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Is Parsley an Antidote for Bad Breath?

Parsley may be able to reverse garlic breath, and green tea seems to counteract halitosis.

We love hearing from readers who offer home remedies we haven’t seen in common use. You might not be aware of this one: nibble on parsley leaves to banish bad breath.

Will Parsley Overcome Bad Breath?

Q. You may have some readers who would like to know about eliminating breath odors. A simple and inexpensive way to do this is to nibble on parsley leaves, fresh or dried.

I learned this from a co-worker who fortified himself with a shot of gin before meetings. He then nibbled on dried parsley from a tin he kept next to his bottle to eliminate the smell.

I tried his trick after I developed a sore throat and ate a garlic sandwich to ward it off. I didn’t want to lose a day of work, but everyone who came into the office commented on the garlic smell and followed their noses to my cubicle. I was startled by the accusations. My co-worker saved the day by pouring a liberal amount of parsley flakes into my hand and telling me to eat it like a rabbit. In no time, the whole staff settled down to work.

A. Although parsley is popular, we couldn’t find any studies on its ability to control bad breath. However, raw apple, parsley, spinach and mint all individually reduced the sulfur compounds put out by garlic (Munch & Barringer, Journal of Food Science, April 2014). Since these sulfur-containing chemicals are similar to those responsible for halitosis, that lends support to your idea.

Green Tea for Better Breath:

Surprisingly, green tea also has a measurable short-term effect on these chemicals (Lodhia et al, Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, Feb. 2008; Tahani & Sabzian, Dental Research Journal, Nov-Dec. 2018). 

So the next time you need to suppress bad breath for a little while, munch a sprig of parsley or consider sipping and swishing a cup of green tea. It just might make your breath smell sweeter.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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