Bad Breath (Halitosis)

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Get checked!

Bad breath is very fixable but the first problem is to know if it is a problem because we really cannot tell how our breath smells by ourselves!

If you have any reason to suspect it might be a problem, for example you've been told by some brutally honest friend or family member, and it clearly wasn't a one-off event from a big night or other unusual food intake, then the first thing to do is to get checked!

Start with someone you can trust. Ask them to smell your breath while you count to 10 and tell them they have to give you honest feedback. If they tell you, in any kind of way, that it's not the best, then the next place you must go to is a dentist to see if you have any tooth or gum decay that is causing the problem.

If you do have any dental issues then you simply must get them fixed. We all know how expensive it can be but, however much it costs, it will only become a bigger problem and cost more if you leave it longer.

That said, much of the following suggestions will still be helpful even if it is a dental problem. If it's not, then they are certainly the avenues that should be explored next.


Get rid of bad bugs

Good quality studies have shown that a major cause for bad breath is the undesirable bacteria that take up permanent lodging in the mouth and/or throat. There are many commercial products for bad breath that work by disinfecting these bacteria but they all carry a major side-effect, namely they kill off the good bugs too!

if someone wants to go a lot further than those short-lived solutions then the following formula of herbs, whilst more challenging to take, will have a much deeper and lasting effect.  

Herbal Mouth Wash

20mls Echinacea root tincture                       
15mls Myrrh resin tincture                
15mls Licorice root extract  
to make 50mls.

These should be the strongest, highest quality extracts or tinctures you can get. There may be a great deal of benefit to you going to some trouble to find a good herbalist to a) obtain the best quality herbs and b) consult with for your general health. I have a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here.

Commiphora myrrha (Myrrh Gum)


In terms of bad breath, the mouth wash is not something you would do for fun but it is very fast acting so your breath will generally start improving from the first day you start the treatment.

For an average adult I recommend 2-3 mls (about 40-60 drops) of the Herbal Mouth Wash to be diluted in just a little bit of water, e.g. about 4 or 5 mls water, so no more than about 6-8 mls in total.

You must get the herbs to briefly coat the mouth and the back of the throat. Swish, swill and then either spit or swallow. Swallow them if you have any kind of sore throat or immune health weakness because the Echinacea, Myrrh and Licorice all have internal 'antibiotic' or immune supporting actions if you ingest them. Spit if you are otherwise well and would just rather not have to swallow!

Many people have been treated with this herbal mouthwash formula over the years. As well as bad breath they often have visibly infected gums and many have dental problems too. So long as the mouth wash is used regularly and for long enough e.g. at least once a day for a few weeks then it has been extremely successful at improving the health of the whole mouth, including a number of cases where tooth extractions have no longer been required.


Mouth Probiotics

To some extent your natural bacterial flora will re-establish itself once you properly deal to the bad guys but there are also commercial products that you can buy in the form of ‘good bacteria’ lozenges to speed things along by putting the good bacteria back quickly.

As it happens it was a New Zealand company that first pioneered using probiotic bacteria for the mouth and you can read more about them and their products by entering the name Blis K12 into your search engine (note that I have zero financial interest in this company). Blis mouth and throat products are readily available in many different parts of the world.


This whole area of good vs. bad bugs affects our health in all kinds of unexpected ways. If it turns out that bad bacteria in your mouth have been causing bad breath, then consider the possibility that you also have bad bacteria further down your digestive tract that are not helping your general health and well-being either... read more on this important subject including what to do about it here.


Make sure the stomach is doing its job well

The other main cause of bad breath is the poor digestion and then subsequent fermentation of foods in the stomach. If you regularly have some common symptoms of indigestion (such as bloating, belching, reflux, discomfort etc.) then you must consider that this is at least part of the reason for your bad breath.

There are four primary reasons that people get poor digestion:

Food Combining

If the person gets heavy indigestion after certain meals and that is when their breath also becomes bad then they should consider the possibility that they are not handling the combination of foods they are eating.

Proteins (such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, nuts and seeds) get digested in the stomach whereas starches (bread, flour, pasta, potatoes rice etc.) get digested in the small intestine. Having a significant amount of protein in a meal makes the food stay in the stomach a lot longer.

When there are starchy foods that have been eaten at the same time as those proteins then they can stay in the stomach too long which for some people causes fermentation, indigestion, and bad breath.

In practical terms, if this is something you need to pay attention to, you should aim to have proteins with a salad rather than with starchy carbs and then when you do have a meal of rice, pasta, bread etc. to have vegetables with it rather than any significant amount of protein.

Zinc deficiency

If you or someone you know has bad breath and at the same time it is apparent that they cannot taste or smell their food well then consider the possibility that there is a deficiency in zinc.

In such cases a course of at least 15 mgs of elemental zinc per day, preferably combined with a little magnesium and vitamin B6 which is quite usual to see in a Zinc product, and taken for at least 2 months should improve matters.

Excess digestive 'fire'

In such cases the person generally already knows the cause of their bad breath because they are getting what is typically described as 'acid-reflux' in one form or another - the problem is literally rising up from their gut.

This is an important subject in itself and one that responds extremely well to the herbal approach described in detail here.

Deficient digestive 'fire'

People often confuse poor digestion with over-acidity when in fact more people have the opposite problem, especially as they get older. The tell-tale symptom of this is the food sitting heavy in the stomach. Rather than a rising up of acidity there is a dragging down of indigestion.

If this is the root of the problem, then the famous herbal tonic Gentian should rapidly improve matters. It is often combined with Ginger for the best effects and it is a medicine that takes commitment to use properly but it can perform a small miracle in a person who was steadily losing their health from not digesting their food well. A detailed article on how to use it is found here.

Gentiana lutea (Gentian)

Constitutional Health Note:

Finally, there are many other old ways of healing from Nature that you might like to learn more about and if so, then a good place to start would be to learn about your constitution to help better understand how bad breath became an issue in your health as well as what kinds of foods, herbs etc. may best help you in other ways.

There is a brief introduction to this subject here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are here.

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd