Oil pulling - what is and why you should do it?

Oil pulling, known as ‘Kavala’ or ‘Gandusha’ is based on an ancient Ayurvedic practice (Ref 1). It is believed that oil pulling is preventative as well as curative for many health conditions (Ref 2). Ayurveda advises oil gargling to purify the entire system as it believes that each section of the tongue is connected to different organ such as to the kidneys, lungs, liver, heart, small intestines, stomach, colon, and spine (Ref 2). The Chakra Samhita (also known as the “Compendium of Chakra”) is a Sanskrit text that deals with the traditional Ayurveda medicine that originated in India. This is one of the oldest surviving Hindu texts to have reached us intact from ancient times (Ref 3). This text claims numerous diseases are curable using the method and should be used to maintain overall health and well-being (Ref 2, 4). There have been very few scientific studies done on oil pulling but it has been done for thousands of years. It is starting to gain more and more popularity especially in the West.

Oil pulling is the practice of swishing or holding oils in the mouth for long periods of time to produce health benefits (Ref 5). Traditionally sesame oil was used however coconut oil may also be used (Ref 6). Our mouths contain billions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites and their toxins. Oil pulling has a very powerful detoxifying effect. Bacteria and their waste products cause gum disease and tooth decay and contribute to a number of health problems. If our immune system becomes overloaded due to stress, poor diet, environmental toxins, these organisms can spread throughout the body causing secondary infections and chronic inflammation, leading to a number of health issues (Ref 1). Oil pulling contributes to oral hygiene as it helps rid the entire oral cavity of microorganisms. This in turn reduces dental caries, tartar, inflammation and periodontal disease (Ref 6).

How does oil pulling work?

Much of the bacteria found in dental plaque have a hydrophobic cell surface which means they prefer oil. The bacteria accumulate during oil pulling and can be easily released from the body. It is likely that they can be found as emulsifiers on the boundary between oil and saliva (Ref 6).

Moreover, many plant oils (coconut oil, sesame oil) have antibacterial properties which additionally influence dental health (Ref 6).

Benefits of oil pulling

The benefits of oil pulling include (Ref 1):

  • Cleans teeth

  • Promotes healthier gums

  • Removes plaque

  • Prevents bad breath

  • Supports oral health

  • Reduces teeth over-sensitivity

  • Promotes healthy sinuses

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Helps to remove tension in the jaw and neck

  • Reduces headaches

  • Helps to detoxify the body

Incorporate oil pulling into your morning routine. It should be used in conjuction with teeth brushing and tongue scraping.


How to practice oil pulling

  1. In the morning on an empty stomach, start by putting 1-2 tablespoon of organic virgin cold pressed coconut oil or sesame oil (traditionally used) into your mouth. Essential oils can also be added to the oil used to help improve oral health and reduce inflammation (e.g. Young Living Thieves Essential Oil - msg me to purchase or for more information).

  2. Swish the oil in your mouth, moving it around both sides. Also move the oil in front of, behind and through the teeth.

  3. Start with 5 minutes at first and then work your way up to 15-20mins.

  4. Once finished, spit the oil out into the bin. Do not spit it into the sink as oils do not mix with water and should not go down the drain. Do not swallow the oil.

  5. Can follow with a tongue scraper (see my blog on tongue scraping for benefits and how to: https://www.alephia.org/blogs/2018/11/12/tongue-scraping).

Try oil pulling everyday for a month and let me know how you go!


  1. O’Connor, B. (2015). Kavala Graha: Ayurvedic Remedy for a Healthy Smile. Spirituality Health - The Soul Body Connection.


  2. Singh (A) & Purohit (B). (2011). Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2011 Apr-Jun; 2(2): 64–68. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131773/

  3. Yogapedia. Charaka Samhita. https://www.yogapedia.com/definition/5413/charaka-samhita

  4. Smith, C. (2016). History & Benefits of Oil Pulling. http://www.saffronsageliving.com/blog/history-benefits-of-oil-pulling

  5. Bradford, A. (2015). Oil Pulling: Benefits & Side Effects. LiveScience. https://www.livescience.com/50896-oil-pulling-facts.html

  6. Ecco Verde (2017) Gandusha - Oil Pulling for Oral Health.

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