Oil Pulling: An ancient Ayurvedic treatment, or is it?
Don’t bother reading this if you really don’t care about your health and just want a short buzz clip read that just jazzes you up to do a new cool and popular health thing. This article is to give you proper information about oil pulling and Ayurveda as well as what it does really and what it is used for. Don’t forget the contraindications too.
Oil pulling is a new hippie dippie thing within 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. Claims of liver detoxing and all sorts of ridiculous stuff is being said and sold. People are using all kinds of oils, such as coconut oil. 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. Just because you don’t feel it or see it today, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
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 doesn’t cleanse your liver or anything like that. As for the white foam that is created by doing this, try putting the same oil in a blender and turn it on. It becomes white foam. It is claimed that the white foam is toxins coming out, really. Why doesn’t someone do some empirical evidence research on that claim? This too as put out by uneducated people becomes dangerous in the hands of the innocent.
Kavala is the swishing of warm (not hot) sesame oil or water (yes, water can be used too) in your mouth until tears develop in the eyes. There are actual diagnostic SIGNS and SYMPTOMS of correct treatment of everything in Ayurveda. Of course, they are not being taught and highly disregarded by those articles being written by people that have limited or no knowledge of Ayurveda and are just hopping on a mass marketing bandwagon.
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 as it would be highly contraindicated to this treatment. To not follow these guidelines can and will result in creating disease or at minimum bad repercussions that create an imbalance that can turn to disease. Ayurveda does not work from the same paradigm that the Western paradigm works from and there is much more at play in Ayurveda than the Western view of how things work. This is a huge part of why Ayurveda has been slaughtered in it 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. 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.
Where did this treatment come from:
Ayurveda is the oldest recorded science/medicinal system. It is a science of understanding and living a healthy beneficial life, living in coherence to the rules of nature and the cosmos, to create balance of what makes up the subtle and gross, the mind and body. In creating this health one is able to perceive their imperishable, immutable soul and to see their true self. It is based upon the vedic knowledge of Sanatana Dharma or universal truth. It is not a theory, nor spiritual woo woo stuff. Nor is it philosophical conjecture or the latest diet fad that is just to change with 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. Ayurvedic medicine’s BAMS (lowest education) doctorate is a 6 year full time medical school education in allopathy as well as Ayurveda. There are many many Ayurveda hospitals in India. Yes, real hospitals. 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 which is much more material which is just the subtle manifested into gross form. It is where allopathic medicine gets its roots 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) and just to blow your mind, genetics is explained in Charaka Samhita, one of the main texts of Ayurveda from 5000 years ago. Wow.
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. 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. Oil Pulling is used in conjunction with the rest of an Ayurvedic life, which is absolutely not a Vata, Pitta, and Kapha diet plan like what it is being sold as in the West. Ayurveda is not a pill.
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 is also dependent upon the individual and what is going on with them. It is used to mitigate kapha in the mouth. Bodaka Kapha is the saliva. An imbalance of this can create cataracts, salivary stones, as well as a ton of other diseases. Please people, don’t just take a little piece of ayurveda and give it out to everyone as a chew toy. It is not how ayurveda works. That is allopathy.
Oil Pulling is only used for cleansing the mouth, thirst (which is a disease in Ayurveda), loss of taste (another disease), diseases of the teeth, and it bestows lightness in the mouth. Reference: Bhavaprakash Chpt 5.31 – 35.
Oil pulling is only done with warm sesame oil or warm water, NOT COCONUT OIL! AS COCONUT OIL IS HEAVY, SWEET, AND COLD AND WILL CREATE MORE KAPHA! This is seen by the thickening of the saliva, bad breath and several other results. 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 teeth and create health of the whole mouth.
Since the mouth is the site of bodaka kapha, anyone knowing the basic fundamentals of Ayurveda would never advise coconut oil being used, no one. Anyone touting coconut oil to be used should be questioned as to where their knowledge comes from and where their integrity has gone. Other oil 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.
Using coconut oil will create problems with dental, bad breath (as has been proven in several forum’s on this topic posts), 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 whereas coconut is cold 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 medicine and healing. 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. Once again, as you are an individual and need an individual treatment, so is coconut oil with its own qualities and what will be medicine for one is poison for another due to this. Even two people having the same disease.
Kavala, The real name of oil pulling, is of four kinds- unctuous, pacifying, purifying and healing. Which one do you think you are doing? No clue, huh? Oils with medicinal drugs are prepared in a special way for a specific treatment. There is a whole preparation procedure that is done of fomenting the throat, cheeks, and forehead prior to treatment. Yes, this is the actual treatment and your not finding this written in any other article either. Not doing the fomentation and sudation and you can already be creating an imbalance. It is done for a certain time, until the eyes water and the nose runs. Not 20 minutes like stated in these articles in the masses. Doing longer and there will be and excessive reaction from the treatment creating an imbalance, too little and there will not be the results from the treatment created and possible other side effects. There are signs of when it 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? Popularity? Being cool? Identification to being a “healer” or a “yogi” or just plain ignorance?
It is interesting how you won’t find any articles letting you know of the contraindications and wrong usage side effects to doing Kavala. Just saying. Even a well known Western Chiropractic doctor has now written an article on the greatness of Oil Pulling (on elephant journal) and has totally forgotten to let you know about its drawbacks and technicalities. I wonder why? Is it because there are not any and this treatment is the end all and be all? Nope. He quotes Western scientific research that has found this and that results from Oil Pulling. That is not Ayurveda. It is not how Ayurveda works. Ayurveda is not able to be confined into the empirical research model that is used in the West. This “doctor” as well as every other article out there does not share with you the technical details of any of the proper treatment. What more he also throws in a whole lot of bogus fear key words like
o environmental toxins”
Although these are giant fear words in the US, Ayurveda views those things as symptoms and not the root cause. None of them have anything to do with oil pulling at all. His references are of Western research showing that that their findings “did not have any antibacterial effect against oral microorganisms” but the saponification of the oil turns it into a cleansing agent. Then he uses panchakarma treatments of snehapana which is drinking ghee and abhyanga which is oil massage to talk about the lipophilic effect of what Western science thinks happens during these treatments and correlates that to the treatment of oil pulling. Sorry, totally different treatments. The uneducated would not know that though. Big foriegn words and stuff. Why can we not just state what and how Ayurveda works and keep it real instead of trying to mass market and sell it by blowing it out of proportion? What is more is he quotes “Charaka samhita Ch V -78 to 80.” It is the main ancient Ayurvedic text. He doesn’t give you the Sthana (volume) to look it up in (it is in Sutrasthana that he is really referring to) and even more, the verses he quotes are about Gandusha (holding large quantity of oil in the mouth and say nothing at all about Kaval. Hmmmmmmm? Truth about Oil Pulling, Hmmmmmmm? What gives?
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 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 what it has stated before incorrect. Take soy for an example. Was the healthiest and best for women and mens hormones, then it because the worst. Why? Yet, many parts of the rest of the world continue to eat soy with no problems. Think about it. What is the difference? Try allopathic medicine put to the test of Ayurvedic 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 in time.
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 stringy and the start of cataracts in their eyes. Now, take another person who is vata imbalanced and has dry mouth, 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 have no correlation in their western mind to see the oil pulling as the cause. 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 and to do so it to treat it as allopathy, symptom chasing using a shotgun.
Ayurveda does not use a general treatment blindly for everyone! There are some very general guidelines that are beneficial for everyone but beyond this everything becomes individualized.
These are the 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 cannot 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.
So, the bigger problem and the real statement to make here…… think about this for a second. As this misinformation is presented in those articles out in the public (and this is hardly the only topic that has been put out in the masses of low integrity), 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? Your just trying to do what is good for your health right? Who is writing the articles? Another article I read was written by someone who makes jewelry for a living and happens to be a self proclaimed yogini. What!?!?! Where is the integrity of this so called spiritual and yoga world? Another one was written by a wedding photographer. Come on people. Wake up. If she is really a yogini you would understand karma and would not put out misinformation or write about something you don’t have authority and knowledge to write about. Where is the satyam? Would you trust you house to be built by a wedding photographer? Then why your health?
This is the health and spiritual world of today. Did you know you were being lied to about that ghee your buying in the store? Not real ghee either. Over priced clarified butter that had a mantra recording playing when it was melted from a block of butter. http://trueayurveda.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=20&action=edit
This is what the western world is doing to Ayurveda and you. Really.
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.
There is a huge ignorance of the masses in thinking they are going to help people by giving information out they don’t understand thoroughly and properly. “I tried this and it was really cool so you should do it!” Is health really that simple? One size fits all? Do you really have such low respect for yourself and others as well as where these little nuggets are coming from as to think that it is just that simple to be a doctor or diagnose or treat? Is that why Ayurveda is full time medical school for 6 years in India and that is just the entry level degree (MD and Ph.D is much longer)? Ayurveda is a science, it has a huge depth of knowledge that takes years to even start to understand. It has diagnosis to a much deeper extent than western medicines ability. It actually cures many diseases from dealing with root causes while western medicine can only see a symptom and try to cure that while never curing anything but creating many complications. Just because the symptom is gone, the underling root cause is still there.
One more thing about Ayurveda is that it is not used to treat symptoms as it is being turned into. There are new books on the market that give Ayurvedic home remedies for diseases. In understanding Ayurveda, this is just the biggest disrespect to it. Ayurveda diagnoses deeply, way beyond a symptom. This is how it treats the root of the problem and cures. While it is nice to be able to pull out some fresh ginger, salt, and lime for a digestive helper, little does the innocent reader know that with their individual imbalances that it is the possibly the last thing they want to be putting in their system and they end up with acidity or ulcers from it and are none the wiser that they created it themselves. More so, Ayurveda is detailed and specific. Not a shotgun.
For a pretty correct article on oral health in Ayurveda published in a peer journal, not a internet ezine that anyone can write anything for:
It is written by a dentist, not an ayurvedic doctor but does a pretty good job of explaining things. There are errors in it though. Just a head’s up.