Ayurvedic Oil Pulling for Brain, Heart + Gum Health

Ayurvedic Oil Pulling for Brain, Heart + Gum Health

In This Article

Bleeding Gums: The Profound Dangers

Think bleeding gums are only a dental issue? It turns out poor gum health can affect your heart, your mental health, and more . . .

Researchers have known for some time that bacteria in your mouth are also found inside arterial plaque and on the valves of the heart and the brain.1,2,9,10 These unhealthy bacteria are thought to find their way into the bloodstream through the gums, especially if you have bleeding gums. Flossing and even chewing can irritate gum tissue, cause minor bleeding, and open the door for bacteria exposure to the heart and arteries.2

Plenty of evidence links common undesirable mouth bacteria like Streptococcus mutans to a host of health concerns, including arterial, heart, lung, brain, and blood sugar health.1 The prevalence of S. mutans is very high compared to other oral bacteria. In one report, S. mutans was found in 69% of heart valve cases and 74% of arterial plaque specimens.2

Recent studies link S. mutans to amyloid plaque, which can accumulate in the brain.9 It has also been linked to cerebral microbleeds, resulting in collagen deposits, plaque formation, and cognitive decline.10

Understanding the link between potentially pathogenic bacteria in the mouth and your overall health cannot be understated. While dentists are adamant regarding oral hygiene, few of their preventative strategies actually reduce the population of S. mutans in the mouth. Luckily, Ayurveda has a strategy!

Ayurvedic Oil Pulling for Gum Health + More

Ayurveda has recommended a daily oral hygiene strategy for thousands of years that has recently been shown to reduce S. mutans and plaque and support healthy gums.

Oil pulling is a technique where sesame and coconut oil are swished in the mouth for 10-15 minutes daily.3-5,7 This is best performed after tongue scraping, brushing, and flossing, and can be done while showering.

Studies show swishing these oils creates a saponification or detergent effect that deters bad bacteria and plaque, while supporting healthy gum tissue as a barrier against bacterial exposure to the bloodstream.3-5,7

In one amazing study, when coconut oil was partially digested by swishing in the mouth, it enhanced its antimicrobial effects. In other words, the act of swishing oil in the mouth boosts its ability to protect us from undesirable bacterial like S. mutans entering the bloodstream.6

So, what kind of oil should you swish with? Traditionally, turmeric is cooked into a blend of coconut and sesame oil (see LifeSpa’s Swish Oil Pulling Therapy) to deliver best results.

>>> Learn More about Oil Pulling

According to a study investigating cognitive decline at the UCLA Buck Institute, good oral hygiene is one of the top 10 keys to longevity.8 This is one of those examples where an ancient practice, which may seem silly or trendy by today’s standards, is making a comeback as science continues to validate this practice.

Have you tried oil pulling? What have you noticed?

We recommend "The Science of Tongue Scraping with Copper"

Note: The Ayurvedic techniques of tongue scraping and oil pulling should be performed in addition to regular brushing and flossing as prescribed by your dentist.

Thank you for visiting LifeSpa.com, where we publish cutting-edge health information combining Ayurvedic wisdom and modern science. If you are enjoying our free content, please visit our Ayurvedic Shop on your way out and share your favorite articles and videos with your friends and family.

Dr. John


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11023956/
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1594668/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4158583/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21525674
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18408265
  6. https://www.nature.com/articles/sj.bdj.2012.856
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19336860
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4221920/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4083658/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5146923/

22 thoughts on “Ayurvedic Oil Pulling for Brain, Heart + Gum Health”

    • Lisa…that is what I got out of the article and the associated links too. Hope my second opinion helps clarify. I used yours as my clarification too…just in case you do not get a response from the professional.

      One thing is for sure I have been doing it all out of sequence, LOL. I will have to memorize this the first two days and now brush twice in my morning routine!

      Namaste, Tammy

      • Dr. Douillard,
        I am longtime follower of your advice. I was recently introduced to the work of Dr. Greger at NutritionFacts.org.
        He cites all this research against oil pulling.
        I wonder what you think of this?

        • I’m a big fan of Dr. Greger’s as well as everything he recommends is steeped in real science (reliable trials, studies, etc.). I haven’t seen his take on oil pulling but I’m going to. I’m all for Ayurveda but sometimes I take issue with it being promoted as a 5,000 year old science. I have to believe we’ve made some important strides in nutrition/self care since then.

          • “Real science”? At least 50% peer-reviewed studies need to be scraped because of overwhelming influence of big money and special interest. Knowledge is power and why to give it to people for free? Feed them first with low cost Ersatz with censure on top.
            Government entities aren’t supposed to own patents on vaccines and promoting it. But in USA, it’s okey.
            “ If you cannot sit down and watch them die slowly, you aren’t good capitalist!”. To scrap unreliable science, even if they costed society health, suffering and billions of dollars? Or “ big money” owned governments are asking for second coming of stupid Crystal Night somewhere again?
            I don’t trust experts( Dr Greger), if they have said to many wrongs in the past.
            Margarine was once “good science” to.

      • Hi John, based on my studies of Ayurveda, Oil pulling should be done first to release the toxins, then the other practices to follow and coconut oil is never recommended for oil pulling as it increases the Kapha Dosha in the head. Your thoughts please?

  1. Hi Dr. Am an African who leave in the sub Sarah according bto yoibemails I have so far read I have discovered that we need to parner to open up a clinical services in my country aalll that you published is a common ppphenomenon so pls am.waiting for your go ahead to start sensitive. My God bless.

  2. Ivan manage only about 5 minutes. Is there a benefit at that length of time? How did you get the coconut oil to be liquid at room temp? Just curious. Thanks!

    • Dear Nan:
      The real benefit of oil pulling comes after 10-20 minutes. The studies being done find that the benefits of oil pulling such as: plaque reduction, decreased Streptococcus mutans populations, better teeth cleansing, healthy gum tissue and better oral hygiene, are only shown after swishing for 10-20 minutes. Some tips for making the oil pulling for that length of time is to do it in the shower while you are distracted with washing as well as adding some peppermint oil to the coconut or sesame oil, which helps to make it more palatable, which is part of the formula for the Swish product we carry.

      • I started recently and haven’t quite worked up to 10-20 minutes yet (I’m getting there). I will say, though, that my mouth feels GREAT after doing it. I always thought the oil would feel gross in my mouth, but it doesn’t. It’s surprisingly pleasant.

    • Yes, absolutely. Speaking mainly from an ayurvedic standpoint, those who have open mouth wounds should not oil pull until the wound has fully closed. Those with necrotic tissue or cancer in the mouth would generally be advised to wait on oil pulling until the issue has been resolved. (The exception being that some practitioners may formulate or advise an herbalism oil gargling therapy that would be alright – the same going for open wounds of certain types.)

      In addition, those who present with pitta mental imbalances, have acid indigestion, gall bladder problems, certain problems of the neck, face, or head (cancer, wounds, infections, etc), may be advised to hold off on oil pulling (“gargling”), or may need some degree of supervision or special advice. Any disease in which heat or improper handling of oil fats is involved. Oil pulling may not be recommended during severe dehydration (acute or chronic), radiation poisoning, or acute poisoning or toxicity related to heating substances, such as in alcoholic liver disease or consumption of certain hallucinogenic toxins, exposure to toxic fumes and smokes, bromine or chlorine poisoning, etc. Alternative therapies may be sought for these, and oil pulling may decidedly be contraindicated depending on the patient’s constitution and symptoms. Also, in some cases oil may be switched with ghee, cream, or other cooling fats, though the effect will be somewhat different.

      By modern science: “It’s just oil. That’s a lot of calories.”

      • What’s a Pitta mental imbalance? Also I feel like all my gum issues are very pitta or heat related. Can you say more about that?

  3. I’ve been tongue scarping/oil pulling first thing in the morning for a while now and don’t notice any benefits much like a lot of the things I do on a daily basis (supplements, Wim Hoff breathing, chanting). I choose to put my faith in the science behind it.

  4. I live in Arizona and especially during the summer, I tend to shower at night. Is it okay to doing oil pulling with an evening shower, or is there a special benefit to morning oil pulling?

    • Hi Jo,

      There are some digestive benefits so it is best to do in the morning. You could do it both in the morning and in the evening during your oral care routine.

      LifeSpa Staff

  5. I heard that if we still have mercury in our teeth fillings, we should not do oil pulling.

    I stopped doing it when I heard this, since I haven’t had all my mercury fillings replaced.

  6. I noticed that oil pulling (just with coconut oil for ~20 mins) substantially decreased some pain/sensitivity I was feeling in one of my molars when I’d eat hard foods. And I wasn’t even expecting oil pulling to do that! Also, teeth become whiter.


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