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Ancient bad breath remedies leave something to be desired

By – Bad Breath Expert
Posted: May 17, 2012, Updated: August 24, 2016
SUMMARY: If you had halitosis in centuries past, the remedies were anything but appetizing.

ancient bad breath remedies

Getting bad breath today is no big deal, provided you've got some specialty bad breath remedies at hand. Armed with alcohol-free mouthwash, oxygenating toothpaste, and mouth-wetting, dry mouth lozenges and gum, you can attack even the rankest cases of halitosis.

But that's today. In years past, things weren't so simple. Watch out - you may not want to read what lies below while you're eating.

Here are some antiquated bad breath remedies used thousands of years ago:

Parsley. This one doesn't work.  It relies on the false belief that its chlorophyll component has antibacterial power. It does not. 

Cloves. In the ancient Middle East, Iraqis prefered to crunch on cloves after lunch.

Guava peels. This is an old folk remedy from Thailand. Folks would chew guava peels in hopes of clearing up the scent of their tooth decay.

Egg shells. Really. In ancient China, it was believed that chewing egg shells or scrubbing one's teeth with them (a la tooth powder) would scour away the remnants of a meal.

Mastic. Also known as labdanum, this sticky tree resin was used to sweeten breath postprandially. It's mentioned in the bible (in Genesis), and was probably chomped on for hours at a time, potentially making it the first form of chewing gum.

Peppercorns. Crunch on these, says the Talmud, and your oral odor will gradually dissipate.

Salt, alum and vinegar. Greek physician Hippocrates concocted this disgusting mouthrinse as a way to beat halitosis.

Honey, oil and beer. Another ancient mouthwash.

Dill, anise and myrrh. Yet another. But the ultimate in unpleasant halitosis removal has to be...

A child's urine. The first time anyone ever wrote about mouthrinsing, it was in China in 2700 BCE: Oral health authorities recommended this foul rinse as a way to alleviate oral odor and gingivitis.

Really makes you appreciate the 21st century, doesn't it?


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