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Bad Breath

What is Bad Breath?

Anyone who has attended a party, put too much garlic on their slice of pizza, and spent every conversation with others talking to their shoes is familiar with the embarrassment and awkwardness of having bad breath.  It has been reported that over 80-percent of all incidents of bad breath, also known as halitosis, occur because of some sort of malady of the mouth, be it the presence of food particles in the teeth, the build-up of plaque and other dental problems, or other manifestations of many different kinds of bacteria on the tongue and elsewhere.

Bad breath can be a difficult condition to overcome if the root cause of the symptoms are not identified.It can be caused by smoking, alcohol consumption, and even diseases not specifically located in the mouth like lung infections, hyperacidity, constipation, and kidney failure.

How Does Ayurveda View Bad Breath?

As the breath is a component of the respiratory system, Ayurveda considers bad breath to be an indication that the Kapha element is out of balance.  Kapha energy sits in the chest and head, which is why respiratory conditions like bronchitis and asthma are associated with the moist, mucus qualities of this dosha.

When problematic dietary choices like alcohol and difficult-to-digest foods are consumed, the body’s digestive fire struggles to metabolize them.  This troubled digestion builds up toxic matter, which circulates through the blood and is expelled through sweat, feces, urine, and the breath.

The specific symptoms that manifest as a result of this toxic build-up are based on the constitution of the sufferer, and bad breath is an indication of a Kapha-like constitution.

A person with significant Vata imbalances may react to toxic build-up through elimination problems like constipation, and this build-up of feces can cause bad breath.  A person with significant Pitta energy may experience problems like profuse, smelly sweat but his or her bad breath may result in their not digesting their food properly.

How Does Ayurveda Treat Bad Breath?

Along with providing specific herbal remedies and other treatments, Ayurvedic practitioners work to help a bad breath sufferer balance their Kapha energy through a dosha-balancing diet and herbal regimen. Other therapies also reflect the Western approach of resolving bad breath through proper oral hygiene and maintenance of the mouth. The treatments outlined below reflect both specific remedies for reversing bad breath and balancing Kapha energy in general.

Lifestyle Changes for Bad Breath


When we neglect to establish the root cause of one illness, it can turn into another, stronger illness in the future. The first step in resolving a specific ailment or disease in the body is to assess the nature of our lifestyle and make general modifications. Living our day-to-day life with a deliberate intention to improve our health will help us to both resolve the disease we are suffering from and prevent further incidence of it and other diseases in the future. The following lifestyle changes and remedies will help to both balance Kapha energy and resolve bad breath specifically.

To Balance Kapha

  • Avoid eating dinner as it will create more mucus in the system as food remains undigested until the early morning.
  • Avoid lying down too much, as inactivity will build up more mucus in the body.
  • Keep meals to once or twice a day, without snacking. This will quickly relieve the body of excess food to digest and give it time to burn off any excess toxins in the blood.
  • Avoid heavy foods and drinks, which will create more stress on the digestive fire.
  • Avoid drinking too much while eating at the same setting. A half-cup of water is sufficient to help
  • Avoid food until later in the morning, after 10am. This will help digestion become stronger.
  • Avoid too many sweet, sour, and salty foods.
  • Allowing the body to sweat in a steam tent or the sun will help eliminate toxins from the skin, though the head should not be heated.
  • Adding a little spice to every meal will also help digestion.

To Resolve Bad Breath

  • Chew cardamom seeds, coriander seeds, or parsley leaves on a daily basis. These will help to naturally freshen the breath.
  • Brush your teeth and scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper after every meal.
  • Practice good oral hygiene in general, including flossing on a daily basis.
  • If it has been determined that the bad breath is indicative of another issue like constipation or hyperacidity, address these conditions in tandem with breath-related remedies. See this application’s entries on constipation and hyperacidity to resolve these conditions specifically.
  • Avoid chewing gum on a regular basis, as the artificial color and taste have a latent effect on causing bad breath.

Better Foods For Bad Breath

Ayurveda teaches us that disease and sickness are derived from poor digestion and inappropriate food choices. We then have the opportunity to make deliberate and more conscious decisions as to what foods we do and do not put in our body which increases the chance of resolving the body’s imbalance.

Food needs to be in season, in moderate combinations of one or two food groups, not too hot or cold, in a modest enough quantity to allow for room in the stomach later, consumed without too much liquid which hinders digestive power, and should be fresh and not left over for more than a few hours.  The following foods will help to balance excessive amounts of Kapha energy in the body, helping to resolve bad breath.  These should also be eaten in moderation, as eating them in excess will create bad breath.



Brussels Sprouts

Black Pepper


Chinese Cabbage

Spicy Curries


Vegetable Soup

Goat's milk (in moderation)


Chili Peppers


Ghee (in moderation)






Mustard Greens

Mustard Oil




Foods To AVOID In Response To Bad Breath

While some foods can help to balance an aggravated dosha, other foods can cause further imbalance. Dry and cold foods as well as pungent, bitter and astringent tastes will dry out the body and aggravate the Vata dosha. Sour, salty and pungent tastes as well as spicy foods will add more heat to the body and aggravate the Pitta dosha.Sweet, sour and salty tasting foods will add heaviness to the body and aggravate the Kapha dosha. The following foods and food types can further aggravate Kapha energy, which can exacerbate issues related to bad breath:







Sweets and Candy



Allergy-causing Foods



Dairy Products (except goat milk in moderation)




Unnatural sugar

Sweet Potatoes


Cold foods


Beverages For Bad Breath

Generally, Ayurveda discourages the consumption of too many cold beverages, as doing so hinders the strength of the body’s digestive fire. Instead, favors room temperature or hot beverages to encourage the strength of the digestive fire.


Hot water, especially during meals and first thing in the morning.
Herbal tea of cumin, coriander, and fennel

Avoid cold and frozen drinks.
Avoid sugary or fizzy drinks that blend with the digestive juice and make it weak.
Avoid alcohol, coffee, black tea, and other stimulants.
Avoid juice made into a beverage from a concentrated source. It creates too much acid in the stomach.

Herbs For Bad Breath

Herbs are used in the Ayurvedic system much like Western medicine utilizes drugs and vitamins and can be taken like tea 2 to 3 times a day. Herbs aid in the digestion of food, the breakdown and elimination of toxins, and help to strengthen the cellular structure of our system for greater vitality. Herbs become more potent once mixed with other herbs of similar properties. Mix together 2 to 4 different herbs from the below list by adding a quarter to a half teaspoon full of each, for a total of 1 teaspoon. Drink these in half cup of hot water.


Ginger (dry)




Calamus root





 Yoga Postures For Bad Breath

When applied therapeutically to specific ailments, yoga postures provide an opportunity to strengthen the body, rid it of toxic matter, and restore balance. The postures included in this section can be practiced as part of a more general sequence or can be focused on in short sessions. When first exploring yoga postures, it is best to only practice them for twenty minutes or so per day and build up from there once the body becomes more flexible.




Bow Pose




Shoulder stand

Half wheel (bridge)


Aromatherapy For Bad Breath

Aromatherapy utilizes the fragrances of essential oils when applied to the skin. Essential oils can burn the skin and therefore must be diluted with a base oil such as sesame, coconut, sunflower, canola, or mustard oil. Mix 1 fluid ounce of base oil with about 12 drops of essential oil before applying to skin. You can also just mix 5 drops of base oil to one drop of essential oil if using on one spot.
Bad Breath can be treated with cinnamon, eucalyptus, sage, basil, musk, cedar, frankincense, or myrrh oil.
Use a canola or mustard oil base.
Apply oil on the skin between the navel and pubic bone.

Mantra Therapy For Bad Breath

Ayurvedic tradition suggests that repeating certain words or sounds can help a person suffering from an ailment to restore subtle balance to nerve tissue and enhance one’s mental clarity. Different sounds are prescribed to either repeat mentally or chant outwardly. These sounds are also used and repeated in the mind for the purpose of spiritual growth.

  • To help control and resolve bad breath, repeat the syllable “Ham” (pronounced hahm) for several minutes a few times a day and build more practice over time.
  • As a Kapha-related disorder, it is helpful to outwardly chant this syllable for the duration of time it is practiced.


Breathing Practices For Bad Breath

Controlling the breath is a central practice toward developing peace and stillness in the mind and body. When the breath is under our control, we are no longer at the mercy of the senses that are stimulated by everything and lead to greater fluctuations of the mind. When applied to the context of resolving specific ailments, the breath is used as a tool for developing lung capacity, heating and cooling the body, and resolving mental afflictions like anxiety and stress.



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