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Everything you need to know about Ayurvedic oil pulling

Written by Anna Dale

According to Ayurveda oil pulling is one of the dinacharya (daily routine) practices. The purpose of this technique is to cleanse, and to increase general health by pulling the toxins from the mouth and the gut. This procedure is usually done in the morning, after brushing and before drinking or eating anything.

There are two primary techniques for cleaning mouth with oils - Gandusha and Kavala Graha. In Gandusha, you fill your mouth completely, to the full capacity, with oil or other prescribed liquids and hold it there for specific time, without any movement. In Kavala Graha, you use a smaller amount of oil, swish between the teeth, and gargle at the back of the throat.

This procedure can be performed with various liquids, pastes, medicated oils and gruels depending on your requirement and prescription by your Ayurvedic practitioner.

Step by step oil pulling

  • The oil pulling should be done in a sited position, with slightly lifted face, in a sunrise.

  • Take approximately ½ to 1 tablespoon of warm oil into the mouth, when doing kavala graha.

  • Swish the oil around the mouth. Continue swishing the oil with few seconds rest in between, if feeling tired. According to Ayurveda one should swish or withhold the oil until the eyes and nose start secreting liquid, or until the oil becomes white and slimy. First, the oil mixes with the saliva, turning it into a thin, white liquid. Lipids in the oils begin to pull out toxins from the saliva. As the oil is swished around the mouth, teeth, gums and tongue, the oil continues to absorb toxins, and usually ends up turning thick and viscous and white. The time of keeping oil will vary from person to person, usually between 10-20 minutes. The main indicator of how long the oil should be kept for, is secretion of Kapha (turning of the oil into thick, white fluid).

  • Once the oil has reached this consistency, spit out before the toxins are reabsorbed, and rinse your mouth with warm water, and brush your teeth once again.

Oil pulling practice, which was described thousands of years ago is getting more and more recognition nowadays.

Studies show that ten minutes of oil gum massage per day, for a period of three weeks, can significantly reduce mean Streptococcus mutans count, Lactobacillus count, plaque scores, and gingival scores. Sesame oil, olive oil, and coconut oils were used in three different groups of subjects to compare the efficacy between three different oils and the chlorhexidine gel. Interestingly, there was no significant difference found in percentage reduction of these variables between the four groups (1).

Medias to be used for oil pulling as per Ayurveda:

  • Warm sesame oil, or warm water for everyday usage.

  • Various fat and liquid medias to be used according to the disease and by prescription.

  • To elaborate on the oils such as coconut and olive oil, which have been described in above study, Ayurveda would recommend using coconut & olive oil when there is inflammation or burning sensation.

Be mindful, your oral health can contribute to various diseases:

  • Poor oral hygiene can lead to infective endocarditis (IE), which is often caused by bacteria that colonize teeth (2).

  • Some research suggests that heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause (3).

  • There is a link between mouth bacteria and chronic diseases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Alzheimer’s (3,4).

Some of the benefits of oil pulling:

  • Excellent preventative measure for gums and mouth diseases, such as cavities and gingivitis.

  • Prevention of accumulation of bacteria, toxins and bad breath.

  • Remedy for bleeding gums.

  • Increased taste, smell, breathing, hearing, improved eye sight.

  • Ancient Ayurvedic practitioners believed that oil pulling could reduce more than just diseases of the mouth and throat. It is believed that these oils help the lymphatic system of the body as harmful bacteria are removed and beneficial micro flora are given.

  • Overall strengthening of the teeth, gums and jaws.

  • Prevention of dryness of the lips, mouth and throat.

  • Can reduce appearance of fine lines, dark circles and puffy eyes.

Contraindications for oil pulling:

  • Oil pulling is not recommended during extreme cold winters and cloudy weather, due to increase Kapha during that time, which can lead to cold, increase of phlegm, sinusitis and cough.

Oil pulling is a valuable preventive practice, which can be used in maintaining and improving oral and overall health. Keeping your mouth healthy can help you live a healthy life.

Improve your oral hygiene by oil pulling, brushing and scraping, techniques which have been described thousands of years ago, by timeless wisdom of Ayurvedic medicine.


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