Herbs for Bad Breath
Long before the first mouthwash came on the market, people were using herbs for bad breath. The rationale for this has probably been that many herbs have strong but pleasant flavors and scents that will mask a bad odor on the breath. They certainly do have this effect, but fortuitously, many of them also have antiseptic qualities that also assist with controlling the activities of bacteria in the mouth. Some of the earliest mouthwashes were developed from herbal remedies.
Listerine, a product that's been used for halitosis since early in the twentieth century, might well be considered a bad breath herbal remedy. Among it's ingredients are menthol (a derivative of the mint plant), eucalyptol from the eucalyptus tree, thymol (a derivative of thyme), and methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen). These are all well known herbs for bad breath, and they all have antiseptic properties as well. It's no surprise that Listerine, even though it was formulated long before we really understood the causes of bad breath, really seems to work for many people.
Another popular and long standing bad breath herbal remedy is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the key ingredient in Clorets, the successful breath mint products that have been around since the 1950s. Chlorophyll is a molecule produced by green plants that absorbs sunlight for the production of energy. By chance, it is also good at absorbing certain odors. Some plants have particularly high levels of chlorophyll, which makes them good candidate herbs for bad breath. These include parsley, green algae and many green vegetables.
Listerine and Clorets are both examples of a bad breath herbal remedy that's been incorporated into a commercial product (and the herbal origins all but forgotten), but if you prefer a home grown remedy, there is a long list of herbs to choose from. Peppermint, cloves, and fresh parsley are all well known, and relatively safe, herbs for bad breath. Cardamom, coriander, sage, anise, and dill are also on the list. Derivatives of bergamot, eucalyptus and other herbs are sometimes used. Remember however, that not all plants are safe to eat in large quantities, and plant oils are concentrated and may be toxic. Before you use any herbs for bad breath or herbal based preparation, do you homework to determine toxicity risks.
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