Migraine Treatment in Ayurveda

In the Ayurvedic text, Charaka Samhita calls oil pulling Kavala or Gandusha.  In this text are claims about Migraine Treatment in Ayurveda.

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“Another flippin migraine” by tara hunt (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Flickr.com

You can read more about Charaka Samhita in the handbook on ayurveda by Acharya Charaka.  This short read give you kind of a cliff notes on the full text.

The full text is much larger and much more in depth and is a 7 Volume set.

But, while the Charaka Samhita seems to be more accepted in India, for those in the West, they typically want more sources and more proof (experiments, tests, science).

We looked and looked, but the only sources we could find were ones that basically quoted entries in the Charaka Samita books.  And, that just isn’t enough for us.

Some stories we found that were not very convincing were stories like this one where the person was SOLD after one day.  They said they’d report back.  But, doesn’t look like they did.

This person says that oil pulling with various oils (they seem to have changed several times over three weeks) has “if I oil pull the migraines lessen and end sooner”.

Who Says Oil Pulling Treats Migraines?

Who are making claims that Oil Pulling helps with headaches and/or migraines?

These are just some of the folks we found.

Top 9 Moments

The folks at Top 9 Moments focused on the “Top 9” benefits of Coconut Oil.  Specifically with Coconut Oil they found:

If you suffer from headaches, give oil pulling a shot! Because
after a week, or so, my migraine has drastically decreased.

Their experiences were a first hand account.  During their experiment, they said the headaches actually got worse.

But, they had read about this happening, and persisted to get to a place where they feel like the Oil Pulling using Coconut Oil was what helped them become “dramatically decreased”.

Food Matters

The author James Colquhoun describes seven benefits of Oil Pulling.

In this article, James states:

By eliminating bacteria from the body via oil pulling,
headaches can be avoided.

In this article, James indicates his oil of preference to be Coconut Oil.  However, he also says that seseme oil or olive oil are just as effective.

Proteccozumel.com

In this Wiki page, the folks at ProTecCozumel also focus on Coconut Oil as their oil of choice for Oil Pulling.

In the article, they describe how they believe Oil Pulling helps with headaches and migraines:

…pulling helps to eliminate bacteria from the body, which in turn can
ease the frequency of headaches and migraines.

They also talk about sunflower and olive oils as possible substitutes for Coconut Oil.

Who Says Oil Pulling Does NOT Treats Migraines?

We found these other web sites where they are not really convinced with the whole Oil Pulling thing.  Especially when it comes to curing headaches or migraines.

Skeptoid

We’ve referenced Skeptoid before as a contrarian regarding Oil Pulling benefits.

They are definitely not convinced that Oil Pulling can help with many of the claims (just as we are for many of the claims).

In this article where they revisit Oil Pulling, they talk a little about migraine headaches:

If you have migraines, I again would see your doctor. Migraines
could
be a sign of another condition, and even if not can be
serious. Just don’t rely on clean teeth to cure it.

Ironically, one of the people that comment on this same pages state:

I have been oil pulling for just over a month. Symptoms
of migraines have ceased…

What is funny is that the Skeptoid most likely approved that comment even though it is in direct conflict with their article.

For this point, I give the Skeptoid credit for not censoring their readers.

The Great Fitness Experiment

Charlotte Hilton Anderson is the author and owner of The Great Fitness Experiment web site.

In an article about Oil Pulling, she had very negative results:

I’ve done four rounds of pulling and have got
the $*(%& headache every single time.

So, for Charlotte, not only does Oil Pulling not cure headaches or migraines, it seems to GIVE HER a headache each time she performs Oil Pulling.

She says she gave it a week and didn’t indicate that the headaches ever stopped.

Nutrition Secrets

Mike Kamo of Nutrition Secrets wrote a long and interesting article about Oil Pulling.

In this article, Mike stated:

Although the ancient folklore has led some advocates to
believe that oil pulling is a natural cure for things like headaches and hangovers, there just isn’t enough scientific evidence to back it up.

We also tend to lean in this same direction.  Although, there is one scientific study that may have found a link between Oil Pulling and headaches.

Proof That Oil Pulling Cures Migraines

These are the scientific studies we found while researching the claim that Oil Pulling Treats Migraine Headaches.

Collaboration Between U of California San Diego and U of Chicago

Six representatives from either the University of California San Diego or the University of Chicago worked together to publish “Migraines Are Correlated with Higher Levels of Nitrate-, Nitrite-, and Nitric Oxide-Reducing Oral Microbes in the American Gut Project Cohort“.

In this published article, they state:

IMPORTANCE Recent work has demonstrated a potentially symbiotic relationship between oral commensal bacteria and humans through the salivary nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway

While this article does NOT specifically state that Oil Pulling is related in any way.  There are several studies that we have already identified while research other Oil Pulling claims that state that Oil Pulling does help to eliminate oral bacteria.

So, while I won’t state that this is proof, I don’t think it’s a huge leap to say that Oil Pulling can help to reduce oral bacteria.

Before I go on, you might be asking, but how is this related to headaches?

Later in the article it states:

Facultative anaerobic bacteria in the oral cavity may contribute
migraine-triggering levels of nitric oxide through the salivary
nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway

With this statement, this article is stating that there is now some scientific evidence that links oral bacteria and migraine-triggering levels of nitric oxide.

That being said, one of the authors did come back and state:

We want to note that we believe the predictions we made are
useful, but acknowledge that they have limitations.

He continues to go on and talk about the need for more extensive studies to prove out this link they believe they’ve identified.

So, I will sum this up by saying it is a start to explain some possible anecdotal stories.  But, it is far from definitive proof.

Which are the Best Oils for Treating Migraines?

During our research we found the following oils were identified as being useful in treating headaches and/or migraines.

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil was mentioned by far the most times for the articles we found that talked about Oil Pulling helping headaches and/or migraines.

Sesame Oil

Seseme Oil was also mentioned as being a possible substitute for Coconut Oil.  However, none of the articles we found specifically stated that the person doing the reporting was using Sesame Oil.

Sesame Oil seems to be the most popular oil used for Oil Pulling in India.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil was also mentioned briefly as a possible alternative to Coconut Oil.

However, this oil was more mentioned in passing.  It did not seem like the authors that mentioned Olive Oil were really convinced that Olive Oil would work.

Conclusions for Does Oil Pulling Treat Migraines?

We were easily able to find individuals making the claim that Oil Pulling does Treat Headaches and/or Migraines.

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We also found several instances where Oil Pulling CAUSED headaches.  And, some that firmly believed that there is not relation between Oil Pulling and headaches and/or migraine treatment.

We did find a scientific study that seems to evidence of Migraine Treatment in Ayurveda.  The link is very circumstantial.  And, far too weak of a link to state this as Fact.

CLAIM RESULT: Anectodal


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