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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Brandon Yew and Dr Jessica Gunawan on September 1, 2022

Get Rid of Bad Breath For Good With These Healthy Lifestyle Hacks

Brushing your teeth regularly is only one way to get rid of bad breath. You may also need to address problems in your body that you can't necessarily see. Here's how.

Bad breath man min scaled

Bad breath is almost inevitable first thing in the morning. But what happens when you have to deal with it all day, even after brushing your teeth?

As crazy as it may sound, your breath may provide clues about your internal health and things about your body that you can’t necessarily see.

For example, did you know that bad breath may be caused by excess Heat in the body?

Read on to learn what’s causing your chronic bad breath and how to use natural remedies to get rid of it for good.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Imbalances in your gut can lead to bad breath.

Chronic bad breath (halitosis) often relates to a dry mouth or lack of dental care. It can also indicate an oral disease or illness affecting other body areas. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that the condition stems from pathogenic factors like Phlegm, Heat, Dampness, and Qi (vital life force) Stagnation in the stomach, Lungs, and large intestines.

Dry mouth 

A decrease in saliva production prevents the mouth from cleaning itself and removing food debris and particles.

Dry mouth can happen for a few reasons, including frequent mouth ulcers, a salivary gland disorder, or the use of certain medications.

Poor oral hygiene 

Not brushing or flossing teeth regularly is another common cause of bad breath. Food particles can wedge between teeth when a person eats.

Bacteria disintegrate these particles, giving rise to foul breath. It can also make a person vulnerable to tooth decay and gum diseases.

Likewise, a person can also have bad breath if they use dentures but don’t clean them correctly. 

Underlying medical conditions 

Postnasal drip – a feeling of excess mucus dripping down the throat and back of the nose – chronic bronchitis or sinusitis, and nose, windpipe, and lung infections can make a person prone to bad breath.

People with diabetes or gastrointestinal, kidney, or liver disorders can also be susceptible to the condition. 

How To Get Rid Of Bad Breath 

Proper oral hygiene can help reduce bad breath.

Tiao Wei Cheng Qi soup helps remove Heat and dryness in people with stomach Fire or Heat, thus alleviating symptoms like acne, constipation, bad breath, craving for cold beverages, and gum or teeth pain. Dao Chi powder is useful for clearing Heart Fire, which causes frustration, insomnia, mouth ulcers, and redness on the tip of the tongue. Yin Qiao powder and Sang Ju powder disperses Wind-Heat and its accompanying symptoms, such as a fever, sore throat, coughs, and aversion to cold,” explains TCM Physician Lim Sock Ling.

To avoid turning off a partner or being turned off by bad breath, the practice of proper oral care habits is necessary. Examples of these are: 

  • Stopping tobacco use 
  • Flossing once a day 
  • Drinking enough water 
  • Limiting the consumption of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages 
  • Cleaning the tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper 
  • Eating foods or chewing sugar-free gum to boost saliva production 
  • Brushing teeth or dentures twice a day for two minutes at a time 
  • Visiting the dentist every six months for a check-up and professional teeth cleaning 

Use proper brushing and flossing techniques 

Are you brushing and flossing your teeth daily like you’re supposed to? If you still have bad breath despite doing so, there’s a possibility that you’re not doing it the right way.

Proper brushing technique starts with using a soft-bristled toothbrush. The toothbrush must also be a shape and size that helps clean your mouth comfortably. Hold it at a 45˚ angle and use short strokes. Aim to reach the inside, outside, and top of each tooth.

Address oral health concerns

From a TCM perspective, the upper gums are associated with the stomach meridian and the lower gums are associated with the large intestine meridian. Gingivitis or gum inflammation usually happens before gum disease.

Early gum disease is usually associated with stomach Fire. TCM’s treatment includes clearing Heat and detoxing, as well as purging stomach Fire. This helps to reduce gum inflammation to reduce swelling, pain, and the occurrence of bleeding during brushing. This is also beneficial for reducing bad breath. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease, your gum line is likely inflamed. To treat the condition, it’s advisable to undergo a cleaning procedure performed by a periodontist. Doing so will help remove the bacteria, plaque, or tartar build-up causing the inflammation.

Likewise, the periodontist or a dentist may propose the use of an anti-microbial mouth rinse, especially if the plaque deposits are extensive.

Resolve Lung Phlegm and Heat 

Lung Heat may present as acne. In TCM, acne is due to Lung Heatiness, whereas dry, itchy, sensitive, or eczema-prone skin attributes to weak Lung functions. Lung Phlegm refers to phlegm in the Lungs.

The consumption of herbal formulas and ingredients can be helpful for these constitutional imbalances. A few of the formulas that can be considered include: 

  • San Ren Tang
  • Bai He Gu Jin Tang 
  • Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang  
  • Qian Jin Wei Jing Tang  
  • Qing Qi Hua Tan Tang  
  • Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang  

Additionally, research shows that edible bird’s nest helps improve Lung function and Lung strength. This may help with the recovery process. It works by nourishing Lung Yin, dissipating phlegm, and relieving cough.

You can also do away with these syndromes by taking these individual ingredients in supplement form or adding them to your diet:  

  • Blackberrykiky rhizome (She Gan
  • Fritillaria (Zhe Bei Mu
  • Burdock (Niu Bang Zi)  
  • Snake gourd (Gua Lou
  • Heartleaf Houttuynia (Yu Xing Cao
  • Mulberry bark (Sang Bai Pi
  • Scutellaria root (Huang Qin
  • Loquat leaves (Pi Pa Ye

Likewise, you may also stimulate a set of distinct acupressure points to achieve the same objective, including: 

  • He Gu (LI4) 
  • Chi Ze (LU5) 
  • Lie Que (LU7) 
  • Yu Ji (LU10) 
  • Feng Long (ST40) 

Clear Heat, Dampness, and Qi Stagnation

You can also get rid of bad breath by clearing Heat, drying Dampness, and fixing Qi Stagnation in the digestive organs, such as the Spleen and stomach.

You can take these natural ingredients in supplement form to help:

  • Amomum (Sha Ren
  • Gypsum (Shi Gao
  • Patchouli (Huo Xiang)  
  • Rhubarb (Da Huang)  
  • Betel nut (Bin Lang
  • Chinese Coptis (Huang Lian)  
  • Costus root (Mu Xiang)  
  • Hawthorn berry (Shan Zha
  • Magnolia Bark (Hou Pu)  
  • Medicated leaven (Shen Qu
  • Pinellia tuber (Ban Xia
  • Radish seed (Lai Fu Zi
  • Tangerine peel (Chen Pi)  
  • Immature bitter orange (Zhi Shi)  

Likewise, these herbal formulas may help:

  • Lian Po Yin  
  • Qing Wei San  
  • Xie Huang San  
  • Yu Nu Jian  
  • Yin Chen Hao Tang  
  • Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan  
  • Ge Gen Qin Lian Tang 
  • Mu Xiang Bing Lang Wan  
  • Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang  
  • Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan  

You may also wish to take an herbal Heat expulsion supplement to correct imbalances in your digestive organs that lead to bad breath.

Lastly, applying pressure to points can help to treat Heat, Dampness and Qi Stagnation to reverse bad breath: He Gu (LI4), Tai Chong (LR3), Zhong Wan (RN12), Yin Ling Quan (SP9), Tian Shu (ST25), Zu San Li (ST36), and Shang Ju Xu (ST37).

TCM Physicians Can Help With Bad Breath

According to Real Health Medical Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew, acupressure, herbs and formulas are only suitable for mild or generic cases of bad breath, which can be complicated with varying underlying pathologies.

He cautions, “Some people may benefit, and others can even experience a worsening of their existing condition, or an arise in new problems. I strongly advise against purchasing any self-treatment of any type to self-medicate without first undergoing a thorough consultation with a TCM practitioner.”


  1. Cleveland Clinic. Bad Breath (Halitosis)
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Halitosis (Bad Breath)
  3. Research Gate, November 2018, Whether Chinese Medicine Have Effect on Halitosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Reviews (1)

Stella ChogaMay 28 2023

I like the idea that you actually accept that there’s chronic halitosis that I’ve had all my life. I live in Zimbabwe Africa. Dental care is limited and expensive & doctors only say it is poor oral hygiene, offering no help. Thanx

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