It’s dreadful to suffer from bad breath – you feel like your very words are offensive to those around you, and it lowers your self-confidence when you think that people don’t want to hear you because of it. Humans are social creatures, and if something is keeping us from communicating with those around us in the most effective way, we feel like we’re at a disadvantage.
Perhaps even worse is having bad breath and not realizing it. But we don’t have to spend our days agonizing whether our breath is socially appropriate – there are natural steps to take to ensure that the air around us smells fresh and reasonable. Here are some natural ways of treating halitosis:
Brushing after Meals
First, you should always make sure that you brush at least twice a day. Your breath will reflect your oral hygiene, because after eating, flecks of food can remain in your mouth or between your teeth. Because of the digestive enzymes in the mouth, they will start to break down over time, and this can cause bad breath. Brushing after meals will eliminate this potential source of embarrassing bad breath.
Herbs for Bad Breath Treatment
Second, let’s discuss herbs for bad breath treatment.
The first and best one I can think of is parsley – a sprig of this stuff after a garlic- or onion-heavy meal will neutralize the odors in your mouth. There’s a reason you always see it on your plate at restaurants! Parsley works especially well if your bad breath is caused by foods you’ve eaten lingering in the mouth area.
Similar to parsley, mint helps if you chew leaves. It contains oils that help cart away the bacteria. Alternately, boil some mint leaves with a cardamom pod for an infusion that can be used as a gargle. Many find, though, that chewing leaves takes the least effort.
I’ve long been a fan of fennel because it’s a digestive helper, but it’s also very effective against bad breath. It’s got a licoricey taste just like its relative anise. Chewing it after meals will do wonders for the breath and also help to get the food moving quicker throughout the system.
This popular gum flavor is also good for digestion and a great bad breath fighter in its natural bark state. Like mint, it can either be boiled into an infusion and gargled with, or kept in the mouth during the day. To do this, just break off a small piece of the cinnamon bark and suck on it – the spicy-sweet scent will have people wanting to talk with you all day!
Be Aware of What You Eat
But finally let me say this: your body is a system; what you put into it determines how it behaves, functions, looks, and feels. The food that you give it will therefore also determine how your breath is. Bad breath is commonly caused by indigestion, and meat and dairy products both contribute to indigestion in the body. I stopped eating meat years ago; I haven’t been suffering from acid reflux, sluggishness, or – you saw this coming, I bet – “bad breath” as a persistent condition.
Meat contributes to body odor as well as bad breath because it is very slow to decay, and eliminating meat from our diets eliminates a potential source of odors. So consider this potential solution, especially if you’re considering vegetarianism — or veganism — already and need another reason. It really contributes to how cleanly our bodies function. Vegetables give us plenty of fiber, which ensures quicker digestion; this means that the bad-smelling bacteria isn’t circulating throughout the body any longer than necessary. And after a while, you won’t even remember you had bad breath to begin with.
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.