the chronic sinus infection because I couldn’t manage to keep my raging allergies under control. 

Recently my pain escalated to the point where I had to seek medical attention. While antibiotics instantly relieved some of my worse symptoms: severe headaches, exhaustion, and nausea, it all came back within 36 hours of finishing my prescription. With my doctor reluctant to prescribe me additional antibiotics, I began scouring the internet for alternative ways to manage my issues, which were starting to impact my daily life. 

With my sinus rinse and Flonase already built into my daily routine, I knew I needed to get creative. That’s when I stumbled upon oil-pulling. If you haven’t heard of it, you aren’t alone. I first learned about it during a google spiral I was in a few weeks ago and have since been digging deep to see what others have said about this ancient technique.

The Gist – Swish oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes, then spit it out along with all those pesky germs and bacteria that have made residence in your mouth. Eliminating bacteria from your mouth – which is apparently very dirty – enables your body to fight off infections in other places. The cited benefits include: clearing of sinuses, headache relief, fresher breath and whiter teeth.

The Challenge – Try oil-pulling for one weekCoconut Oil

Day 1Did you know that coconut oil is solid at room temperature? Neither did I. I found that out when perusing the aisles of Trader Joes looking for the product that had been referred to a multitude of times in the oil pulling articles I had read during my investigation.

Here is a picture of the jar I bought from TJs. And here is the scoop I took from it. I had ended up putting some of it back, so rather than a tablespoon, I probably started off with a teaspoon of the solid oil. The worst part of my first oil pulling experience is the beginning; the texture is chunky and funky and it takes at least two minutes for it to melt in your mouth. During those first two minutes, I did everything in my power not to spit it back out. It was trying. But once it did melt down and take on a more traditional oil texture things were fine. 

I swished gently for about 15 minutes (5 minutes less than recommended) and spat the remains into a grocery outlet bag, keeping in mind that had I spat it down the drain, I might clog it once it returned back into a solid.

I am pretty sure I had some immediate relief from oil pulling. After spitting out the oil and washing my mouth with warm water, I took a deep breath, drawing air into both (!) my nostrils. I think it worked, but honestly, it might just be wishful thinking on my part.

Day 2 – I oiled pulled again! The grossness from my first experience didn’t deter me, and I gave it another go. I stuck to ‘pulling’ a teaspoon’s worth of oil in my mouth. My day 2 swishing and swooshing didn’t last as long as day 1. Saliva built up rather quickly, sorry if that’s gross to read, so I lasted only ten minutes. I immediately asked my boyfriend if my teeth looked whiter and he just laughed. So I guess that is a no.

I also experienced some nausea afterward. Not sure if that is related to the oil or not. Most blogs suggest pulling on an empty stomach, but that doesn’t really work with my schedule, so I’ve been pulling in the evenings, sometime after dinner. I figure it is a good way to clean my teeth after a long day of eating and drinking beverages that stain my teeth (coffee, tea, red wine. You know, the usual).

Day 3 – I pulled in the morning. I gagged as I placed the disgusting compote into my mouth. Once again, as soon as the oil melts down to liquid form, I am good to go.

Day 4 – Tried to oil pull during my morning workout. As I’m sure you can imagine, it didn’t go well. I had to alter my routine significantly, eliminating push-ups and any other moves that might accidentally result in my swallowing of oil.

Day 5 – Today, rather than interrupt my morning workout, I opted to oil pull while taking a shower. It worked fine, but the temptation to just spit everything out while in the shower was too great. I wouldn’t recommend it, but many other bloggers do. Good for them, not for me.

Day 6 – see ‘Oil-Pulling Day 3.”

Day 7 – I forgot to pull… my bad.

Although oil pulling hasn’t revolutionized my life (yet), I do honestly feel like it is making a marked difference in how I feel. Even if that feeling is like the end stages of a cold that just can’t be kicked. Anything that will provide even the tiniest sliver of additional relief is welcome in my book.

Here are some helpful Dos and Don’ts of oil-pulling:


  • Pull while watching an episode of Gilmore Girls on Netflix
  • Spit out the oil into the toilet or a plastic bag
  • Remember that it is going to get better. The first two minutes suck, but you’ll get over it


  • Spit the oil into your sink. Remember, coconut oil is solid at room temperature and you don’t want to clog the sink. That is what your hair is for
  • Try to exercise while oil-pulling, it will just divide your attention and end poorly
  • Play awesome music that makes you want to sing and dance. It will only leave you feeling unsatisfied because you weren’t able to bust out your mad rap skills during Iggy Azalea’s portion of Problem. Or Fancy. Or Black Widow

So, what do you think? Are you going to give it shot? Have you been oil pulling for years and just forgot to mention it to your friends? I’d like to hear all about your success or failure stories below!


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