Just recently I had the misfortune of meeting a man who I will not describe other than to say he had the worst bad breath that I’ve had to endure in my whole life. It made me remember my science teacher from my senior high school days. This teacher of mine whom I will refer to as Mr. X had a breath that was so formidable he earned the nickname Scope. The funny part is that a majority of students don’t know what his real name was and so when they refer to him, they would say, “Hey, Scope is my teacher for fifth period chemistry.”
Being young, it was easy to be a bit cruel to other people. However, bad breath or halitosis can really be a health as well as a social issue that can affect a person in a very big way. It can lead to a couple of problems actually. One problem is that you may not know that you have it because people tend to be well meaning and polite to ever mention this problem to you and so probably no one outside your family will tell you that your breath reeks. Another issue is reckoning where that stinky smell’s emanating. Neither your friends nor your co-workers will give you a hint as to how your breath smells. Well, if you think you’re suffering from halitosis, you might be pleasantly surprised that Chinese medicine has an answer to your problem.
Smelling, in Chinese medicine, is deemed to be an important aspect of a physical examination that may also involve feeling the pulse of the patient, listening to the patient, and looking at the patient. A majority of individuals don’t have any funky smell, but some do. Bad breath usually comes from one of four places: your mouth, your lungs, your sinuses, or your stomach. In almost all cases of bad breath stagnation and heat are involved.
Let’s start with your mouth. If you don’t take care of your mouth, it will likely lead to bad breath. Flossing and brushing as frequently as possible not only prevents tooth decay but will prevent the rise of bad breath, as well.
If your lungs are infected, it can affect the quality of your breath also. Bad breath usually occurs when you are suffering from a lung condition such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or a bad chest cold.
One of the most common sources for halitosis is your sinuses especially if you’re susceptible to sinus infections. Stagnation and heat can play a part here, and if you have a sinus infection, this may be conveyed by the smell of your breath that is broadcasted to people around you.
The stomach is the part of your body that breaks down the food you eat that will be converted into energy and nutrients. If your digestion is inefficient, the food in your body can remain in your abdomen until it rots, which of course, will be malodorous. Moreover, that stagnant food gets warmer from your body heat, and this only amplifies the odor even more – cold stuff does not smell; warm stuff does. You may have observed this in your garbage – during winter it does not emit any smell at all.
If you suspect you have bad breath or if someone actually told you that you have, here are some tips that can help your situation:
1. If your digestion is weak and inefficient, consult with a Chinese medicine professional. This individual can recommend foods, prescribe herbs, and perform acupuncture that can help restore the normal function of your digestive system.
2. If you suspect that your allergies are causing you sinus problems, get them under control. Shower and change your clothes after going outdoors if you’re suffering from seasonal allergies, on windy days, keep your windows closed, after holding animals that have been outside, wash your hands thoroughly. To help prevent or at least minimize the effects of seasonal allergies, I highly recommend going for acupuncture treatment.
3. If you have sinuses that are constantly bothersome, get a Neti pot and use it. This pot can be used to irrigate your nasal tract. It can clean and moisten your sinuses. They can be bought at your local drug store and they come with instructions for use.
4. Always keep your mouth immaculately clean. After meals, brush your teeth after meals and floss at least once a day. Regularly visit your the dentist especially if you have cavities. Also, scraping your tongue regularly with a tongue scraper or toothbrush, especially if you have a thick tongue coating, can help prevent the rise of halitosis.
You need not suffer from bad breath and its nasty consequences. To help eliminate the source of your halitosis, you can always avail yourself of Chinese medicine treatments such as acupuncture. This will prevent any instances of someone talking behind your back about your breath.
Dominic Sembello is a licensed acupuncturist in Linwood, NJ, practicing acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Western medical pathology. He is also the founder of Health Source Acupuncture.