WHOA boy...it's my job to promote and protect Ayurveda so here I go.
Oil-pulling is getting all kinds of attention. This particular post has been all over facebook and several folks ping'ed me to find out what the dealio is. Unless the info comes from a trusted Ayurvedic source, it can be hard to know what to believe.
I'll make oil pulling simple and trusted.
There are two daily practices in Ayurveda to help nourish and purify the mouth:
1) Gandusa (filling the mouth with oil and holding it)
2) Kavalagraha (swishing oil slowly between the teeth and gargling = oil-pulling). The ancient texts call for sesame oil, but you can also use ghee or coconut oil for high pitta types. When I searched online, all the recommendations I found call for coconut oil (from non-Ayurvedic sites)...and that worries me because it might not be the best for everyone.
Since I was concerned about wrong messaging and also certain that sesame is the oil of choice (I like to worry and be right = vata-pitta), I emailed my dear trusted teacher to be sure:
My dear trusted teacher (I can't share his name cause last time ya'll started emailing him. Nice going.) said this: The best oil or ghee treatment is arimedas. It is a formula specific for this. You cannot get it in the States :( Sesame: very rich and heating...good for vata and kapha and okay for pitta except high pitta imbalance then use coconut which is also good but may not be that good for vata except in mid-summer. You can also use olive or sunflower for most people. And yes, sesame is traditionally the oil of choice unless you can get "arimedas" -- Monica's Teacher Ji
Mwaahahaha, I was mostly, kinda right. So, please: Vatas and kaphas use sesame oil. Pittas can also use sesame unless their pitta is high, then they should use coconut oil or ghee.
Got that? Easy? Ok good, carrying on.
How do you oil-pull as a daily practice?
• Wake up
• Scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper seven times to get off any night crud, check for ama. If there is ama, do not put oil in your mouth. Head straight for warm water and ginger tea. Drink up and do not eat until your tongue turns pink, try again tomorrow.
• Brush teeth
• 1 Tblsp sesame oil in your mouth.
• Slowly swish between the teeth 10 minutes and do not swallow any of it. Note: It's not vigorous mouthwash swishing. Think of it like sucking and spitting between your teeth slowly.
• When done spit in sandwich baggie.
• You might use your finger as a fingerbrush to remove any remaining oil out, wash hands well afterwards
• Quick rinse/one swish with water
• Really white teeth (yes it really does work awesomely!)
• Strong, healthy gums and teeth
• Strengthens bones of the face and jaw (may help TMJ and jaw/head tension)
• Better breath
• Prevents dryness of the mouth and lips
• Purification of the mouth, if sesame is used
• Gives richness to the voice
• May help to relieve sinus pressure/aches
• May help relieve neck tension and headaches (cause it's all related: tight face, tight neck, tight head. see?)
In addition, there are specific herbal mixes practitioners cook up with the different oils and use it as medicine! But that's unique to each person and each condition just like everything else in Ayurveda.
One size does not fit all. At all, at all. Ok? There is lots of magic in Ayurveda, but there are no blanket statements. And not really magic either, it's really just science. But it's so scientific that it works and smacks you in the face with magic. I digress...
Other reliable resources:
1) If you are the sciencey type and curious about text-book info about oil-pulling, check out this post from Todd Caldecott. He's probably trying to clear up misconceptions too.
2) Dr. John Douillard has a great video and article about oil-pulling.
3) The most trusted and ancient text of Ayurveda, Charaka Samhita, says (from Dr. Douillard's article): Keeping of oil gargle provides strength in jaws and voice, development of the face, maximum taste and relish of food. One does not suffer from dryness of throat, lip cracking and teeth become firmly rooted. The teeth do not ache or become sensitive and can chew the hardest food items.
Traditional oil-pulling does not claim to cure anything crazy. It's just a part of Ayurveda's daily health practice for prevention, which is AWEsome!
**waving pom-pons for prevention**
I will say that your teeth will get SUPER white. And heck, if you are going to either oil-pull or buy whitening strips, save your dough and your poor sensitive teef and go with the sesame pull! :)
HOHkay. LOVE YOU and your swishy teef.