Having a Daily Routine is the cornerstone of maintaining good health. It keeps us in harmony with Nature's rhythms, maintains balance in our constitution and helps regulate our biological clock.
Dina Charya (daily routine) is an essential part of Ayurvedic living, bringing harmony between our biological, Doshic clocks and chronological time.
Looking after our senses and cleansing them are part of our daily rituals, of which oil pulling is described as one of the rituals after tongue scraping and brushing our teeth.
Over the years oil pulling has gained a lot of media attention and Ayurveda has been attributed as introducing this practice in its classical books. Most oil pulling articles recommend we take 2 -3 teaspoons of warm sesame or coconut oil, swish this around for a few minutes and then spit it out before rinsing our mouths with warm water. This can be done 2 -3 times or at least once a day.
Oil Pulling according to Ayurveda
The Tri- Vedas or the 3 classical Ayurvedic text books; Asthanga Hridayam, Caraka Samhita and Sushrata Samhita however do not describe it in this way. In the classics there are 2 types of methods used for cleansing oral cavities:
Gandusha and Kavala.
Gandusha is when oil is retained in the mouth without moving it around, till the eyes water or secretions come out from the eyes and nose. This I would associate with Kapha secretions with the head being one of the sites for Kapha.
The benefits of Gandusha described in the classics are strengthening the jaw, face, voice, throat, lips, teeth, gums and oral cavities in general.
There are also 4 types of Gandusha, each related to the 3 Doshas and one for healing ulcers
Snehika (oily): Mainly for Vata type of conditions associated with dryness and roughness of the mouth where warm oil with sweet and salty substances are used.
Shamana (soothing): Milk or sugar water, medicated with bitter, astringent, sweet and cold medicines are used to soothe pitta type of mouth conditions such as stomatitis or ulcers.
Shodhana (cleansing): Decoctions of astringent, pungent, bitter, sour and salty with hot potency (virya) are used for cleanse in Kapha type of conditions usually characterised by excessive salivation and stickiness.
Ropana (healing): Warm decoctions with sweet and bitter tastes are used for the treatment of Mouth ulcers, e.g. Liquorice with warm sesame oil
Each substance is used based on its properties to balance and treat the Dosha associated with the condition.
Kavala on the other hand is when you hold and move (or swish) the semisolid, pasty solution in the mouth, which can be oil or other liquids based on the purpose of use and condition.
Kavala is advised for some diseases of the neck, head, ears, mouth and eyes, excess salivation, diseases of the throat, dryness of the mouth, nausea, stupor, anorexia and rhinitis are curable especially by kavala.
If we look at modern science and recent studies they have shown that oral microbes play an important role in the health of teeth, gums, breath and upper respiratory health and our overall immune system as being the first line of defence through our oral cavities.
Also harmful microbes, such as Streptococcus mutans (the main contributor to tooth decay) and Candida albicans (yeast), seem to flourish in the mouth – particularly in the presence of sugars and starches. These bad bacteria and fungi, when allowed to flourish, could contribute to health concerns. The correct use of Kavala or Gandusha can protect and deter bad bacteria and plaque while supporting healthy gum tissue.
Our Daily Mouth Wash oil, Arimedadi tailam has been traditionally used for oral conditions including stomatitis, gingivitis, halitosis, mouth ulcers, dental caries, , removes stains, receding gums and dental plaque. Its main ingredients include Liquorice, Cinnamon, Triphala, Turmeric, Cloves, Nutmeg, Indian Madder (Manjistha) and red Sandalwood (Rakta Chandana, all commonly used for their medical benefits on the gums and oral hygiene.
Getting to the source of bad breath by balancing and reducing the levels of microbes in the mouth that cause halitosis or bad breath, and supporting healthy microbial populations, it gets to the root cause of bad breath.
For use in any of the above conditions; rub a few drops of Arimedadi tailam on your gums and teeth every morning and rinse with warm water till the condition clears. You can use this on a daily basis by diluting a few drops in warm water and gargling after brushing your teeth.
When to use Gandusha or Kavala:
If you are considering using Oil pulling as part of your daily routine, make sure to use an oil appropriate to your Vikruti (current imbalance), especially if you do suffer from a pathology or condition that affects your head and neck then do consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner.
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