In the last couple of decades, oil pulling has become quite popular around the world. Actually this is an age old, very ancient technique mentioned in Ayurvedic texts, in the section of “Dinacharya” (Daily Routine) for maintaining good personal hygiene.
In Ayurveda there are two basic techniques mentioned to cleanse the mouth, namely “Gandusha Kriya” and “Kavala Graha Kriya”.
The basic difference between Gandusha Kriya and Kavala Graha Kriya is – in Gandusha, the mouth is filled with certain oils or medicated liquids which are held in the mouth for a specific period of time, without moving the oils around in the mouth.
Whereas in Kavala Graha, a small quantity (1 – 2 tablespoons) of certain oils or medicated liquid is kept in the mouth and “pulled” (swished around) from one side of the mouth to the other.
The Ayurvedic scripture named “Sarangdhar Samhita”, mentions that to make Kavala Graha more effective and beneficial, a “Kalka” (paste/jam/bolus) should be used, and for Gandusha, certain medicated liquids can be used.
Generally, for oil pulling, some common oils, e.g. virgin coconut oil, sunflower oil and sesame oil, are used by most people. According to Ayurveda, this is called “fallacy of generalisation”. Ayurveda does not support this concept of “one size fits all”.
Ayurveda recommends specific oil, liquid or paste, as per the individual’s needs. Ayurveda believes in a very personalised plan for each individual – accordingly, even for oil pulling, Ayurveda gives very detailed, specific and precise guidelines for people as per their personal needs, depending on each individual’s Prakruti (constitution) & Vikruti (imbalance), occupation, season, etc.
Broadly speaking, there are four main types of Kavala Graha Kriya :
- Snigda/Snehan (greasy, moisturising, lubricating, comforting, soothing, etc.)
- Shamana/Prasaadana (rectifying, correcting, removing, etc.)
- Shodhana (purifying, getting rid of toxins, cleansing, etc.)
- Ropana (nurturing, nourishing, healing, etc.)
Snigda or Snehan is very moisturising and lubricating, therefore it is recommended mainly to correct Vata (Air element) disorders, as well as for those individuals who have Vata as a predominant dosha, in order to prevent Vata imbalance.
For this kind of Kavala (and for Gandusha), different types of medicated oils which have warming effect, are used. Coconut oil, which is very commonly used nowadays by most people and which is promoted & propagated by many “health experts”, is not recommended in Ayurveda for Vata individuals.
Medicated oils prepared with warming herbs, e.g. sesame oil with cloves, cinnamon, dry amla (Indian gooseberry powder), rock salt, etc. are highly recommended for Vata predominant individuals. Coconut oil would not be of much benefit in such cases.
Shamana or Prasaadana is mostly recommended to pacify the aggravated Pitta (fire element) dosha and also for those whose Prakruti (constitution) is Pitta oriented. For Pitta predominant individuals, oils which have calming effect, mixed with sweet, bitter and astringent herbs/spices are recommended in Ayurveda, e.g. neem, dry bitter gourd powder, pure honey, rock salt, etc.
Shodhana is recommended to eliminate excess Kapha and ama (toxins) from one’s body. This is particularly beneficial for Kapha predominant individuals, as it helps to prevent accumulation of ama in the body, which they are generally predisposed towards.
In such cases, a paste/oil prepared by using heaty oil, e.g. mustard oil, peppermint oil, with black salt, dry ginger powder, turmeric powder, a little black pepper powder, nutmeg powder, etc. which can help to release and eliminate excess Kapha & ama from one’s body are used.
For such individuals also, coconut oil is not recommended. Again, fallacy of generalisation – recommending virgin coconut oil for everyone to use in oil pulling, is discouraged. Instead, it is recommended that one choose the oils and herbs/spices as per the individual’s personal need, based on one’s Prakruti (constitution) and Vikruti (imbalance).
Ropana (nurturing/healing) is generally useful for all three dosha types of individuals. For this purpose, warm oil, e.g. sesame oil, is used with herbs/spices which are soothing, nourishing and cleansing, e.g. clove, alum (Potassium aluminium sulphate/Potash Alum), turmeric powder, etc.
Besides the specific and precise formulas as per the Prakruti & Vikruti of different individuals, some general recipes are also mentioned in Ayurveda which can be very safely used by individuals of all doshas.
For example, sesame oil Gandush and Kavalagraha kriya, is beneficial for everyone in general, in most seasons. To make this technique more effective/beneficial, it should be done in the following manner:
- Take 1 – 2 tablespoons of cold pressed sesame oil (black sesame oil or mustard oil in cold weather).
- Add ½ teaspoon of ground sea salt to it.
- Use this mixture for oil pulling.
- Do oil pulling (including gargling) with this mixture for 10 – 20 minutes.
- Then spit out the oil mixture.
- Do not gargle with water for about 10 minutes – just keep spitting out the saliva produced in the mouth.
- After 10 minutes, gargle nicely with warm saline water.
- Do oil pulling preferably in the morning before 10:00 am (during the Kapha period), before breakfast.
- If it is done after eating, it can cause nausea (even vomiting), headache, dizziness, etc.
- Do not swallow the oil as this can adversely affect the appetite and digestion.
- Do not wash your face immediately after the oil pulling, otherwise the toxic matter may not be completely released through the nose and the eyes. And if it remains inside, it can cause sinus and eyesight related problems. This can even cause memory loss and confusion in the mind.
- Blow your nose and wash your eyes thoroughly after this technique is completed in the manner mentioned above.
How does it work?
When oil is put in the mouth and moved from one side to the other inside the mouth, bacteria and other microbes present in the mouth, stick to the oil. So the oil picks up the toxins inside the mouth, the bacteria and microbes in between and on the teeth and around the gums. This is why when the oil is spit out after a few minutes, it looks milky white, indicating the presence of toxins and bacteria in the oil.
Ayurveda says that different parts of the tongue has a connection/affects a particular organ in the body. For example, our intestines are connected with the middle part of the tongue towards the back, close to the throat region, and the sides of the tongue are connected with the kidneys. Therefore, oil pulling has a positive effect on different organs in the body.
In Ayurveda, there is a very long list of benefits given in detail, with elaborate explanations regarding the precise effects of specific oils, herbs/spices, etc., and the seasons when these particular formulas are to be used. Here we are sharing some general benefits for our readers :
- If Gandush/Kavala Graha kriya (technique) is done regularly (even 3 times a week) in the morning, it can help to keep one’s mouth very clean.
- Several diseases of the teeth and gums (discoloured and sensitive teeth, bleeding gums, etc.) can be easily corrected and prevented.
- Bad breath can be corrected.
- Diseases relating to the vocal cord, eyes, sinus, nose, ears, head – the region around and above the throat – can be successfully treated by this simple technique, provided the right formulas are used.
- Loss of appetite, indigestion, poor absorption, constipation, etc. can also be corrected.
- Loss of taste (due to insensitive taste buds) can be rectified within a short period of time by Gandusha Kriya (just holding the herbal paste with specific oil mixtures, in the mouth).
- Skin disorders also can be corrected.
- Blood is purified.
- Memory can improve.
- Clarity of thoughts is experienced/noticed.
- Ability to express oneself, with proper articulation, is achieved.
- Grinding of the teeth during sleep can stop by regular practice of this technique.
- Hormonal imbalance can also be corrected by doing this simple technique regularly.
- Inflammation, which is becoming an increasingly common problem around the world, and which is at the root of many illnesses, can be treated successfully by this technique.
- Last but not least, quality of sleep can also improve with this wonderful, unique and simple technique.