What Is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for oral health and detoxification. It involves the use of pure oils for pulling harmful bacteria, fungus, and other organisms out of the mouth, teeth, gums and even throat. It is mentioned in the Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita where it is called Kavala Gandoosha / Kavala Graha, and it is claimed to cure about 30 systemic diseases ranging from headache, migraine, diabetes, asthma, skin conditions, allergies, oral bacterial infections, gum problems and more.
The practice requires one to put around a tablespoon of high quality oil (preferably organic) into one’s mouth and swish it around for roughly 20 minutes. Please note 20 minutes is only a suggestion, it is really a matter of personal choice and discovering what works best for you. It is ideal to swish around the oil for 15-20 minutes, but I have been known to do the practice for only 5-10 minutes on mornings when I am in a bit of a rush. In my opinion that 5-10 minutes is still quite effective and it is far more noticeable if I skip the practice completely.
The most recommended oil by Ayurvedic practitioners is sesame oil. Personally I prefer to use virgin unrefined coconut oil simply for the taste, but you can also use sunflower oil as well. Sesame oil is naturally anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and is an anti-inflammatory agent and it is mentioned in the Vedas as an excellent oil for humans. Coconut oil contains anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and inflammatory properties as well.
I have personally been oil pulling for over a year now and it is rare that I miss a day. I truly notice the difference when I do not oil pull first thing in the morning, so I have made it a habit to go straight for the oil when I wake up! I notice a difference in mental clarity, white teeth, breath, and just overall feeling of cleanliness in the mouth. If I miss a morning, my mouth honestly feels gross now.
Procedure for Oil Pulling
- First thing in the morning when you arise, before you eat, drink, or brush your teeth, put around 1 tablespoon of your oil of choice into your mouth and begin swishing the oil around.
- Slowly swish and pull the oil through your teeth and around your mouth, you can tilt your chin up a bit to help get the teeth in the back as well.
- After you are done swishing the oil, spit it out and rinse your mouth with water.
- Following that brush your teeth and tongue and your mouth will be sparkling clean.
Make sure you do it on an empty stomach! Also do not swallow the oil as it contains toxins, bacteria, and other pathogens. If using coconut oil, I would recommend to spit the oil in the trash after you are done swishing it around so it does not harden in your drains and clog them. As for other oils it is recommended to spit into the toilet or trash as well.
What Does Oil Pulling Do?
Oil pulling rids the mouth of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that have made your mouth their home overnight. Not only does it whiten teeth, improve gum health, and overall oral health, but it also acts as a preventative holistic health practice. The benefits of oil pulling reach far beyond just a clean mouth. Ayurveda teaches us that our mouth is not separate from the rest of our body and is in fact, a good indicator of heath in other areas as well. So, it makes perfect sense that oil pulling would be beneficial to my general health. The mouth acts as a direct absorption path to the blood, so by oil pulling first thing in the morning instead of drinking a glass of water or eating and flushing those toxins right into your body, the oil extracts them for you which eases the detoxifying load on your body.
Scientific Studies on Sesame Oil and Oil Pulling
Sesame oil is particularly high in the antioxidants sesamol, sesamin, and sesamolin. It also holds a high concentration of Vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These antioxidants have been found to stop the absorption of negative forms of cholesterol in the liver. Multiple studies have shown the antibacterial capacities of sesame oil. These studies support the use of oil pulling in the prevention of dental cavities and gingivitis.
A 2007 study looking into the effect of oil pulling (with sunflower oil) on plaque and gingivitis on oral soft and hard tissues. Results found that after 45 days of oil pulling, subjects showed a statistically significant reduction in gingivitis.
Another study, conducted in 2008 found a “remarkable reduction in the total count of bacteria” in the mouth, and an overall marked reduction in susceptibility dental cavities. The antibacterial activity of sesame oil was also studied and found to have an effect on the Streptococcus mutans in the mouth.
In fact, these studies showed an overall reduction of bacteria from 10 to 33.4% in participants, and after 40 days of oil-pulling, participants were found to show 20% in average reduction in oral bacteria. Moreover, half of all participants in this case study showed a drastic reduction in susceptibility to dental caries.
Let us know your results if you try out this lost ancient ayurvedic practice!