Even in keeping up our proper mouth health regimen, there may be outside causes for bad breath. Chronic bad breath, or halitosis, can be caused by our diets, medical conditions, or certain prescription medication. The good news is, alternative remedies can either reverse mild causes of bad breath, or catch bad breath before it becomes a problem in more moderate cases. Read on to see our pick of the top ten alternative remedies for bad breath:
Most antibacterial herbs can break down the bacteria that floods your mouth and gives you bad breath—whether or not your mouth or body produces said bacteria. Bacteria can form due to rotting foods, toxins in your system, or as a byproduct of other medical treatments. That said, cloves are antiseptic and break down bad breath-causing microbes. They also dissolve stains and plaque, a second kind of sticky bacteria, from the teeth. Cloves are safe to ingest.
Raw Fruits and Vegetables
Raw foods, starchy fruits and vegetables, are well known for absorbing just about anything they touch. Fibrous foods cleanse bacteria that cause bad breath and helps, with chewing, erode bacteria that cling to the teeth and gums and causes bad breath. Additionally, the vitamins and minerals found in raw fruits and vegetables can help regulate digestion and prevent bad breath caused by acid reflux. Studies show that breaking down the complex sugars in starchy fruits and fibrous veggies can increase saliva production and production of the enzymes the mouth already uses to reduce bacteria.
Zinc is a mineral associated with neutralizing acids. It can help keep down the acids bubbling up from your stomach as you digest food. This process helps treat indigestion and acid reflux, but it also goes a long way with treating bad breath. Some foods rich in zinc include: seeds, organ meats, and some legumes, including the cacao bean.
Fennel is an antibacterial herb that breaks down microbes that cause bad breath. As does mint, chewing fennel freshens the breath by cleansing the mouth of odor causing chemicals. Fennels can fight bacteria in the body as well, reducing bacterial infections for which halitosis is a symptom. Fennel leaves and stalks can be chewed in moderation—about a pinch at a time, as needed—or brewed in hot water and drank. Studies show that fennel seeds also perform the same functions.
The cinnamic acid in cinnamon both gives the spice its flavor and breaks down bad breath-causing bacteria. In part, this is because cinnamon dehydrates the mouth and prevents bacteria from living in saliva. Cinnamon can also break down plaque as an antibacterial. Mixed with water, it doesn’t cause dry mouth and can actually activate saliva production. Cinnamon can become a feature of many drinks, foods and teas, but cinnamon extract can also be used as a rub, or to make your own mouthwash, to treat bad breath. Caution: never attempt to ingest cinnamon powder on its own.
Stinging nettle is a blood regulator and bacteria fighter. Nettle, either applied to the skin as a topical treatment, or ingested, reduces yeast buildup. This can clear the skin of acne and prevent dandruff, but it also helps reduce halitosis. Within the body, nettle helps to flush toxins and negate harmful heavy metals in the blood. They increase kidney function, help liver functions, and help the body to physically expel toxins. Drink tea infused with nettles and other toxin-eliminating herbs, like mint, lemon, or licorice, to yield all of its effects.
Parsley, like other leafy vegetables with high chlorophyll contents, treats and breaks down bacteria in the breath. It neutralizes bad breath and uses its potent flavor to mask bad breath. Some studies show that parsley can also calm an acidic stomach and quell the release of sulfur compounds that cause bad breath, to a mild extent. Parsley can help speed along digestion processes and help the absorption of sugars and fats. Parsley can be chewed, or extracted for its juices.
Lemons are an active antiseptic, loaded with acids to dissolve bacteria and food. The antibacterial compounds in lemon acid burn up bacteria and greatly reduce bad breath. Additionally, the acids make it hard for bacteria to grow back and re-adhere to the teeth enamel. This is in part because lemon activates saliva and the enzymes inside saliva that break down food and hydrate the mouth. Lemon tea, or lemon extract diluted in warm water, can be swished between the teeth after meals to help cure bad breath. Try using this wash about 20-30 minutes after eating, to help treat excess stomach acid.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is alkaline and neutralizes stomach acid. Stomach acid can release acid and sulfur compounds up the esophagus, a primary cause of bad breath. The vinegar restores the stomach’s pH balance and soothes upset stomach, as well as clearing bacteria from the teeth and reducing halitosis on multiple fronts. Some can bear to rinse their mouth with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar twice daily, but others would prefer to diffuse as much vinegar in warm water. You can drink a “brew” of apple cider vinegar, or incorporate the vinegar in a tea with lemon and cinnamon.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil reduces redness, swelling and bacteria from skin, easing all ailments from dandruff to rosacea to acne. To treat bad breath, its antiseptic compounds break down plaque buildup on the teeth and bacteria on the gums. Tea tree oil disinfects the gum walls and helps reduce plaque and stains. Massage your gums with tea tree oil extract, either using your clean finger or using a Q-tip. Then, massage your gums gently with a toothbrush. Tea tree oil cools like mint and can help alleviate pain as it begins to work. Additionally, tea tree oil can substitute as a natural mouthwash to fight bad breath.