Search my Site:

Get our Bad Breath Research Newsletter!

Contact me!

Bad Breath (halitosis) Research

faqtitle.gif (4164 bytes)

Ancient Hebrew Cures

One is a Talmudic mouthwash composed of dough water, olive oil and salt. Actually, I encountered a young man from Bnei Braq who actually prepares such a concoction.

Another talmudic cure for bad breath is holding a pepper between the teeth. Unfortunately, noone is around to tell us exactly what they referred to as a pepper two thousand years ago. About eight hundred years ago, the Jewish sage Rashi, suggested that a long pepper was the kind required.  Intrepid readers may want to compare several kinds and let me know.

Finally, the ancient Jewish folklore recommends chewing mastic. Here, we know that the reference is 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 oral malodor reduction (chewing anything stimulates saliva and ameliorates bad breath). Mastic is also used for other medicinal and semi-medicinal purposes, including its incorporation in home-brewed arak. Mastic can still be obtained from several sources, and is sold as breath-freshening chewing gum in Greece. It is not cheap. However, if you are thinking of collecting the resin from local shrubs, think again. Gum mastic is big business on the Greek island of Chios, just off the Turkish coast, which has a practical monopoly on its production. Incisions are made in the trunk of the tree and the exuding resin hardens and is harvested. The quality of the mastic depends on whether it is collected straight from the bark, from the ground (actually from stones laid around the trunk), etc.
An indication of the importance of fresh breath in Judaism, is that whereas chewing gum mastic is usually not allowed during the Sabbath, chewing it for relief of bad breath is permitted. Gum mastic (ladanum) was mentioned in the book of Genesis (chapter 37) as one of the products carried by the caravan that took Joseph down to Egypt.