Coconut Oil and the Liver: Can One Heal the Other?

I think you’ll agree that if you could cleanse your liver with some simple daily swishing of Coconut oil, that would be amazing!

But, is this often bandied about claim true?

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The research is complete and we will deliver the verdict on this claim about the relationship between Coconut Oil and the Liver.

We did the research and we will provide the answer about how oil pulling and specifically Coconut Oil affects liver function. We will investigate who is making these claims, who is saying the claim is bunk, and share what scientific research exists that backs up this claim.

I Want to Use Oil Pulling to Reverse Years of Bad Habits

Buko drink.

“Buko drink.” by aka Matt Webb, via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Ok, I’ve been to a party or two in my youth.  I’ve even imbibed during neighborhood social gatherings as an adult.

With all of this enjoyment, I sometimes wonder how much damage I’ve done to my liver?

So, what’s the real story?

Social drinking can damage your liver.  But, how much damage depends on your family history and your level of abuse.

But, is there evidence performing oil pulling can help liver function?  Or, for that matter, any evidence for coconut oil and the liver (or any other oil)?

Drunk Diet

“Drunk Diet” by StickerGiant Custom Stickers, via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Who Says Oil Pulling Can Reverse Liver Damage?

Here are several articles we found where there is a claim that Oil Pulling can reduce stress on, improve function of, protect, or some similar claims.

Here are the believers:

Dr. Axe, Food is Medicine

In an article about the top 20 benefits of Coconut Oil, Dr. Axe lists a couple of advantages related to the liver.  The first such claim is:

The MCFA’s in the oil work as a natural antibiotic by disrupting the lipid
coating on bacteria and killing them. Also there is a study showing that coconut oil directly protected the liver from damage.

But, there’s a catch.

Fancyrat1 eating watermelon

By CryptoDerk~commonswiki (Fancyrat1) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The study that is pointed to regarding the liver protection is a study performed on albino rats.

The study used virgin coconut oil.

That’s not all…

The study was having the virgin coconut oil “administered” to the albino rats.

The albino rats were not obviously not taught how to Oil Pull.  Or, how to put the virgin coconut oil into their own mouth and then spit it out.

Of course, as you oil pull, you might accidentally swallow some of the coconut oil.  But, we are not going to count Oil Pulling Coconut Oil as the same as having it “administered” to you.

Not to mention the obvious physiological differences between humans and rats!

Natural News

The Natural News website published an article saying Oil Pulling is a Simple, Inexpensive Method to Improve Your Health.

In the article, there are a few references to Seseme Oil (not coconut oil) providing liver benefits.  In one part of the article it states:

Other systems of the body benefit from oil pulling as well. Dr. Karach
lists these examples of ailments which are alleviated by oil pulling:

– diseases of stomach, intestines, heart, blood, kidney, liver, and lungs

Here’s the deal:

This article references another article that describes some of the same liver benefits.  But, that articles references point to Wikipedia.  And, the resulting Wikipedia article has apparently been updated to remove all references to “liver”.

Health & Love Page

The folks at Health & Love Page published an article about 10 Big Reasons Why You Should Start Oil Pulling and How.

The have a top 10 list of claims that oil pulling makes.  One of them is about the liver where it states:

8. Kidney and Liver Function. Oil pulling helps reduce the stress of the liver
and kidneys because it does not allow these bacteria and parasites to reach them.

If only it were that easy…

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t provide any references to back up these claims.

I sound wonderful.  But, where’s the evidence?

Well-Being Secrets

We included this article because the title stated that there were 28 Science-Verified claims for Coconut Oil.

And, for each of these claims, the did include a reference.

Down in the article, there is a section titles “Protects Your Kidneys and Liver”.  In that section they state:

When testing for the oil’s ability to protect against intentional
toxic drugs on the liver, scientists concluded that the active components in
coconut oil were able to adequately protect the liver from incurring
severe damage from the toxins.

Coconut (Coconut Oil and the Liver; can they work together?)

“Coconut” by Hafiz Issadeen, via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

This claim points to the same article that Dr. Axe points to.  And, this study has some of the same issues.

The article is about the benefits of Coconut Oil.  So, not necessarily Oil Pulling using Coconut Oil.

So, this is not really an article about Oil Pulling benefits.  Or, claims of Oil Pulling.

Here’s the Deal:

This and the Dr. Axe articles are examples of articles that make claims about Coconut Oil in general.  Other sites (not the fault of these two websites) take this information and repeat it in conjunction with Oil Pulling using Coconut Oil.

And so the myth grows…

Who Says Oil Pulling Does NOT Treat Migraines?

It was much more difficult to find articles where people were saying that Oil Pulling does NOT help with liver function.

However, I did find these:

Tara Kaur, DDS

Dr. Tara Kaur, DDS published an articles about Oil Pulling in general.  In this post, Dr. Kaur states:

Oil Pulling is not recommended for individuals who have metal dental
restorations.  This is because metal dental restorations (crowns, fillings)
have the ability to corrode in the mouth.  Oil Pulling can pull corrosion
by-products from the dental metals and may even pull mercury
from dental amalgams.  The body may have difficulty processing
the level of toxins released from the dental work and this can cause
stress on the liver and immune system. The risks may outweigh
the benefits in this case.

What does this mean?

It means that Dr. Kaur is actively arguing against using Oil Pulling for some specific cases where you have specific dental work that are made using metal.

Say Ahh

“Say Ahh” by David Joyce, via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Key Takeaway:

Don’t try Oil Pulling if you have braces or metal fillings, or any other dental work that uses metal.

Diet Pill Resource

In this article, the benefits are more targeting weight loss.  In this article it does talk in general about some liver benefits of Oil Pulling.

But, in this one place, it does state:

But, the point is that, if you keep on eating high calorie foods and not exercising, no amount of detoxification will lead to weight loss. Just because you removed the toxins from the oral cavity doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to lose weight already because you improved the fat burning efficiency of the liver.

While this might look like a specific dig against Oil Pulling with respect to weight loss.  It’s really just saying that doing one good thing from a diet standpoint can’t overcome a LOT of other bad diet decisions.

Key Takeaway:

If you eat junk, no amount of oil pulling will help you reduce your weight!

Proof That Oil Pulling Benefits the Liver

There are some scientific studies related to the oils used for Oil Pulling and the liver.

However, most of these target consumption of the oils, and not the act of Oil Pulling.

We have included these just as a reference.  But we are not counting these towards any proof that Oil Pulling itself provides benefits to the liver.

There Seems to be a Relationship Between Seseme Oil and the Liver

During our research on this topic, we found a couple of studies that showed that Seseme Oil can have a positive affect on liver function in rats.

Sesame oil mitigates nutritional steatohepatitis via attenuation of oxidative stress and inflammation: a tale of two-hit hypothesis was one such study.   In this study, this statement was made:

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the most common
chronic liver disorder worldwide, comprises conditions
from steatosis to nonalcoholic
steatohepatitis (NASH) and cirrhosis.

That study concluded “We conclude that sesame oil protects against steatohepatitic fibrosis by decreasing oxidative stress, inflammatory cytokines, leptin and TGF-β1”.

Are Rats and Humans Close Enough to Believe?

Why I Love My New Lens

“Why I Love My New Lens” by anoldent (CC BY-SA 2.0), via

In another study, Sesame oil mitigates nutritional steatohepatitis via attenuation of oxidative stress and inflammation: a tale of two-hit hypothesis, the liver function was also studied and the conclusion was “Therefore, it is considered that enrichment of the lignans potentiates the characteristics of sesame in improving human health”.

What does this mean?

Ok.  So, it works with rats.

And, it works if the rats are GIVEN sesame seed oil.

But, does oil pulling really provide these same benefits?

Is it possible that if you oil pull with Sesame Seed oil, and you accidentally swallow enough of the oil, that you might have the same benefits of rats.

Well, maybe.

However, we doubt it.

Which are the Best Oils for Liver Benefits?

During our research, the following oils were seen more often then others with regard to Oil Pulling and the Liver.

Seseme Oil

Maybe we should have title this article Seseme Oil and the Liver.  After all, Seseme Oil was much more prominent in Oil Pulling articles than any of the other oils.

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil did show up very often in the articles we found.  However, several of those articles strayed from specifically talking about Oil Pulling, to talking about the benefits of consuming Coconut Oil.

Coconut Oil is an up and coming Superfood.  It seems like almost every day you are seeing new articles that describe the natural benefits that Coconut Oil provides.

Wrap Up: Coconut Oil and the Liver

This was a difficult decision.  There are some Adjacent pieces of scientific evidence that relate Coconut Oil to improved liver function in lab rats.

Our research also found many articles that make the Oil Pulling Provides Liver Benefits claims.  However, they all seem to point to these same studies where Oil Pulling isn’t really involved.

The other part that made this difficult is that Coconut Oil itself does seems to make an argument for improved liver production.  Just not when use in an Oil Pulling way.

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So, until those same studies that were performed on rats come out on humans, all of the claims of a relationship between Oil Pulling and the Liver are just Bunk.


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