Oil Pulling Benefits, Side Effects, Coconut Oil Pulling, Cavities, Whitening Effects, Olive Oil, Acne

Oil Pulling Benefits, Side Effects, Coconut Oil Pulling, Oil Pulling And Cavities, Whitening Effects, Olive Oil, Acne

Oil pulling is an important part of Ayurvedic daily routine practices that support and maintain good health. Oil pulling benefits are numerous. Oil pulling is classically described in ancient Ayurvedic literature – the Charak Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya. In all three of these ancient Ayurvedic texts various kinds of techniques of oil pulling are described.

The ancient texts do not specifically use the term ‘oil pulling’ but they do have ancient Sanskrit terms that describe the process. One is gandush which means holding the oil in your mouth. The other term is kaval and this means swishing or gargling the oil in the mouth. In Ayurvedic literature a variety of different types of kaval and gandush are described, and the difference between the two is very interesting.

Keep reading. Here’s what we’ll cover in this article.

Ancient Ayurvedic Oil Pulling: Kaval And Gandush
Oil Pulling Liquids
Sensory Health (Shalakya Tantra)
4 Types Of Oil Pulling (Gandush)
Oil Pulling Benefits: Connecting All Sensory Organs + Preventing Infection
Other Natural Mouth Fresheners
Oil Pulling Benefits: Oral Health + Heart Disease
Oil Pulling Benefits For Inflammation + Gingivitis
An Alkaline Vs. Acidic Mouth
How Long To Pull Oil?
Should You Do Gandush Or Kaval (Hold Oil Or Swish)?
Sesame Oil Or Coconut Oil?
Oil Pulling Side Effects
Oil Pulling And Cavities
Oil Pulling Teeth Whitening
Oil Pulling Olive Oil
Oil Pulling And Acne

Ancient Ayurvedic Oil Pulling: Kaval And Gandush

In gandush, you fill the liquid or oil in the mouth fully so there’s no movement in your mouth and so your mouth is completely distended. You completely stretch the muscles of your cheeks. There are several reasons why you do that. This process is very good for your teeth. It releases a lot of impurities and toxins, literally pulling them out. Toxins and impurities in the mouth may get lost in different parts of the body and create a stress on the immune system. That’s the reason why oil pulling activates the immune system.

Kaval is a process where you take the oil or liquid in your mouth and move it around and gargle it all the way to the back of your throat for a specific amount of time.

Two women side by side demonstrate the different types of oil pulling, oil pulling benefits, oil pulling side effects, coconut oil pulling, etc.

Oil Pulling Liquids

Kaval and gandush are both a part of Ayurvedic daily routine. Both practices can be done with different types of oil including sesame, castor and coconut. Other substances used are herbal concoctions, freshly squeezed bitter-tasting juices, freshly squeezed astringent-tasting juices or concoctions of Triphala. Licorice tea is also used for kaval or gandush.

Usually the liquids used for these purposes are primarily fat, either oil or ghee or even variations or combinations of milk. Honey and water together is another great combination for oral health.

Sensory Health (Shalakya Tantra)

There is a whole branch of Ayurveda for oral health called shalakya tantra or sensory health. Anything above the clavicle including the throat, gums, teeth, eyes, nasal passages and sinuses are included. Oil pulling is done for sensory health. That is, it creates clarity in all five senses. It is good for the nose, the sinuses, the teeth and oral gum health.

Fermented liquids, called shukta, can also be used for gargling. You can gargle with wine as well. In wine tasting, when you hold the wine in your mouth, this has a cleansing effect. Other substances used include a variety of different combinations of grains and concoctions which are soaked overnight. The purpose is to use something bitter and astringent which is just opposite to the quality of bodhak kapha which is primarily sweet. So we usually use something which is opposite to sweet, either bitter or astringent.

READ MORE: Kapha Diet: Everything You Need To Know, How To Include Bitter Foods In Your Diet

4 Types Of Oil Pulling (Gandush)

A woman oil pulling demonstrating oil pulling benefits, oil pulling side effects, oil pulling benefits.

1. Snigdha Gandush

Snigdha means oily. In snigdha gandush, the oil pulling process lubricates your full mouth with the addition of herbs that are sweet or sour. Usually with snigdha gandush we use coconut oil, sesame oil, castor oil in small portions and ghee. All the current oil pulling products are usually oil-based but the innovative approach Ayurveda offers is the inclusion of bitter, astringent and anti-inflammatory herbs like Turmeric which can also be combined to make it even more effective.

One of the most respected Ayurvedic oil pulling formulas for oral health is irimedadi taila, a combination of 27 different herbs together. It is a powerful formula for oil pulling.

2. Shamana Gandush

Shamana gandush is more of a palliative approach to oil pulling. It is more for pacifying the doshas. In shamana gandush, you just do the full mouth gargle. You may use herbal decoctions, weak herbal teas which are bitter or astringent, peppermint tea, Triphala tea, bitter or astringent herbs and fresh juices.

3. Shodhana Gandush

Shodhana gandush is purifying. If there is a lot of coating of ama on your tongue and it is leading to poor periodontal health and you want to do some cleansing, you do shodhana gandush. One technique is to use salt and baking soda and a variety of different astringent and pungent herbs together like triphala concoction.

Many Ayurvedic tooth powders that contain a variety of different Ayurvedic herbs like triphala, honey and arka, have bitter and astringent tasting herbs. These can be used in shodhana gandush. You can massage your teeth and gums with these powders and then take a little bit of hot water in your mouth. Swish the liquid and powders together before you spit it out. This process is both cleansing and purifying.

4. Ropana Gandush

Ropana means healing or wound healing. So if there is heat or inflammation in the body as in canker sores or ulcerative stomatitis where there are blisters on the inner sides of your cheeks, tongue or lips, for wound healing purposes you do ropana gandush. Ghee and honey and warm water is one method of ropana gandush to heal the wounds. You can also gargle with bitter and astringent herbs together.

There is also an interesting combination used classically for ropana gandush. Sesame seed paste with water is used for a variety of issues with your teeth. They are generally a good tonic for the teeth, useful for tingling sensations in the mouth, and a variety of different dental caries.

Oil Pulling Benefits: Connecting All Sensory Organs + Preventing Infection

The main purpose of oil pulling is to balance bodhak kapha. The mouth, home of bodhak kapha, is the abode or junction point of all the sensory faculties. Your nose is connected to your eyes and to the back of the throat. Every time you put something in your nose, it drains down to the back of your throat. Your eyes are connected to the nose, and the nose connected to the throat, where taste is generated via the tongue.

Because the eyes, ears and nose are all exposed to outside stimulation, keeping them moist and lubricated is one of the best ways of preventing infection.

Technically the mouth is a junction point. It is the only junction point where all five sensory factors collide with each other and the reason why you should put drops in your nose (nasya) and do oil pulling. This junction point is a high friction point. The reason why we use oil is because these are sensitive areas that you want to keep moist and lubricated. Oil reduces the friction and any burnout from those areas so that is why it is a part of everyday routine. Oil also prevents infection. Because the eyes, ears and nose are all exposed to outside stimulation, keeping them moist and lubricated is one of the best ways of preventing infection.

Coconut oil and oil bottle, oil pulling. Oil pulling benefits, oil pulling side effects.

When you are sitting in a plane for air travel, the dryness of the plane encourages the virus and bacteria to get stuck to these canals. The body then gets infected because of that. If you keep the body moist and well oiled and lubricated, you minimize the chance of infection by more than 50-60%.

Other Natural Mouth Fresheners

Along with oil pulling, chewing of certain herbs like cardamom pods or cardamom seeds is considered not only a mouth freshener but good for oral health. They also fall into the Ayurvedic herb category of using actual powders and seeds to improve the taste and the bad smell that happens because of poor oral health. So you can use these spices for cleansing purposes.

Oil Pulling Benefits: Oral Health + Heart Disease

According to modern medicine we know that poor dental health has a significant effect on vascular tissue health as well. Oral health is correlated with heart health and if you are actually having periodontal disease your chance of heart disease is very high.

From an Ayurvedic perspective teeth are an aspect of asthi dathu which is related to vata dosha. Teeth problems are connected to other systems in the body. They are connected to the digestive pathways and the nervous system pathways as well. Diseases of the teeth do not only remain in the mouth itself.

Energetically diseases of the teeth are connected with several parts of the body. Keeping the tongue clean, without ama or without any coating, is very important. When the thousands of taste buds on the tongue are coated with ama you don’t recognize the taste of the food and that makes your digestion very sluggish. So with regular oil pulling, you’re actually cleansing the coating over your tongue and preventing your teeth and gums from getting infected.

READ MORE: Arjuna Milk Decoction: Home Remedy Heart Tonic, Bottle Gourd Benefits, Juice, Recipes, How To Cook Bottle Gourd (Lauki, Ghiya), Dates Benefits, How To Eat Dates + Amazing Date Pudding Recipe

Oil Pulling Benefits For Inflammation + Gingivitis

Many of the oils that we use in oil pulling like coconut oil contains an interesting chemical called lauric acid. Lauric acid is a very potent, anti-inflammatory and has an antimicrobial effect. Even sesame oil contains the linoleic acid which is considered antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antiviral, antibacterial and most importantly anti-inflammatory because the gums of the mouth get inflamed. The regular use of the combination of the sesame and the coconut oil together has a broad spectrum effect on plaque, gingivitis and gum health.

Woman with inflammation in her mouth uses oil pulling. Oil pulling benefits, oil pulling side effects, oil pulling uses + more.

Another important thing that we often talk about from an Ayurvedic perspective, is your ability to mindfully digest your food before it is sent to your gut. This includes your ability to taste the food, digest your food, create salivary secretions and chew your food so many times. It is this first step that is very important – the mixing of saliva with the food, coating it completely and allowing the salivary secretions to happen. Every time you have an inflamed condition in the mouth it blocks the secretions of the salivary glands and that is the first step for weakening your digestion. Your mouth instead of remaining alkaline, becomes acidic.

READ MORE: When To Eat: The Best Times To Eat Different Foods

An Alkaline Vs. Acidic Mouth

You can check the ph of your saliva very quickly just using a ph paper. You want it to be usually alkiline. When the mouth is chronically dry and inflamed it actually blocks the secretions of the saliva and can lead to a variety of different challenges mostly digestion related. It can lead to constipation, dryness related issue where there’s a retention of ama that happens, and it’s a vicious cycle.

Since you have poor oral health, that’s why you don’t digest your food well, and that’s why your food remains undigested which is why you create ama. And since you create ama, that ama gets coated on the tongue and that actually weakens your oral health even further.

Cleansing your gut and cleansing your mouth is the first phase of clearing ama. All the signs that we talk about of nirama, where your body is free of ama, the first step to look for is actually your tongue and your breath. If your mouth is clean and your breath is fresh it’s a sign that you have less ama in your body.

How Long To Pull Oil?

When you do kaval you swish oil in your mouth. When you do gandush, you hold oil in your mouth until your eyes or nose or your cheeks get tired. You may see some secretions or tears or some watery discharge from your nose or eyes and your cheeks will get tired. That’s the time you spit the oil out of your mouth. In gandush, you are holding the oil in your mouth like you’re trying to blow a balloon in just one breath. Your cheeks are all distended. That’s the feeling you should have with the oil filled to a level where you can’t move.

The first sign that the body is a little bit tired, is when you can see some of that oil coming out through your nose, even your eyes, because it’s all connected. That’s a sign that you’re actually doing some reverse cleansing of your mouth. That’s the sign that you’re actually connecting the dots to all the sensory factories, just by doing a fully distended version of gandush.

READ MORE: 8 Step Ayurvedic Morning RitualAn Ayurveda Breakfast: 10 Healthy Breakfast Ideas From Ancient Indian Wellness

Should You Do Gandush Or Kaval? (Hold Oil Or Swish)

For a variety of different conditions we actually say that gandush is something you should do on an everyday basis. But not everyone has the time and resources, to fill the mouth with that much oil and to spend 5-7 minutes holding the oil, without really doing anything else and with full focus and concentration. That is something which is more of a serious process that you can spare 1-2 days a week for.

Kaval which is the swishing of the oil is more like a drive-through version of oil pulling. It does give you 50-60% benefit of that, but it is not as effective as gandush.

READ MORE: How To Use A Neti Pot Correctly, Neti Pots For Colds, Sinus Infections + Tinnitis

Sesame Oil Or Coconut Oil?

You should do oil pulling with sesame oil as opposed to coconut. Classically, in the ancient literature, they talk more about sesame oil because of the oily quality and the fat content. Coconut oil is also effective but sesame is much more effective. The function is called saponification. It creates a soap like effect where the oily qualities of these oils work like soap. They scrape away the bacterial mildew and residues of the plaque. And they support healthy gum tissue as a barrier before it goes into the blood stream.

Coconut oil in this instance does not aggravate Vata dosha. It’s neither cooling nor systemically absorbed. It us just used topically. Every time we use the oil for oil pulling, ideally it should be warm. It cannot be right at the room temperature or cold. When close to the body temperature, absorption is better.

Oil Pulling Side Effects

Happy woman oil pulling, oil pulling side effects, oil pulling benefits.

There are no oil pulling side effects which is why oil pulling is recommended for everyday use. Anyone, with any constitution or prakriti (Ayurvedic body type) can do oil pulling. Ideally it should be done in morning and evening after you brush.

It is not only limited to oral health. The ancient Ayurvedic texts talk about the benefits of oil pulling for migraines, shoulder pain, neck pain, headache, greying of hair and cataract. Basically, it benefits all diseases above the clavicle.

It is the combination of saliva and oil together that creates the magic potion.

READ MORE: 16 Morning Routine Ideas From Ayurvedic Medicine

Oil Pulling And Cavities

It is because you have these chronic infections that you have cavities. That’s why you have infection. In order to prevent infection and not create more cavities, you should do oil pulling every day.

Oil pulling will not loosen the cavity. It will actually prevent them from occurring. The problem with the cavity is, because the cavity is directly connected to the blood, it exposes you to the free blood circulation and many of these infections in your mouth will lead to systemic infections. And so it works as a barrier to separate your mouth not getting connected with these infections.

READ MORE: Will Oil Pulling Help A Toothache?

Oil Pulling Teeth Whitening

Oil pulling will help whiten teeth when combined with turmeric and other things. Dental tartar is a kind of coating of these remnants of food which creates this yellowish coating over your teeth. Because oil pulling works like soap it has a cleansing effect.

Oil Pulling Olive Oil

Any oil would work but you need to have the potency because olive oil is not that heating. Sesame oil is a little bit more heating. All of the oils will have similar qualities but for more medicinal effects of oil pulling use sesame oil. The second best is coconut oil and the third best would be olive oil.

READ MORE: Ayurvedic Oil: Everything You Need To Know

Oil Pulling And Acne

Oil pulling won’t cause acne. The oil doesn’t get into the superficial skin layer. It goes mostly to the internal skin layer so it won’t really have any adverse effect. If it actually reduces inflammation and has a better impact on your sinus health, it will reduce acne.

READ MORE: Will Oil Pulling Help A Toothache?Triphala For Weight Loss, Digital Eye Strain: Pamper Your Eyes With Ayurvedic Treatments, Foods + Exercises

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Suhas Kshirsagar is a world-renown Ayurvedic practitioner and educator from India born of a traditional Rig-Vedic family. He holds a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery (BAMS) degree, with a Gold Medal from the prestigious Pune University in India. Manisha Kshirsagar, BAMS (Ayurveda, India), Esthetician, graduated from Pune University, India. She is also trained in Naturopathy and as a Yoga instructor from India. She offers Ayurvedic and skin care consultations as well as workshops on Ayurvedic nutrition and cooking, beauty and skincare, women’s health, panchakarma and herbal formulations. She is the author of “Ayurveda, A Quick Reference Handbook’ and “Enchanting Beauty”. Currently she is Director of Ayurvedic Healing, a faculty member at Chopra Center, Kerala Ayurveda, MERU, MMI and Maharishi University.

10 comments

  1. Can I use toasted sesame oil or raw desams oil?

  2. Should you use sesame oil if you have a pitta dosha? I thought sesame aggravates pitta.

    • The Ayurveda Experience

      Hi MB,
      You can use sesame oil for oil pulling, even if you are Pitta type. You can also do half sesame oil and half coconut oil. That is also good.
      Jennifer

  3. I oil pulled with coconut oil for 3 weeks. It worked super well for whitening and oral health HOWEVER, for others like myself who are acne prone, be careful. It absolutely made me break out after a couple of weeks. I stopped and my skin is finally clearing up again.

  4. Hi. I just started oil pulling 4 days ago & now have a few exploded taste buds & a sore! Help.

    • The Ayurveda Experience

      Hi Brianna,
      Have you spoken with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner about this? What type of oil are you using?

  5. Will gandush pull out fillings or dental work?

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