Oil Pulling: An ancient Ayurvedic treatment, or is it?
Oil pulling is a new hippie dippie thing to the commercial consumer yoga, spiritual and health world. It originates from Ayurveda but what its benefits are being touted as is completely blown out of proportion. What is being claimed has no reference in Ayurveda making oil pulling definitely not Ayurvedic in the techniques and terms it is being defined in today in America. Claims of liver detoxing and all sorts of ridiculous statements are being said and sold about what it does. People are using all kinds of oils, such as coconut oil without knowing the details and importance of the treatment being done correctly. It is important to understand the deep knowledge behind this because it originates from Ayurveda and without the details your ignorance is gonna harm you, really. Just because you don’t feel it or see it today, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Ayurveda doesn’t work in the paradigm that the American mind is use too.
This post is to inform you, what others are not. Dissolve the ignorance that is abounding around this “oil pulling” fad, and well as information on Ayurveda, since this is where it comes from, but without stating western views “pretending” them to be Ayurveda. What I am writing is not subjective, it is not MY opinion or MY view about oil pulling.
Kavala or “Oil Pulling” is from Ayurveda and has been around for over 5000 years recorded in texts like Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, Bhavaprakasha and more. It does not do as all the web sites and articles have claimed, it cleanses your liver about as much as it can give you a pedicure.
Kavala is the swishing of warm (not hot) sesame oil or water (yes, water can be used too as well as other substances for specific reasons*) in your mouth until tears develop in the eyes and the nose runs (not 20 minutes as every web site and blog tells you). There are detailed diagnostic SIGNS and SYMPTOMS of correct treatment of everything in Ayurveda. Of course, they are not being taught in all of those articles on Mind Body Green and other websites and blogs because the lack of knowledge of Ayurveda and they just hopping on a mass marketing bandwagon. We simply destroy knowledge with our superficiality and sales, thus also destroying the results that are touted in the texts of Ayurveda. Kavala is not just putting oil in your mouth and swishing.
There is dietary conditions that must be followed including eating a light diet (laghu aahar) as per Ayurveda, not western nutrition ideas of a light diet. Salads are not light food and not raw food either as it would be highly contraindicated to this treatment. To not follow these guidelines can and will hinder the touted results and can aid in the creating disease or at minimum bad repercussions that create an imbalance that can turn to disease in time. There is not a blog big enough to give you the knowledge to understand all the details behind the whys and hows of Ayurvedic treatments, they are specific to many many variable factors and individual to the person. Ayurveda does not work from the same paradigm that the Western paradigm works from. There is much more at play in Ayurveda than the Western view. Ayurveda comes from a paradigm of holistic quantum logic, Western thought comes from a classical Newtonian physics and related biological considerations of compartmentalization. This is a huge part of why Ayurveda has been misunderstood in its superficial education in the West. The Western mind doesn’t like change and your paradigm needs to change to understand Ayurveda. It is not based upon simply the material gross world but works with the subtle and the gross. They work together, they are one. The subtle is what we are terribly confused about in the West. Is it real or is it not. Many even think they can make the subtle world anything they want it to be. Also, the scientific empirical reasoning method does not have any container for this. (if you don’t believe me and think your 200 hour certified yoga teacher knows more, just go to Ayurveda in America on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayurveda_in_America) and read how badly Ayurveda is destroyed in America by commericalization. 24 weekends and you have a Masters degree in Ayurveda with no past experience or education at several of the “institutions”.
This post has stirred a ton of reaction. Most of which I find interesting. How can people have judgement over something they don’t understand and have never studied? I would ask you leave your opinions at the door and be open to learning something. If your are not, why bother to read further?
To jump right into it, there are negative reactions happening out there from Oil Pulling with coconut oil. Most silent. But more and more are starting to be found on the bottom of those article pages where you can comment and they will start to come out as this “oil pulling’ is getting more crazy/popular daily. Here is one negative reaction and thank you to the people commenting that also have had negative reactions. http://sirenedelamer.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/less-than-pleasant-side-effects-of-oil-pulling-with-coconut-oil-and-update/
Yes, at one time not long ago people, the masses, thought the world was flat. Some still do.
Where did this treatment Kavala come from:
Ayurveda is the oldest recorded science/medicinal system. It is a science based in natural law and living a healthy beneficial life. Living in coherence to those rules of nature and the cosmos, to create balance of what makes up the subtle and gross, the mind and body and soul. In creating this health one is able to perceive their imperishable, immutable soul and to see their true self. It is not a theory nor spiritual woo woo stuff. Nor is it philosophical conjecture or the latest American diet fad that is doomed to change with short passing of time. Ayurveda is an over 10,000 year time tested science that has a spiritual, not religious, undertone…as we all are souls, and we all have a bodies. It is for the benefit of mankind and it is nondenominational and universal, it is not just Indian. It works everywhere on the planet if one really understands the foundations and how to apply them. Ayurvedic medicine’s Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S.) (it’s entry level lowest education) doctorate is a 5.5 year full time medical school education in allopathy as well as Ayurveda. There are many many Ayurveda hospitals in India. Yes, real regular hospital using Ayurveda. It is India’s classic medicinal system and if you think their spiritual sciences dealing with the mind and consciousness are deep well think about the understanding of the body. It is where allopathic medicine gets its roots and since allopathic medicine is from Greek medicine and Greek medicine obviously was created (not influenced) from Ayurveda. (read about King Ashoka for reference to how much of the knowledge of India was spread throughout the world (https://www.google.com/search?q=king+ashoka+and+the+spread+of+ayurveda&oq=king+ashoka+and+the+spread+of+ayurveda&aqs=chrome..69i57.7622j0j4&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=91&ie=UTF-8)) and just to blow your mind, even genetics is explained in Charaka Samhita, one of the main texts of Ayurveda from 5000 years ago. Wow. This is way before Mendel Genetics came into being in the early 1900′s.
Ayurveda is way more advanced than Western allopathic medicine due to its understanding of the human body. Its ability to diagnose surpasses western science due to its lack of compartmentalization and limiting scope and mindset of always trying to find the smallest component that is a cause or solution, but it rather sees a greater causality to imbalance and what causes disease. It also treats without dangerous side effects when used with its knowledge. It is a total understanding of nature and how to live within nature. In the West, we take small pieces of things much like “Oil Pulling” and state that it does miracles. It doesn’t, sorry kids. Then we change it and take it from the original platform to market it and sell it, like the doctor quoted later selling his coconut oil that for that price must be cold pressed between the legs of virgins or something. Oil Pulling is used in conjunction with the rest of an Ayurvedic life, which that life is absolutely not a Vata, Pitta, and Kapha diet plan like what has being sold to you in the West. Ayurveda is not a pill. It is not a list of what to eat and what not to eat. Infact, that will cause damage to you as well if you follow it. There is so much more to understand about Ayurveda but……..
Back to Kavala…………
Kavala is to be used as per the individual’s need of it. It is an actual treatment in Ayurveda, much more than just putting oil in your mouth and swishing. The temperature of the oil or water has an effect on the results and is also dependent upon the individual and their balance/imbalance/health. It is even done cold when indications apply. It is used to mitigate kapha in the mouth, generally. Bodaka Kapha is the saliva. An imbalance of this can create cataracts, salivary stones, as well as a ton of other diseases. Ayurveda is not used allopathically to treat symptoms but in context of holism of a lifestyle or life in many variables and ways. Every action has effects, this is what needs to be understood.
Oil Pulling is only used for “cleansing the mouth, thirst (trsna, which is a disease in Ayurveda), loss of taste (arruchi, another disease), diseases of the teeth, and it bestows lightness in the mouth.” Reference: Bhavaprakash Chapter 5.31 – 35. Bhavaprakasha is one of the original texts circa 14th century.
Oil pulling for daily use done with warm sesame oil, not coconut oil. Why? Coconut oil has qualities of being heavy, sweet, and cold and will create more kapha. This is seen by the thickening and stickiness of the saliva, bad breath, loss of taste, sinus congestion, colds, headache, insomnia and several other results from using some substance with the wrong qualities. The main reason for gum disease being so prevalent in the US is that all of our toothpastes are sweet. Sweet taste is anabolic. Obviously, if you eat alot of sweet, you gain weight. The gums therefore become loose and fat with using sweet toothpastes. Funny thing to think of, with all the chemicals in todays toothpastes to fight gum disease and keep healthy teeth, why is it not working? Get a toothpaste like Red made by Dabur or even much better is to switch to an Ayurvedic tooth powder like Vicco. Warning that the taste is bitter pungent and astringent, not sweet but having health isn’t about you feeding your desires and ego now is it. Those three tastes tighten the gums and strengthen the teeth and create health of the whole mouth.
Since the mouth is the site of bodaka kapha (thought of as saliva in western terms), anyone knowing the basic fundamentals of Ayurveda would never advise coconut oil being used daily. Specially in springtime and especially on overcast, foggy or rainy days when there is no sun (all understood from ayurveda but with no coorelation in the Western world). Other oils can be used when specifically directed by an Ayurvedic “DOCTOR”. They would then give you a medicated oil to use for certain reasons and certain treatment.
(What is saliva and how does it link to digestion? http://trueayurveda.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/lets-talk-smoothies-and-juicing-you-think-they-are-healthy/ )
Using coconut oil will create problems with dental, bad breath (as has been proven from comments in several forum’s just search for them or read the comment lower about getting a cold), cavities, gum disease, and a whole lot more due to the qualities that the coconut oil has. It does not share the qualities of sesame oil. Sesame oil has a subtle qualities (sukshma) and is the reason for it being the only oil to be used as well as it is heating (ushna) whereas coconut is cold (shita) in potency. Coconut oil is also clogging due to how heavy and gross it is. Cold, heavy, gross, sweet will all create an imbalance of kapha. Although coconut oil has been touted for its healing properties, when you understand Ayurveda, everything becomes a medicine and healing when it is used properly. The piece that is lost to Western eyes is to whom, when is it used, why is it used, when it is used, and how is it used. This is the biggest flaw of Western nutrition and sciences. Once again, as you are an individual and need an individual treatment, so is coconut oil with its own qualities. What will be medicine for one is poison for another due to this. Even two people having the same disease can be in need of different treatments and different medicines. Now really think about this for a moment with the pop health culture and certain foods and substances being cool and new.
For those of you sending the comments in harsh reaction to this information or my writing about using coconut oil or how any of this could create any reaction, try doing this oil pulling twice or three times a day. See what happens to you. You need your empirical proof…. you will get it.
Kavala is of four kinds- unctuous, pacifying, purifying and healing. Which one do you think you are doing? No clue, huh? Never heard about that even from your favorite Ayurvedic doctor/teacher from India right? Thought it was just stick oil in your mouth and swish, huh? Oils with medicinal drugs are prepared in a special way for a specific treatment. There has to be a whole preparation procedure that is done by fomenting and sudation of the throat, cheeks, and forehead prior to this treatment. The treatment is done for a certain specific time, until the eyes water and the nose runs. Not 20 minutes like stated in these articles in the masses by the masses. It is individual. Doing longer and there will be and excessive reaction from the treatment creating an imbalance that leads to disease, too little and there will not be the results from the treatment created and possible other side effects. Again, everyone is an individual so the length of time will be different for everyone. There are signs of when the treatment is done properly as well as symptoms of it not done properly which will lead to complications and disease. Really let it sink in… there are many complications that come from the treatment not being done properly as well as who should be doing it or not. Why is it that these people that are writing these article don’t care or they just don’t know? Just as an example, by doing tongue scraping you can give yourself lock jaw. This is why details matter.
Other posts you might be interested in reading:
Modern research methods:
By taking human beings as aggregate groups and testing ideas and substances we find empirical evidence by the outcomes. In Ayurveda, seeing from the view of the individual, rules out any research template that fits the western research model of looking at a symptoms of disease, components or studying the particular pieces and then applying it to that group. It is opposite. This is also why Ayurveda is a much deeper and detailed science than modern medicine. There are far to many variables in an individual that makes them that individual to say that this technique or medicine works for everyone. Hence why “all” western medicines have huge amounts of side effects and don’t work for everyone. This is where all Western medicine falls apart. This is also why the western science keeps proving correct what it has stated before as incorrect or vice vs. Take soy for an example. Although Western nutritional science is littered with many many more examples. Soy was said to be the healthiest and best for women’s and men’s hormones as Western scientific research had proved in the early 2000′s. Then just 7 years later, and after a huge amount of money was made on all kinds of soy protein products, it became the worst for both. Why? Modern Western research. Many parts of the rest of the world continue to eat soy (as they always have, daily) with no health problems or hormone problems. How can that be? Think about it. What is the difference?… America and the excess, quantity, consumption, as well as the fear of mortality that is driving us.
Try putting allopathic medicine to the test of Ayurvedic research and reasoning methodology and understanding and most of it falls flat on its face. Allopathic medicines deal only with superficial symptoms and do not deal with the underlying root problem which leaves that root problem to complicate into another disease and another pathway in time. All the drugs have a long list of side effects which is the imbalance that they create by taking them.
If you are interested, here is two peer journal reviewed articles on the subject of Ayurvedic Research explaining how empirical evidence based research fails…..
Let me use an example to explain. Say they someone is using coconut oil for this oil pulling. They already have a kapha and gurutva (heaviness) imbalance as you have thick saliva that is (tandula) stringy and they also have the beginning of cataracts in their eyes. Now, take another person who is vata imbalanced and has dry mouth, ama (toxicity due to improper intake, digestion, and metabolization of food stuff), constipation, and poor digestion. Neither of these two people are going to have the same effects from doing the oil pulling. Most likely both of these people are going to create a new disease by using coconut oil. The first person of a kapha imbalance could possible create a cold or flu or respiratory problem and will definitely worsen the cataracts for sure, yet they will have no correlation in their western mind to see the oil pulling as the cause and neither would their Doctor that then gives them antibiotics for it because they think it might be viral. Furthermore, now they have dangerous and costly surgery on their eyes as well as creation of other diseases. This is all in the name of trying to be healthy, following the “new and cool health guidance” in the masses. Lets say the vata imbalanced person did not have the digestive capacity or strength (yes, I know it makes no sense from a western view) in their system to deal with the oil pulling and it just made the whole system shut down further and the coldness of the coconut oil just created more imbalanced vata. Of course these are completely made up examples. Had it been sesame, it would be different. It most likely would have created health for both. Sesame, once again, is heating and subtle so it would bring down the imbalance of both kapha and vata. Let add more real world example to the complexity, these two people also have their original state or prakriti and then the imbalance spoke of. Due to that original state it can throw another complication into the mix. Say that vata imbalanced person was of a kapha original state or even more complex a kapha/vata original state with a vata imbalance. Wow, now you have the hardest person to work with and using coconut oil definitely just created a new disease. I hope you now understand why no empirical evidence can be gained from any study of Ayurveda because it does not work within the Western paradigm of one size fits all and to do so it to treat it as allopathy, symptom chasing using a shotgun. (maybe you followed what I just stated or maybe not, this is how complicated it gets and why it is detailed and individualized, read other posts mentioned above for more on those details)
Ayurveda does not use a general treatments blindly for everyone. There is no vata, pitta, and kapha diet plans in real Ayurveda. That is purely a watered down diet plan that they are calling ayurveda. It is not ayurveda though. There are some very general guidelines that are beneficial for everyone but beyond this everything becomes individualized.
Contraindications as per the original texts:
Oil Pulling can and will create disease if used by someone that has has “poisoning, fainting disease, alcoholism, depletion, TB, bleeding diseases, low clotting factor, inflammation of the eyes, constipation, and depletion of wastes.” (any correlations to these diseases caused by kavala is hardly to be understood in Western medicine but pretty obvious from view of Ayurveda) In that, the paradigm that this treatment comes from, a totally different culture with different lifestyle and incredibly different ways of eating as well as what is eaten, many more variables are brought into the contraindications and/or the results of doing this treatment.
A few general signs of you creating a new disease by doing oil pulling incorrect with an oil that will clog would be bad breath, itchy eyes, new sinus problems, congestion, colds, foggy head, heavy head, headaches, sleep changes, loss of taste, loss in clarity of vision, and the list goes on. I hope you get that by trying all these new fangled “health” and cleanse fads, you really are playing Russian roulette. It is not like you can just stop doing this stuff and everything returns to how it was. If you create a disease by this, it will be incredibly hard to treat, specially by a Western lens that doesn’t even correlate the symptom with what you have done in the first place. Say you have created allergies by doing this with coconut oil in spring and where you live there is no sun in springtime. Antihistamines are not going to help this at all. The popular thing to do would be to take antibiotics but what help would they be for allergies?
So, the bigger problem and the real statement here to make …… think about this for a second. As this misinformation is presented in those articles out in the public, definitely in the attempt to be helpful and of innocence (and not just sales and marketing and completely irresponsibility), what about the people that are being affected adversely and being harmed, even unknowingly…….. what about them? You. You people out there. Your just trying to do what is good for your health right? Who is writing the articles? Where is it being published? Another article I read was written by someone who makes jewelry for a living and happens to be a self proclaimed yogini. Another one was written by a wedding photographer. Come on people, wake up. Would you trust you house to be built by a wedding photographer? Trust her to do your dentistry? Then why your health? Why is it okay for anyone to write anything they want about anything in the health and spiritual world of the West. America would not allow someone without the knowledge and correct education to practice law right? Why do they have a national bar exam and Ayurveda practitioners simply pay a membership fee with no ethical or educational standards to get membership?
Also, do you think for one moment that these people are going to take any responsibility for what happens to you?
This is the health and spiritual world of today. Did you know you were being lied to about that outrageously expensive ghee your buying in the store too or how to make it on your own with a stick of butter? Not real ghee either. Over priced clarified butter that had a recording of a mantra playing when it was melted from a block of butter, wow, how spiritual. Buying it might even make you enlightened. http://trueayurveda.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=20&action=edit You can just throw a stick of butter in a pot and melt it down and say “OM” over it and get the same results. Not ghee. Just blessed butter. :)
This is what the Western world is doing to Ayurveda and you. Really. Then they do their research upon this wrong knowledge. Thats where things get messy.
Translating Ayurveda to Western science isn’t easy as it is a different paradigm and Ayurveda explains, diagnoses, and treats much deeper in so many ways, there is so much detail to Ayurveda. It is not a simple thing to understand with a western mind. Kavala will never be understood from Western terms for what it is, why to do it, when to do it, who should do it, how it should be done, etc…. without the lens of Western medicine is dropped and picking up one of the context and education of Ayurveda, improper knowledge, education, and translation can only occur from this and the result is that people get hurt, Ayurveda gets a very bad name, and the general public is none the wiser or healthier.
The following is taken straight from actual text of Ashtanga Hrydaya so that there is no BS or poetic rights in what to use or how put into this. (notice the lack of any mention of COCONUT OIL and trust me, they got coconuts galore in Ayurveda. Specially in Southern India where this text originates from. This says volumes and is even more proof for you that coconut oil is not used in Kavala. Trust me, they would have used it if it was proper.)
The hows whens and whys of all of this.
Gandusha is Holding of large quantities of medicated oils in the mouth while Kavala is Swishing of oils
There are four types of Gandusha: Snigda, Shamana, Shodana, and Ropana. The first three are indicated in vitiation of doshas and the later in ulcer.
Snigda or oil holding is done with fats processed with sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Shamana is done with fats processed in bitter astringent and sweet tastes. Shodana is done with fats processed in bitter, acidic, sour and salty drugs. Ropana is done with astringent and bitter.
*Fat, milk, honey, water, vinegar, alcohol, soup, cow’s urine, and cereal stock (notice no coconut oil) all can be used as well along with paste of medicines, with or without cooking, in desired temperature, and as per condition.
For loose teeth, sensitive teeth, and diseases of the oral cavity due to vitiation of vata, Gandusha can be done with luke warm water or cold water mixed with paste of sesame seeds.
For daily use gandusha can be done with sesame oil or meat soup.
Ghee or Milk can be used with inflammatory conditions with burning or scalding sensations, exogenous conditions like injuries, poisons, burns and alkalis and fire
With honey (old honey, not american processed and cooked honey. Honey must be astringent!!!) it creates clarity of the mouth, heals ulcers, and soothes burning sensations and thirst
With cereal stock it alleviates distaste and sediment, coating and hallitosis. Used cold and without salt it alleviates dryness of mouth.
With mild water it instantly disintegrates the aggravation of kapha and with warm water brings lightness to the mouth.
Only to be done:
When the sun is shining and the day is devoid of breeze
After fomenting and massaging the shoulders and neck
Retain the liquid in the mouth until the mouth gets full of kapha (mucous in this case), and the eyes and nose have secretions
Filling the mouth completely and not having movement is Gandusha. Kavala is otherwise.
Diseases of manya (the occipital region, where the occipital bone joins the spine, head, ears, mouth, and eyes.) Praseka (diseases of throat, dryness of throat, dryness of mouth) Hrllasa (nausea), stupor, anorexia, rhinorrhoea, are specifically cureable with Kavala.
Further references are:
Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana Ch 26 Trimarmia: Afflictions of Vital Organs
This section is about the treatment of mouth diseases.
Ashtanga Hrdaya Sutrasthana 2, Chapter 22 Gandushavidya: Norms of Buccal Retention etc.
Bhela Samhita Chapter 21: Diseases of Head
Bhavaprakash Chapter 5.31 – 35
The last bit in this article about your gum and teeth health (and probably more important and pertinent):
Every Ayurvedic practitioner should know that your gums are nothing more than an extension of the muscle tissue of your system. If your gums are receding it is an imbalance in your muscle tissue or what you are doing to your mouth, like sweet toothpaste…. is destroying your gum health. Your gum and tooth health has more to do with your digestion and the state of the balance of your tissues health than any coconut oil pulling nonsense will ever do for you.
Your teeth health is dependent upon the health of your bone tissue in the same way as your muscle to your gums. Yes, what you use to clean them and what you eat will have an effect but the main state of your teeth and gums health is not going to be found thru oil pulling.
Example of experience: I have had several clients that have had stained teeth. One in particular was complaining about her teeth and didn’t want to use any dark toothpaste or tooth powder because she thought it was staining her teeth. After cleaning up her diet and strengthening her digestive system we worked on rebuilding her bone strength. In no time at all, the whiteness of her teeth and the shine came back to her teeth.
This is not a rare experience either.
Ayurveda is not a bunch of simplified treatments like oil pulling that is just used or done haphazardly. It is a deep and extremely detailed science. It takes years to study and understand.