Bad breath or halitosis can make you feel self-conscious and uncomfortable in social situations. If your colleagues are keeping a safe distance from you or if your partner turns away when you try to kiss them, you know there’s something wrong. Bad breath after certain foods like coffee or onions is temporary. But persistent bad breath is often due to certain underlying health condition or poor dental hygiene. Millions of bacteria live in our mouth, feeding on bits of food and giving off bad odors. This is why it is important to brush and floss your teeth and tongue twice a day, get periodic dental cleaning and drink a lot of water through the day. If your bad breath still persists, try these herbs that will help you get rid of bad breath for good.
Most toothpastes contain peppermint because of this herb’s potent breath freshening properties. While most commercial products use only the flavor, the herb in its natural form is much more potent. You can use peppermint for bad breath by making an infusion of the leaves in water and gargling with it a few times a day. Alternatively, you can also add 1 to 5 drops of pure mint oil in a cup of water and gargle with it. The pure oil can irritate the skin and mucous membrane so always make sure you use it in a diluted form.
Thyme is a herb that is native to the Mediterranean but can be easily found everywhere now. It has an active ingredient called ‘thymol’ that is renowned for its bactericidal effect. Thyme extract is often used in popular mouthwashes to banish bad breath, but is more effective in the herb form. If you cannot get fresh leaves, buy dried thyme leaves from your local store to use as a natural remedy against bad breath. Boil a teaspoon of it in a cup of water for about 5 minutes and use this infusion to gargle away your bad breath.
Always keep a few cloves with you as a quick relief to bad breath especially after a particularly garlicky meal. The clove bud is made of both male and female parts, the stalk being male and the ball being the female part. Ayurveda says men should eat only the female part while women can eat both. This has not been shown to have any scientific basis, so you don’t have to stick to it. Chew clove buds as long as possible to get out all the flavor out of them. They can taste quite strong, but will banish your bad breath.
Sage belongs to the same mint family as does thyme and can be used in the same way to treat halitosis. It is particularly effective against gingivitis, making it great for your overall oral health. You can make a sage decoction by boiling fresh or dried sage leaves in some water and then drinking this as a tea. If you find the taste too strong, you can add a little honey to sweeten it. But if you’re using sage as a gargle, leave out the honey. Honey can actually provide nutrition to bacteria in the mouth, which can make your bad breath worse.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis)
Blood root gets its name from the crimson color of its root. This herb is commonly used by Native Americans for their health as well as for the ritualistic painting of their bodies. Modern studies have shown that its alkaloid properties can help in treating bad breath and even cancer. It contains the alkaloid sanguinarine that is responsible for inhibiting bacterial growth in the mouth. This root should not be taken internally in its undiluted form as it can cause nausea and vomiting.
Bergamot is a small herb with a distinctive citrusy smell. It has a number of medicinal uses but is particularly effective against halitosis as it also contains thymol. You can buy dried bergamot leaves and boil it in water to make a decoction you can use to gargle with. You can also buy bergamot essential oil and add 1 to 3 drops in a cup of water to use as a mouthwash.