Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Bad breath, or halitosis, is an unpleasant odor emanating from the mouth, usually caused by some health problem in the mouth, teeth, gums, throat, or gastrointestinal tract. Other contributing factors may be smoking, liver disease, and poor protein digestion. The mouth is one window into the body. If there is a bad odor, it is a general sign that there is some underlying cause and imbalance that needs to be treated.

The primary symptom of bad breath is a bad odor emanating from the mouth that is usually not detectable by the person who has bad breath. Astute holistic health practitioners smell the breath and examine carefully the tongue and mouth of all patients.

What To Consider

Certain odors or smells emanating from the mouth can be indications of specific disease; for example, a metallic smell may represent diabetes or an active metabolism undergoing rapid weight loss; sour smells may represent stomach problems or tumors. While conventional physicians do not agree that halitosis may represent intestinal problems, holistic practitioners, based on extensive anecdotal evidence provided by their patients, disagree, and will often address gastrointestinal health when treating cases of bad breath. Bad breath can also be caused by sinusitis or infections in the tonsils or lungs. Attention should also be given to other underlying causes, such as tooth and gum disease. People who experience bad breath, abdominal bloating and gas, and tiredness after meals may also be deficient in stomach acid.

Bad breath can also be symptomatic of constipation or sluggish bowels. If you are not having 2-3 healthy bowel movements per day, consider doing a bowel-cleanse. Parasites can also be an undetected factor and should be screened for if halitosis doesn't improve after trying other treatment options.

Self-Care Tips

Follow a whole foods diet and eat plenty of raw foods. Drink water with juice of fresh lemon and/or one teaspoon chlorophyll on rising and before bed. Include fiber in diet (oat bran, rice bran). Fiber (psyllium or pectin fiber) helps remove toxins from the colon and thereby decreases bad breath. Also be sure to chew your food well, don't overeat, and drink lots of liquids.

Nutritional Supplementation
The following supplements can be helpful in addressing bad breath, particularly if it is related to infections or GI disorders:

  • Proteolytic enzymes (two between meals, three times daily, and two with each meal),
  • vitamin A,
  • vitamin B complex (100 mg two times daily),
  • vitamin C,
  • thiamine (vitamin B1),
  • niacin (vitamin B3),
  • vitamin B6,
  • PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid),
  • Beta carotene,
  • acidophilus, digestive enzymes, magnesium, zinc, and charcoal tablets.
Chlorophyll products (wheat grass juice, chlorella, alfalfa tablets, barley juice) act as a blood purifier and can be effective in reducing and preventing bad breath.

Peppermint, lavender, and cardamom essential oils can all help cases of bad breath.

Ayurvedic Medicine
Triphala, an Ayurvedic herb, is useful for both bad breath and for balancing GI disorders. Take 1/2 teaspoon with warm water, 30 minutes before bedtime. You can also chew roasted cumin, fennel, and coriander seeds after each meal to further ensure healthy breath.

Flower Essences
For negative feelings surrounding the problem, use Crab Apple.

Chewing seeds of fennel or anise as needed will mask the odor and have a mild local antimicrobial effect. Alternatively, chew cardamom seeds, parsley leaves, or other chlorophyll-rich herbs such as basil and cilantro. Peppermint or bergamot tea can also be helpful.

Arnica, Merc sol., Nux vom., Kali phos., and Chelidonium are the most commonly used homeopathic remedies for addressing bad breath.

Juice Therapy
The following fresh juice combinations can help alleviate bad breath symptoms and also help GI disturbances that may be a contributing factor: Carrot and celery with parsley, spinach, watercress, alfalfa, comfrey, or beet tops; wheat grass juice; green juice; and carrot, spinach, and cucumber.

If your symptoms persist despite the above measures, seek the help of a qualified health professional.

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