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It’s normal for human breath to have a completely acceptable odour, which is often linked to diet. Malodorous breath is quite different, and it can be embarrassing to suffer from – particularly if you are a self-conscious teenager. The oral cavity is lined with mucus-producing cells (membrane), which absorb strong vapours, gases or chemicals, These then mix with air as you breathe or speak, causing the bad smell. Common culprits are raw onions or garlic, alcohol and tobacco (both smoking and chewing), eyen coffee. Other strong-smelling foods, which go through the same process, can be used to counteract foul breath, for example peppermint and cloves.

Poor digestion and excessive consumption of preserved, smoked and cured meats can cause bad breath and an unpleasant taste in the mouth, usually after burping. This results from high acidity in the stomach, which causes the food to stay in an undigested mass, because there isn’t a sufficiently alkaline base to neutralise the over-acidity and send the food down the gut for further processing.

People who eat a lot of fish (including canned produce such as tuna, salmon and sardines) have a distinct odour on their breath, partly because fish starts rotting rapidly after being caught (This isn’t at all dangerous, by the way).

Another common source of bad breath is from the gums and from plaque on the teeth. Gum disease is generally caused by bacteria, which may produce pus and lead to a ‘rotten’ smell because it contains hydrogen sulphide. Plaque deposits on the teeth can eat into the adjoining gum, causing inflammation and decay.

Mucus in the mouth can degenerate due to bacterial action. So halitosis can also result from conditions that include chronic infection in the tonsils, postnasal drip from the sinuses into the throat, chronic rhinitis (colds), swollen adenoids, nasal polyps, or mouth ulcers and sores (generally due to an overgrowth of the candida fungus in the mouth or gut). Lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and bronchiectasis, cause thick pus-like mucus to accumulate in pouches in the bronchial tract then drain via the mouth.

I often use breath odour to analyse internal conditions, particularly those of the gut and liver. An empty stomach gives off an easily identifiable smell, rather like sale food. Similarly, breath can identify constipation (a rotten egg smell), indigestion (acidic odour), candida (smell of alcohol due to fermentation), diabetes (fruit/acetone smell), kidney failure (ammonia/urinal) and liver failure (fishy).

So bad-smelling breath is not a straightforward issue and has to be dealt with carefully. It is always a good idea to discuss the problem with your doctor, just to make sure there is no underlying medical condition.

These are my suggestions:

  • See a dental hygienist regularly to clean plaque, that the gums and get advice on the best way to care for your teeth. Brush and floss after the three main meals. When you brush, make sure you brush the front teeth (inside and out) for at least a minute. Air comes out through these teeth, so any problems there will make matters worse.
  • Take 1/2 tsp pure mustard oil and add a little fine table salt. Mix and use a soft brush or your index finger (having washed your hands thoroughly) to massage the gums and teeth for two minutes, last thing at night. This helps to eliminate bacteria there.
  • Suck and chew a clove three times daily: they are natural mouth fresheners and also help to disinfect Chew it for a while then throw away – don’t swallow.
  • Make sure you don’t get constipated. Drink at least eight large glasses a day of still pure water between meals. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and non-citrus fruit.
  • Avoid sausages, ham, red meat, excess fish, yeast products, shellfish, canned products, citrus juices, coffee and cheese (which are smelly anyway).
  • Take one tablet of Qurs Mullayan at bedtime for three months to ease constipation.
  • Soak two twigs of Kadu and one third of a teaspoon Kariatu in a cup of hot boiled water overnight. Strain and drink on an empty stomach in the morning for three months. This will help the digestive process and also help to eliminate yeast and candida.
  • Put two drops of Dr Ali’s Sinus Oil in each nostril at bedtime for three months to clear mucus build up.

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