Lick Bad Breath In healthy people, the tongue is probably the major source of oral malodour. Try the following: stick out your tongue as far as it will go, and give one of your clean wrists (preferably one without perfume) a good lick. Wait five seconds, and take a sniff. Almost everyone's tongue has an odour.
Mouthwash The Talmud recommends a mouthwash [discussed later in this article] which is still used today, as verified by Mel Rosenberg PhD, who interviewed a young man in Bnei Braq who actually prepares such a concoction.
Peppers The Talmud offers more than one solution to cure for bad breath, one being insertion of slivers of peppers between the teeth. Apparently this belief and practice continues even today in Iraq. However, we can not be sure precisely which peppers are referred to. About eight hundred years ago, Rashi, suggested that a long pepper was the kind required. We would be keen to hear of anyone’s research in this matter.
Gum The Talmud also recommends chewing mastic. We are fairly sure this refers to the resin of Pistacia lentiscus, a bush related to the pistachio. This resin has been chewed around the Mediterranean for thousands of years, and probably is quite effective in reducing oral malodour (chewing anything stimulates saliva and ameliorates bad breath. As an aside, those who do a lot of talking suffer a dry mouth) as it appears to provide anti-bacterial qualities against a wide variety of micro-organisms including Helicobacter pylori. It has long been used as a balm in medicine and dentistry and is still cultivated on the Greek island of Chios, off the Turkish coast. Gum mastic (ladanum) is mentioned in the book of Genesis (chapter 37) as one of the products carried by the caravan that took Joseph down to Egypt.
The Happiest Option It is also used in home-brewed arak, which one supposes might also be a type of mouthwash. Remember, mouthwash is expelled after being swished around the mouth. Mastic is still used today as breath-freshening chewing gum in Greece.
Even on Shabbos An indication of the importance of fresh breath is the special dispensation provided to permit chewing mastic for relief of bad breath on Shabbos. Tosefta Shabbat (8:7) states: "It is forbidden to chew mastic on Sabbath, yet it is permitted for the prevention of oral malodour."
Expulsion for Halitosis The prophet Muhammad is said to have expelled a congregant from the mosque for having the smell of garlic on his breath. Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 11a, records (in what might be the very first recorded boycott) that a prominent teacher requested that “he who has eaten garlic should please leave the lecture hall” prompting the very best and most senior student, in an effort to spare the true offender from public humiliation, to leave. The other students understanding this noble action also left the study hall. Grounds for Divorce In the Talmud (Kesubos 72b 75a and 77a), bad breath is considered so serious a blemish that women may seek divorce because of it. Priests so afflicted are disqualified from performing Temple duties. (Hilchot Ishut 25:11). The Talmud (Kesubos 77a) states that if a woman did not know before getting married that her husband suffered this impairment, she can demand a divorce and concomitant fulfilment of the ketuba. However, Rabbi Meir opines that even if she knew beforehand that her husband had bad breath, she could still sue for divorce, saying ”I thought that I might get used to it over time, but was unable to do so.”
Various Causes of Oral Malodour Polypous (a Greek word for "a morbid excrescence") refers to chronically infected adenoids, or possibly postnasal drip, currently considered a major cause of bad breath.
It May Run in the Family According to Jewish law, if a husband dies without leaving surviving children, the widow is obliged to marry the husband's brother (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). Only under special circumstances can the widow demand exemption (halitza). One such case is where both brothers have oral or nasal malodour. The wife may claim that although she tolerated this blemish whilst she lived with the deceased, she finds this an objection in the prospective groom (Maimonides, Hilchot Ishut 25:13).
Since Israeli divorce law is founded upon religious courts, having a spouse with bad breath can, to this day, be cited as grounds for divorce.
Bad Breath and the Holy Duties of Kohanim Priests (kohanim) banned from performing holy rites in the Temple because of this affliction can utilise a treatment "to place a pepper in the mouth," (Kesubos 75a). Even a minute amount was considered effective (Shabbat 90a). However, this treatment is ineffective for a husband whose wife is suing for divorce on these grounds. G-d is Satisfied With Less Why should oral malodour remedies be acceptable for the priestly service but not for marriage problems? According to Gemara as explained by Rashi, since the husband is continually in the presence of his wife (literally “speaks to her every hour”), this palliative measure would be insufficient. (Kesubos 75a) Causes The Talmud discusses various causes of and remedies for bad breath, particularly in the context of diet. In Tractate Berachot (40a), it is said that anyone who eats (the evening meal) without salt, or consumes liquids but not water, risks having bad breath the next day.
Rabbi Hisda, on the other hand, warned his daughters that eating vegetables at night might cause bad breath (Shabbat 140b, probably meaning that evening). Vegetables that fell off the table are also a risk factor according to the sage Abbayae (Chulin 105b). Specific vegetables are also mentioned elsewhere as bad breath risks: raw peas (Yerushalmi Eruvin, 19a) and extensive consumption of lentils (Berachot 40a). Elsewhere we are told that insufficient exercise following meals is (Shabbat 41a). Walking following eating is encouraged to avoid putrefaction of the ingested food, which leads to bad odours (oral malodour, according to Rashi). Likewise, failure to move one's bowels was considered to cause intestinal putrefaction leading to oral malodour, as well as body odour (Shabbat 82a).
Some causes of bad breath are obscure. Working with flax was considered a cause of bad breath (Tosefta Kesubos 5:3. This may be associated with the habit of drawing the fibres through the mouth to moisten them when making thread. The moistened fibres resist unwinding themselves). Maimonides (Hilchot De'ot 4:19), observing that sperm is the vital power of life, concluded that being excessively active in that vein risks premature aging, fatigue, poor eyesight and bad breath. Remedies The Talmud suggests a variety of remedies for bad breath. Two of these (mastic gum and an oil-water mouthwash) are of particular interest, since they reflect antibacterial approaches common today. Mastic Gum As we mentioned earlier, the Talmud suggests chewing mastic or mastiki (from the Greek), a hard gum (resin) exuded by the Pistacia lentiscus tree (known to this day in Israel as ilan hamastic, the chewing gum tree). Oil-Water Mouthwash It is reported in the Talmud, the sage Rabbi Yochanan suffered from TsafDina (readily bleeding gums, considered a dangerous illness by Rashi. This might have been acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis or scurvy, both of which cause foul breath). He consulted with a Gentile aristocratic woman (perhaps a healer) who advised him to use leavening water (possibly the water left over after kneading of the dough), salt and olive oil. Interestingly, the woman considered the formula to be proprietary, and only parted with it after the sage swore by oath to keep it secret (Yoma 84a; Avodah Zara 28a). We should draw three interesting observations from this episode: Rabbi Yochanan a) did not know the remedy for his problem; b) apparently could find no other Sage to advise him of a remedy; c) went to a Gentile for advice.
Another rabbi recommended the leavening itself, alongside the salt and olive oil.
Unaware of this Talmudic story, Arie Shifman DMD (Department of Oral Rehabilitation, Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel); Shmuel Orenbuch MA (The Research Authority, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel) and Mel Rosenberg PhD (Department of Oral Biology, Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel) initiated in the early 1980s, development of a two-phase oil-water mouthwash with bacteria-desorbing properties. Their earliest formulations consisted of salt water and olive oil. The oil-water mouthwash was possibly used as an emulsifier. [which permits the oil and water to combine] Spices to Combat Bad Breath The Talmud also suggests aromatic spices (ginger and cinnamon) as oral fresheners (Shabbat 65a). Other Talmudic cures for bad breath are somewhat more obscure. The sage Abbayae consulted an Arab, who suggested making a tar from heating unripe olive pits (what might be considered today to be a “periodontal pack”), which he then stuck on his teeth. Yet another remedy included the fat from goose-wing feathers (Yoma 84a; Avodah Zara 28a).
It is clear that the Talmud considers bad breath a serious problem, medically and socially.
Marriage, in itself a holy as well as social bond, can be disrupted by bad breath in either spouse. However, there appears to be a further spiritual context, which is reflected in prohibiting priests with bad breath from performing holy duties.
Today it is widely recognized that the sense of smell is closely linked to our memory and basic emotions. This is clearly apparent in the Talmud: “What is it that the soul enjoys but the body does not? It is the sense of smell” (Berachot 43b)  Conference on Bad Breath AKA "Morning Breath". There is, believe it or not, an International Conference on Breath Odour. Dr. Levitt and colleagues presented a preliminary report on Morning Breath at the 4th such conference at Los Angeles in 1999. Their paper, 'Morning Breath Odour: Influence of Treatments on Sulphur Gases' was published in the Journal of Dental Research. Why Did G-d Create So Many Dentisits? In the USA, half a million people who think they have a major problem with bad breath turn up to dentists each week complaining about bad breath or "halitosis" to use a polite medical word. In fact, about 20% of the US population think that they have a long-term problem with halitosis.
Levitt concludes that bad odours seem to result from certain sulphur-containing gases in ones breath. He and his colleagues from the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Centre and the Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota did a study with eight healthy adults aged between 27 and 51. This is not sufficient to be statistically significant, but it is a meaningful preliminary report. The subjects were all free of any dental disease, and none of them thought they had halitosis. The scientists (using polypropylene tubes and apparatus, they did not use rubber or glass since these react with sulphur) collected gas samples at various times, and tried an assortment of treatments, to determine what might reduce morning breath.
This Does NOT Work Brushing ones teeth with toothpaste for two minutes had absolutely no effect. Swallowing a few herbal breath-freshening capsules also had no effect. Mint lollies and sprays are relatively ineffective in combating bad breath. Don't be fooled by the burning sensation - it is your own cells in pain, not the bacteria.
The Badies Three main sulphur-containing gases are responsible for malodourous breath:
Hydrogen sulphide, which smells like rotten eggs, had the highest concentration in morning breath at about 1.3 times more than Methanethiol.
Methanethiol, which smells like rotting cabbage.
Dimethylsulphide, which apparently smells a little sweet and measured at only one tenth of Methanethiol.
If no treatments were applied the gases would decline significantly within the first hour of the subjects awakening. These gases would either stay at that level for the next seven hours or increase slightly.
Eating food reduced the concentration of methanethiol (the rotten cabbage gas), as did brushing the tongue (not the teeth) with a toothbrush for one minute with water. In fact, a dry hard bread roll was also very effective in reducing the concentration of methanethiol. So mechanical scrubbing of the tongue seems to reduce the gases.
Hydrogen Peroxide the Saviour The most effect treatment of all was to gargle and rinse the mouth with 5 ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide for one minute. This significantly reduced the concentration of all three gases, and kept them low for the next eight hours.
The Culprit The problem seems to be too many bacteria on the tongue because of reduced saliva production.
Saliva On average, we generate about half a millilitre of saliva every minute, except when asleep. This works out to roughly 800 to 1500 ml of saliva a day. Saliva is good. Firstly, it physically washes away bacteria as well as the left-over food they like to eat. Secondly, the saliva has various chemicals that help fight bacteria. And thirdly, saliva also contains various protein antibodies that kill some of the bacteria in our mouth. But when we go to sleep, the production of saliva plummets, and every night, the bacteria multiply like crazy. It seems as though the bacteria responsible for bad breath live in the crypts of the tongue.
Now the people who are most likely to suffer from halitosis are people whose job involves talking a lot. Their mouths dry out as they talk [xerostomia], so the half a millilitre of saliva that they generate every minute gets absorbed by the dry mouth - and can't do its normal job of carrying away the bacteria. Chewing on gum will stimulate the salivary glands.
Different peoples around the world have different "cures" for bad breath. Most of us believe that mint can freshen our mouth. In Thailand, they chew the peels of oversized guavas, while Iraqis keep cloves between their teeth. Indians like to chew on fennel seeds, while Italians prefer parsley.
Mouthwashes are generally cosmetic and do not have a long-lasting effect on bad breath.
Tea However, polyphenols, chemical components of tea, prevent both the growth of bacteria responsible for bad breath and the bacteria’s production of malodorous compounds. The findings were presented in 2003 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Washington, D.C. by Christine Wu, professor of periodontics and associate dean for research at the UIC College of Dentistry, and research associate Min Zhu.
But for morning breath, probably the easiest thing to do is to eat breakfast and brush your teeth and your tongue - and if you're really paranoid, gargle with weak hydrogen peroxide.
Foods Affect the Breath Exhaled Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contribute to objectionable breath odour. They are known sulphur producing foods, which in turn produce “dragon breath” or even worse “TKO breath”. The food’s aromatic components are absorbed and transferred to the lungs. Brushing, flossing and mouthwash will only mask the odour temporarily. Odours continue until the body eliminates the food.
Dieters may develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating.
Particles of food that remain in the mouth, are a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Food that collects between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums can rot, leaving an unpleasant odour.
Tobacco products cause bad breath.
Bad breath may be the sign of a medical disorder, such as a local infection in the respiratory tract, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, liver or kidney ailment.
You may wish to keep a log of foods you eat and the medications you take. Some medications may play a role in creating mouth odours. Let your dentist know if you've had any surgery or illness since your last appointment.
Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush your tongue, too. Once a day, use floss or an interdental cleaner to clean between teeth.
Some information garnered from http://www.abc.net.au/science/k2/moments/s426489.htm and http://www.ima.org.il/imaj/ar02oct-26.pdf
Odours of Happiness and Fear  Odours play an important role in identification and communication. A f nimals often recognize hierarchy and territory through odour. Each individual has a distinctive odour-type (4). Amongst people, babies, from the time of birth, can identify their mothers on the basis of smell alone and, after less than 24 hours, mothers can identify their infants by smelling them. Siblings can recognize each other by smell, and dogs can smell the difference between twins (not identical twins because they have identical odour) (1). Studies have shown that rodents, and possibly even humans, prefer a mate with a different odourtype-possibly a way of promoting genetic diversity within a population (4). Smell is the most honest way we have of communicating, though most humans are not "tuned in to it" or have lost the acute sense of smell that animals still possess. It might thus be said that the array of scented soaps, shampoos, perfumes, after shave, deodourants and air fresheners is a frantic effort to disguise ourselves,
Studies at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia have shown that individual odours are coded by same genes responsible for accepting or rejecting skin grafts or other transplanted organs. Although it is not understood how these genes code for odour, researchers have discovered groups of volatile organic acids which, when mixed differently, apparently produce an individual's specific odour (8). These odourtypes effect physiology, and mother-infant recognition. In less than 50 hours, an infant can discriminate between a gauze pad worn by his or her own breast-feeding mother, and than of another lactating mother. Zoos wishing to foster bear cubs rejected by their own mothers will first desensitise the olfactory senses of a potential foster mother before introducing the cub. They use a dab of Vicks Vaporub to the potential mother's snout.
Recent studies on rodents have shown that they can detect fear through scent alone (1). When the odour of rats that had been mildly electrically shocked was presented to rats that had not been shocked, they behaved in a nervous manner.
Studies by Denise Chen, and at Rutgers University by Jeanette Haviland have shown that humans are able to recognize fear or happiness in fellow human beings.
In the study, an equal number of men and women wore absorbent underarm pads while watching clips of either scary or funny movies. They separated the "happy armpit pads" from the scared ones and added in some neutral pads before asking about 80 men and women to smell the samples and attempt to identify "happy smells" and "scared smells". Although most subjects said they didn't smell anything, their guesses were very accurate. Women were apparently especially good at picking out the scared male samples. Three quarters of the women, and half the men were able to identify the one "fearful male odour jar" out of six. But men could not detect the happy smell of other males or fear from females (5).
Another study done to observe the ability of scent to influence a person's mood. Volunteers in three age groups, between 3 and 8, in their early 20's, and elderly individuals in their 70's agreed to use no deodourants, perfumes, or soaps and wear an armpit pad for 10 hours. About 300 university students were asked to report on their moods before and after smelling samples taken from the armpits of various people. Apparently, the smell from elderly women produced an uplifting effect, and the scent from young males produced a depressing effect. It has been suggested that the scent of elderly females conveyed approachability and familiarity, whereas the scent from young males conveyed aggression (5).
One of the most prominent mysteries in the realm of pheromones is the phenomenon that women living together find that their menstrual cycles synchronise. A study done in 1998 exposed women to arm pads worn by other women. Those who were exposed to the pads of ovulating women experienced longer cycles and those exposed to pads of women who had not yet entered ovulation had shorter menstrual cycles (7). Smell and Memory Smell evokes memory in a way that no other sense can. When the temporal cortical region of the brain (the site of memory) is damaged, the ability to identify smells is also damaged (1). Memories, and the emotions associated with those memories are prompted by strong smells (1). Studies have even shown that recall can be enhanced if learning was done in the presence of odour, and that same odour was present at the time of recall. Although the accuracy of the memory is not affected by the type of sensory cue (olfactory or auditory), the intensity and vividness of the memory are increased when the cue is olfactory (8).
The actual ability to smell is closely tied to memory and experience. Although infants are able to smell at the time of birth, they appear to be unable to distinguish between a pleasant and an unpleasant odour (1). This implies that the response to an odour must be learned. Humans tie scents to experiences with emotions. Perhaps this is why young children tend to put objects that adults find revolting into their mouths since there is no previous experience with the object to label it as a good thing or a bad thing. The ability to smell certain odours is actually a combination of experience and genetics (7). People who cannot detect certain smells are said to have "specific anosmia". These people can be induced to perceive the odour if they are exposed to it repeatedly (7).
We tend to think of the loss of sight or hearing as a tragic occurrence, whereas the loss of scent is laughed off or tied to aging. The fact is that people who lose their sense of smell are deprived of taste and important aspects of functionality-there has even been research tying the loss of smell to Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. Anosmia is the condition in which the sense of smell is lost (1). Two to three percent of the population is anosmic, and about fifteen percent have some form of "odour blindness" (9). This can be caused by aging, traumatic head injury, a virus, or exposure to damaging chemicals (1). Anosmia is not life threatening, and is often not treated or taken seriously.
Scientists are discovering important ways to use smell as a therapeutic tool. Simply smelling something during or before a negative experience often ties that smell to the experience, thus making it an unpleasant smell. The reaction also goes the other way, a smell is often associated with a positive experience. This could be very advantageous in medical treatments and psychiatry. A very exciting study was done recently-healthy males were injected with insulin once per day for four days. Their glucose was measured (it fell). During the injections, they were exposed to a smell. On the fifth day of research, the subjects were exposed to the smell without the insulin-their glucose fell (1).
Interestingly, odour evokes activity in the same cortical system where epilepsy often starts. Dr. Tim Betts of Birmingham University has conducted some studies using aromatherapy with epileptic patients. Almost all patients were able to reduce seizure frequency through associating a certain odour with relaxation (often this odour was Ylang Ylang, as opposed to rosemary which increased the frequency of the seizures) (1).
1) Olfaction: A Tutorial on the Sense of Smell.
2) Newton's Apple: Taste and Smell.
3) Brain Briefings: Smell and the Olfactory System, Summer 1995.
4) Science News: The sweet smell of serum.(identifying odours circulate in the blood)(Article Briefing), Issue: March 13, 1999.
5) New Scientist: The Scent of Fear, Issue: May 1, 1999.
6) New Scientist: Heavenly Scent, July 3, 1999.
7) The Chicago Maroon: The Science of Sex and.Smell, April 3, 1998.