Kavala – Oil Pulling



Kavala is of four types:

Which one are you doing?

Lubricating with oils and fats (snigda)– for Vata imbalance disorder. It is done by the use of oil processed with herbs of sweet, sour and salt tastes. Not cold and heavy coconut oil.
Palliative (shamana) for Pitta imbalance disorder. It is done by herbs of bitter, astringent and sweet tastes.
Cleansing / detoxing (shodana) – for Kapha imbalance disorder. It is with herbs of bitter, pungent, sour, salt tastes and possessing hot property. Not cold and heavy and sweet coconut oil.
Healing (ropana) – It is done with herbs of astringent and bitter taste.

How is each treatment done?


Different substances are used in kavala in Ayurveda:
Fats – sesame oil, ghee
Honey with water
Fermented gruel
Meat soup
Urine of animals such as cow urine (yep, really)
Dhanyamla – Sour fermented grain liquid, like beer almost
And then of course medicines which are blend of substances for specific purposes


For daily use, oil pulling should be used with sesame oil or meat soup

“Benefits of oil pulling with sesame oil daily: Sesame oil gargling is beneficial for the strength of jaws, depth of voice, flabbiness of face, excellent gustatory sensation and good taste for food. One will never get dryness of throat, nor does his lips ever get cracked; his teeth will never develop caries and will be deep-rooted; he will not have any toothache nor will his teeth set on edge by sour intake; his teeth can chew even the hardest eatables” Reference: (Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 5…. that is the main Ayurvedic text)



The proper use of the treatment (what of the above 4 types is being done) depends upon what it is being used for the person and their imbalance state and the disease.
The person should sit in a place devoid of breeze but in mild sunlight. At the right time of day as per the dosha.
It is never done when the sky is overcast or it is raining.
His shoulders and neck should be massaged with the proper oil and then fomented depending upon the treatment and why it is being given. (for it to be detoxing by Ayurvedic methods this must be done)
After fomentation then treatment of Gandusha or Kavala is done
Keeping the face slightly lifted up, one should hold the liquid in their mouth or swish/gargle the oil till the mouth gets filled with Kapha (sputum / slimy liquid / mucus) and till the nose and eyes start secreting liquid. Not 20 minutes. Each individual will be different and this is the sign that it is done completely as this is what it is being used for.
Then the contents of the mouth are spit out.

Then smoking of herbs (dhumapan) is done. Not as per Western idea of smoking. (no this makes no sense to the western paradigm but does in Ayurveda and from and India paradigm)

Then tambula is chewed.

This is real Ayurveda.


The treatment will vary as per the person and what they are using it for.

There is no pulling of toxins/detoxifying except when it is used as a shodana treatment. At best what is written in all the mass ezines and blogs out there can kind of be said to be a palliative treatment, but in even that coconut oil would never be used as it is opposite qualities as per Ayurveda.

Kavala is used for neck, jaw, eyes, nose, throat, gum, teeth, sinus problems when used properly but can easily create diseases of the same when used improperly.

Most importantly, it is to never be used in cases when someone has aama (if you look at your tongue and it has a white film or thick plague, it is signs of toxicity and lack of digestion), poisoning, fainting disease, alcoholism, depletion, TB, bleeding diseases, low clotting factor, inflammation of the eyes, constipation, depletion of wastes and other contraindications.





no, alkaline water from your water purifier is not what is meant in the 8th verse.

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8 thoughts on “Kavala – Oil Pulling

  1. My gums are very sensitive from years of improper care. I’m 26, but admittedly am horrible at oral hygiene. My gums will bleed a lot when brushing and flossing is even worse. During the day I might find blood in my salvia. Does this count as a “bleeding disease”? Or a vata imbalance? I have been oil pulling with warm sesame oil for about 3 weeks first thing in the morning after going to the bathroom, and have been seeing improvements. No blood unless brushing or flossing, but that has decreased a lot.

    The only guideline from the text I can follow is daily warm sesame oil, do you think I should stop? There’s no way I can do it in the sun right now, maybe on weekends, but it’s quite breezy right now. I do think I have quite a bit of amaa as well, my urine is quite strong smelling. Thanks Brad.

    • Aama is always a problem. Oil and aama do not mix. I would tell you to get rid of the aama before doing any technique is not wise as it will increase the aama.
      The sesame oil is not actually a wrong oil in this case. You would need to be using herbs that are stambhana or that will stop the bleeding.

      • Perfect, thanks. I am reading your post on a daily morning routine. I’ve known about the problem with sweet toothpaste from this blog, for a while now, I’m thinking I will get my hands on some. Namaste.

      • So only healthy people without aama can do the oil pulling? Even the basic sezame one?

  2. great article…just had asked about oil pulling and its origins in an ayurveda group on fb and got all kinds of replies that had nothing to do with the text…appreciate your thoroughness here. wondering what they mean by alkaline water…never saw that reference before?

  3. Pingback: Oil Pulling: An ancient Ayurvedic treatment, or is it? | trueayurveda

    • Thanks.
      Kshara is alkalies. That is why I worte not alkalized water, meaning the water that is popular and not healthy today. Alkalies added to the water to be used for specific reasons.
      There you go.

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