Oil Pulling: An ancient Ayurvedic treatment, or is it?
Oil pulling is a new hippie dippie thing to the commercial consumer, yoga, spiritual, and new age alternative health world. It originates from Ayurveda but is not what is being done as “Oil Pulling” out in the masses. 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 today in America. Claims of liver detoxing and all sorts of other 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 or what substances are used and just following what is out in the web as general superficial information. 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 understand it, don’t feel it or see it today, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Ayurveda doesn’t work in the paradigm that the Western paradigm works from.
This post is to inform you, what others are not. There are contraindications to this technique as well as procedure to follow. This post is to dissolve the ignorance that is abounding around this “oil pulling” fad, and give a deeper understanding and also information on Ayurveda and how it works briefly, since this is where it comes from, but without stating western ideas “pretending and disguised” to look like they are Ayurvedic. This is neither a brief article nor shallow as to give you the correct understanding and be thorough. There is a section at the bottom that is completely quoted from an original text, to prove the validity of what is being stated.
Caveat Emptor. Not all that glimmers is gold.
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.” 13:20
“”Oil Pulling” is putting coconut oil in your mouth and swishing it for 20 minutes.” This is what is the known comprehension of what oil pulling is as you already have read on other blogs and ezines and have been probably told by your neighbor or friend or someone you met in the grocery store or yoga studio. This is not an Ayurvedic treatment as you will get after reading the rest of this. When something is taken out of its context and without any context or the fundamental understanding and rules being applied, when contradictory and contraindicated actions or substances are being used to the original proceedures, how can it be called the same thing or stated as being an Ayurvedic technique or treatment? What is being touted as being from Ayurveda is not from Ayurveda due to there being no expelling of the doshas as it is being claimed to then be detoxing as per Ayurveda. If it was detoxing, as it could be from the proper use in Ayurveda, it would have different substances use and protocol and absolutely not coconut oil as explained later in this article. There is no proper treatment protocol being taught or followed, and no individual bases of treatment happening with what is being called “Oil Pulling”.
Kavala is from Ayurveda and has been around for over 5000 years recorded in texts like Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, Astanga Hrdayam, 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 gives you a pedicure or washes and waxes your car.
What it does:
From Charaka Samhita, the main text of Ayurveda, it states….
“Keeping of oil gargle provides strength in jaw and voice, development of face, maximum taste and relish in food. The person practicing this does not suffer from dryness of throat, there is no lip cracking, teeth are not affected with caries rather they become firm rooted. They (teeth) are not painful nor are they over sensitive on sour taking, they become able to chew even the hardest food item.” Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 5.78 – 80
And there is more that it does when use properly. It deals with head, eye, nose and throat diseases as well.
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 treatments/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, the liquefying of the kapha is what is happening at this point and that will differ for every individual. The tearing and runny nose is the definitive sign of proper treatment time.). Kavala is an upakrama that is used as shodana (throwing out of the doshas) in Ayurveda, mainly. There are detailed diagnostic SIGNS and SYMPTOMS of correct treatment of everything in Ayurveda. There is also two things that need to be done prior in the proper treatment. There are different substances that are used for specific treatment of the individual.
There always are pretreatments and correct methods of treatment that need to be done to get the doshas prepared to be expelled to be considered detoxing. Otherwise, it is a palliative treatment that does not detox. Oil Pulling is devoid any of that Ayurvedic knowledge. The touted detoxing (shodana = cleansing, “detoxing” as the Western world likes to call everything, not shamana = palliative or balancing) that oil pulling fanatics are claiming it does, are false as per Ayurveda. You would also have to be using a substance that is “bitter, acidic, sour, and salty” as per Ayurveda (see the bottom actual textual reference), which it is not. Coconut oil is sweet, heavy, and cold…… opposite qualities. Not the same results. Actually opposite. You absolutely cannot do detoxing with a substance that is anabolic in its nature. In theory only, coconut oil could be used in a snigda treatment, for the proper reasons for the disease and treatment but if it was a proper oil to be used, it would have been mentioned in the texts. Coconut is used in many other things in Ayurveda, but not this. Plenty of coconuts in India and in the texts.
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 (heavy food or a messed up digestion will create ill health and is 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, this is why the education is a 6 year full time medical school doctorate in India. Ayurvedic treatments are specific to many many variable factors and individual to the person and are dangerous and even deadly when done incorrectly as the Ayurvedic texts state. Ayurveda does not work from the same paradigm that the Western paradigm works from. None of the vedic sciences do. 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 comprehension of 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 don’t experience or comprehend the subtle world so they claim it does not exist and then do their best to disprove it. Many others even think they can make the subtle world anything they want it to be. Also, the Western scientific empirical reasoning method does not have any container for this.
Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. – George Bernard Shaw
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/
Another Popular Ayurvedic practitioner out there has had people writing in on their experiences and then posting them on her web site. Last I check close to half of them had negative results. Some of them were even Western Ayurvedic practitioners comments. Most of the comments a person with an Ayurvedic background could look at and kinda assume what is going on with each of those people. Kinda like working backwards in diagnosis.
Yes, at one time not long ago people, the masses, thought the world was flat. Some still do. Back when the modern world thought the world was flat, thousands of years earlier the Vedic texts already had the circumference of every planet as well as its distance. It had so much advanced knowledge even of what we have today. Hard to swallow for those stuck in the Western world limited view.
Where did this treatment Kavala come from and why all the confusion?
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 woo woo stuff but definitely would sound like it from someone that has no experience of what this is. 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, on any planet by its fundamental comprehension if one really understands the foundations and how to apply them.
I have to state something here about the Western scientific research that is being done on oil pulling because it is making a bad name for Ayurveda You know, if you don’t actually know about something (say the proper procedure and substances of oil pulling), then you look at it thru your own lens of comprehension without ever trying to learn of study anything about that thing, then come to some conclusion about that thing based on your own comprehension only, it is like trying to say a square wood block is wrong for not fitting in a round hole. Has anyone out there tried to learn a new language by having the entire language translated into your own? Nothing is learned. To try to test Ayurveda and any of its treatments and how it works by Western research is ridiculous when you understand how Ayurveda works. Ayurveda will never be able to be understood that way. It understands the individual and treats the individual, not a group, not a disease. Ayurveda is an actual science and education is formal with doctorate with MD and PhD also in India. It is not some 200 to 1700 hour course like here in America. If it was a joke and not real medicine, it would not have that level education and also have hundreds of thousands of real hospitals all over India. Please don’t try to say it doesn’t work when you don’t have the slightest idea of what it is and are testing it by your own paradigm.
Ayurvedic medicine’s Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S.) (it’s entry level lowest education of Ayurveda in India) doctorate is a 5.5 year full time medical school education which includes allopathic medicine education as well as Ayurveda. MD and PhD are another 2 to 10 years. With any hope Ayurveda will find some sort of integrity within its education in America, until then……..??? 1600 hours education is the max there is? Really? There are many many Ayurveda hospitals in India. Yes, real regular hospital using Ayurveda. I mean besides the personally owned spa places that cater to foriegner’s under the guise of Ayurveda. 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. It is where allopathic medicine gets its roots and since allopathic medicine is from Greek medicine and Greek medicine obviously was created from Ayurveda. Where do you think the three humours of Greek medicine came from? Just to give even more perspective, genetics is explained in Charaka Samhita in Sharirasthana, one of the main texts of Ayurveda from 5000 years ago. Wow. This is way before Mendel discovered genetics 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 Ayurveda 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 selling his coconut oil that for that outrageous price, it must be cold pressed between the legs of virgins or something, and the entire world of coconut oil here in the West is now a new enterprise. Not created by big brother or big pharma or anything. It is created by you.
Oil Pulling is used in conjunction with the rest of an Ayurvedic life, which is absolutely not a Vata, Pitta, and Kapha diet plan based on a checklist like what has being sold to you as Ayurveda in the West in books and websites and on daytime TV shows. Ayurveda is not a pill. You don’t take an Ayurvedic medicine because it is good for this or that. That is Western. There is not a generalized treatment that is going to make you better besides getting up before the sun and going to sleep early. the best parts of Ayurveda don’t cost anything and unfortunately in the Western world, for you, it is being made into products to be packaged and sold. In Ayurveda, there is deep understanding of who should do what, when, why, and specifically how. What is beneficial to a human being as per that individual human being. It is comprehensive and vast. 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 from the very lens of Ayurveda. There is so much more to understand about Ayurveda but……..
Back to Kavala………… whew, finally.
Kavala is to be used as per the individual’s need of it first and foremost. This is everything in Ayurveda. The individual is seen as an individual, diagnosed as an individual and treatments are based upon them. Kevala is an actual treatment in Ayurveda. 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 the indications apply. It is used to mitigate kapha in the mouth generally, and other diseases of the head and throat etc.. also apply. Bodaka Kapha is the saliva, the Western equivalent at least. An imbalance of this can create cataracts, salivary stones, as well as a ton of other diseases when out of balance. 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. If you are eating food and living a lifestyle that is creating the imbalance, then doing a treatment or taking an herb for it while continuing to do what has created that imbalance is absolutely ridiculous. That is a Western paradigm not Ayurveda. The causation must be stopped then treatments can be done to further help the imbalance. The knowledge needs to be applied.
Oil Pulling is 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: Bhavaprakasha Chapter 5.31 – 35.
Bhavaprakasha is one of the original texts circa 14th century. Oil Pulling only cleanses your liver in your fantasies. One person even told me it cured his gout in his big toe. Sorry, if you understand this treatment from an Ayurvedic view and how this works, it cannot possibly.
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.
Qualities of Kapha
स्निग्ध: शीतो गुरुर्मन्द: श्लक्ष्णो मृत्स्न: स्थिर: कफ: ॥
snigdha: śīto gururmanda: ślakṣṇo mṛtsna: sthira: kapha: ||
Snigdhna – oily, unctuous, Sheeta – cold, Guru – heavy, Manda – mild, viscous, shlakshna – smooth, clear, Mrutsna – slimy, jely, sthira – stability, immobility are the qualities of Kapha.
Rasa (taste) – Madhura (sweet)
Guna (quality) –
Guru, Snigdha (heavy and oily)
Virya (potency) – Shita (cold)
Vipaka (post digestive effect) – Madhura (sweet)
Karma (action) – Balya (strengthening), Hridya (good for the heart), Vrsya (builds reproductive tissue), Vatahara Pittahara (destroys vata and pitta), Kaphakara (produces kapha), Brmhanan (building/anabolic), Bastishodhaka (cleanses the basti), and Visthambhi
You can put two and two together and see that Kapha and coconut oil have the same qualities, yes? This will cause an imbalance (excess) in bodaka kapha. The imbalance can look like 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.
Since the mouth is the site of bodaka kapha, anyone knowing the basic fundamentals of Ayurveda would never advise coconut oil being used daily. Especially in springtime and especially on overcast, foggy or rainy days when there is no sun (the reasons for this is understood from a foundational understanding of Ayurveda). 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 protocols.
(What is saliva and how does it link to digestion… You think smoothies and juicing is healthy??? )
Using coconut oil will create problems; 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, sinus problems, eye sight, sense of smell, and a whole lot more things can happen due to the qualities that the coconut oil has. It does not share the qualities of sesame oil. Sesame oil, the default oil to be used, has a unique subtle quality (sukshma) and is the reason for it being the only oil to be used. It is heating (ushna) whereas coconut is cold (shita) in potency. Coconut oil is also kaphakara or builds kapha. 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 or a super food when it is used properly. The piece that is lost to Western eyes is to whom it is being used for, when is it used, why is it used, and how is it used. This is the biggest flaw of Western nutrition and sciences. Everyone is an individual. Once again, as you are an individual and need an individual treatment. What is medicine for one is poison for another due to this understanding. 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 one size fits all and certain foods and substances being cool and new (superfoods means now you pay 10 times more than what it used to cost and a lot of new products of it are going to be sold). Think about this as you look for the next popular health fad that is being touted out there. Are you not an individual? Do you not deserve the respect to treat yourself and your health as that? Also think of this, that product was once less expensive and available to be used as a medicine by the properly educated practitioner. Now it is just too expensive to use (like Goji Berries). Just to add here that coconut oil was said to be the worst oil you could possibly use back in the 80’s yet other cultures have used it forever as their main source of oil (and they are closer to the equator, it is hotter there and they do not have the same constitution in general due to the location. For them using coconut oil might even be plausible but not in higher latitudes).
Example of complexity:
Haritaki is an herb in Ayurveda. It can be used for many many uses. When used in conjunction with one substance or anupan (delivery vehicle), it will have a different effect. In this way it can be used all year around to balance the seasons as well as it can be used for many many imbalances or diseases. For viewing of this look up “Ritu Haritaki”. All herbs in Ayurveda are used like this so you see the need for deep understanding of the details of all of it and also understand that it cannot be minimized down to just taking Haritaki because it has benefits touted in Western books of being good for blah blah blah and blah blah blah.
Now lets take it to another level. There are 11 different times to take Ayurveda medicines, this is called Bhaishajya Kala. Herbs have different effects relative to the different times at which we take them. It is based upon the dosha, not your dosha but in the understanding of dosha and time. To get the best results for a particular condition, herbs and treatments are taken at the appropriate time of day for the needed result. In Ayurveda, herbs are taken at different times according to factors like daily variations of the doshas, organ reflexes, the state of Agni (the digestive fire), and the stages of digestion and working with the movement of pranas. Yes, Ayurveda is based in prana as much as yoga is, fundamentally. So you are just going to do Kevala with whatever oil you want, whenever you want, that you read on a popular mass health site, or because a friend told you it was “cool” with no detail of knowledge in what they are touting or respect to you as an individual? See the point? Even the season that you are in has a huge role to play upon the effect and the choice of the substance. This is the depth of real Ayurveda when correctly used and when the person writing the article has an education in it.
Still doubt about using coconut oil being harmful 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. Promise. Infact, make sure you do it before going to sleep…… in spring time. See what happens after weeks of doing it.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, the doshas change throughout the day and also throughout the seasons. This is fundamental to the treatments and when they are given. Kapha time is the AM after the sun rise. This is when kapha is high in the environment. It is also the time that technical removal techniques are used to get rid of kapha from the body. This is just more reason why coconut oil is never used in kavala as it is a technique that is done in the morning. Basic, very very basic Ayurveda.
Types of Kavala:
Kavala is of four kinds- unctuous (snigda), pacifying (shamana), purifying (shodana) and healing (ropana). Which one do you think you are doing? Shamana is palliative therapy. This would be the closest to what is being said to the masses. In Ayurveda, all the diseases are the resultant of the aggravation of the Doshas, So in Shamana, the Doshas are suppressed within the body. While in other type of treatment Shodhana is purification therapy; the aggravated Doshas are expelled out of the body. This is detoxing, not shamana. From this you can understand that the Shodhana is better than the Shamana as the disease causing factors are removed from the body. But in Shamana treatment these are still inside the body; as soon as there will be favourable conditions for their aggravation; these will aggravate and again cause disease.
Oils with medicinal drugs are also prepared in a special way for the specific treatment. Not a pinch of turmeric thrown into the coconut oil. There also has to be a whole preparation procedure before the treatment 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. This is the sign that the procedure has been done the right amount of time, when kapha is liquified. Not just 20 minutes like everyone is a generic copy of each other. 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 in their balance and imbalance so the length of time will be different. There are many complications that come from a 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 don’t know? Just as an example, by doing tongue scraping excessively you can give yourself lock jaw. This is why details and knowledge matter.
Other posts you might be interested in reading:
Your gut health
The newest Ayurvedic diet detox
What you don’t know about “detoxing” is actually dangerous
Proper diagnostics of health
The body’s natural cleansing system
No such thing as Vata, Pitta and Kapha diet plans in Ayurveda
What is health, what is disease
Modern research methods:
By taking human beings as aggregate groups and testing ideas and substances against groups for repeatable outcomes we find empirical evidence. In Ayurveda, 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 why Ayurveda is a much deeper and detailed science for an individual 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. Even doing a research on what the results are from the masses on oil pulling is invalid due to the understanding that everyone has their own balance/imbalance, what time of day are they all doing the treatment, under what environment, weather, season, etc. 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. And now the latest is that Western science now states that butter is once again good. Why was it considered bad before? Who is taking any responsibility for the incorrect research that has given butter a bad name since the 70’s? Yet butter has been used in Ayurveda forever and has its unique qualities and actions which define why and how it is used.
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 symptoms of the cause and do not deal with the underlying root problem which leaves that root problem to complicate into another disease and another pathway in time when treatment is done to the symptom. This is the explanation of why all the drugs have a long list of side effects which is the imbalance that they create by taking them as well as why the Western drugs don’t work for everyone.
What happens if you research what coconut oil does in oil pulling? Any of the results of what Ayurveda touts? If it is not actually by the standards and protocol of the treatment taught in Ayurveda, how can the study have any say about Ayurveda at all? If you take motor oil and test it as ghee, do you think it will have the same results?
If you are interested, here is two peer journal reviewed articles on the subject of Ayurvedic Research explaining how/why empirical evidence based research fails…..
A Complex, Nonlinear Dynamic Systems Perspective on Ayurveda and Ayurvedic Research
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, receding gums, 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 digestive problems, cold or flu, or respiratory problem and will definitely worsen the cataracs for sure, yet they will have no correlation from their western mind to see the oil pulling as the cause and neither would their Doctor that then gives them antibiotics for it, which is also absurd since antibiotics work on bacteria, not viruses. (Perhaps the most important distinction between bacteria and viruses is that antibiotic drugs usually kill bacteria, but they aren’t effective against viruses. Inappropriate use of antibiotics has helped create strains of bacterial disease that are resistant to treatment with different types of antibiotic medications.) Furthermore, now they have dangerous and costly surgery on their eyes in the long run as well as creation of other diseases. This is all in the name of trying to be healthy, following the “new and cool superficial health guidance” in the masses by 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) and clogged with aama (undigested substance or toxicity) in their system to deal with the oil pulling and it just made the whole system clogged more and created further disease due to the coldness of the coconut oil just created more imbalanced vata after that. Of course these are completely fabricated examples. Had it been sesame, it would be different. It most likely would have created health for both. Had it been done with proper guidance, the one with aama would not be doing it at all. Sesame oil, is heating and subtle so it would bring down the imbalance of both kapha and vata, which are cold in nature. This is why sesame oil is used as a default substance. 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, a complication of what they had. 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 Western watered down diet plan that they are “selling” as ayurveda. It is not ayurveda though. There are some very general guidelines that are beneficial for everyone but beyond this everything becomes individualized and every meal needs all six tastes in real Ayurveda, not lacking because of dosha ideas. Beside, your diet is to be based upon seasons and where you live and other factors, oh, I guess that is too complicated.
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, and how it is eaten, and 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 depending upon the person’s individuality. I hope you get that by trying all these new fangled “health” and cleanse fads, you really are playing Russian roulette and from an Ayurvedic view most likely creating imbalance. 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 hard to treat, specially by a Western lens that doesn’t even correlate the symptom with what you have created 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?
Oh hey, another bit about this whole thing, like the part about it making your teeth whiter, its not because it is coconut oil. It is the reason why it is done for a until you tear. The swishing of the oil changes its action and saponification of the oil happens. It acts as a detergent in your mouth.
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, 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? Why are you listening to friends and superficial websites in the first place? Another article I read was written by someone who makes jewelry for a living, another one was written by a wedding photographer, another one was written by a writer for health magazines. None of them are educated in Ayurveda. Would you trust you house to be built by a wedding photographer? Trust her to do your dentistry? Then why your health? In America, a doctor needs a license to practice which means he/she has taken the education necessary to pass legitimate licensure examinations to get the license? Why is it not the same with Ayurveda in the West?
Also, do you think for one moment that these people are going to take any responsibility for what happens to you? The fact that most of you out there are following something that is a fad, blindly, because a celebrity said it is good????? Or some doctor that owns a coconut oil company that is selling his product? Or someone getting kickbacks for selling his oil on their Ayurveda site. You just want to do what is healthy right? How are you supposed to know?
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 and also how to make it on your own with a stick of butter? Thats not real ghee either. Its only over priced clarified butter that had a recording of a mantra playing when it was melted from a block of butter. Buying it can’t help make you enlightened. It won’t have the same results of ghee either. This is what they are selling and an underlying promise of health. But how are you know the difference? 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 consumeristic world is doing to Ayurveda and you, really. Then research is done upon this incorrect understanding of Ayurveda’s treatments and substances like ghee by Western research methods and they come up with research disproving what Ayurveda claims about ghee. Thats where things get messy. Translating Ayurveda to Western science isn’t easy. Kavala will never be understood from Western lens for what it is, why to do it, when to do it, who should do it, how it should be done, etc…. Without dropping the lens of Western medicine and picking up one of the context and education of Ayurveda, that improper knowledge, education, and translation can only result in that some people get hurt, Ayurveda gets a very bad name or is never taken serious for what it can actually do, and the general public is none the wiser or healthier. Think before you just jump on the popular bandwagon. Do your research. Educate yourself properly through valid channels and open your mind when looking at something from a different paradigm. It takes time to comprehend a different paradigm.
*****The following is taken straight from text of Ashtanga Hrydaya. (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 fit for use.)
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 (palliation) is done with fats processed in bitter and astringent 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 curable 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 – 5.35
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 and bone 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 brushing to hard or with too hard of a toothbrush and/or like sweet toothpaste…. it 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 (the symptom verses the cause)
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. It may help but once again not the root cause, just a symptom. Receding gums for example is a statement of your bone health more than a statement of your gum health. And if you have any doubt, just go out and get a bone density test if you have receding gums. For most people this makes no sense at all but with the very foundational understanding of Ayurveda it makes total sense and treating your bone and muscle tissue most likely will bring back your gum health.
Example of a common 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.
No swishing coconut oil needed
Ayurveda is not a bunch of simplified treatments like oil pulling that is used by diagnosis of a symptom or is it done haphazardly. It is a deep and extremely detailed science. It takes years to study and understand. Please use discernment and don’t just buy into what is a popular fad.
And as an addition, for those that want to see a better view of Ayurveda and that which is not available in the West…. Here is a film made by a friend of mine Marinella Banfi, who is a French film director, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and given 6 months to live by the best oncologist in France and instead turned to Ayurveda and cured her breast cancer.
There is a whole lot more out there than what is understood by Western methods.
and if you still have any doubt to the truth of what i have written, you can see the same information (without the rant :) ) from a real Ayurveda doctor’s blog explaining oil pulling from textual reference see this: How to oil pull in genuine Ayurvedic way
And here is a real Ayurvedic explanation Ancient Science of Life
Notice in both of these, coconut oil is not mentioned.