benefits of oil pulling in ayurveda

benefits of oil pulling

If you have been wondering “what is oil pulling?”, you are at the right place.
Ayurveda has, over the years, come to the forefront as one of the best practices to help cure a multitude of diseases and deficiencies. Taking a natural approach using herbs and spices, Ayurveda uses holistic therapy to get to the root of any issue and manage it comprehensively. With people preferring natural remedies over chemical-based allopathic medicines, Ayurveda has really become the go-to medical approach for general well-being and good health.
There are various effective practices in Ayurveda, among which oil pulling is one of the best. This is a technique that is highly beneficial for oral hygiene. Different practices divulge greatly into the connection between the teeth and gums, and overall health. Oral hygiene, especially gum care, is known to have a direct relationship with the health of the human heart. 
Various studies have shown that just brushing teeth and using mouthwash are not thorough enough for oral hygiene. There is a lot more needed, and that is where Ayurveda helps with the oil pulling technique. This article will discuss several oil pulling benefits, what Ayurveda says about it, and various other questions on how and when it is most effective.   

Of the various practices recommended by Ayurveda, a highly useful practice is Ayurvedic oil pulling. This is a practice that is beneficial for oral hygiene. One of the aspects of good health is keeping gums and teeth healthy. Studies have shown a relationship between gum health and heart health. Just brushing the teeth alone won’t help in oral hygiene. This is where the practice of oil pulling in Ayurveda can help. In this article, you can get to know all about oil pulling, including a guide on how to do oil pulling. You will also get the answer to questions like what is oil pulling therapy and is oil pulling effective.


What is Oil Pulling?

Looking for answers to the question - what is oil pulling?
Oil pulling known as Gandusha kriya in Ayurveda is an effective process that detoxifies the oral cavity of the human being. There is evidence of this practice even in the ancient Ayurvedic scripture called Charaka Samhita.

The name oil pulling is derived from the process itself, which involves using natural oils and gargling the oral cavity. The oil has a significant effect as it cleanses the mouth by pulling out various toxins and keeps the mouth free of various diseases like gingivitis, bad breath et cetera. Apart from being a preventive measure, it is also known to have curative properties.  

The process of oil pulling uses oils like mustard, coconut, and sunflower as a mouthwash to help clean the mouth naturally instead of using chemical-based mouthwashes.  
Oil pulling involves swishing the oil in your mouth for a period of between five minutes and 15 minutes. The oil has great properties that eliminate toxins from the teeth and gums. After the swishing is complete, the individual must spit the oil out and this removes the toxins too. 

Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice that helps improve oral hygiene. The world pulling refers to how the practice results in toxins being pulled from the mouth. Oiling pulling involves the use of an oil like coconut oil or sunflower oil as a mouthwash. It is just like how you would use a commercial mouthwash. The difference is that instead of using a chemical-based mouthwash; you are using a natural oil which is safer. 

Oil pulling involves swishing the oil in your mouth. When you do this for 15 minutes or more, the oil can remove or pull toxins from the teeth and gums. Once the swishing is complete, the oil needs to be spat out so that the toxins are eliminated. Practicing this regularly helps in improving not just oral hygiene but is good for the body. It is a safe practice that has been followed for many centuries and has helped people improve oral hygiene naturally. 


The Origins of Oil Pulling

The origins of oil pulling can be traced back thousands of years ago to India. It is a practice recommended by the ancient Indian science Ayurveda. Ayurveda literally means the science of life. It is a wellness-based system that promotes good health through various practices. The Ayurvedic texts written by sages thousands of years ago have innumerable references to the benefits of Ayurvedic oil pulling. 

Kavala Graha and Gandusha are oil pulling practices referred to in the ancient texts. Kavala Graha is an oil pulling method that involves using a small amount of oil for gargling. Gandusha recommends filling the mouth with oil and then gargling before spitting it out. These practices have helped ancient Indians improve their oral hygiene besides other key health benefits. It is a proven and time-tested practice that can help ensure wellness. 


What happens during Oil Pulling?

You would probably be curious to understand how oil pulling works. In oil pulling, you use an oil like coconut oil (around a tablespoon) and swish it in your mouth. For oil pulling to be effective, you need to gargle for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Most dental problems are because of bacteria that feed on food particles lodged in your teeth. Bacteria can form a film on the teeth referred to as plaque. This can damage your teeth and cause gum problems and cavities. One benefit of oil pulling is that it ensures bacteria is pulled from all corners of the mouth and dissolves in the oil where they are eliminated. When you use an oil like coconut oil, you should know that it is antimicrobial and helps to kill bacteria. 

Oil pulling can activate enzymes in the saliva that absorb toxins. These toxins are removed through the tongue. Oil pulling is believed to generate antioxidants that can damage the cell wall of bacteria and other pathogens, which kills them. As the oil is swished in the mouth, it emulsifies. This creates a coating on the teeth, which can help prevent the growth of bacteria and thus prevent plaque formation. The nature of the oil used ensures that it is able to remove toxins. It is very important that the oil must be spat out and not swallowed so the toxins are eliminated from the body. 


Which are the best oils for Oil Pulling?

Coconut oil is one of the best oils for oil pulling. It is recommended to use virgin coconut oil for the best effect. Coconut oil has lauric acid that reacts with the alkali substances present in the saliva. This forms a soap-like substance that carries out the cleansing activity. The lauric acid present in coconut oil is antimicrobial and helps to kill bacteria. It is a natural antiseptic and is hence preferred for oil pulling. 

Sunflower oil and Sesame oil are two other common oils that are used for oil pulling. In fact, most Ayurvedic practitioners prefer sesame oil for oil pulling. Studies have shown that both sunflower oil and sesame oil can be helpful in removing plaque. Sesame oil has a substance known as Chlorosesamone that is antifungal. It has fatty acids that can help in eliminating bacteria. It can also help in detoxification, which is why it is popularly used. 

Some also prefer to use olive oil for oil pulling. Olive oil contains oleic acid that is antimicrobial. It also has Vitamin E and K and other substances that are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative in nature. This is one reason olive oil is preferred by some for oil pulling. Almond oil can also be used and it can be helpful in reducing gingivitis. 

Ideally, coconut oil can be mixed with sesame oil or sunflower oil to do oil pulling. This ensures you get the benefits of both oils. 


Steps for an Effective Oil Pulling Ritual

If you want to know what is oil pulling technique produces the best results, then you can follow the steps given below. Oil pulling can be effective when done in the right way. In fact, it can be like a daily ritual that you do. Doing it in the right way will ensure you experience the complete health benefits of oil pulling. The following steps can be practiced for oil pulling: 

Oil pulling should ideally be done early in the morning as soon as you get up. It should be done on an empty stomach. This gives you the additional advantage of stimulating your taste buds, so you can enjoy breakfast better.

Oil pulling can be done after your regular brushing of teeth. Some people prefer to brush after oil pulling. The choice is yours! Most practitioners advocate brushing followed by oil pulling.

If you have a question on how often is oil pulling recommended, then you may note that it should be done daily. This is part of the Ayurvedic practice known as Dinacharya that helps to cleanse the body. You can start it by doing it on alternate days until you become comfortable with the feel and taste of the oil in your mouth. Once you are adjusted to it, start doing it daily.


Step-by-step Guide to Oil Pulling

Decide the oil to be used and use the same oil every day.

Take one tablespoon of the oil and put it into your mouth. Take care to ensure that you don’t swallow it anytime during the process.

Swish the oil around your mouth. You can start with the left side and then move towards the right and then back. Swish to cover the teeth at the top and bottom. Ensure that you swish even behind the teeth. While swishing, the goal is to cover the entire mouth, so that the oil reaches all the teeth and the gums.

Swish the oil gently, there is no need to use force. Doing it forcefully can tire you and you may not swish for a longer duration.

Studies have shown that within 5 minutes of swishing, it pulls away bacteria and toxins and kills it. At this stage, you must take extra care to avoid swallowing even a bit of the oil since it contains toxins.

Initially, you can start swishing for 5 minutes and then accumulate the duration. The ideal duration of oil pulling is 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t start with 15 minutes, since it is difficult to do it for such a long period straight away and may end up swallowing some of the oil.

Once you are done with swishing, spit out the oil completely again taking care to avoid swallowing. Avoid spitting in the sink, since the oil can clog up the sink. You can spit in the toilet or in the trash can.

Once you are done, rinse your mouth with warm water for a few seconds to get rid of the oily sensation. 

You have successfully completed an oil pulling session! Follow the Ayurvedic oil pulling instructions given above every day to get the best results. 


Can oil pulling be done at night?

Oil pulling is best done in the morning. This is because as you sleep, bacteria would have entered your mouth (causing bad breath). Oil pulling in the morning ensures that you get rid of the bacteria completely and also eliminate bad breath. Doing it at night robs you of this benefit. Doing it both morning and night is not required. There is no harm in doing it at night, but ideally, do it once a day in the morning. 


What are the Benefits of Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is commonly done to improve oral hygiene. This is not the only reason to do oil pulling. There are many other benefits that oil pulling provides. The answer to the question on what is oil pulling benefits can be seen below: 


Oil Pulling for Improved Oral Hygiene

The primary benefit of oil pulling is to improve oral hygiene. Doing this daily can help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Bacteria in your teeth and gums are pulled away and eliminated. Daily oil pulling helps to create an oil film on the teeth that can help prevent plaque formation. Some studies have shown that problems like gingivitis can be resolved through oil pulling. 

Since bacteria cause plaque and tooth decay problems like cavities can be prevented through regular oil pulling. Gum diseases like gingivitis can also be prevented. Overall, oral hygiene is improved when you practice oil pulling every day. You can observe gums that are pinker and healthier.

One objective of oral hygiene is to prevent bad breath. Halitosis or bad breath occurs mainly because of the growth of bacteria and poor oral hygiene. Those who have bad breath use a mouthwash to remove bad breath. Oil pulling is just as effective and uses a natural substance instead of chemicals. Sesame oil is more helpful in reducing bad breath as compared to other oils. 

Oral thrush is a common dental problem that occurs because of the growth of Candida. When you swish coconut oil in your mouth, it can kill Candida and help you treat oral thrush naturally. People who use dentures and those who take medication like steroids commonly experience oral thrush. They would find oil pulling helpful in solving this problem. 


Oil Pulling for Teeth Whitening

One of the interesting benefits of oil pulling is its ability to whiten teeth. Stained teeth can make you awkward during social gatherings and affect confidence. You may have to use chemical-based products to whiten teeth, Oil pulling offers a natural way of whitening teeth. While there are no authoritative studies to confirm it, those who use it regularly are convinced that it can whiten your teeth. When oil pulls away bacteria, it can help gradually remove stains from teeth. Doing it daily can help in whitening your teeth in a safe and natural way. 


Oil Pulling for Detox

The Ayurvedic approach to good health stresses the importance of detoxification. Toxins or ama can build up in the body (and your mouth). These toxins cause various health problems that are not confined merely to your mouth. Accumulation of toxins weakens the body and leads to diseases. Therefore, Ayurveda recommends you detoxify the body frequently. Oil pulling is a simple and effective way of doing this. This is a key benefit for which you can make this a part of your daily routine. 

Swishing oil in your mouth removes not just the bacteria but also all toxins present in your mouth. When you spit out the oil, you are removing the toxins from your body. Ayurveda suggests that the saliva (when activated by oil pulling) can absorb chemical toxins, biological toxins, as well as toxins that come from the environment. Once absorbed, they are removed from the body through the tongue. This is how oil pulling can help in detoxification. It is believed that oil pulling detoxifies your body and can treat many imbalances.


Things to consider before Oil pulling

You would have many questions in your mind about oil pulling. In fact, before you pull there are certain things to consider.

The following points will help clarify all your doubts and decide if oil pulling is beneficial for you:

  • The first thing to note is that oil pulling is a complementary practice to your normal oral hygiene routine. It is not a substitute to brushing your teeth with paste, cleaning your tongue, or flossing. Oil pulling can be done along with your routine to improve oral hygiene.

  • If you already have cavities, or decayed teeth, oil pulling cannot reverse it. Doing this daily can help prevent this problem in the future. If you already have tooth and gum disease, you must visit a dentist to get treated, do not assume that oil pulling is a magic remedy for all dental problems.

  • You may have a question - will oil pulling remove tartar? Tartar is a hard substance formed on the teeth because of the buildup of plaque. Oil pulling removes bacteria and toxins from the mouth. When done in the right way, it can help to remove plaque and thus is helpful in getting rid of tartar. A study showed that over 50% of respondents experienced reduced dental plaque by practicing oil pulling with coconut oil. Oil pulling can help remove tartar. If you have an excess buildup of tartar, it is always advisable to visit a dentist.

  • When you spit out the oil after your oil pulling session, you can keep a couple of paper napkins (or any other thick paper) and spit on it. You can throw this into the trash can. Spitting into the sink or toilet can cause clogging when you do this daily. Spitting directly into the trashcan should be avoided as the oil would accumulate at the bottom of the can.

  • There are no risks involved in oil pulling. Using mouthwash can be a problem as it contains chemicals. Since you use oil, which is used for cooking it is safe and natural. However, ingesting the oil with toxins in it can be a problem, especially if it gets to the lungs. Therefore, you need to take care to avoid swallowing any of the oil.

  • While you are swishing the oil, make sure you keep breathing through the nose normally. This is why you need to do it slowly; increasing the speed may make you feel breathless forcing you to spit out the oil early.

  • Some practitioners have observed that oil pulling can be helpful in improving sinus health. Regular oil pulling helps to remove bad bacteria. It also increases circulation in the tissues. This helps in improving sinus health and those suffering from sinusitis can experience some relief.

  • Oil pulling has become popular worldwide and people across the world are practicing this technique. Even though oil pulling has been practiced for thousands of years, it rose to prominence in the 1990s. The credit is given to a Russian named Dr. Karach who explored its health benefits and popularized it.

  • There is a misconception that oil pulling can loosen dental fillings or crowns. This is totally false. Probably the filling/crown was already loose or decay below the teeth was in an advanced stage.

  • Even children can do oil pulling with proper monitoring for around five minutes. Children below the age of five should not do it as they may swallow the oil unknowingly.

Improve Oral Hygiene and Eliminate Toxins

The multiple health benefits offered by oil pulling should have convinced you about the need to follow this practice. This is one of the powerful wellness practices of Ayurveda that can help improve your health. It is not just improved oral hygiene that oil pulling ensures. It helps detoxify your body and can help treat other diseases. Since gum diseases are linked to heart problems, it makes sense to focus on oral hygiene. Oil pulling can help you achieve your objective of better health. It is an easy practice that you can adopt as a part of your daily routine. Start following this Ayurvedic practice from today and embrace good health.




1. What is oil pulling called in Ayurveda?

There are two types of oil pulling described in the ancient Ayurvedic texts; Kavala Graha and Gandusha. Kavala Graha is an oil pulling method that uses a small amount of oil for gargling. Gandusha is the method where the entire mouth is filled with a larger quantity of the oil that is gargled before spitting it out. Besides good dental health oil pulling benefits, Ayurveda’s oil pulling benefits also include helping detoxify by helping reduce the accumulated toxins inside the mouth. 


2. Does ‘oil pulling’ really work for detoxification?

Oil pulling is a practice followed for centuries by those who practice Ayurveda. Oil pulling is a process by which a selected oil is gargled and swished around in the mouth. This practice is thought to help gather all the bacteria and waste present in the mouth. This is discarded when the oil is spat out of the mouth. 
According to Ayurveda, the oil also activates enzymes in the saliva that helps remove toxins through the tongue. The oil also forms a helpful protective coating on the teeth. The choice of oil is important to the process. It is crucial to not swallow and to spit out the oil and expel the toxins. Therefore oil pulling is not recommended for children under the age of five who may inadvertently swallow the oil.


3. Should I oil pull every day?

Yes, ideally oil pulling should be included in your daily regimen. Oil pulling is a part of the daily routine called Dinacharya that is prescribed in the ancient Ayurvedic texts. It should be done every day for proper, helpful cleansing of the mouth. It is advised to perform oil pulling as soon as one gets up in the morning. Some people prefer to do oil pulling first and then brush their teeth while others do the oil pulling at the end. Oil pulling is something that one has to get used to. If it is just a part of the daily routine, one has to follow it every day, when it is advised as a part of some treatment, the doctor will prescribe the medicine used and time period.


4. Is oil pulling harmful?

Ayurveda describes oil pulling as a practice of removing impurities and toxins from the mouth. This is much like the modern practice of using mouthwash. However, the antioxidants in the oil have a multitude of health benefits. Oil pulling is not harmful, but it is always advised to consult a doctor if you would like to do it regularly and if you have any allergies related to the oil. 

Oil Pulling Benefits in Ayurveda: besides helping cleanse the mouth, many people who practice oil pulling also say that it helps keep their teeth white. Others say that it has helped keep the sinuses healthier. Ayurveda defines a metabolic toxin Ama produced when the body is not digesting food optimally. This toxin is the root cause of all ill-health. Since oil pulling is believed to help reduce the toxins, it is advocated by Ayurvedic practitioners for comprehensive benefits.


5. How does oil pulling clear skin?

Ayurveda says that by helping reduce the toxins from the body, oil pulling supports good health. When the person is in good health, their skin glows. The metabolic toxin dulls skin. It also aggravates different Doshas that cause skin issues. So, naturally, any practice that enhances good health will help improve skin health.