I once read the amusing results of a survey which showed that we can live with someone who has bad foot odour but not with someone who has bad breath. The problem of bad breath causes many people agony. They may be too uncomfortable to tell someone close to them that that person’s breath is repellent, or they may be afflicted with offensive breath themselves. People often think that the cause must be a dental issue and thus turn to a dentist for help.
According to Eastern medicine, the true cause of foul breath may lie not only inside mouth. Heat in the internal organs can produce malodorous breath and therefore its treatment also focuses on clearing this heat naturally.
First, there’s the case of heat in the liver. There may be a heightened sensation of heat when using the fingers to press from the skin’s surface down deep to the bone. One who has heat in the liver often experiences achiness in the extremities, difficulty with bowel movements, is quick to anger, is easily startled, and their symptom of fetid breath worsens at dawn. This type of case is seen more often in male patients who regularly smoke and drink alcohol.
Secondly, there’s the case of heat in the heart. Symptoms include a feeling of fullness in the stomach area, aching in the chest, hot palms, feeling thirsty, and often belching. The bad breath is worse during the daytime. This condition is more often seen in female patients, as women tend to be more sensitive to stress in their environment. A person who has heat in the heart is easily irritated, and reacts sensitively to even trivial stimulation which leads to a worsening of breath odour.
Third is the case of heat in the spleen. A person with this condition often experiences weakness in the limbs, lethargy, apathy, and likes to lie down, and their symptom of malodorous breath is exacerbated at night. Irregular and incorrect eating habits burden the spleen and stomach, and undigested food accumulates and produces heat. This heat generates a thick coating on the tongue, causing foul breath to worsen.
Fourthly, there’s the case of heat in the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, a great deal of coughing, feeling frequently chilly, and the sense of being alternately hot and cold. Breath odour worsens around sunset, and tends to have a characteristic fish smell.
And fifth is the case of heat in the kidneys. This produces symptoms such as aching in the bones, an inability to tolerate heat, and difficulty standing up from a sitting position. It occurs more often in males who experience extreme physical exertion or have excessive sexual habits. Bad breath due to kidney heat is like a rotting smell, and may often be connected to an elimination disorder such as difficulty urinating, urination with blood, and/or constipation.
There are many causes of bad breath. If it is chronic, the recommended solution is to think of it as a disorder of the internal organs and to treat the root cause.