Why oil-gargling works

Oral equals overall. At 90, Phyllis Krystal, psychologist, healer, author of Cutting The Ties That Bind, was looking out for a good dentist. She knew that oral health is important for overall good health. She needed to be in terrific health to travel constantly from Switzerland to India and other countries where she was invited to give talks. Happily, she found an excellent dentist. Phyllis is 100 today, writes her own newsletter and has just relocated to the UK.

To most of us, oral health is not having a toothache. But it’s a lot more than that. Remember food enters the body from the mouth. The first taste on the tongue triggers saliva and digestive juices in the mouth and the stomach. When the food is chewed thoroughly, the stomach finds it easier to mix food and fluids and push them into the small intestine. And the digestive chain continues….

But, if not chewed properly, the undigested food produces toxins that are transported to all parts of the body. The immune system struggles and toils under this toxic load. And health suffers.


The facts – We need our teeth to be in good condition. Toothaches are hell. We need our gums to be healthy. Ulcers make eating impossible. And here’s something few people are aware of — the mouth drying up need not be from fright, but a symptom of Sjogren’s syndrome, an immune system disorder. Further, a dry mouth encourages the growth of unfriendly bacteria like Streptococcus Mutans that build plaque and contribute to tooth decay.

So Phyllis is spot-on about oral health being of prime importance.

In this context, there’s a wonderful home remedy worth trying — oil-gargling. It’s as old as Ayurveda. And it has worked for many people.

No dentures, please. An amazing anecdote is narrated by a close family member: Some 10 summers ago, Vijay bumped into an old friend on the streets of Frankfurt. The friend seemed devastated. Turned out his dentist had just told him that his teeth were in a rotten state and extraction of all was the only solution. Vijay comforted him and they parted.

A month later, Vijay bumped into the same friend again. And what a transformation! The friend’s face was wreathed in smiles. And no, the ivories shining out were not dentures, they were his natural teeth restored to their original splendour! He said he’d tried this oral therapy — oil-gargling — and here he was! Snatched from the jaws of extraction and swished back into the joys of wholeness!

The Why. The question arises why does oil-gargling work? Basically, it lubricates the mouth and prevents unfriendly bacteria from flourishing and forming plaque on the teeth. Then, the to-and-fro swishing effect massages the nerve pathways, promotes blood circulation and nourishes the gums. We don’t realise the micro damages we incur over the years due to the side effects of some medication — diuretics, painkillers, decongestants and antihistamines can reduce saliva flow. Oil-gargling increases saliva secretion. Overall, oils contain fatty acids that destroy unfriendly bacteria, viruses, even fungi.

The What. You can use sesame oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, tea tree oil, olive oil. Just ensure you’re not allergic to the oil you choose. You can’t miss the signs of allergy — a serrated tongue and/or swellings on the inside of your cheeks.

The How. It’s an easy-to-do procedure. It’s best done on an empty stomach in the morning before brushing your teeth. Sit comfortably. Pop a tablespoon of oil in your mouth. Swish it around for 20 minutes. Spit out a little in a trash can when it becomes a mouthful as the oil mixes with the saliva. After 20 minutes, spit it all out in the trash bin. Rinse with water. And brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste.

Four FAQs

At what speed should I gargle with oil?

At your natural pace. Speed is not the criterion, the 20-minute span is.

Do I need to warm the oil?

No. Even those living in cold climes with freezing temperatures, place the thickened oil in their mouth and wait for it to melt.

Can I start off with a teaspoon of oil?

Yes, you can.

How does oil compare with the regular mouthwash?

A mouthwash works faster in reducing bacteria. Oil takes about two weeks. The advantage is: oil is a relatively natural substance and is chemical-free.

Three don’ts

• Don’t swallow the oil.

• Be careful about inhaling — if the inhaling action goes off rhythm, it can spurt oil into the throat and make you gag as it happens when food goes down the wrong way.

• Don’t spit into the sink as it could clog the drain pipe.

Finally, please take care of your teeth in simple ways Avoid eating hard foods — they cause a lot of wear and tear on the teeth. Avoid excessively hot and chilled beverages. Brush regularly. Use toothbrushes with medium-textured bristles, not hard ones. As Confucius says — be sensitive to your teeth before they go sensitive on you.

The writers are authors of the book Fitness for Life.


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