A Guide To Oil Pulling

Originating in India from Ayurveda practices, oil pulling has been around for more than 3,000 years. While oil pulling is mostly known as the technique of swishing oils in your mouth for a few minutes a day to prevent dental issues, studies suggest that it benefits your entire body and can even supplement many beauty products you’re currently using. Knowing how to effectively oil pull while avoiding the potential risks and complications, though, is vital for an amazing experience that your whole body can enjoy.

Oil Pulling and Ayurveda

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique for healing cells, tissues, and organs by supporting the body’s elimination of toxic waste without disturbing the healthy microflora. It typically involves swishing sesame oil in the mouth first thing in the morning.1

The Charaka Samhita, which is a Sanskrit text on Ayurveda and one of the two foundational Hindu texts on this field that survived from ancient India, was the first to mention swishing sesame oil in the mouth as a daily routine for oral health.2

On oil pulling, the Charaka Samhita says, “It is beneficial for strength of jaws, depth of voice, flabbiness of face, improving gustatory sensation and good taste for food. One used to this practice never gets dryness of throat, nor do his lips ever get cracked; his teeth will never be carious 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 edibles.”3

Two main oil pulling practices, Gandusha and Kavala, are described in Dinacharya (the Sanskrit term for daily Ayurvedic rituals):


The Gandusha method refers to filling the mouth in the morning with oil or medicated water daily and holding it for a few minutes without gargling. A Gandusha should be held in the mouth until there is uncontrollable salivation.

It’s been used to prevent decay, oral malodor, gum bleeding, dryness of the throat, cracked lips, and to strengthen the teeth, jaw, and gums. If practiced routinely, Gandusha enhances the senses, maintains clarity in the voice, and brings about a feeling of freshness, while also relieving pain and discomfort.4


Kavala involves holding a much smaller amount of oil in the mouth in comparison to Gandusha. After 3 minutes of gargling, the oil can be spit out.

It’s been used to prevent cracked lips, gum bleeding, weak teeth, bad breath, and other issues that can infect the gums, teeth, or jaw. Additionally, Kavala has many of the same healing properties and benefits as Gandusha.5

If you’re interested in learning more about Ayurveda, check out our blog post that explores the holistic healing practice in-depth.

The Benefits of Oil Pulling

While many people add oil pulling to their daily routine to improve oral hygiene, the technique has benefits that span beyond just the mouth. However, research on oil pulling is limited, which means there’s a lot of debate as to how beneficial it is. With the rising popularity of oil pulling in modern times, though, science-backed studies have begun to explore the method. Here are 4 amazing, scientifically confirmed benefits of oil pulling:

1.   Kills Harmful Bacteria in Your Mouth and Prevents Cavities

There are around 700 types of bacteria that can live in your mouth, and up to 350 of them may be living in your mouth right now.6 Certain types of bacteria can cause tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease.7

Several studies have shown that oil pulling can reduce the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth. In a 2 week study administered on children, oil pulling with sesame oil daily was found to significantly reduce the number of bacteria found in saliva and plaque.8 Another study that asked 60 participants to pull with coconut oil for 2 weeks had the same antibacterial results.9

2.   Improves Skin

It may be hard to believe, but oil pulling is excellent for your skin and has even been proven to alleviate conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Oil pulling in the morning removes toxins that have accumulated the night before, preventing them from entering your bloodstream and contributing to unfavorable skin, which means that acne, dullness, and rashes can be mitigated.10

Additionally, exercising your jaw muscles with gargling encourages blood flow to your face. This can help tighten your skin and smooth out those pesky smile lines.11 You don’t have to stop at gargling oil; you can also try oil cleansing to rid your skin of potential breakouts.

3.   Reduces Inflammation and Improves Gum Health

Oil pulling works to decrease harmful bacteria and plaque in the mouth that can contribute to gum disease like gingivitis, which is marked by red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Using certain oils with anti-inflammatory properties, like coconut oil, can help to reduce the inflammation associated with gum disease.

In one study, 60 participants with gingivitis began oil pulling for 30 days. After one week, a significant improvedment in gum health resulted.12 A decrease in plaque, an improvement in gingivitis, and a reduction of harmful oral bacterias were also noted.13

4.   Corrects Hormonal Imbalances

Making oil pulling a habit can help improve hormone imbalances. Some of the most common hormonal benefits reported include more regular menstrual cycles and reduced symptoms associated with PMS.

Coconut oil, for example, is full of fatty acids that assist in hormone delivery within the body. Thus, it supports the creation, processing, and elimination of estrogen and progesterone that lead to hormonal imbalances.14

The Best Oils for Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an easy, inexpensive technique to incorporate into a daily routine. It only requires one ingredient which can usually be found in your kitchen. Traditionally, sesame oil is the preferred ingredient according to Ayurvedic texts; however, many other oils are now being used. It is important to note that you should never use non-food-grade oils for oil pulling.

These are the 4 oils you can safely use when oil pulling:

  • Olive oil contains oleic acid that is antimicrobial. Additionally, it has Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and other substances that are anti-inflammatory and antioxidants.
  • Coconut oil is full of lauric acid which reacts with the alkali substances that are present in the saliva, which helps to kill bacteria. It’s also a natural antiseptic.
  • Sunflower oil and sesame oil are used by most Ayurvedic practitioners today as they both contain an abundance of fatty acids that reduce plaque and eliminate bacteria. Their detoxification properties also make the duo popular for oil pulling.

Tip: You can mix coconut oil with sesame or sunflower oil to get broader benefits!

Oil Pulling Melts

If spooning a few drops of oil into your mouth makes you uncomfortable, you can try whipping up your own “melts” to make the experience more enjoyable. Oil pulling “melts” are essentially refrigerated servings of oil that melt in your mouth as you chew and swish. Here is an easy recipe to make at home:


  • Coconut oil
  • Essential oil of your choice
  • A silicone candy mold


  • In a small pan, melt the coconut oil on low heat.
  • Add a few drops of the essential oil you chose to the coconut oil.
  • Using a measuring cup, pour the mixture into the silicone candy mold.
  • Let cool in the refrigerator for a few hours before use.
  • Store the melts in a glass jar or keep them in the refrigerator.

DIY Oil Pulling

Oil pulling can be extremely beneficial for your whole body if done often and correctly. Here steps you can take for an effective oil pulling experience:

  • In the mornings on an empty stomach, dispense 1 to 2 teaspoons of your preferred oil in your mouth. Make sure to use high-quality oils!
  • Swish for 20 minutes. This may seem daunting at first, but it does get easier. Swishing the oil gently helps reduce the discomfort sometimes associated with oil pulling. Make sure to not swallow the oil after swishing since it’s full of the harmful toxins that you worked so hard to rid your body of.
  • Spit the oil in the trash can, not the sink. Coconut oil, for example, can regain a solid form, leading to clogged pipes.
  • Rinse well with warm water.
  • Brush your teeth as normal to get rid of the remaining bacteria.

Repeat these steps a few times a week or up to 3 times daily. You may also want to work your way up, starting with swishing for just 5 minutes instead of 20. Eventually, you will be able to swish for the entire time with ease.

Seek a Professional’s Advice First

Before giving oil pulling a try you should seek a professional’s advice to make sure it’s right for you and your health. Considering that oil pulling requires a large amount of oil, it’s vitally important to be aware of possible allergic reactions.

Besides allergic reactions, other reported side effects of oil pulling are:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Oil pulling is not for everyone. If you have any concerns or questions, do consult with your doctor.

Have you tried oil pulling before? Did you notice any benefits? Let us know in the comments below.



https://www.meetinghousedental.com/holistic-dental-information/oil-pulling/ [1]

https://www.femina.in/wellness/health/is-oil-pulling-really-beneficial-find-out-198155.html#:~:text=Oil%20Pulling%20is%20an%20ancient,as%20Kavala%20Graha%20and%20Gandusha. [2]

https://pilgrimageyoga.com/blog/how-does-oil-pulling-work-a-dentists-perspective/ [3]

https://www.ecco-verde.com/info/beauty-blog/gandusha-oil-pulling-for-oral-health [4]

https://www.westsidefamilydentistry.com/blog/2019/2/11/what-is-oil-pulling-and-does-it-actually-work/ [5]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24320954/ [6]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279514/ [7]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18408265/ [8]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27084861/ [9]

https://www.bebeautiful.in/all-things-skin/trending/the-benefits-of-oil-pulling-and-how-it-affects-your-skin [10]

https://www.kismetessentials.com/blog/2016/10/13/can-oil-pulling-improve-your-skin [11]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25838632/ [12]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19336860/ [13]


Ayurveda: Doshas and Holistic Benefits

Ayurvedic Medicine, or “Ayurveda” for short, is one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. Ayurveda translates as “knowledge of life.” It dates back 5,000 years to the ancient Sanskrit texts, the Vedas. It is said that Ayurveda is an eternal science that first existed in the universal consciousness (Brahma) before it was passed from the creator to the ancient Indian mystics through meditation.1

Ayurveda is a system of healing that evaluates emotional nature, physical constitution, and spiritual outlook in the context of the universe. Additionally, according to the Ayurveda philosophy, people are born with a specific constitution called the Prakriti, and that all life manifests as three different energies, or doshas, known to be Vada, Pitta, and Kapha. Many people tend to have an abundance of at least one or two doshas, but this can fluctuate according to your environment, diet, age, the climate, and many other factors.2

The Vedas

The Vedas are the most ancient texts known to humankind. Ayurveda, in its written form, was first mentioned in the Vedas. The Vedas told Hinduism’s sacred scriptures and are said to be revelations discovered by sages and seers.4

There are four Vedas – the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda. They were written in Sanskrit, which is India’s ancient language. The Vedas detail practices in worship, hymns, rituals, mantras, and ways of life.

Atharva Veda is the latest text to be added to the Vedas, compiled around 900 BCE. It holds 20 books and 730 hymns of about 6,000 stanzas.5 Also within this Veda is India’s ancient medical practice systematically outlined.

The Three Doshas

Those who practice Ayurveda believe that every person is made of five elements found in the universe, which are earth, water, fire, space, and air. These elements combine to form three life forces or energies called doshas that control how the human body works. The Vata dosha combines space and air. The Pitta dosha combines fire and water. And the Kapha dosha combines water and earth.

Everyone inherits a unique mix of doshas, but one is usually stronger than the others. Additionally, each dosha controls a different body function. It is believed that one’s chances of getting sick and the health issues one develops are linked to the balance of one’s doshas.

When the doshas are imbalanced, a person’s state becomes what is known as Vikruti, which can manifest in behavioral or physiological symptoms. The doshas can also affect an individual’s personality and temperament. The concept of Prakriti defines a person’s dosha composition and suggests that each person has a combination of the three doshas.

The doshas can manifest in three states:

  1. Equilibrium is the ideal state when the doshas are in natural proportions to each other.
  2. The increased state is when one of the doshas is greater than the others.
  3. Lastly, the decreased state happens when one of the doshas is lesser than the others or depleted.

An illustration of the Vata, Pitta and Kapha Ayurveda doshas

Source: The Ayurvedic Institute

Vata Dosha

According to Ayurveda, the Vata dosha is the most powerful of the three. It controls many basic body functions, such as cell division and cell signaling.6 The Vata dosha is also in charge of the mind, breathing, blood flow, heart function, and the ability to get rid of waste through the intestines. One can disrupt the Vata dosha by staying up too late and eating too soon after a meal. The Vata dosha is known to promote a healthy balance between thought and emotion while fueling creativity.

If Vata dosha is your main life force, then you may be more likely to develop:

  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • Skin issues
  • Asthma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Pitta Dosha

The Pitta dosha controls metabolism, digestion, and hormones that are linked to appetite. Eating spicy or sour food and spending too much time in the sunlight can disrupt this energy. The Pitta dosha is believed to add luster to the hair, eyes, and skin.

If Pitta dosha is your main life force, then you may be more susceptible to:

  • Heart disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Infections

Kapha Dosha

Muscle growth, body strength and stability, weight, and the immune system are controlled by the Kapha dosha. One can disrupt this energy by eating too many sweets, sleeping during the day, and intaking too much salt. The Kapha dosha promotes positive emotions like love, empathy, understanding, and forgiveness.

Practitioners believe that if the Kapha dosha is your main life force, then you may be prone to develop:

  • Nausea after eating
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma

Bi-Doshic and Tri-Doshic

When an individual is bi-doshic, s/he shares qualities equally with two doshic types. The best way to manage bi-doshic Prakriti is by the season. For example, for Vata-Pitta Prakriti, during autumn, which is Vata season, one would follow a Vata-decreasing routine.

Tri-doshic means that an individual has equal amounts of each dosha. A tri-doshic person is usually very strong, adaptable, and stable when in balance. However, they s/he can experience poor health when out of balance. During these occasions of imbalance, a person can adopt practices to counterbalance negative dietary, emotional, or environmental influences. For example, in autumn, a tri-doshic person would act as if they have a Vata constitution and follow a Vata balancing lifestyle.

To learn more about dosha seasons and lifestyles, click here.

Branches of Ayurveda

In Ayurvedic medicine, 8 different components encompass the body’s holistic system. These 8 branches explain various bodily functions and how to prevent and cure diseases:

  1. Kayachikitsa (internal medicine): Addresses treatment for the whole body with a focus on the digestive system and metabolism. Procedures can be executed internally or externally. An Ayurvedic practitioner may prescribe medications to be taken orally or topically in the form of oils, lotions, and creams.
  2. Baala Chikitsa (treatment for children): Addresses diseases and ailments that manifest in children but also focuses on pre and postnatal care. Treatments may differ as children cannot always articulate their symptoms. However, medicine prescribed is usually pleasant tasting.
  3. Graha Chikitsa (psychiatry): Focuses on problems or diseases of the mind. Some treatments under this branch include herbs, dietary recommendations, deep breathing, yoga, and Mantra Chikitsa, which involves chanting mantras.
  4. Urdhyaanga Chikitsa (upper body): Focuses on health and issues of the upper body, such as the eyes, nose, ears, and throat.
  5. Shalyaroga Chikitsa (surgery): Focuses on surgical procedures and describes surgical instruments such as scalpels and scissors.
  6. Damstra Chikitsa (toxicology): Focuses on the study and remedy of toxins within the body, along with poisons in food and the environment.
  7. Jara Chikitsa (geriatric): Addresses care of the elderly and focuses on treating illnesses brought on by old age. Therapies include strength, memory, longevity, and rejuvenation.
  8. Vajjikaran Chikitsa (reproduction health): Focuses on sexual health and the treatment of many reproductive issues, such as infertility and the lack of essential fluids.

Benefits of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is known as the “Sister Science” to yoga, because both share a common goal, which is to eradicate pain and misery. In Ayurvedic practices, the mind and body not only influence one another but are each other. Ayurvedic studies strive to reconnect us with the energetic consciousness of our true nature. Within this realm of consciousness, everything exists, and anything is possible.

One of the main beliefs of Ayurveda is that the food we eat affects our wellbeing. For example, food can instill a sense of energy and vitality or lethargy and depletion. This is known as the Sattvic approach. Sattvic translates to “pure essence” in Sanskrit and is a diet based on foods that are recommended within Ayurveda. It is one of the purest diets adopted to support optimal wellbeing. The Sattvic diet is designed to be holistic, meaning that it nurtures the mind and the body. It is high in fiber, low fat, and vegetarian. Foods on the Sattvic diet include fruits, juices, sprouted grains, fats, oils, legumes, nuts, seeds, and more.

Practitioners look to Ayurveda for a multitude of other wellness considerations:

  • Encouraging self-love. Ayurveda motivates learning and understanding one’s own uniqueness while teaching about the discovery of one’s own individual needs.
  • Balancing holistic health with environment. Ayurveda beliefs revolve around the concept that being healthy is a human’s natural state. When a human and his/her environment are in balance, then that human has achieved optimal health, and vice versa.
  • Reducing stress. Ayurveda teaches mindfulness which can help to reduce anxiety and stress. Following an Ayurvedic diet and cleansing the mind with meditation or yoga can improve ones sense of inner peace.
  • Managing diet and digestion. Food influences how one feels. Eating for ones dosha can enhance digestive triggers of physical and emotional wellness. Foods eaten at certain times of the day can optimize toxin elimination.
  • Enhancing spirituality. Ayurveda reinforces the belief that we are much deeper than our skin. We are spirits that embody the elements, and we can reap health benefits when our minds, bodies, and souls are in balance.

DIY Ayurveda

Dinacharya plays a major role in Ayurvedic practice. The word Dina translates to “day,” while Charya means to “follow a routine.” According to Ayurveda, certain rituals performed in the morning make for a positive start for the day. These rituals help improve one’s health and one’s appearance, they help keep the body and mind cleansed, and they support high energy levels. Additionally, morning Dinacharya rituals can help eliminate the Ama, or toxins, from your body, for improved health and more radiant hair, skin, and nails.

After consulting with your Ayurvedic practitioner, also known as a Vaidya, you can consider adding these Dinacharya rituals to your morning routine:

  • Wake before sunrise, this is the time when positive energy is at its peak. This is usually easier for a Vata person, but with time, everyone can adjust their body to waking up a bit earlier in the morning.
  • Try cleansing your bladder with a warm glass of water that has a dollop of honey and a squeeze of lime. This will help eliminate the build-up of nightly toxins.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything without brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue first. This will help remove the Ama that accumulates through the night, and it can also help get rid of pesky morning breath.
  • Massage your skin with oils that are suited for your dosha. Once you’ve chosen the recommended oils for your dosha, warm the oil, then gently but firmly massage the oil over your body. Pay extra attention to the soles of your feet, as they contain nerve endings that are connected to important conjunctions of life force energy.
  • Eat a light and healthy breakfast. According to Ayurveda, no single meal is more important than the others, but a healthy breakfast between 6 and 8 AM can help you step into your day happily.

Ayurvedic Professionals Know Best

You should always seek the advice of an Ayurvedic professional before adopting Ayurvedic practices into your routine. The Vaidya can help design a treatment plan that is specifically customized for you by taking into account your doshas, your primary life force, and your unique physical and emotional constitution. Ayurvedic practitioners go through extensive training to provide you with the utmost knowledge to help balance your doshas and optimize your health.

If you’re having trouble finding an Ayurvedic professional, try plugging your information in here to be matched with one near you.


If you’d like to learn about the Ayurvedic herbs in Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom Facial Oil, visit our Ingredient Glossary.



http://www.tkdl.res.in/tkdl/langdefault/ayurveda/Ayu_Principles.asp?GL=#q6 [1] [3]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3215408/ [2]

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/approaches-to-art-history/understanding-religion-art/hinduism-art/a/sacred-texts-in-hinduism [4]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202268/#:~:text=Ayurveda%20is%20an%20Upaveda%20of,main%20body%20of%20the%20Vedas. [5]

ry%20of%20Vata,activities%20of%20Kapha%20and%20Pitta. [6]