You might relish the taste of freshly pan-fried garlic, but chances are your friends and loved ones hate the smell of your garlic breath. So what is the best way to get rid of bad breath caused by this pungent little bulb?
Well, the theory once ran that simply masking the odor would do. To that end, many experts used to recommend chewing mints. Of course, garlic has a pretty powerful smell, which comes from a particular odor molecule called allyl methyl sulfide. You'd have to chew some overpoweringly strong mints to, er, overpower garlic breath.
You can see how such a method wouldn't work. It's like an oral-odor arms race, with the garlic and mint smells each trying to top the other. When you chew normal mints, no one wins.
The same is true of herbal or alternative treatments. For instance, a newly published study has examined the effects of a special plant extract on garlic breath. The plant, called Houttuynia cordata, is a fragrant, edible herb (and something of a strong weed) in Japan.
So can it get rid of bad breath caused by eating garlic? The authors seemed to think so. They found that mixing H. cordata with a pungent garlic oil reduced its smell. However, they noted that the name of the game wasn't eliminating halitosis; it was merely covering it. In their own words, they looked into "the deodorizing activity of...Houttuynia cordata for masking the odor of fresh garlic."
Sadly, this means that the plant is no better for garlic breath than a cheap, ineffective mint.
But don't worry! The solution to this problem was formulated long ago! To get rid of garlic breath, start by using a specialty tongue scraper to clean out your mouth. Next, gargle with an oxygenating, alcohol-free mouthwash and then finish up by sucking on a specially formulated, mouth-wetting lozenge. Ta-dah!