Halitosis or bad breath is a condition estimated to affect 50 to 65% of the population. Halitosis is typically caused by poor dental hygiene. However, other factors like heavy metal build up, infections of the upper and lower respiratory tracts and the gastro-intestinal tract, and some diseases involving the kidneys and the liver can also cause bad breath. Dieting, alcohol abuse or fasting can also produce bad breath.
The Ayurvedic treatment of halitosis is aimed at treating and correcting the known cause for this condition. Maintaining dental hygiene is an important aspect of controlling bad breath. Medicines like Bakul (Aconitum ferox), Kattha (Acacia catechu), Lavang (Caryophyllus aromaticus), Supari (Areca catechu), Sphatik (Purified alum), Mayaphal (Quercus infectoria), Elaichi (Elettaria cardamomum), Jeerak (Cuminum cyminum), Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Vidang (Embilia ribes), Marich (Piper nigrum), Kulinjan (Alpinia galangal) and Kapur (Cinnamum camphora) are used to treat gum disease and prevent or delay tooth decay. These medicines are usually used locally in the form of powder, tooth paste or mouth wash.
Infections of the respiratory tract can be treated using medicines like Sitopaladi -Churna, Talisadi-Churna, Shwaskuthar-Ras, Sameer-Pannag-Ras, Ras-Sindur, Shrung-Bhasma, Malla-Sindur, Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra), Pippali (Piper longum), Behada ( Terminalia bellerica), Kantakari (Solanum xanthocarpum), Bruhat- Kantakari (Solanum indicum), Som (Ephedra vulgaris), Karkatashrungi (Pistichia integerima), Dhatura (Dhatura fastuosa), Vasa (Adhatoda vasaka), Kushtha (Saussurea lappa) and Pushkarmool (Inula racemosa).
Infections of the gastro-intestinal tract can be treated using medicines like Triphala (Three fruits), Trikatu (Three pungent herbs), Chitrak (Plumbago zeylanica), Dadim (Pomegranate), Kutaj (Holarrhina antidysentrica), Laghu-Sutshekhar, Panchamrut-Parpati, Sutshekhar-Ras, Sukshma-Triphala and Praval-Panchamrut. Diseases of the liver can be treated using medicines like Arogya-Vardhini, Bhunimbadi-Qadha, Sutshekhar-Ras, Shankh-Vati, Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa) and Sharpunkha (Tephrosia purpurea). Diseases of the kidney can be treated using medicines like Punarnavadi-Qadha, Gokshuradi-Guggulu, Gomutra-Haritaki and Chandraprabha-Vati.
It should be remembered that bad breath is more a symptom than an independent disease. Drinking plenty of water and consumption of large amounts of fruits and vegetables is recommended. Oral and dental hygiene and the use of a clean toothbrush are important. It is best to avoid all tobacco products and to reduce the consumption of onions, garlic, ice cream and coffee.