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. 

You can go to an abbreviated version of this post here

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:
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 frombitter, 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. 

Here is one

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 mtsna: 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)


IMG_2217 (2)IMG_2219


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 gingivalisTannerella 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.



41 thoughts on “Oil Pulling: An ancient Ayurvedic treatment, or is it?

  1. I believe you’re writing a lot of interesting things, and you probably have more knowledge about this than most westerners. I just started oil pulling with coconut oil and got a cold. Imagine me reading your post, it made quite an impression. But, why are you so agitated? You write so many important things, and you seem so angry. It’s so difficult to not feel undermined, to not feel stupid when reading your posts. We’re not stupid for not thinking right or for being westerners, we’re doing the best we can with the knowledge we have. Aren’t you from the west yourself? You know what they say, the worst anti-smokers are former smokers. I’ having a hard time believing that both the ayurvedic message and yours, is to make other people feel small for making uneducated mistakes. I hope in time your posts will be more filled with non-judgmental wisdom, making ayurveda more available and understandable to people who wish to take greater care of their health, without having the opportunity to diverge their lives fully and completely to it, like you have. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you for your comment soakedtealeaves, love the name.

      Sorry about your cold, i can assume it s a head cold since that is what the coconut oil would possibly do. Thank you for the proof and sorry you had to be the victim.

      Just the quick answer……. yes a bit agitated and then again not at all. Kinda a bipolar thing.

      It is what it is.

      The other side, because in living in the world of health and healing for 25 years, I have watched the surge of the health field and along with it has come a great irresponsibility and sales. It actually goes completely against “health” doesn’t it?I mean the health of people, not the health of one’s bank account.

      I continually get to a point that i find it overwhelmingly impractical to try to teach real ayurveda.
      1. it is an amazingly deep science that takes years of study to understand.
      2. It is not in a paradigm of take this to relieve this as it takes the entire life of someone into account and I just don’t see how this can possibly work within the Western paradigm at all.
      3. When you look thru the lens of Ayurveda, you see our Western world, yes, i am here too. You see it as a really disease forming mess in every way. Literally. It is heart wrenching. Then to have people want to argue against a 10,000 year old time tested science because their own ignorance or to have people selling as it is not which only hurts people and destroys Ayurveda, well it kinda wears on me after a while. So some of my posts reflect that.
      4. Just as you got a cold from following what is assumed to be good information but is only a popular trend, this is case and point to my frustration. With all the noise out there in the health world, how would you know the difference? Then to have the detailed knowledge and wisdom of this beautiful science and watch it be disintegrated by our greed and fear…… and you are a victim in the meantime. And with that you do not know the consequences of what has been done. It is not within our paradigm to see the cause and effect.

      I think that explains my tone and my words. If I did not shout, you would not hear me. 🙂
      Thanks for your comment

    • Thank you, I love Ayurveda, and you really seem to embrace Ayurveda deeply.
      I have completed the Ayurvedic Healing course and Advanced Yoga course with Dr Frawley, to care for myself better…

  2. Interesting. Glad you commented on the other post. It makes more sense that oil pulling should be part of an overall program, rather than a “miracle” cure.
    Many natural treatments are often touted as a cure for things that really don’t relate to a treatment!

    It took awhile to read your offering, but worthwhile. I think I have a better understanding of what is going on with the body when using this process. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you for your comment Artagene. There is so much detail and a whole different paradigm to understand, or try to, when it comes to Ayurveda. It is a pleasure to hear your comprehension of it.

  3. This is very impressive & gave me a Lot of insight! I just turned 50(yikes) & after all these years, I now am just thinking a little healthier. That is why I am here reading this..Because of what i have read about oil pulling, so thanks for stopping me! I smoked for years, & drank soft drinks like crazy! so after taking my oral health for granted, & watching my teeth get darker. I was reading about it. I’m not going to lie. I am very ignorant to all! But I think I will just stick with warm water for the time being, until my eyes water. Thank you again!

    • Thank you for your comment Angela. Yes, I agree. With everything that I have learned over the past 25 years of studying this stuff, it shocks me everyday to open my eyes to the ignorance of what is health in the modern world and the sales of THINGS outside of ourselves as touted health. You have it all within you already, really. We just don’t have the wisdom in this culture of a melting pot.
      Your teeth darkening is actually the health of the bone tissue. You may want to get a bone density test to check on em. My mother used to have osteoporosis. Not anymore. There are things that can be done but not in the Western model.
      Good luck, and keep up the learning.

  4. Pingback: Potentially less than pleasant side effects of oil pulling with coconut oil – and update | Sirène de la Mer

    • Hey, Thanks for the link and plug. I wish you had also quoted the statement of following a strict ayurvedic diet as well as the need for the treatment to have sudation and fomation prior. But a plug is a plug right. Although the scientist will come up with high carb diets it is still not correct. any heavy diet will cause severe problems with this treatment. Problem is that the effects are not felt right away and they won’t go away with any western treatments either. Think of having a chronic congestion for the rest of your life. Is it worth all the fooling around with stuff that we don’t understand from a totally different context?

      Unfortunately, your not the only one that is gonna have side effects of the “harmless” oil pulling.

      I actually feel like pulling the entire blog down for the amount of flak i get from ignorant people saying how it can’t happen and stuff.

      Remember you heard it here first and only.

      Good luck with your trials and experiments.

    • My goodness; you know I made my post as a ‘heads up’ to people about what could happen. I obviously don’t have your background in this field and even I have been shocked at the idiotic comments I get!! So I definitely hear you on that one. But in all honesty–I’d say keep it up and ignore those nay-sayers. But of course it’s your decision. 🙂

    • Sorry darling, I removed a portion that must have had it in it but it is down at the bottom in the part:

      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

      It gets pretty nasty with the comments. It is like I am preaching against someones religion or something. Thanks again. If you wanna talk about what is going on and any side effects just send me a mail. Brad.yantzer@gmail.com.

      I don’t really want to be putting out all of the details of this treatment because people are going to use it irresponsibly much like what is already going on. I don’t wanna feed the fire. My intent was to inform what you wrote about the article actually, so thanks again.

      The fact that you had the reaction (sorry you went thru that) that you did states much about your situation in general that need attention. I would advise you not to do anymore oil pulling, sorry.

    • Hi again, I will definitely be emailing you, like right now… Because I wanted to ask your honest opinion on something if you don’t mind. I totally understand your frustrations, but I also don’t see why you should have to constantly ‘battle’ all those people, especially when you’re trying to help!

  5. I truly appreciate you writing this post. I’ve linked it in my own post where I had a quite drastic reaction to coconut oil OP (which I realize could be due to different things). But it’s just shocking to me how rarely this is talked about! I appreciate you reminding others of the several factors involved when choosing to take on a new health practice. Wishing you all the best! 🙂

  6. you specifically lament the use of coconut oil for oil pulling but from what little bit i understand, the whole idea of oil pulling (by the western culture’s idea) is wrong? by which i mean people don’t follow the correct usage or methods and don’t eat the right things, basically don’t understand what they are doing…
    what about the people who praise oil pulling (typically they use sesame oil) and claim that it helps them? are they lying or does it have hidden, adverse side effects later on from not doing it exactly as the science behind it dictates?

    i am slightly confused and i come only seeking your wisdom. (not here to bash or invoke your wrath)

    note: i don’t oil pull, i just recently heard about it, became curious, and started digging and discovered your site. just wondering about the benefits people claim and why it would work if they aren’t following the rules.

    • Rachel,

      Thanks so much for commenting.
      I will do my best to explain. Without a wrath. 🙂
      Just because i care about what is going on out there to peoples health and the ridiculousness of it all gets pretty over whelming that my passion for ayurveda and peoples lives…. well sometimes it gets loud. Plus, i think this explains better anything you might take as anger or wrath in my posts. https://trueayurveda.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/this-is-what-happens-when-spiritual-paths-are-bastardized/

      #1 You see, ayurveda does not work within the paradigm of western thought. If you read the research article i linked on that post you might get a bit from that. The best I can say is that Ayurveda works in what we would consider a quantum logic but actually much more. Our science has only started to understand quantum as they have named it although the vedic sciences all are based in it and had it mapped out in detail long ago. Our sciences are not the best and advanced as we have been taught to believe.

      #2 the general masses have no template for understanding what is healthy or not, they follow what is popular like Dr. Oz is right now and what he says is the word of god but he is only a surgeon with 2 hrs of education in nutrition. Not bashing him. He is helping people, kind of. Harming from my lens.

      #3 how do you explain subtle things to a crowd who is excessively numb and always looking for more stimulation due to the numbness? I don’t mean to put anyone down. Not at all. You can ask anyone who actually meditates and doesn’t live in the crazy western world of desire fulfillment and they will agree whole heartedly with what i just said.

      #4 so with that, what is there to diagnose, I mean real diagnosis that what they are doing with coconut oil is actually helping. Nothing. It is all based upon their experience. Given what i stated in the last two can you see how that might be skewed?
      I could say alot of things, which i have in other posts, that the masses would disagree with. I would tell you that Bikram Yoga has absolutely nothing to do with yoga and from a yogic lens it is very disease forming and imbalancing. Lots of people would disagree, because of their lack of knowledge of what yoga, their attachment to identification with Bikram yoga, and their lack of experience. It is a limited experience. Yet i would tell you that the word yoga is synonymous with samadhi and nirodha. It is a state in which there are seven levels of samadhi or a state in which the prana and the mind still, one is out of the mind. How is this, true (and you can look it up) yoga (not my opinion) having anything to do with a class that is based in externalization and breaking down the body, force, excess exertion… the list goes on. Nothing in common. Just because they are having an experience does mean it is yoga nor does it mean what i just wrote is actually incorrect or even judgmental like I have been accused of many times.

      #5 I have tested ayurveda myself, I have pretended things don’t matter and that the text could be wrong. Every time I am bit in the ass and hard. I end up creating my own suffering. The science is complete, just only up to the capacity of the person’s education and knowledge.

      #6 Coconut oil could possibly be okay for someone that has bleeding disorders and stuff along those lines but then kavala is contraindicated for those diseases anyway so it would not be done.

      #7 Here is western science research for you to back up what I am saying. http://www.carbohydratescankill.com/forums/general-questions/negative-about-coconut-oil

      Just as Dr Oz made the neti pot go from $10 to $35 over night and all of the West started to do it, there was an incident in new Orleans. Two people died of brain eating amoebas. From doing neti pot with tap water.
      Look it up. https://www.google.com/search?q=neti+pot+brain+eating+amoebas&oq=neti+pot+brain+eating+amoebas&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.9902j0j4&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=91&ie=UTF-8
      Now with my education and experience, what has been found as the culprit to their brain eating amoebas is utterly absurd. Tap water is chlorinated and cleaned. Even if it was tainted in some way, it is nothing compared to the water of India where neti pot has been done for how long??????? With what kind of water??????? Not filter or treated, just out of a river that others have been doing all sorts of stuff in up stream. Yet it seems to me that nothing like this has ever happened in India. When we look closer at what happened we see why. No one is actually teaching correctly how to dry the sinuses after doing neti. It is not in all these american books of yoga and neti. so what happens to the water that is left in your sinuses without your knowledge? What happens when someone already has a condition that they are not conscious of having, like slight congestion all the time? And then that water sits in it. Well… you guessed it. brain eating amoebas. Yes, i am actually making it up logically though. This is most likely what happened because the actual full knowledge was not given out to the masses. In my view, Dr. Oz is actually a murderer. Yes, it was those two people that died, it was their responsibility to find out all the facts about it before doing it but who do you know that reads the operating instructions of anything before powering it up and turning it on these days. (That would be more proof about the ignorance of people) But also this knowledge is not easily accessible with all the junk on the net today. Just look at the oil pulling as an example. Who is writing these articles and blogs and then even when someone that is supposed to have that knowledge writes a blog, they have to write it in a quick 30 second clip to keep the limited attention span of people. (and even more to say about the modern culture of today) Look at my blog. Who do you think actually reads the entire post? I can’t believe many. But look at how long it takes to try to give some actual real knowledge to what this is and why and how to do it, yet i haven’t actually told everything about it, just superficially actually. And i still have people commenting about how they are right and i am wrong. It amazes me.

      If you look at the other comments you will see two others down there of people that have had bad stuff happen to them. What they don’t have any comprehension of is what they have actually created. Ayurveda is very very detailed, amazingly so. We live in a compartmentalized world of linear thinking in the west. It is just the way it is. We don’t understand that something can have lasting effects beyond us feeling good in the moment. Did you realize if i was to diagnose you i would need to do a complete health history and it would tie everything together telling a story to me that would lead exactly to where you are now. From that i could even predict and be very correct about what would happen next, even within which month. This is Ayurveda. It deals with the root of the cause and not a symptom whereas our western sciences and paradigm only see the symptom.

      and then again, this http://www.carbohydratescankill.com/forums/general-questions/negative-about-coconut-oil

      The western sciences are slowly starting to change. It is very hard to change a paradigm though. Specially when it has a ton of fear riding it around health and boundaries and identity.

      Read this: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/21/science/new-truths-that-only-one-can-see.html?_r=0
      Yes, it is western research on western research but explains alot. I plan on doing a post of this stuff.

      Remember when soy was so good for you and best for women’s hormones and mens? Were people not buying it and using it like mad? Where they not saying that they felt better? Was it not still messing up their hormones yet Western research had not proved that yet?

      Read the posts on juicing and raw food.
      Although people feel good doing it, it is actually very vata aggravating as any ayurveda Doctor will tell you. The increase in vata makes someone feel lighter. But who said that is good? Did you know that being depleted feels good? Yes, imbalancing prana is like getting high. Really. Doesn’t mean it is good. It creates disease. It takes vata to create a disease, pitta and kapha are completely passive and cannot do anything without vata. Which is why all of yoga asana is about balancing prana. Prana is responsible for all sensory and neuromuscular actions in the entire body. it makes your physiology work properly. Peristalsis is just one. Example is that if you go up in a plane, vata = prana goes up. When you land it can stay up and you will have constipation. Dryness. Etc. but because we don’t understand this or feel energy = prana, as it doesn’t actually exist in the 1 dimensional western world except in woo woo healing modalities, well how are we to know?

      I hope i answered your question.

      Kinda hard to explain why people have an experience of something and I am saying that it is not actually correct. I know how hard that is to believe. There is just much more than we understand.

      Maybe i can say it like this… Ayurveda has 20 types of diabetes and over half are curable. Western Medicine sees two, type a and type b. Both are incurable but manageable. Why is there a discrepancy between the two? Because western medicine thinks that it is a sugar problem. That is a symptom. Not the problem. the problem is actually a water problem, not sugar. Working with the sugar levels will only make it manageable at best. Working with the water will cure the disease n some cases depending upon what of the 20 types there are.

      It is a completely different paradigm.
      Welcome to it if you have the courage to be open minded enough. It is a great ride. 🙂

    • Dear Brad,
      Thank you so much for this, need your advice.
      I do daily neti for years, but what is the best way to dry out after neti, apart from turning head up and side and blow your nose, I found there is always some salt water left behind, I just use part boling water, non iodine salt and tap water…..too hard to run around buying or getting filtered water…
      I live in Oz, where tap water is drinking quality..

    • Jaqueline, Thanks for your comment and your time. Too funny, too sweet. You are one of the few people to ever ask such a wonderful and aware question as drying the sinuses is hardly known or taught and the reason for the two people dieing in New Orleans years back from Dr. Oz making the neti pot irresponsibly popular. To avoid brain eating amoebas, lol, do a forward bend after finishing. Deep inhale and slowly exhale while rolling up. Repeat with head turned towards each side. (yes, this is not working in the direction of flow of prana, i realize) Then after do at least 100 rounds of kapalbhati. You can plug one nostril while doing some then the opposite. The sinuses will be dried by the time you are finished unless you have some sort of sinus problem structurally or due to a blockage.

      Warning. Jala neti is not for daily use. When the seasons and individual balance/imbalance is taken into consideration. Unfortunately this detail is not taught as well. Say someone has a kapha imbalance in the head and they are using salt water. What does salt do for kapha? We are taught that it gets rid and melts kapha right? It increases kapha. What season is it? Late winter when kapha is being built? What do you think is going to happen? Think about it. Can’t help but throw some deeper knowledge in there.

      Glad you live in Oz where tap water is usable. Lol. It is usable pretty much anywhere. Municipal water is clean water. There is no worry of anything from tap water. That is just purely ignorance on the part of Western minds. Think about this for a second…. what kind of water is being used in India for it? River water? Pond water? No brain eating amoebas ever reported there. Strangely. Another reason is that what does the salt do to the skin? It stops the water from being able to penetrate the membrane. Osmosis. Saltwater has a much higher osmotic pressure than ordinary water, which means that salt water is not easily absorbed into the delicate blood vessels and membranes in the nose, whereas ordinary water is. If you try this practice with ordinary water you will discover for yourself, in the form of pain in the nose.

      Thanks again for commenting.

  7. Mr trueayurveda,
    First I would like to thank you for writing this blog. I was actually in the beginning stages of researching oil pulling for my speech class when I realized that there wasn’t much “Western” studies on the subject. Hence I was having a hard time trying to gather true evidence for using oil pulling as an alternative dental hygiene treatment. That is when I came upon this blog and realized that I truly couldn’t give a speech on a topic that I certainly didn’t know about and whose true origin is part of a health system different from what here in the U.S. would consider medicine.
    I myself have been oil pulling for 2 weeks now (with coconut oil, oops). Although I did see whiter teeth and less gum bleeding, I began to have a side effect I didn’t want to admit-I was having insomnia.
    What you say makes all kinds of sense. I have always felt that the body is more “complicated” that what we think it is; meaning, taking one pill and doing some fad diet is not a cure all event. We eat so hurried and so much in this country that i believe people have stopped paying attention to what they are truly eating. The way I see as a road to holistic health is one which takes many years of practice and understanding: of yourself, your inner soul, what to eat, how to eat, proper exercise. But because this takes time, people don’t want to deal with it. Therefore, people are always looking for a cure all.
    I see now that my speech is going to focus on the myths about oil pulling, without trying to offend the audience.
    One question: any advice you can give a young college student like myself who wants to practice life lasting health habits? 🙂
    Once again, thanks for this blog and best wishes on your journey

    • Thank you Raciel. I appreciate your comments. I would ask you a question that might guide you into some deeper exploration into self. Why are you worried about offending anyone? You know that i can write just the word IGNORANCE and so many people take offense. Why? Can I be concerned about them taking offence? If I continue to worry about how to reach people that are creating all sorts of stuff on their own that blocks them I will never actually be in any truth of my own. Instead everything i will say will be wrapped in a bubblegum wrapper so that it can sell on the terms of the person that is being offended easily. This means I am not doing myself or them any good. If they get offended, maybe just maybe, they might look at why they are offended. I am not trying to offend anyone so it is on their account that they are being offended. If I do contort my phrasing it means i am manipulating what I am saying to try to sell someone something. Think about it. Communication is a two way street. Can you have an intelligent educational conversation with a person that totally has different view point without getting offended and in the end everyone learning? There is also something else in our western world that is missing. A humbleness and honoring that someone might actually know something. Our education system has no lineage, just a quick learning to pass exams and tests and then thrown out into the world to make money. There is no in depth study of an art or profession with a wise teacher that is handing down the trade as well as the trade secrets over many years of service from the student. Today is a quick certification and you are off selling something. So there is a disregard for wisdom. Everything has turned into subjective opinion only and religion. Dogma. Just some thoughts that i am sure might stir the pot for your round table.

      To answer the last question about where to learn a practice life lasting health habits…… well considering that has been my path for the last 25 years…….. I would ask you how deep do you wanna get. There are many levels. Not all paths lead to the same place contrary to the self absorbed spiritual thought that tends to be out there. Where is your trajectory? What is the life you will live? Another way I could say it all is that hardly anyone is really willing to do what it really a yogic life. Is it for everyone? No. Not at all. To go against one’s nature has drastic horrible results. Creates mental and psychic problems and disease. So it is a longer conversation rather than me telling you of a teacher that would teach you something. Email me if you wanna continue the conversation.

      To all your being….

  8. Hi Sir,
    Thank you for enlightening me. I’ve learned a lot from you! Can i have your email sir coz I have some questions re: my health.
    Thank you.

  9. Pingback: References of Oil Pulling as per Wikipedia | GuruNanda

  10. Glad I came across this before I got into the oil pulling. Would coconut oil still be safe to use as part of a home made toothpaste. There’s recipes out there for whiter teeth, and coconut oil is being used.?

    • Jim, I would probably not, as once again as stated several times in the article, bodhaka kapha is the saliva. It will create an imbalance in time if not immediate. It also depends on what else is in the recipe though.

      Why are they using coconut oil you ask?????
      Why was it considered to be one of the unhealthiest foods and oils back in the eighties and prior to then by the West?
      Everything is all about popularity and sales Jim. Why was tofu and soy a huge seller back in the 90’s? What happened? Research showed it was all that. Then it didn’t. This is the only way the western world works. Consumption. New, improved, whiter, brighter. Every few years brings new diet fads and the last ten or so every year brought a new health substance, prices go skyrocketing and people make money until the rug gets pulled out from under the research. People are sheep, that is why they are using coconut oil.

      Truth is really difficult to see without knowledge and the Western world cannot see the whole picture no matter how it might try.

      For how long have they been telling you to watch your cholesterol? They have everyone freaked out for decades so people end up consuming lots of simple carbohydrates, which created its own problems. In only the past few years Western science now figured out about inflammation and that is now the focus and that the problem never really was cholesterol. So how about all the people that they have given diseases to with all the cholesterol meds?

      So now, they look for things like C-reactive protein, which gives insights into levels of inflammation. But they have already conditioned people to be scared of cholesterol. And do you think it will be found in the C-reactive protein?????? What was Dr. Atkins selling????

      And yet margarine is still on the shelves in stores.

      This is the ongoing process of the West; research identifies something; there is a great flurry of activity around that thing, and then comes new research that refutes the earlier findings.
      Get the level of ignorance and how it flows.
      Some people think that it is because that science is growing, from an Ayurvedic lens, obviously not.

  11. Fantastic blog! I agree with you! I am an Ayurvedic Practitioner and work continuously on educating my clients that the Western Paradigm and Ayurvedic Paradigm are different. I have people who have educated with Institute of Integrative Nutrition who are taking an Ayurvedic herb for a symptom…they want beautiful skin. Yes! People need to be educated! It saddens me to see how people in the West disrespect this deep and insightful healing science.

    • Sally, Thanks for your comment. Yes, it is absolutely insane what is going on in the West as far as health goes not to even go into the entire facade of Western Ayurveda. What to do? When these people are paying huge amounts of money to get what they think is a real education, they learn from text books written from people that have never had authentic Ayurveda training or a watered down Western version and out they pop with a template Vata, Pitta and Kapha diet plan regime that has nothing to do with real ayurveda and no deep understanding of anything they are telling people to do…… nor the knowledge of the ramifications of it nor any need to take any responsibility, conveniently. What do you expect to show up but coconut oil pulling and crap like that? When Ayurveda in India is a minimun 5.5 years for a real education, do we think anything less in a superficial culture will be the same, say 24 weekends at Mount Madonna and one has a Masters in Ayurveda???

      The machine has grown beyond belief and is pumping out new certified practitioners with illegitimate education at an alarming rate. Hardly anyone actually cares from what I can see. Those uneducated just then copy off of those that are. Even rewriting article and stuff like that for their own fame. I even could name a woman who has published a top selling book on Amazon that is calling herself an Ayurvedic Expert (as far as her videos on youtube), and the book is stating to be based on ancient Ayurveda, yet turns out she has only done a few weekend courses with Dr. Lad and snuggled up next to some bigger names in Western Ayurveda to have them ref on the book. Another woman who has moved herself into a power position in the Ayurvedic world is a divorced indian housewife with a fake lineage, and fake credentials that she has made up. This is the darkness of the so called spiritual/health world. The excuses I have gotten from them when cornered is that you gotta start somewhere. In my world, peoples lives and health are being messed with and that is absolutely never okay. I do not see it getting better, just worse actually. Look at yoga, can’t go any different. No standards of education, no laws, and a romanticized vision of India to back it. Sadly. As I said, what to do?

      I just don’t think people know better…..

      Just as an eample here is an email I recieved about one persons journey trying to find real education here in the US.

      My interest in Ayurveda started as a yoga student and came to full fruition after encountering multiple chronic issues that western doctors didn’t have a clue about and my hath yoga teachers couldn’t touch as well. When looking at Ayurveda, there seemed to be an answer to a lot of my issues. After attending some lectures and having assessments with western Ayurvedic “clinical practitioners” that left me with little more information than what I had already surmised out of the basic books on Ayurveda, I decided to study the subject myself.
      For a host of practical reasons (i.e. I have a daughter) I decided to go with the California College of Ayurveda distance program who prided themselves on training clinical practitioners and their visibility within the western Ayurvedic community is apparent. This was totally new territory for me. I knew a bit about Ayurveda and had many doubts about learning this through a distance format – something I had never done before. But being completely naive in this field and hopeful that I could learn the basics of it this way as a practitioner, I trusted that they were what they said they were as it seemed simple enough at its core. Diet and lifestyle. Right?
      Yet from the get go some doubts started to creep in. On an introduction call with the director “Dr.” Halpern he told a fellow student named ” Kundalini” that she would learn how to diagnose illness through the pulse just like a practitioner she had met who told her she had a thyroid problem based solely on pulse assessment. This was somehow going to come from a distance learning set up too. I bit my tongue since I was aware of how much practice and skill this would take, though gave the director the benefit of the doubt since he supposedly had accolades in this field and I was pretty new to the whole affair
      The second questionable thing came when I got my course materials. It was a 400 page text written by the director himself with non existent sanskrit transliteration, partial or completely omitted references and bibliographies for most of the chapters in the book,lots of feel good quotes by western orientated authors, complete lack of photographs or proper herbal monographs,etc….I could go on and on. The content itself was a lot of what you come across in other books, albeit organized in a more systemic and clear manner which I did appreciate.
      However, this was supposed to bring us ” deep” into the world of Ayurveda and served as our only understanding of such complex topics as philosophy, history, dravyaguna, diagnostic procedures, pathology, and herbology! Multiple volumes could be written on just one of these subjects alone. The quizzes and homework accompanying the course were paltry as well consisting largely of multiple choice questions and half baked cookie cutter “case studies” with little depth. I later learned that all the answers to these quizzes and homework were accessible on-line through their student forum. The finals were based off this as well, thereby pretty much guaranteeing anyone success within this program and virtually no level of academic integrity for those who passed through their program.
      I knew I should of dropped the whole thing when I talked to my “master” teacher for the first time. She showed concern when I told her I would likely have many questions. I was not surprised given the fact that she had graduated from the program but a couple years earlier. Apparently this is common practice there, but shows little concern for what the word “master” entails. She couldn’t answer any of my questions in regards to the text (which were not terribly advanced) and had to default to the director for answers. After threatening to drop the program since I could just study the text myself and get as much if not more out of it on my own, they gave me a master teacher who was an M.D. from India. I at least felt I should give it a shot since I really wanted to learn the material and they were one of few programs accessible to me at the time.
      While my new teacher at least had some answers to my questions which I am grateful for – even she could do little to mitigate the brevity of the course content as outlined by Dr. Halpern and our allotted weekly time together was fairly minimal which only served to skim off the top of my basic questions on the subject that the text failed to get into. The end result was her always suggesting that I needed a guru (i.e.-regular teacher) to actually understand this stuff properly.
      To make a long story short, I was able to finish the reading and homework for the first two “modules” within two weeks with extremely minimal effort ( maybe 15-20 hours a piece). Two weeks and I was done with history, philosophy, and Ayurvedic anatomy and physiology! This was supposed to have taken two months to finish, which is even a ridiculously short time given the thousands of years of history in these subjects. In fact when all was said and done I was able to finish their entire course, as well as copious amounts of added texts and independent projects I took upon myself to round out the discrepancies I found in roughly half the time they allotted to the entire program ( I actually kept a record of my studied hours since I felt I was getting ripped off). I was also still at a loss for what I knew was the depth that Ayurveda offered and felt wholly cheated.
      When I brought my concerns to the director I was basically met with shrugged shoulders and a suggestion that I spend more money on a $300 text from David Frawley, whose correspondence course the entire college is based on as he informed me. He made no other accommodation to help me get deeper into the material. After giving $5000 to actually learn this material properly I shrugged my shoulders too and figured I had least gotten a decent basic introduction to the subject that I could start to use on my own, which was not the case as I will discuss. I was also later to learn that neither Dr. Halpern nor Dr. Frawley has any legitimate Ayurvedic training. Halpern is a chiropractic doctor that basically invented the Ayurvedic profession in the west as far as my understanding goes, spearheaded the National Ayurvedic Medical Association, and gave himself a lot of fancy titles that actually mean absolutely nothing nor have any legal sanction. How he has gotten so far is beyond me. Frawley got the “Dr.” title through a correspondence course in Chinese medicine, though he is commonly respected as a self taught Vedic scholar for whatever it is worth. Check out ” Modern and Global Ayurveda” for a good look at this and other real issues in Ayurvedic education (i.e. a text that should might be referenced in a proper program).
      When I went to the “college” for an intensive at the end of my first year I was somewhat furious, though tried to keep cool as I hoped this would somehow tie it all together. All I got was more concern seeing that many of the other students there were even more naive than myself and actually felt the material was too difficult in addition to lauding how much of a “master” Dr. Halpern was! Due to the same naivete they were actually going to take this stuff out into the world having no clue what they were doing!
      At our “bliss therapies” training they attempted to pack in complete abhyanga, shirodhara, and svedana training into 35 hours which then gave us a legal certificate to practice this in California. During the training they failed to cover basic hygenic conduct when working with patients, contraindications for the various therapies, or even something as fundamental as adjusting the therapies to different constitutional needs. This lack showed as people were having negative reactions to the therapies which the presenters dismissed completely. Some of the students who had a real medical background had to answer questions that the “trained” assistants had no clue on.
      When I started trying to ask questions about all I was observing the presenters started to ignore my raised hand in the Q & A sessions as I was visibly irate by that point. I had to literally run up to them in between sessions only to be dismissed with the comment that ” there are many ways to practice Ayurveda”. It was hopeless. I guess thoughtful discussion and real questions are not part of this the CCA protocol which felt more like an assembly line than education. My final alienation was when various students came in smelling of marijuana and talking about how ” stoked ” they were to have their “boobs” massaged. If there was anything close to a spiritual science or medicine being taught here, I’m not sure where it was. I was just in the wrong place and that was that.
      During the academic review of the program, it was more of the same. The teachers, a mix of recent graduates and faculty, were basically running down scripts and their own take on the spoon fed information from the same introductory material we had just learned over the past year. This brought very little depth to the situation and no real discussion once again. In talking to the students I got clued in that the first few years of the college they had some new age dance instructor teach them anatomy and physiology, but she was so out of her mind that Dr. Halpern refunded the students money so they could study the material on their own. Even one of the presenters commented how we were receiving a much better education than before when this “college” was run out of a retail space in a strip mall as far as I am aware. I can’t even imagine the state of affairs back then, which is even more disconcerting considering that many of these people have probably been practicing for many years and are spreading all kind of information in the name of Ayurveda through the US in the guise of properly trained practitioners.
      The biggest call for alarm came when I talked to an actual medical doctor who was taking the first year review after having completed the second year due to personal complications. When the idea of one dosha mixing with another in pathological conditions came up in our conversation, she was clueless. For those of you who don’t know Ayurveda, this is a fairly simple yet absolutely crucial concept that anyone even thinking about using Ayurveda should be aware of. The fact that this was coming from someone who completed the second year of this training and was about to go to work with clients in internship speaks to the caliber of their academic integrity or how much they care to ensure their students are receiving “the highest quality education and health care in the field of Ayurveda” as they claim. The fact that this person was a trained medical professional completely blew my mind as well. I’ll let you figure that one out.
      If I had any doubts left about continuing with CCA at this point, they finished right there and then. To add insult to injury, the second year students were actually grouped with us for a session, learning the same basic simple pulse techniques as us because there was a scheduling difficulty. Apparently those advanced techniques of diagnosing illness the Dr. Halpern had promised Kundalini weren’t going to be taught after all. Halpern even commented that this technique couldn’t be taught in this format and needed a personal teacher to master properly. I wish I was making up this level of hypocrisy, but I guarantee you I am not. I have sincere regard for these sciences and no profit motive to gain from any of this. I have since met practitioners who have graduated from CCA and found real Ayurvedic education afterwards through real vaidyas that won’t even put the CCA name on their bio to give you an idea what some people think about this place.
      In all fairness I did learn some basics that have been helpful in my life, yet once again was something that I could have figured out through my personal studies and was not the deep practitioner level I was promised. So when I finished I wanted to do something with my education, even if it was introductory. I decided to start a website to give people everything I learned so that they could at least have the basics without paying thousands of dollars to people falsely claiming clinical aptitude and making lots of money with self proclaimed “expert” status.
      But being one for honesty, I decided to do deeper research into every topic I had studied as I wanted to actually understand knowledge and not just an ability to report the “facts” I had heard from my classes, which is what a large majority of people in the west appear to be doing. I started reading the classics, delving into blogs, talking to people who learned from real Ayurvedic doctors, and devouring all the related information I could. I even visited other programs and attended workshops with mixed results. I don’t care to get into the minutia of everything I’ve since discovered in this process, but much of what I thought was useful in my program was just a twisted, dumbed down, and often times erroneous understanding of the basic tenants of Ayurveda. For example, even doing basic implementation of a diet plan as taught was completely backward and would end up harming people.
      Many of you may wonder how this happened as how can so many practitioners and an entire professional organizations be wrong? First of all when people have been duped they don’t want to admit their own faults or may not want to blemish someones reputation. There’s a certain shame and disbelief that comes with it all, a victim mentality. This is much the case with people being lead by these yoga teachers that are put on sat-guru like pedestals only to fall through all sorts of scandals. It is only a matter of time before people start speaking up.
      However, I also think the vast majority are just too naive to get their own understanding. The same thing has happened with yoga that is only sadly thought of as an exercise program to most people. Even people who think they know yoga and have read some philosophy or did a teacher training are still pretty lost. I have some experience with teachers of profound depth in this – not some dude at a “yoga” studio that thinks he is progressing spiritually because he practices asana and pranayama for 3 hours a day ( which I once was and have since been humbled). Just as yoga is not only asana, Ayurveda is not just Vatta-Pitta-Kapha, and astrology and is not just your Sun sign. There is so much complexity to the above that it literally blows your mind. Which is kind of the point.
      Spiritual and health disciplines are not free from commercial interests in this country just like anything else. In fact alternative health almost has to be sold to a skeptical audience. Ayurveda and all the vedic disciplines are in its infancy in this country and a lot of people are terribly up-selling or even completely falsifying what they are teaching as you can see from my experience. There may be a few Vaidyas worth their salt floating around the states, and I can accept people doing lifestyle consultations ( if they had a real training).But there’s always that upsell that most of these people do since they are bent on making it a profession and pretending to know more than they do instead of taking the time to do it right. Assembly line culture. Plain and simple. I do feel Ayurveda is a valid science and is worth being looked into, but to be careful in what you come across. We are so out of balance in this country that any energetic shift is often seen as a good one and perhaps why a lot of naive students are going down a bad path paved with good intentions.
      I have written this without the intention of harm but as an honest testimony to the facts of my experience. I hope this will help people stop harming others and wasting peoples time out of their own or others ignorance. May I be forgiven any transgressions in this account and your path be smoother than mine. Om śāntih śāntih śāntih

    • Thank you for this account!!! I am ashamed at the abuse of both yoga and Ayurveda in the West!!! I try to seek informed sources and have been “sucked in” as others have with poorly trained individuals offering poorly understood concepts!

  12. Pingback: Dantadhavana: Brushing of the teeth | trueayurveda

  13. Hi! I’ve been lurking for a while. When I use (room temp.) sesame oil I get a lot of phlegm in the mouth right away, before I even start swishing. Am I hurting myself or is it supposed to be like this?

    Bleeding disorders? So I shouldn’t even do it if I have menorrhagia?

    • Hi. Thanks for your comment.
      Do you have aama?

      Is menorrhagia considered a bleeding disorder? That is the actual question here. No it is not.

    • Um… I read your article on aama again. I have coated tongue, salivate on a pillow, bad digestion (best I ever had but still very bad), tired all the time and catarrh (less than I used to have, but I still have it… I’ve probably had catarrh since I was born). When I was experimenting with fasting my catarrh disappeared but reappeared when I started eating again, I was devastated.

  14. Thank you!

    It has been wonderful reading this and getting some truth in between all these chaos! I have been diagnosed with early stage of Periodontal disease 3 years ago and since then I have been looking for alternatives to treat it… A couple of months ago I came across oil pulling** and after thinking and doing some “research” online I decided to give it a try. I have done it so far only twice (always with sesame oil) but I had the feeling that something was not right… and decided to look a bit more… that´s how I accidentaly stumbled on your website! I feel blessed that I got to read this!

    Hoping to still find a real holistic treatment for my gums though,
    Any thoughts would be much appreciated

    much love

  15. Pingback: Bochecho com óleo de coco, vale a pena?

  16. This is a story from a masseuse who gives massages with raw organic coconut oil. He then gets problems.. one of which respiratory asthma-like problems, but doesn’t see any correlation.. so.. he tries to change his diet to find out if he’s allergic to something. Nothing helps. Then comes the lightbulb moment; coconut oil! He stopped.. and 3 weeks later.. his longs cleared up, cough is gone,.. etc.

    I was kind of impressed by the video, so I wanted to share it here:

    • Thanks for sharing. Yes, everything has ‘side’ effects. Even in Western science we know that everything you put on your skin has to go thru your liver. 😉

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