Ayurvedic Oil Pulling Explained: Benefits & How To

The Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling for oral hygiene is fast gaining popularity in the west. There is an increasing number of scientific studies and testimonials from people all over the world proving the effectiveness of oil pulling for almost any type of oral disorder, whether it is a tooth cavity or a mouth ulcer!

Ayurveda states that oil pulling has a positive effect on all of the organs in the head region, improves the health of all sense organs, strengthens the scalp and hair roots, and improves cognitive function.

Let’s find out more and dive into:

  • What Is Oil Pulling Ayurveda
  • Oil Pulling vs Gandush
  • 8 Benefits Of Oil Pulling
  • How To Choose The Right Ayurvedic Oil
  • 2 Non-Oil Based Oil Pulling Preparations
a woman coconut oil pulling ayurveda against a yellow background

Oil Pulling Ayurveda- What is it?

The classical Sanskrit name of oil pulling Ayurveda is Kaval. Kaval (or kulla) is a process in which you fill your mouth with plain or medicated oil, swish it around inside your mouth, before spitting it out.

Oil Pulling Vs Gandush

Oil pulling is not the only oral cleansing process in Ayurveda. The ancient Ayurvedic texts have another similar process called gandush. There is a slight distinction between oil pulling and gandush.

Unlike oil pulling, Gandush is a process in which you completely fill your mouth with the medicated oil and hold it there for an extended period of time without swishing it around.

According to ancient texts, such as the Charak Samhita, you should keep your liquid in your mouth until it ascends through your nasal chamber to your eyes. You may have a tear formation in your eyes at this point.

Both processes have some similarities as well as differences. However, for daily oral cleansing oil pulling is more effective, faster, and practical. The use of kaval is more prevalent in cases of immediate oral cleaning; for example, it is a tradition in India to clean your mouth by swishing water immediately after eating.

a drop of oil glinting

What Liquids Can Be Used For Oil Pulling?

The traditional process of kaval (oil pulling ayurveda) is not limited to only oil. Ayurveda recommends medicated oils, decoctions, teas, juices, and even water.

So, oil pulling is only a small part of the large expanse of the traditional Ayurvedic kaval.

However, oil is one of the best mediums for inter-cellular transport inside the body. According to modern medicine also, liposomal drug delivery (drug delivery using oils) is more effective compared to other liquids.

According to Ayurveda, oil is one of the best remedies to balance the Vata dosha, the most powerful metabolic pattern in the body. Hence, oil is the choicest fluid to practice the ancient oral cleaning process.

8 Benefits of oil pulling

Oil pulling provides many health benefits, not only for the oral cavity but for the entire head region. Some of the significant advantages of oil pulling include:

#1: Protects Overall Dental and Gum Health

Oil pulling aids in the removal of food particles stuck between the teeth and effectively prevents germ incubation on them. As a result, it eliminates the root cause of almost all tooth problems.

sesame oil being poured into a bowl with sesame seeds in the background

#2: Prevents Acidity Build-up in the Mouth

Oil pulling also helps to maintain a healthy pH in the mouth and discourages microbial growth.

As a result, the environment inside the mouth is less acidic. These factors also help to prevent foul odors by ensuring that small rotten food particles are swished away from the mouth.

#3: Prevents Bad Breath

According to a recent study, oil pulling can effectively prevent bad breath.

10 children used sesame oil for mouth pulling daily. This practice significantly reduced the incidences of bad breath in this group. The results were comparable to the other group of 10 children using chlorhexidine as a mouthwash.

#4: Strengthens whitens and brightens the teeth

Oil pulling improves blood circulation to the gums and provides a more nutritious supply to the teeth. Thus, regular oil pulling naturally results in healthy and strong gums.

It prevents gum problems such as hypersensitivity to hot/cold contact, bleeding, and gum infection.

#5: Helps to Alleviate Toothache

Oil pulling with clove oil produces such powerful results that it is recommended as an emergency remedy for tooth pain.

sesame oil being poured into a bowl on top of sesame seeds

#6: Protects against Oral Infections

Oil pulling is effective in the prevention and treatment of oral infections such as pyorrhea, and gingivitis. A study indicated that oil pulling with sesame oil can help to reduce the concentration of S. mutans and L. acidophilus in the oral cavity.

There are many other studies also supporting the above claim.

Besides, it helps to improve blood circulation and lymph drainage in the oral cavity. As a result, it helps to develop stronger immunity to all microbial infections. This is critical because the majority of pathogens enter our bodies through the mouth.

Your teeth may frequently cut your oral lining. Such cuts become infected and develop into ulcers when oral hygiene is poor. Regular oil pulling heals these small cuts and prevents mouth ulcers.

#7: Offers an Anti-inflammatory and Antiseptic Effect on the Head Region

The oil cavity is directly connected to the auditory cavity (ear canal), nasal chamber, eyes, sinuses, and other cavities in the head region. Any infection in the mouth can directly impact all of these chambers.

Since oil pulling helps to protect the oral cavity from infections, it reduces the possibility of infections in other parts of the head region. Regular oil pulling moisturizes the oral cavities and protects the oral muscles from numbness, stiffness, morning swelling, and other similar symptoms.

Besides, regular oil pulling exhibits excellent protective action against chronic colds, chronic headaches, and sinusitis. Some part of the oil also reaches the sinuses, nasal chamber, and other cavities too.

a woman pointing at her teeth and smiling

#8: Reduces signs of aging and maintains a youthful appearance.

Oil pulling is similar to a short oral muscle exercise. It also improves tone in the facial muscles due to its deep moisturizing effect.

It also increases the rate of cell regeneration in the facial skin, which helps to prevent wrinkles, blemishes, and dryness, resulting in a naturally youthful face.

These are just a few of the numerous other advantages of oil pulling. Oil pulling produces a butterfly effect of health benefits all over the body because all organs are deeply intertwined to form a complete metabolic structure.

How Choose the right oil for your constitution

Kaval, also popularised as oil pulling ayurveda, is a fairly simple procedure. However, it requires a specific procedure and also certain precautions for best results.

It is not necessary to purchase expensive oil-pulling preparations containing exotic herbs. Ayurveda is straightforward science. As a result, you can begin this exercise with plain room-temperature water.

Step 1: Find out your body type

Choose the oil-pulling product according to your body constitution, health condition, time, and season.

This step is important because certain oils may not agree with your constitution or health conditions. For example, a person with a tendency towards excess body heat should avoid oil pulling with mustard oil on a summer afternoon!

At the same time, some people with a cold body type (kapha dominant) with weak digestion may experience heaviness after oil pulling with coconut oil, on a winter night.

a woman pointing at her teeth and smiling

Step 2: Choose the suitable oil

Some ayurvedic preparations can provide you with additional oil-pulling benefits. Suitable oils for the three primary body types are –

Vata Body Type – Sesame oil, Almond oil

Pitta Body Type – Coconut oil, Olive oil

Kapha Body Type – Sesame oil, Mustard oil/Castor oil diluted in Sesame oil, Almond oil

An Ayurvedic Classical Preparation for All Body Types

Irimedadi oil is one of the most important classical Ayurvedic preparations for oil pulling and oil-filling.

It is an ancient preparation containing potent herbs such as clove, manjistha, turmeric, camphor, dhataki, and many others.

It can help prevent tooth decay, toothache, yellowness, foul oil odour, loss of appetite, inflammation, oral ulcers, and other problems.

Apart from Irimedadi tailam, there are numerous other Ayurvedic preparations for oil extraction.

coconut oil in a coconut bowl and on a wooden spoon

2 non-oil Ayurvedic preparations include:

#1: Turmeric water and regular salt

1 teaspoon turmeric powder or crushed turmeric roots boiled in 500 mL water for 10 minutes Remove from the heat and stir in 14 teaspoons of regular salt.

Use this turmeric liquid to pull your teeth. This liquid is particularly useful for treating oral infections, excessive salivation, and oil ulcers.

#2: Water with cloves, ginger, and regular salt.

Prepare this water in the same way that you would turmeric water. 5-6 crushed cloves and 2 pinches of dry ginger powder.

This mouth-pulling preparation is especially beneficial in cases of tooth decay and pain.

Oil Pulling in 4 steps

1. Fill your oil with a tablespoon or two amount of oil-pulling liquid/decoction/oil/water and swish the liquid inside your mouth.

2. You can swish the fluid inside your oral cavity till your cheeks feel tired. This is a facial muscle exercise. Otherwise, 5-10 min is a good time to practice oil pulling.

3. Spit out the entire fluid from your mouth.

4. Wash your mouth by swishing plain water inside it.

Precautions for Oil Pulling

The medicated oil used for oil pulling must not be swallowed. As this liquid dissolves all rotting food particles, germs, and undesirable acids, it is not recommended to spit it out, even if it contains a lot of beneficial herbs.

I hope that this blog brings you great health and peace of mind!

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Dr. Kanika Verma is an Ayurveda physician from India, with 10 years of Ayurveda practice. She specializes in Ritucharya consultation (Ayurvedic Preventive seasonal therapy) and Satvavjay (Ayurvedic mental health management), with more than 10 years of experience.

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