Bad Breath? Here’s What That Says About You, According to Eastern Medicine

Bad Breath? Here’s What That Says About You, According to Eastern Medicine
May 2, 2021 welleum


Say Goodbye to Bad Breath By Doing These Two Things

What Your Breath Says About You in Eastern Medicine

Sometimes, all bad breath means is that you ate your weight in garlic bread or you forgot to brush your teeth one morning. But when bad breath becomes a daily occurrence and you notice that gum and mouthwash don’t fix the problem, it means something is up. 

Bad breath, officially known as Halitosis, can be caused by a lot of things. Certain foods, smoking cigarettes, not brushing your teeth well enough, and gum disease can all make your breath stink.

In Eastern medicine, bad breath can be much more than just a sign that you need to change your electric toothbrush’s batteries. It can be a sign that something else is going on.

What Bad Breath Says About You According to Eastern Medicine

You Need To Scrape Your Tongue

Tongue Scraping in Eastern MedicineIn the western world, most people brush their teeth twice a day, floss, and use mouthwash to keep their mouth clean and fresh. But according to the Ayurvedic tradition, that routine is missing one major step: tongue scraping. So even if you think your dental hygiene is on point, you might still be leaving behind bacteria and toxins that give you stinky breath.

Tongue scraping has been around in Ayurveda for thousands of years. Here’s what it’s all about.

When we go to sleep at night, our body starts to process everything we ate during the day. As the night goes on, toxins from the food we ate and the drinks we drank start to accumulate on our tongue. These toxins, known as ama, look like a white fuzzy coating on the tongue, but depending on your more prominent dosha (energy type), it might look yellow or brown.

So tongue scraping, or jihwa prakshalana, is the solution. You simply use a tongue scraping tool every morning to remove these toxins and make sure they don’t get reabsorbed into your body. According to Ayurveda, the toxins from your tongue will give you bad breath and even mess with your sense of taste. Scraping twice a day can change that!

Chinese medicine requires looking at the tongue coat, so the day of your appointment, you might want to wait until evening to scrape your tongue, or tell your acupuncturist if you scraped it recently so they can adjust for it.

Even though tongue scraping has been around for a long time, recently researchers have been testing out the benefits of this age-old practice. One study found that scraping does improve your sense of taste while significantly decreasing the amount of bad-breath-causing bacteria in your mouth. In fact, one study found that scraping was better than brushing to help with bad breath!

You should scrape your tongue first thing in the morning, before you drink any water. Using a metal scraper tool, scrape your tongue from back to front four or five times, rinsing the tool off after each scrape. Then simply do your normal oral hygiene routine.

Tongue scraping is also a good way to keep an eye on how your body reacts to certain foods. Some foods will leave behind more toxins than others, and you’ll notice the next day on your tongue.

You’re Having Digestive Problems

Eastern and Western Medicine Approaches to Gut IssuesIf your oral hygiene is second to none and you’re still having problems with bad breath, the problem most likely lies with your digestion.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the culprit is usually stomach fire. This is usually caused by consuming too many “hot” foods and drinks, like meat, nuts, fried food, coffee, and alcohol. You might have other symptoms too, like nausea, excess thirst, or heartburn.

So what should you do? You can try to balance your heat with cool foods and drink while nourishing your digestive system back to full strength.

Here are some cool foods to help you balance out your stomach fire:

  • Lettuce 
  • Celery 
  • Cucumber 
  • Bananas 
  • Pears 
  • Oranges 
  • Tofu 
  • Yogurt 
  • Mint
  • Cilantro 

You can also support your digestive health by following these TCM gut health guidelines:

    1. Ditch Distractions: During meal times, put away the phone, shut off the TV, and close the magazine. By eating mindfully–appreciating each bit, and chewing thoroughly– you’re letting your body focus on digesting the food. 
    2. Have A Big Breakfast: It’s best to eat most of your food early on in the day. That’s when your qi is in your stomach and spleen, meaning your digestive system is at its most powerful between 7 and 11 am.
    3. Go For A Walk: In China, there’s a saying that goes, “if you take 100 steps after each meal, you’ll live to be 99.” Try going for a light walk after eating to support your digestive system and boost your qi circulation.  

When bad breath goes from being a random occurrence to a daily drag, it’s time to figure out what’s going on. If your oral hygiene routine is spotless, it might be worth talking to your doctor or eastern medicine practitioner to find the underlying cause of your bad breath. There are plenty of other imbalances besides stomach fire that can cause digestion problems, and your healthcare practitioner will help you find the right solution for you.

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