How To Do Oil Pulling In Genuine Ayurvedic Way?

The title here reads ‘oil pulling’ but it is actually a procedure called mouth gargling using oil. Not only oil, but many types of liquids can be used for this purpose based on desired benefits. Let us look into these liquids, procedure of oil pulling, its different benefits, etc in a detailed way.

oil pulling

Ayurveda explains two types of similar procedures.
Gandusha – let us call this as oil pulling. (though other liquids than oils are also used). Here, there is no gargling. The liquid is filled to the maximum capacity of mouth and it is held inside the mouth for specific amount of time. Later, it is spit out.

Kavala – Here, lesser quantity of liquid is used. The liquid is retained in the mouth and swishing is done for specific amount of time. Later, it is spitted out.

Types of Oil pulling

Lubricating with oils and fats – for Vata imbalance disorder. It is done by the use of oil processed with herbs of sweet, sour and salt tastes.
Palliative for Pitta imbalance disorder. It is done by herbs of bitter, astringent and sweet tastes.
Cleansing / purifying – for Kapha imbalance disorder. It is with herbs of bitter, pungent, sour, salt tastes and possessing hot property.
Healing – It is done with herbs of astringent and bitter taste.

Different liquids used

Fats – oil, ghee  milk,
Honey with water
Fermented gruel,
Juice of meat / meat soup
Urine of animals such as cow urine.
Dhanyamla – Fermented grain liquid

The liquids may be mixed with a kalka (herbal paste)
The liquids may be cooked or raw
The liquids should be of a comfortable temperature to touch and to hold in the mouth.

Practical examples

Sesame seed paste with water – A tablespoon of sesame seed is made into paste. Add this to a cup of luke warm water. Use this mix to gargle. It is useful in relieving tingling sensation in teeth, tooth weakness, disease of the mouth caused by Vata (which involves pain as a symptom).

For daily use, oil pulling with sesame oil / 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)

Ghee and milk is very useful for oil pulling When there is local or general burning sensation, ulceration and wounds caused by foreign bodies, poison wounds, alkalies (Kshara) and burns by fire, it is best to hold either ghee or milk.

Honey – Holding honey in the mouth removes the sliminess of the mouth, heals the ulcers quickly, relieves burning sensation and thirst. It is also useful in quick healing of oral ulcers.

Holding Dhanyamla – fermented grain liquid in the mouth removes distaste, dirt (of teeth and tongue) and bad smell from the mouth.

Dhanyamla without salt, used cold, is best to remove dryness of the mouth.

Holding Ksharambu – water containing alkalies (like Yavakshara) in the mouth quickly breaks up the accumulation of Kapha.

Holding comfortable warm water brings about lightness and cleansing of the mouth.

How to do oil pulling methodically

The person should sit in a place devoid of breeze but in mild sunlight.
His shoulders and neck should be massaged with plain sesame oil / Maha Narayana Taila / Bala Ashwagandhadi Taila / Ksheerabala taila massage can be given for 5 – 10 minutes.
After gentle massage, fomentation is given for 2 – 3 minutes. It can be just washing face and neck with hot water, or mopping face with towel dipped in hot water or exposing the face to steam. Eyes should be covered with cold cloth, during fomentation.
After fomentation, oil pulling is done.
Keeping his face slightly lifted up, he should hold the liquid in his mouth till the mouth gets filled with Kapha (sputum / slimy liquid) or till the nose and eyes start secreting liquid.
Then the contents of the mouth are spitted out.

Following this, usually herbal smoking is done.

Kavala – mouth gargles

It is used in treating
Diseases of the neck, head, ears, mouth and eyes,
Praseka – excess salivation, diseases of the throat,
Dryness of the mouth, nausea,
Tandra – stupor,
Aruchi – anorexia and
Peenasa – rhinitis are curable by Kavala – mouth gargles

Side effects of oil pulling

Irimedadi taila is the most common herbal oil prescribed for oil pulling.
One person reported about frequent throat infections (small white or red bumps on tonsils and throat) after using it for oil pulling.
This can be due to bad quality / brand of the oil.

After oil pulling, I feel phlegm collecting in nose and throat. What to do?
After oil pulling, rinse your mouth and wash your face thoroughly with luke warm water.
If needed, brush teeth with herbal tooth powder.

After that, it is good to inhale Sai Guggul Dhoop. It is like incense stick. Just light it and keep it in your room. No need to go very near to inhale the fumes directly.

Oil pulling Vs gargling

What is the difference between oil pulling and gargling? 
Dr JV Hebbar: 

Oil pulling and gargling therapies are recommended for different purposes in Ayurveda. 
Oil pulling: It is called Gandusha in Ayurveda. Here, the oil is taken into the mouth. Mouth is closed and the oil is retained inside the mouth till the mouth is filled with frothy, phlegm like fluid or till secretions start oozing out of nose and eyes. 
It is recommended daily to detoxify the accumulated Doshas (toxins) in the oral cavity and throat. 
Apart from oil, various herbal teas, juice extracts, milk, buttermilk, honey, etc. are used for the purpose of Gandusha.  

It is has both local effects and system effects. Meaning, the effect of oil pulling / Gandusha can be seen even on the entire head and neck region.
For example: Master Sushruta has recommended Gandusha with strong liquids to treat Kapha type of headache, which is compared with sinusitis (Reference: Sushruta Samhita, Uttara Tantra, 26/19)
In Gandusha the medicated liquid is expected to penetrate deep into the channels connected to oral cavity, melt the toxins (imbalanced Doshas) and expel them out. 

In cases such as mouth ulcers with extreme burning sensation and bleeding, soothing liquids such as coconut oil or ghee is used for Gandusha. Here, the local healing effect is expected. 
So, Gandusha has both local and system actions. 

Mouth gargling: Mouth gargling is largely targeted towards tonsils and throat disorders. Here, the local effect of cleansing is expected. Very famous example is, using a mixture of 2 pinches of each of turmeric and salt in a cup of water. This liquid is used for gargling to relieve inflammation in throat, voice box (laryngitis) or tonsillitis. 
After gargling for a few seconds, the content of the mouth is spat out and again filled with fresh liquid, whereas in Gandusha, the liquid in the mouth is not changed. 


For how many days oil pulling should be done? 
Oil pulling is explained as Kavala and Gandusha in Ayurveda. 
Gandusha = Full of the mouth is filled with oil
Kavala = Some space is left in the mouth for swishing. 

Oil pulling is explained as part of daily routine, along with oil massage, exercise, eye salve, herbal smoking, nasal drops, bathing etc. 
This indicates that oil pulling can be done daily for a lifetime. Oil pulling strengthens the voice, teeth, gums, sense organs and it enhances the taste perception capacity of the tongue.  
Master Vagbhata has explained –
nityaṃ tailaṃ – Ashtanga Hrudaya, Sutrasthana, 22nd chapter, 6th Sanskrit verse  
it means that for daily oil pulling, sesame oil is the best. 
There are many options for oil pulling given in the same chapter. 
दन्तहर्षे दन्तचाले मुखरोगे च वातिके ।
सुखोष्णमथवा शीतं तिलकल्कोदकं हितम् ॥ ५ ॥
गण्डूष धारणे
dantaharṣe dantacāle mukharoge ca vātike|
sukhoṣṇamathavā śītaṃ tila kalka udakaṃ hitam||5||
gaṇḍūṣa dhāraṇe

It means, for tingling and shaking teeth, for oral disorders associated with Vata, characterized by pain, degeneration of teeth, receding gums, sensitivity etc.,  a teaspoon of sesame seed paste is mixed with lukewarm or cold water and it is used for oil pulling. 

To relieve burning sensation and mouth ulcers, after accidental exposure to burns, corrosive materials and poisons, cow milk or ghee is used. 
Honey-pulling brings clarity to the mouth, relieves burning sensation and excessive thirst. 
Lukewarm water pulling brings lightness to the mouth.
These are a few options. Based on specific disease, herbal teas, decoctions, infusions etc. are used.  
In the above options, for daily usage, sesame oil is the best option. The other liquids can be used based on needs and for a short period of a few weeks of time. 
Disease based oil pulling can be done till the symptoms are relieved. For example, in excessive dry mouth, ghee or milk is used for oil pulling till the dryness of mouth and excessive thirst are relieved (Ashtanga Hrudaya, Chikitsa Sthana 6th chapter). 

84 thoughts on “How To Do Oil Pulling In Genuine Ayurvedic Way?”

  1. thanks for the information. The sesame seed paste and warm water – how long should it be kept in the mouth?

    • Till the time secretions from nose and mouth come out. Please read the above article – how to do oil pulling section last few lines.

  2. Sir, for a healthy person(who does not have any cold/running nose), how long does sesame oil have to be kept in mouth. What is the average time for the oil to be kept in mouth before kapha starts secreting??

  3. I do oil pulling (before brushing the teeth) with cold pressed sesame oil as soon as I wake up. In your other posts you have said that getting up 30-45mins before sunrise is important. So should I wait for sunrise so that I can do it in mild sunrays or doing it when it is still dark is alright..

    • Hi, it is best to wake up before sunrise and do oil pulling after you see some Sun light.

  4. Respected Sir , Is the oil to be simply kept in the mouth or is it to be squished and swished around in the mouth ? What herbs can be used for PITTA doshic body oil pulling ?

    • In Gandusha, the oil (or any suitable liquid such as milk, buttermilk etc, based on disease), is filled to mouth’s capacity. Hence, there is no room for movement of liquid inside mouth.
      In Kavala, a smaller quantity of liquid is squished and swished around in the mouth.
      For Pitta, milk, Ksheerabala oil, Maha Narayana oil, Manjishtadi oil, Coconut oil etc are used for oil pulling.

  5. Thank you for the informative article. I have a doubt abt Sesame oil. Can application of plain Sesame oil in knees and legs at night before going to sleep lead to developing pains? I have a vatha body. And I have developed such pain. Only thing I am doing differently these days is applying plain sesame oil in eye lids, sole of foot and lil on knees and legs like moisturiser. What am I doing wrong here? Thank you for your time. looking forward to hearing from you.

    • Hi,
      There are two probabilities:
      1. The sesame oil that you are using might have moisture in it, causing the pain. To rule out this possibility, I suggest you to heat the oil for 2 – 3 minutes in mild fire before application.
      2. If there is hidden stiffness in your joints, then applying oil can cause increased stiffness and pain. To rule this out, Take a teaspoon of black pepper, add it to 200 ml of sesame oil and heat it for 4 – 5 minutes, filter it and store in an air tight container. Or Use Maha Narayana oil for applying, in place of regular oil.

      Read more – sesame oil benefits:

  6. I had done oil pulling with coconut oil for 20 min in morning before breakfast.. Now I drink ghee with warm milk first thing in the morning. Which of the two is more important. Thanks for reply.

    • Both are equally important. If you want to chose one over the other for your morning ritual, please go ahead with oil pulling. Ghee with warm mil – you can take in the afternoon or in the evening.

        • As per Ayurvda, milk with ghee is the best rejuvenating and anti aging combination.
          Gargling (Oil pulling) with this will help in relieving repeated oral ulcers and gastritis.

          • Mentioned above ghee is better oil pulling for gastrist I have Gastrist Should I avoid Seamse oil for oil pulling and use ghee instead for oil pulling since I have gastrist ?.

  7. excellent post Dr Hebbar… So much more informative than the simplistic oil pulling method of Dr. Karach being touted by many people.

    • Every oil pulling method that I know, are just derivatives / small variants of ancient methods, explained above. 🙂

  8. This article is quite informative.i am doing oilpulling with coldpressed gingelly oil much before sunrise.isit ok.

  9. How should we rinse our mouth after spitting out the oil? I usually rinse with rock salt mixed in warm water.

  10. Thanks for great articles. I would like to know in what order the following. Oil pulling, ghee with milk, ashwaghanda, triphala and chywanprash. All are great but want to do in proper order if I can. I get confused which and when. Thanks so much.

  11. Thank you Dr. Such a good information
    What oil can be used for kappa -tinnitus ? and what is kavala . Is this oil? So need to swish around the oil JUST hold the liquid / oil in the mouth ?.
    Above you wrote honey in mouth get rid sliminess of face do you mean it will be plum the face from skinny face?

      • If I just keep the oil in the mouth 3 mins then gargal like water gargle or you referring to the oil pulling swishing around as gargle ?
        If gargle like water how long to do gargle with oil after holding 3 mins ?.
        How long will it be before the Tinntus goes away by this method?.its 5 years very loud

        • Dear Madam, I was referring to the oil pulling swishing around as gargle in this case. And it depends on the individual on how many days it would take to reduce. Would like to suggest you to go to a Ayurvedic Physician for the exact method of doing it. As by seeing it you would get exact idea on how it will be helpful and the effects of it.

  12. Does oil pulling with seame oil causes to gain weight?.And this practice should be done off and on for cleaning purpose only ?.

    • Hi, oil pulling does not cause weight gain.
      It can be done regularly on daily basis, excluding those days when the sky is cloudy or during extreme winters.

  13. What is the reasoning for not oil pulling during cloudy sky and during extreme winters? I don’t understand this?

    • It may cause Kapha dosha increase, leading to symptoms like cold, cough, sinusitis etc.
      Oil pulling, if done on a sunny day, the hotness of the day would help in extracting out the toxins from face and head region better.

  14. Hi Dr, I have tinnitus, hypothyroid vata-pitta imbalance. Can you help me with right oil ghee, coconut with herb. Thanks!

    • Hi, in your case, oil pulling alone might not be sufficient to take care of both problems. Please consult an Ayurveda doctor directly.

  15. I recommend oil gargling after teeth brushing.
    You can do gargling after brushing and taking those medicines.

  16. Hello Doctor,

    Is it true that oil pulling can cure cavities and other dental ailments, such as weak gums, plaque and so on? I have read other websites that claim such results with oil pulling.

    Please advise.

  17. Hi, you can do kavala type of oil pulling. If there is no sunlight, then you can do little massage with sesame oil and then wipe your face with a towel dipped in lukewarm-hot water (a type of fomentation). After that, you can start Kavala.

    • Thank you Dr. for the information. As per the method mentioned above,only the neck and shoulders have to be massaged with the sesame oil, right? And only fomentation should be done on the face?

  18. Dear Sir,
    Which oil is good for halitosis and frequent stains formation on the teeth (stains though no bad habits, no tea, coffee, soft drinks, chocolates – consumption, no smoking, no chewing of tobacco. inspite of proper cleaning of the mouth- swishing with water after food consumption, brushing the teeth as per dental procedure in the night, using mouth wash in the night). Thanks in advance sir

    • Hello Sir, You can gargle with Yashtimadhu water it reduces the bacterial laod in the oral cavity. Gandush with warm water, or Triphala decoction also serves the same purpose.

  19. Namaste Sir,

    Thank you for this very informative article. Just wanted to ask you, which oil can be used by all (regardless of dosha or physical ailment)?

    Many thanks,

  20. Uh, what bullshi*? ‘Genuine Ayurvedic way’, and you’re discussing ‘meat juice’ and ‘wine’? Sorry to burst your bubble, but these things are never part of Ayurveda, Hinduism, and India. Goes to show how false online sites are. I would much rather learn about ‘real Ayurveda’ from my ancestors and Hindu relatives, not these warped versions.

  21. Hi, I was introduced to oil pulling by my holistic dentist. I never knew about fomentation so I will add this to my regimen. Thanks. I use sesame oil because of my constitution. My question is what kind of salt, how much salt in warm water solution, and how often should one rinse your mouth after spitting out the oil? I am using a blend of unrefined and untreated Mediterranean sea salt and pink Alaea Hawaiian sea salt produced by Quantum Nutrition Labs. Some folks recommend pink Himalayan salt or celtic salt.Thanks!

    • Hi, after oil pulling, take a cup of hot water. Add a teaspoon of Himalayan Pink salt (This is preferred as per Ayurveda) and gargle and spit out. Do this till the cup of hot water is empty. Then you can go ahead with your normal routine.

  22. Mustard oil is considered hot. If you do not have any mouth ulcers, then you can use it. No issues.

  23. Hi, Kavala or Gandusha – not good to do in winters, if you are prone to cough, cold and Kapha symptoms.
    You can do kavala after full body oil massage
    Usually kavala is done for 5 – 15 minutes.
    Sesame oil in winter and coconut oil in summer is good.

  24. I am the patience of tinnitus I have read about oil pulling. plz tell me after massage on neck, head and oil pulling i can take bath what duration between massage, oil pulling & bath.

  25. Hello, does the second method help in sleep and depression anxiety etc. And can we use sesame oil? What is face flabbiness and how does this improve it? What do you suggest for hair fall?

  26. Hi, wait for 10 minutes after drinking water, to do oil pulling.
    It is best to do oil pulling first up.

  27. Why is oil pulling meant to be done only after the sun has risen?
    What is one supposed to do in winter, when the sun rises hours after i have performed my morning routine?

  28. Sir..pls guide me..I wake up around 5.30 morning and sit for sometimes then leave the place and put 10ml parachut cocont oil for mouth gargling, 5 mint .then rinse with warm water and brush my teeth ..then after 10 mint..I do jaldhauti followed by jal neti and rest of the yoga asanas…is it right way to do??

  29. Thank you so much Sir..But I do oil pulling before sunrise as I have mentioned in my above comment.And which oil is best for bleeding gums and teeth whitening??

  30. Dear doctor, I love reading the articles posted by you. Very simple and informative. I live in a cold country and what I understand is it is not good to do gandusha(oil pulling) and kavala(mouth gargle) on cold and cloudy days. Do we have to compleletly avoid this in the winter as it is very less chance to see the sunrays during this time and do during summer.
    Also, is it madatory to do massage and fomentation before doing gandusha and kavala.
    I wanted to follow this as a dinacharya,but please clear my doubts. If you can suggest for people living in cold countries what would be the best daily regimens to follow for starting a day.
    Awaiting for your response.
    Thank you,

    • In a cold country, Gandusha or Kavala can be done in afternoon or when the sun is out.
      If the sun is not out at all, better to skip it on those days.
      massage and fomentation are good to do before oil pulling.

  31. Thank you so much Sir..I just place my order ..kamdhenu irimedadi tail..plz to use this oil for oil pulling ..can be used before jalneti..and after brushing teeth..

    • Take 10 ml of oil into mouth and rinse for 15 minutes then spit it out. Avoid this during cloudy days. Better to do this after brushing and Jalneti.

  32. Dear Doctor, I am facing a problem of dry mouth/throat specially when I speak for more then 5 minutes continuously. Can you suggest what kind of oil will help me? Also suggest the quantity and procedure.

  33. Can Oil Pulling be done without empty stomach? I tried but after 3/4 days stomach ache comes. Is it good sign or not. Inform.

    • Hi, it is best to do it on empty stomach. On empty stomach, chances of getting stomach ache is less.

  34. Hi sir, Can I cleane teeth with any toothpowder after oil pulling or just warm water gargling is enough?


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