Spice things up
Other herbs and spices in your kitchen are natural breath enhancers. Carry a tiny plastic bag of cloves, fennel, or anise seeds to chew after odorous meals.
Brush your tongue
Most people overlook their tongues, which are covered with little hairlike projections that look like a forest of mushrooms under a microscope, and there’s room there to harbour plaque and some of the things we eat, which causes bad breath. While brushing, gently sweep the top of your tongue, too, so that you don’t leave food and bacteria behind to breed bad breath.
Create your own gargle
Mix extracts of sage, calendula, and myrrh gum (all available at health food stores) in equal proportions and gargle with the mixture four times a day. Keep the mouthwash in a tightly sealed jar at room temperature.
Eat your parsley
Parsley adds more than green to your lunch plate; it’s also a breath-saver, because it contains chlorophyll, a known breath deodoriser. So pick up that sprig garnishing your plate and chew it thoroughly. Or toss a few handfuls (even add some watercress to the mix) in a juicer. Sip the juice anytime you need to refresh your breath.
Watch your intake of odorous eats
Certain tastes and smells recirculate through the essential oils that they leave in your mouth. Depending on how much you eat, the odour can remain up to 24 hours, no matter how often you brush your teeth. Some foods to avoid include onions, hot peppers and garlic.
Ease up on cheese
Camembert, Roquefort, and blue cheese are called strong for good reason; they get a hold on your breath and don’t let go. Other dairy products may have the same effect.
Ban certain beverages
Coffee, beer, wine, and whiskey are at the top of the list of liquid offenders. Each leaves a residue that can attach to the plaque in your mouth and infiltrate your digestive system. Each breath you take spews traces back into the air.
Carry a toothbrush
Some odours can be eliminated (permanently or temporarily) if you brush immediately after a meal. The main culprit in bad breath is a soft, sticky film of living and dead bacteria that clings to your teeth and gums (called plaque). As you exhale, the bacteria exhale. So brush away the plaque after each meal and get rid of some of the breath problems.
Rinse out your mouth
Even when you can’t brush, you can rinse. Take a sip of water after meals, swish it around, and wash the smell of food from your mouth.
Gargle on minty mouthwash
If you need 20 minutes of freedom from bad breath, gargling with a mouthwash is a great idea. But like Cinderella’s coach-turned-pumpkin, when your time is up, the magic will be gone, and you’ll be back to talking from behind your hand again.
Chew a mint or some gum
Like mouthwash, a breath mint or minty gum is just a cover-up, good for a short interview, a short ride in a compact car, or a very short date.
Excerpted from The Doctor’s Book of Home
Remedies (Rodale 2003)