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How Does Traditional Chinese Medicine Explain & Resolve Bad Breath?

You’ve sworn off onions and garlic. You brush your teeth with a $20 professional-grade toothpaste after every meal. And you floss, tongue scrape and have tried virtually every mouthwash, chewing gum and mint on the market. 

Yet bad breath still haunts your daily life. So what gives? Is it an oral problem or is the root cause distal from the mouth? 

What does traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) say about bad breath? 

How TCM Explains Bad Breath

Before we begin, it’s important to note that this information is for general purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. TCM solutions for bad breath should not be considered as a substitute for regular dental checkups and oral care. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s move on…

Unlike Western dentistry, which tends to focus on just the oral cavity, TCM views the body through a holistic, interconnected prism. And in TCM, the mouth is an extension of the digestive system. This isn’t an esoteric TCM concept like meridians. After all, digestion begins in the mouth with the salivary glands. 

But where TCM focuses its attention on the root cause of frequent bad breath is not the oral cavity. 

Rather, it’s the Stomach. And by Stomach, TCM includes both the physical organ and the energetic points along its meridian, or channel.

The question then becomes why focus on the Stomach? Well, the answer is that for people who struggle with chronic bad breath, the most likely cause is excess heat (fire) in the Stomach organ system. 

What Causes Stomach Fire? 

Stomach Fire can lead to Rebellious Qi in the form of toxic gas that travels up the esophagus and into the mouth. The result: bad breath.

Stomach Fire is almost always the result of dietary choices. The over-consumption of hot/spicy foods as well as alcohol and coffee may produce Stomach Fire. In addition, smoking cigarettes can lead to this TCM pattern, which may also cause dry mouth, constipation and excessive thirst. 

Stomach Fire symptoms can also result in a burning sensation in the stomach as well as food regurgitation and inflammation of the gums. In fact, if you have Stomach Fire, there’s a good chance that if you take a look at your tongue in the mirror, a thick white coating will be present. This is a surefire sign (pardon the pun) that Stomach Fire has caused the food that you eat to over-ripen and stagnate in your stomach. 

As a result of the over-ripening of food in the Stomach, the Spleen organ system, which is responsible for transforming nutrients into Qi (energy) has little raw materials to convert. This is why some people with Stomach Fire are frequently hungry.  

In addition, Stomach Fire can lead to Rebellious Qi in the form of toxic gas that travels up the esophagus and into the mouth. The result: bad breath.

How Does TCM Resolve Bad Breath?

In order to support fresh breath, TCM formulas that clear heat from the Stomach must be used. Another essential action of Chinese herbal medicine for bad breath is restoring/nourishing Yin energy. Yin is the cooling energy to Yang’s heating ability. Obviously, if there’s excess heat in the Stomach, the cooling energy of the organ must be revitalized. By clearing heat and fortifying the Yin energy, food retention may be resolved. 

One formula that may help resolve bad breath is BreathNew, which is  specially-formulated to clear stomach heat.