According to the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, oil pulling (known as kavala or gandoosha) is an ancient Ayurvedic ritual that has been around for thousands of years.
Ayurveda sees the digestive system as the key to health, and it all begins in your mouth. As the entry point for the entire digestive tract, the health of the mouth directly impacts the gut and the strength of your digestive fire (agni). Good oral health helps sustain a strong digestive tract and supports agni, which in turn impacts our entire body.
When I first started oil pulling, Tejal had already been doing it for years but none of my other friends had even heard of it. I can honestly say that it has now become an indispensable part of my daily routine, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to maintain optimal oral health, along with brushing, flossing and tongue scraping.
What Is Oil Pulling and How Do You Do It?
Oil Pulling is a time-honored ritual for improving oral hygiene that is not just endorsed by Ayurvedic practitioners but also making its way to the mainstream, and counts Gwyneth Paltrow, Miranda Kerr and the Olsen sisters as fans.
The practice is simple: you measure about 1-2 tablespoons of oil and swish it around in your mouth. This sensation is definitely acquired, so I would recommend starting with 5 minutes and building up to the ideal of 15-20 minutes. It is also best performed on an empty stomach before teeth brushing and in a chin up position.
You might think, as I did, that you don’t have the time or patience in the morning to perform the ritual but multi-tasking is key- since this isn’t as vigorous as using a mouthwash, I find myself doing other things along the way like taking a shower, checking Instagram and even getting dressed, all while swishing away the oil in my mouth!
Which Oil Is Best For Oil Pilling?
Traditionally, oil pulling was done with sesame oil for its nutrient value but coconut oil is becoming popular because it contains the richest source of lauric acid known to man, which offers antimicrobial benefits. According to research, lauric acid is more effective at killing harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses in the body than any other saturated fatty acid. Another option is to buy oils blended with ayurvedic herbs and minty oils for an extra blast of natural health.
Does Oil Pulling Detox The Body?
Ayurveda posits that the tongue is connected to various organs like the heart, kidneys, lungs and small intestines, and it is believed that oil pulling activates salivary enzymes that absorbs chemical, bacterial and environmental toxins from the blood and removes them from the body through the tongue.
Because of that, make sure you spit out the oil onto a piece of tissue or into the bin (you wouldn’t want your pipes to get clogged up with oil over time!) and rinse your mouth out with warm water.
What Are Some Science-Backed Benefits Of Oil Pulling?
1. It kills harmful bacteria in your mouth.
Did you know that you can have up to 700 types of bacteria in your mouth alone? Decreasing that number can help support proper oral hygiene and prevent some undesirable conditions including tooth decay and bad breath (more on this later!). In one study, using sesame oil, there was a significant reduction in oral bacteria after just 2 weeks of daily oil pulling.
2. It reduces inflammation and improves gum health.
Gingivitis is a type of gum disease where your gums become red and swollen and bleed easily, often triggered by a build-up of plaque. Clinical trials have been conducted to analyse the short-term effect of oil pulling on the plaque known to cause gingivitis and show that oil-pulling may in fact be an effective remedy!
3. It fights bad breath.
Oil pulling may be actually better than your traditional mouthwash at eliminating bad breath, because mouthwash contains alcohol which dries out the mouth and reduces the production of saliva. We need saliva to maintain a healthy PH level and help stop certain bacteria, so whilst a mouthwash temporarily freshens your breath, it may have been doing more harm than good! A study has shown, on the other hand, that oil pulling was as effective as antiseptic mouthwash at reducing bad breath.
Setting Misconceptions Straight
There have also been some mis-truths circulating around the Internet about oil pulling, and here are three important facts to point out:
1. Oil pulling can’t replace regular brushing and flossing.
It can help reduce plaque and oral bacteria, but only as part of a daily oral routine, as this article in the British Dental Journal suggests.
2. Oil pulling does not whiten teeth.
This is a popular misconception- it can help improve the appearance of our teeth by reducing the stains caused by bacteria, but doesn’t actually whiten them, according to studies done by the American Dental Association.
3. Oil pulling does not cure all diseases.
While there is evidence to support that helps eliminate oral bacteria, there is none to suggest it cures others that you may have read about, including asthma, diabetes and arthritis.
Happy Oil Pulling everyone, and cheers to better health!