I know what I’m going to talk about will sound gross but then that’s not something which has ever held me back from discussing and sharing things which work for me. Oil pulling or oil mouthwash (or kavala graha) is an age old Ayurvedic practise which is strangely followed more by foreigners than Indians. I started doing it about 4 years back as suggested by my Uncle, who has been doing it religiously for more than a decade now, and would talk about every time we met. What convinced me even more was the fact that I had seen a video of Timothy Olsen (video attached at the end of the article at 7:20 min), one of the best ultrarunners in the world, practising it daily.
What is Oil Mouthwash?
It involves swishing oil (coconut/olive/almond/canola/sunflower) around the mouth, using it like a mouthwash. You put a tablespoon of oil in your mouth, then swish it around for 15-20 minutes, spit it out and then brush.
The logic –
It apparently reduces the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth. There are actually thousands of different types of bacteria in the mouth. This helps in you to remove a large amount of the bad bacteria in your mouth each time you do this. Also, working out the facial muscles at the same time. Trust me, 15 minutes is a long time.
As per WebMD, “Unlike some so-called natural home remedies, it’s not a practice that’s based on pseudo-science. Recent studies show that oil pulling helps against gingivitis, plaque, and microorganisms that cause bad breath.”
Given that inflammation in the mouth can all sorts of health problems, it does make sense that reducing inflammation in the gums and mouth could lead to benefits for overall health as well.
What worked for me personally?
My biggest problem was bleeding gums which stopped within a few weeks of regularly doing it. The mouth feels really fresh for hours. Also, I have very dry skin and it’s gotten better over the years. Especially in winters when I become more particular about not missing out on doing it. I usually do it before going to bed. However, it’s recommended that you do it twice a day. I still go to the dentist once every six months for my dental care. Also, my lips don’t get chapped anymore.
As per my uncle and cousin (I guess my Uncle has got half the family hooked), they have experienced improvement in their overall well being, hair as well as skin. I can’t deny that they don’t look their age.
(Just for fun- Boomerang video)
Dos and dont’s
- Never swallow the oil.
- Spit out if you think you have put too much oil in the mouth.
- This doesn’t substitute for your regular dental check-ups.
- After swishing for 10-15 minutes, the oil becomes thick, white and less ‘oily’ (yes very yucky). Don’t spit it out in the sink as it can clog the drainage.
- Spit it out in the trash or the pot.
- Always rinse well and brush post spitting the oil out.
Some tips –
- You can do it while taking a shower or while pooping to save time.
- Start with olive oil as it’s the least yucky of oils.
- Never do it post having a meal. It will make you feel nauseous.
- Start by doing 5 minutes daily and then slowly increase the timing.
I know it’s tough to start doing something like this but it’s one of those things which you won’t stop doing once you realise the benefits. There are lots of personal accounts on the internet about how it has helped people which you might want to read. And I say try it as there is nothing to lose except feeling pukish the first few times 🙂