Oil Pulling: An ancient Ayurvedic treatment, or is it?
Oil pulling is a just one more new popular thing to the commercial consumer, yoga, spiritual, and new age alternative health world. It originates from Ayurveda but what is being taught out in the masses as “Oil Pulling” is not Ayurveda. This article is to clear up what the Ayurvedic side of all of this is so that you and others do not harm themselves as well as the protection of Ayurvedic knowledge.
There are claims being made of liver detoxing and all sorts of statements. People are using all kinds of oils, such as coconut oil without knowing the details and importance of the treatment being done correctly, what substances are used, and just following what is out in the web as general superficial information with no references or knowledge behind them. It is important to try to understand the deep knowledge behind this because this originates from Ayurveda Without the details the ignorance can harm you. Really.
This post is to inform you, what others are not. There are contraindications to this technique as well as procedures to follow. This post is to dissolve the ignorance that is abounding around this “oil pulling” fad, and give a deeper understanding of what it is 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 not a brief article 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, the internet ezines is not a good place to find knowledge of what is healthy. They are mainly written by writers that have collected information and written a story.
I have added photos at the bottom of the page of one of the main ancient texts of Ayurveda’s chapter on Gandusha Vidhi, which is the Chapter on the application and use of Gandusha. Kavala is in this same chapter and used in the same way as it is explained. (please understand that there is alot more knowledge that goes into proper comprehension of what a text is explaining in these sanskrit texts, they do not read like linearly written books of today)
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
One of the popular Western Ayurvedic practitioners out there states on her site…. “Thanks for sharing…. isn’t it amazing? I can’t believe what a huge impact this one therapy has on our overall bodily integrity. It’s the major ama suction-removal- process.” What is funny about this is that using coconut oil as the author of that article suggests cannot be an ‘aama suction removal’ process due to the fact that coconut oil has the same qualities (gunas) of aama and by the proper knowledge of ayurveda but this is what you get out there today. How are you supposed to discern the difference without knowledge? This can be extrapolated into many things, not just this ‘oil pulling’ fad.
“”Oil Pulling” is putting coconut oil in your mouth and swishing it for 20 minutes.”
What is being said as being detoxing cannot be detoxing. In Ayurveda, for this to be a detoxing treatment it has to expel doshas in the treatment. The swishing coconut oil for 20 minutes, does not. It cannot just that on its own. There is much more than what is being called “Oil Pulling”
Kavala is from Ayurveda and has been around for over 5000 years in recorded in Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, Astanga Hrdayam, Bhavaprakasha and more.
What it does do:
From Charaka Samhita, the main text of Ayurveda, it states….
“Keeping of oil gargle provides strength in jaw and voice, development of the face, maximum taste and relish in food. The person practising this does not suffer from dryness of throat, there is no lip cracking, teeth are not affected by caries rather they become firmly rooted. They (teeth) are not painful nor are they oversensitive to sour taking, they become able to chew even the hardest food item.” Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 5.78 – 80
And there is more, it is also used therapeutically. It deals with head, eye, nose, neck, and throat diseases.
Kavala is the swishing of warm (not hot) sesame oil or water (yes, water can be used too as well as well as other substances for specific treatments/reasons) in your mouth until tears develop in the eyes and the nose runs. Liquefying of kapha (a dosha) is what is happening at this point and that amount of time will differ for every individual. The tearing and runny nose is the definitive sign of proper treatment is finished. There are detailed diagnostic SIGNS and SYMPTOMS of correct treatment of everything in Ayurveda as well as under treatment and excessive treatment. Plus, by not looking at a clock on the wall or a timer, one will experience the treatment and how the body and nature functions that is very different from the Western worlds view. one cannot take something out of its context without understanding and apply it blindly and making up results it does not actually have the capacity to do, but isn’t that what we do?
In Ayurveda, Kavala as an upakrama, is used as shodana (expulsion of the doshas or what is detoxing or cleansing in Ayurveda). Proper sudation and fomation MUST be done prior in the treatment to liquify the doshas to then be expelled if it is to be shodana. There are different substances that are used for specific treatment of the individual for the diagnosis of that individual but in general use, sesame oil is used.
Sticking oil in your mouth and swishing could only be a palliative treatment that does not detox. What detoxing the oil pulling fanatics are claiming it does can only be done through shodana and it certainly is not the same treatment.
Detoxing is quite the sales phrase in the Western world today. What does detoxing mean in the West? There are plenty of real western medicine research showing that detoxing is baloney. There is no proper research showing any of these popular fad detoxes actually do what they say they are. Mayo Clinic, Stanford, and anything from real western medicine states that the detoxing that is a popular fad, is not real, not scientifically possible, and one should be very careful about what they do and especially what they believe because there is more science to it harming than being detoxing click here for those links If one is doing research based on what is being touted as Ayurveda like oil pulling without the proper knowledge, what do you think the research is going to show? Of course, it does not detox. How can it? What is actually more important to understand is that a body has to be in a place of strength to do real detoxing. To detox a body (which takes the diagnosis and the precision in the application of treatment) that is not ready and prepared properly is stated in ayurveda likened to trying to juice an unripe lemon. You destroy the lemon and you have also picked it already, meaning you destroy the human being.
For Kavala to be detoxing in 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).
In the pop fad health culture, coconut oil is being said to be used. This is where we find the need to understand qualities and tastes and part of Ayurveda. Coconut oil is sweet, heavy, and cold…… opposite qualities from“bitter, acidic, sour, and salty”. Not the same results. Actually opposite. Detoxing is not done with a substance that is anabolic in its nature. In theory, coconut oil could be used as a snigda (oily) treatment, for the proper individualized reasons and for specific disease treatment. More than likely it will cause an imbalance due to its qualities.
There is dietary restrictions/conditions that must be followed during proper treatment 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 results and can aid in the creating disease or at minimum bad repercussions that create an imbalance that can turn to disease in time. Say someone has bad digestion and aama, use coconut oil and you will create disease.
Ayurvedic treatments are specific to many many variable factors and individual to the person as well as preparations for them. They are dangerous and even deadly when done incorrectly.
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 paradigm. Ayurveda comes from a paradigm of holistic quantum logic, Western thought comes from a classical Newtonian physics and related biological considerations by compartmentalization and treats symptoms while Ayurveda diagnoses the individual and treats the individual.
There are lots of negative reactions happening out there from Oil Pulling with coconut oil. Most silent but if you search you can find them on the net. 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.
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, like in a pitta condition. It is used to mitigate kapha in the mouth generally, and then also other diseases of the head, neck and throat etc... Bodaka Kapha is the saliva, the Western equivalent at least. An imbalance of this kapha can create cataracts, salivary stones, the common cold, chronic sinusitis, 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 a herb for it while continuing to do what has created that imbalance will not help. 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 for daily use done with warm sesame oil. Why???? Coconut oil has qualities of being heavy, sweet, and cold and will create an imbalance in 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, jelly, sthira – stability, immobility are the qualities of Kapha.
Qualities of Coconut:
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? The imbalance created 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.
(What is saliva and how does it link to digestion… You think smoothies and juicing is healthy??? )
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.
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 lack of Western nutrition and sciences. Everyone is an individual. Once again, as you are an individual and need an individual diagnosis and treatment. What is medicine for one is poison for another due to this understanding? Even two people having the same disease (as seen by the Western allopathic lens) 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 mean 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?
If you still doubt that using coconut oil can be harmful or how any of this could create any negative side effects, try doing this coconut oil pulling twice or three times a day. See what happens to you. You need your empirical proof…. you will get it. Promise. In fact, make sure you do it before going to sleep…… in spring time…… while it is raining. 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 would not be used in kavala as it is a technique that is done in the morning.
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.
If you are interested, here is a journal 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
Contraindications as per the original texts:
Oil Pulling can and will create disease if used by someone that 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 the 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.
The signs of purification are a decrease in disorder, contentment, non-sliminess and lightness of the mouth, and a clarity of the senses.
Improper use comes with signs as well. it will cause stiffness, accumulation of kapha, and loss of taste. It causes stomatitis, dryness, thirst, anorexia, and lassitude.
If improper usage causes burning sensation in the mouth one can use sesame oil or ghee, milk, and honey to balance it.
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, especially 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?
*****The following is taken straight from text of Ashtanga Hrydaya (another of the main texts of Ayurveda). (notice the lack of any mention of COCONUT OIL and trust me, they got coconuts galore in Ayurveda, especially 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. )
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, loss of taste and loss of hunger, 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). Receding gums, for example, is also diagnosed as it is not just caused by one thing in Ayurveda and having one treatment.
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 alone. It may help but once again not the root cause, just a symptom. Receding gums for example, is a statement of your bone health. 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 can possibly 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. Anyone selling products stating it is good for this and that is not understanding Ayurveda. Each disease has several ways it could have come into existence. Each disease has several ways of pathogenesis. This is what needs to be diagnosed and treated.
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 then made a film of her journey.
There is a whole lot more out there than what is understood by Western methods.
And here is a real Ayurvedic explanation Ancient Science of Life
This is from text Ashtanga Samgraha. It is the very simplified, generalized, and easiest of all the texts of Ayurveda to understand. This is the chapter on Gandusha/Adi “adi” means “and others”. Kavala is used in the same way here as Gandusha, the same rules apply.
(****alkaline water is not the water that is popular in the US today with the Alkalizing machines, the word “kshara” = alkalies)
Studies on Kavala:
Anand et al in their study observed 20% reduction in bacterial count upon 40 days of oil pulling using sesame oil. Also they observed reductions in the severity of dental caries. Sesame oil was observed to possess moderate antimicrobial activity against S. mutans and L. acidophilus. They mentioned that toxins and bacteria from the body may be removed through the tongue and get trapped in oil and thrown out from the body.
Four researchers in their study involving 60 adolescents of age 16–18 years with plaque induced gingivitis, observed statistically significant reduction of plaque and gingival indices upon oil pulling using coconut oil. Subjects performed oil pulling in early morning at empty stomach in addition to their routine oral hygiene measures such as brushing and flossing. They were assessed after 4 h after performing oil pulling. Modified Gingival Index and plaque index by Sillness and Loe were measured at baseline and on days 1, 7, 15 and 30. Steady decline in indices was found from day seven. Plaque and gingival indices significantly decreased after 30 days of oil pulling. The study observed 50% decreases in gingival and plaque indices after four weeks which is comparatively similar to results produced by chlorhexidine. They concluded that oil pulling with coconut oil is helpful in decreasing plaque formation and plaque induced gingivitis.
In a study conducted by Jauhari D et al on children aged 6–12 years, the authors observed no significant reduction in S. mutans count using oratest and dentocult SM strip mutans kit after two weeks of oil pulling twice daily using sesame oil. However the result may probably be due to the fact that oil pulling may take atleast four weeks to show its effect. Sesame oil is more palatable when compared to other refined edible oils.
In an in vitro study on oral biofilm model, sesame oil was observed to possess antibacterial activity against S. mutans; sunflower oil had antibacterial activity against C. albicans; and coconut oil was active against both S. mutans and C. albicans.
A group of researchers compared oil pulling method using sesame oil with chlorhexidine mouthwash for two weeks on twenty adolescent subjects. There was statistically significant reduction in the S. mutans count in the plaque samples of oil pulling group after one and two weeks. Also there was reduction in the mean scores of salivary S. mutans count after two weeks. However the study noted that the reduction in S. mutans count is more in chlorhexidine group than oil pulling group.
Three authors assessed the effect of oil pulling on plaque, gingivitis and also its safety on oral hard and soft tissue. Refined sunflower oil was used for 45 days by ten subjects. Reduction in plaque and gingival scores were observed to be statistically significant. They concluded that oil pulling is useful as a supplemental oral hygiene aid.
Asokan et al in their in vitro study observed that benefits of sesame oil on oral health are due to saponification, emulsification and mechanical cleansing action.
Singla et al observed significant reduction in the mean S. mutans and Lactobacilluscount in saliva, and also in the plaque scores and gingival scores in 32 subjects upon gum massage using sesame oil, olive oil and coconut oil. The subjects massaged their gums around all the teeth with the 2 ml oil for 10 min every day after tooth brushing using index finger in circular motion for a period of three weeks. No adverse effects was reported by the subjects.
Dani N et al assessed the antiplaque effect of oil pulling using sesame oil in a randomized controlled trial. Also the effect of sesame oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis was studied. Forty subjects with plaque induced gingivitis were treated by scaling and root planing. Thereafter randomly 20 subjects were instructed to perform oil pulling for 14 days; remaining 20 subjects were given chlorhexidine mouth wash for 14 days. Plaque index scores, gingival index scores and total colony counts of aerobic bacteria were reduced in oil pulling group after 14 days. Sesame oil was found to be as effective as chlorhexidine against plaque induced gingivitis.
Kuroyama et al reported two cases of exogenous lipoid pneumonia in patients who habitually practiced oil pulling with sesame oil. The symptoms of exogenous lipoid pneumonia are fever, weight loss, cough, dyspnea, chest pain, and hemoptysis. 40% of patients have mild or no symptoms. Severe pneumonia with acute symptoms can be fatal to the patient. Oil may be unintentionally aspirated during oil pulling. If the aspirated oil is microorganism rich, then it may result in manifestation of lipoid pneumonia.31
The term halitosis is unpleasant breath odor and is not same as oral malodor. Oral malodor arises only from the oral cavity. Oral malodor is due to the proteolytic activity of three bacterial species Porphyromonas gingivalis, Tannerella forsythiaand/or Treponema denticola. 85% of halitosis arises due to gingivitis, periodontitis and tongue coating. Volatile sulfur compounds like hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan and dimethyl sulphide are responsible for oral malodor. Sood et al in their three week randomized controlled trial involving sixty subjects observed that oil pulling with sesame oil was equally efficient when compared with chlorhexidine mouthwash in reducing oral malodor and the causative microorganisms. Reduction in mean gingival index scores and mean plaque index scores were observed. The researchers noted that sesame oil reduces volatile sulfur compounds and mean anaerobic bacterial count in the oral cavity and hence resulting in reduced mean objective and subjective organoleptic scores. One hindrance for oil pulling noted was the long duration of time required to perform the procedure.
Five researchers in a randomized controlled pilot trial involving 20 adolescent subjects concluded that oil pulling with sesame oil is as effective as chlorhexidine to reduce halitosis and microorganisms associated with it. The subjects performed oil pulling once daily for 10–15 min before tooth brushing for 14 days. Modified gingival index score, plaque index score, organoleptic breath assessment score, self assessment of breath score and BANA test scores from tongue coating samples reduced in both chlorhexidine and oil pulling groups.
In a randomized controlled triple blind study involving 20 age matched adolescents, the effect of sesame oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis and its efficiency when compared to 0.12% chlorhexidine mouth wash was evaluated for a period of ten days. Oil pulling was performed everyday for 1 min in the morning after tooth brushing. Plaque index scores and modified gingival index scores were recorded at the baseline and after ten days. Plaque samples were collected to evaluate the microorganisms present and to calculate the total colony count of aerobic microorganisms after ten days. The study found statistically significant reduction in the pre- and post-values of the plaque and modified gingival index scores in both groups. Reductions in the total count of aerobic microorganisms were detected in both groups.
Three authors carried out a microbiological study on the effect of sesame oil pulling on plaque, gingivitis and colony forming bacteria. Twenty subjects of the study performed oil pulling for 15–20 min daily for a period of forty five days. The study observed that oil pulling resulted in statistically significant decrease in plaque, gingival scores and bacterial counts. Plaque scores, gingival scores and number of bacterial colonies increased after forty five days in the twenty subjects of the control group who practiced routine oral hygiene practices. The authors concluded that oil pulling with sesame oil is an effective preventive oral hygiene method when practiced daily.
People allergic to specific oil should use other types of oil compatible with them. Sesame oil does not have side effects like staining, lingering aftertaste, and allergy. Oil pulling has also been claimed to cure several diseases such as arthritis, allergies, asthma, migraine headaches, nerve paralysis, kidney and heart disorders etc, though it is not scientifically proven. However, it certainly has positive benefits on oral health. Care should be taken that oil is not swallowed as it is heavily loaded with toxic microorganisms. However, if accidently small amounts of oil is swallowed, there is nothing to worry as the same is removed from the body through feces.