Gargling Therapy

Ayurvedic Gargling Therapy


Gandusha & Kavalagraha Therapy

There are two primary gargling techniques.

Gandusha: The mouth is completely filled with fluid such that gargling is impossible. The fluid is held in the mouth and then released.

Kavalagraha: A comfortable amount of fluid is in the mouth and gargled.

A simple rejuvenating treatment, when done routinely, enhances the senses, maintains clarity, brings about a feeling of freshness and invigorates the mind.

Senses are the way we interact and take in the world. By caring for them, we are better able to use our cognitive abilities.

Therapeutic Purposes:  Draws out excess dosha through the eyes, ears, nose and mouth.

Condition Examples: Bad breath, dry face, dull senses, exhaustion, anorexia, loss of taste, impaired vision, sore throat, and all kapha related imbalances.

Experience:  While listening to relaxing music, sitting upright, the mind is cleared of stressful thoughts. Gargling positively stimulates and soothes the sense organs, freshens the breath and invigorates the mind.

Benefits:  In addition to the conditions listed above

  • Improves bad breath
  • Invigorates the senses
  • Maintains mental clarity

Ayurveda teaches two types of mouth gargling: gandusa (gargling with mouth full of liquid) and kavalagrah (small amount that can be swished around the mouth). Oil is frequently used for this practice; another definition of gandusa is oil-pulling. This practice is said to draw out toxins and reduce or destroy pathogenic microorganisms in the mouth, cleansing the oral cavity and strengthening the gums and teeth. It stimulates the body’s eliminatory system and increases metabolism. In the Ayurvedic classics, gandusa is recommended for neck rigidity, headaches, earaches, eye diseases, nausea, lethargy or drowsiness, tastelessness, diseases of the head and sinusitis.

The tongue draws a map of your internal organs and is connected to all the organs and systems through the points of reflection and meridians. Therefore, practicing gandusa (oil pulling) is helpful in maintaining the health of the whole body. Signs of adequate gandusa are whiter and shinier teeth, more refreshed and relaxed waking, balanced appetite, regular elimination, sound sleep, reduction of dark circles around the eyes and increased energy throughout the day. Depending on what you choose to use, gargling can be done on its own, after nasya (nasal therapy), in the morning, during the day or before bed. Gargling with herbal decoctions, teas or plain water is usually practiced after meals or drinks. Ayurveda recommends the use of oil once or twice a day. Gandusa with oil, or oil pulling, must be done on an empty stomach. An ideal time to practice oil pulling is after brushing your teeth on an empty stomach.

Choose a Gargle

The choice of herbs, oil or tea for gargling all depends on the condition of the patient’s health and the state of their doshas (the functional elements of the body). For example, if there is an aggravation of vata (air and ether elements) or kapha (water and earth elements), then the medium of choice for gargling would be sesame oil. In case of an aggravation of pitta (fire element) leading to inflammation, sunflower is a good option. For ailments such as mouth ulcers and canker sores, gandusa can be done with herbal oil or herbal tea such as triphala decoction or licorice water.


Take one tablespoon oil in your mouth. Slowly move the oil between your teeth, swish, pull and suck the oil through your teeth. Ideally continue this process for as long as 10 to 20 minutes. You will notice the color of the oil change to white. In Oil Pulling Therapy, Dr. Bruce Fife recommends spitting the oil in the trash rather than swallowing or even powering down the sink. Rinse your mouth with water after completion.

Some of the good signs of properly executed gandusa regularly done are freshness of all the indriyas (senses), face and mind; lightness in the body; sound sleep, improved perception of taste; strong and healthy teeth and gums, reduced number of diseases of the head, ear, nose and eyes; and even a sweeter quality of voice. Gargle and be grateful for the ancient practice of gandusa.