Unless you’re a hermit in a Himalayan cave, bad breath is fun for no one. From morning breath to a post-garlic feast pong, we’ve all had an exhale that’s a far cry from a Fox’s glacier mint at some point.
Bad breath is usually caused by bacteria on the tongue, throat and tonsils. These bacteria produce smelly sulphuric compounds. Morning breath kicks in because the bacteria produce their smelly by-products overnight, and due to sleeping salivary glands, these by-products aren’t washed away. So here’s how you can happily and unselfconsciously boom out your sadhana mantras…
1 Lion pose
Sit on your heels with your hands on your knees, fingers stretched out wide like lion’s claws. Take a deep inhale through the nose. Now stick out your tongue as far as it will go (see if you can touch your chin with it). Cross your eyes and roll them up, and rasp out your exhale like a lion’s roar. It’s the yoga pose for bad breath!
There are two mucous glands at the extreme back of the tongue that collect toxins that have drained from your system overnight and may cause a whiff to your breath. Yogi Bhajan referred to them as monkey glands. You can clear them in the morning by stimulating the back of your throat to elicit a gag reflex. Gagging first thing in the morning might not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a sure way to get your breath smelling like a bed of roses… um, sort of.
3 Oil pulling
An Ayurvedic remedy that apparently whitens our teeth as well as freshens our breath is oil pulling. When you wake up, before eating or drinking anything, swish a teaspoon of coconut oil (almond or sesame oil are also good) in your mouth for five to 20 minutes in the morning (you might want to get on with your chores or have a shower while doing this), and then spit it out into the compost bin and rinse your mouth out with water. The oil binds with the toxins, parasites and bacteria in your mouth and also pulls mucus from your throat. Without all these smelly perpetrators, your mouth is freshest.
4 Tongue scraping
Ayurveda swears by cleaning our tongue every morning with a tongue scraper. This implement, which is scraped from the back of the tongue to the front, clears away dead cells, bacteria build-up and food particles. Although all these things contribute, it’s the bacteria that are the main rogues behind bad breath. Target them by scraping the back of the tongue, but avoid the patch of taste buds at the extreme back of the tongue. And if there is no tongue scraper to hand, try the edge of a teaspoon.
5 Chewing herbs
Chewing gum, mouth sprays and gargles will mask bad breath for a short while, but these products usually contain sugar or alcohol which encourages the bacteria on our tongue to multiply. Chewing on a sprig of fresh parsley, however, brings lasting results. Parsley is rich in the alkalising agent chlorophyll, which neutralises the bad breath caused by an acidic environment in our mouth. It is especially effective in counteracting the smelly effects of garlic, so munch on a bunch after a meal. No parsley to hand? Fresh coriander is as effective, and if fresh herbs aren’t an option, chew on a few dried coriander and fennel seeds.
Sat nam x