Oil pulling

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Oil pulling or oil swishing is a traditional folk remedy where oil is swished or held in the mouth. Ayurvedic literature states oil pulling is capable of improving oral and systemic health, including a benefit in conditions such as headaches, migraines, diabetes mellitus, asthma,[1] and acne, as well as whitening teeth.[2] Oil pulling is known as "Kavala" or "Gandusha" in the Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita.[1][3] Its promoters claim it works by "pulling out" "toxins", which are known as ama in Ayurvedic medicine, and thereby reducing inflammation.[4]

Oil pulling has received little study and there is little evidence to support claims made by the technique's advocates.[3] In one small study, sesame oil was found to be effective at reducing plaque and oral bacterial load, but was less effective than chlorhexidine (a chemical antiseptic mouthwash) , [5][non-primary source needed] otherwise the health claims of oil pulling have failed scientific verification[3] or have not been investigated.[3] There is a report of lipid pneumonia caused by accidental inhalation of the oil during oil pulling.[6][non-primary source needed]


Gandusha and Kavala Graha are two primary gargling techniques.[7] Gandusha involves filling the mouth completely with liquid so that gargling is impossible. In Gandusha, the oral cavity is filled completely with liquid, held for about 3-5 minutes, and then released. In Kavala Graha, a comfortable amount of liquid is retained with the mouth closed for about 3 minutes, and then gargled. [1][2][3][8][9][10] Sesame oil, coconut oil and ghee are traditionally used, but newer oils such as sunflower oil are also used.[2]

Purported mechanism of action[edit]

Oral health[edit]

The suggestion is that oil provides a surface layer that prevents plaque or bacteria adhering to teeth.[11][12][unreliable medical source?] Against the background of current scientific and empirical knowledge, edible oils might be used as oral hygiene supplements but a decisive benefit for the oral health status is questionable [13][14][15]


Practioners have claimed oil pulling has helped their digestion, hormonal issues, migraine headaches, joint pain, and even fatigue [16] and the Nutrients, Antioxidants and Phytoestrogens in edible oils (for ex. Vitamin E, sesamin lignans in sesame oil) have been attributed with benefits like reduced lipogenesis and exhibiting antihypertensive action and preventive action against cancers,[17][18][19]


  1. ^ a b c Singh A, Purohit B (April 2011). "Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health". J Ayurveda Integr Med 2 (2): 64–8. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.82525. PMC 3131773. PMID 21760690. 
  2. ^ a b c Bethonie Butler (20 March 2014). "Everyone is talking about ‘oil pulling.’ But does this health practice actually work?". The Washington Post (Washington State, U.S.A.). 
  3. ^ a b c d e Julie Beck (19 March 2014). "Swishing With Oil for Oral Health: Not Recommended". The Atlantic. 
  4. ^ Grush, Loren (24 March 2014). "What is oil pulling? Examining the ancient detoxifying ritual". Fox News Channel. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  5. ^ Asokan S, Emmadi P, Chamundeswari R. "Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study." Indian J Dent Res 2009;20:47-51
  6. ^ Kim JY, Jung JW, Choi JC, Shin JW, Park IW, Choi BW. "Recurrent lipoid pneumonia associated with oil pulling." Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2014 Feb;18(2):251-2. doi: 10.5588/ijtld.13.0852.
  7. ^ http://www.saumya-ayurveda.com/kavalgraha.html Gandusha & Kavalagraha
  8. ^ http://www.healthepic.com/ayurveda/swastha/daily_morning_cleanliness.htm Morning Routine (Cleanliness)
  9. ^ http://chestofbooks.com/health/india/Sushruta-Samhita/Treatment-of-Inhalation-Of-Medicated-Fumes-Snuffs-Errhines-And-Gargles-Part-8.html#.UzrAx86fWmw Kavala And Gandusha -Distinguished
  10. ^ http://www.learningayurveda.com/2013/04/25/oral-ear-and-head-therapy-ashtanga-hrudaya-sutrasthana-22/ Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana chapter 22 - Gandushadi Vidhi Adhyaya - explanation of Gandusha
  11. ^ http://outfog.com/2014/03/14/oil-pulling-new-mouthwash/ Is ‘oil pulling’ the new mouthwash?
  12. ^ "What Is Oil Pulling (And Is It Worth Trying)?". Huffpost Living. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  13. ^ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23053698 Lipids in preventive dentistry
  14. ^ http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00784-012-0835-9 Lipids in preventive dentistry
  15. ^ http://www.deepdyve.com/lp/springer-journals/lipids-in-preventive-dentistry-t0zaqmnTbE Lipids in preventive dentistry - Article Preview
  16. ^ http://www.wellandgoodnyc.com/2012/03/06/oil-pulling-new-yorkers-trade-listerine-for-this-ayurvedic-detox-method/ Oil pulling: New Yorkers trade Listerine for this Ayurvedic detox method
  17. ^ http://www.ispcd.org/~cmsdev/userfiles/rishabh/02%20Alaka%20hebbar.pdf Oil pulling – Unraveling the path to mystic cure
  18. ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3097497/ Phytoestrogen Biological Actions on Mammalian Reproductive System and Cancer Growth
  19. ^ http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045%2802%2900777-5/fulltext Phyto-oestrogens and cancer.