Oil Pulling

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Oil Pulling Mean?

Oil pulling is an oral therapy used in the traditional Indian medicine system of Ayurveda in which certain types of oils are swished in the mouth for 20 minutes for the purpose of cleaning the mouth and for other health benefits. Specifically, oil pulling is believed beneficial for fighting plaque and gingivitis and removing microorganisms.

In the “Charaka Samhita,” the Sanskrit Ayurvedic text, oil pulling is called kavala or gandusha, both Sanskrit words that mean “gargling” or “holding liquid in the mouth.”


Yogapedia Explains Oil Pulling

To practice oil pulling, a tablespoon of oil such as sesame, sunflower or coconut is held in the mouth and swished around. Some practitioners recommend starting with five minutes and building up to 20 minutes. The oil is then spit out and the mouth rinsed with water. The oil is said to attract the cells of microorganisms, which are covered with a fatty membrane that adheres to the oil.

Oil pulling:

  • Prevents tooth decay
  • Brightens teeth
  • Prevents gum disease
  • Gets rid of bad breath
  • Boosts energy
  • Removes mucous
  • Clears sinuses
  • Supports the immune system
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Reduces headaches

Oil pulling is even thought beneficial for diabetes and asthma.

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