Garlic Breath Remedies

December 7, 2010 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Garlic is one of the most commonly enjoyed seasonings in modern cuisine. There’s little doubt that many a dish benefits from it. Likewise, the health promoting attributes of garlic have been revered and utilized by civilizations for thousands of years. All that said, the after effects of Allium sativum consumption sometimes leave much to be desired. The reality is that garlic doesn’t just affect breath via the oral cavity. Recent scientific inquiries into this malodorous topic attest to the fact that certain sulfur compounds in garlic such as allyl methyl sulfide (AMS), hydrogen sulfide and methanethiol can also emanate from the gut. But you don’t necessarily need to give up garlic altogether in order to keep your colleagues, friends and mates happy. Before resorting to such extreme measures, you might consider trying out the following natural breath fresheners.

The August 2010 issue of the Journal of Food Science reports that whole milk is an extremely effective means of deodorizing “head-, mouth-, and nose-space concentrations” of garlic-derived aromatics. The combination of fat and water naturally contained in whole milk appears to provide a unique recipe for masking the flavors of garlic when consumed at the same time. Specific testing revealed that a solution of milk protein (casein) plus water or skim milk weren’t as effective as full-fat milk in this regard. Furthermore, mixing garlic in whole milk prior to preparing it in a recipe additionally decreases the risk of lingering garlic breath. (1)

If whole milk isn’t your “cup of tea”, perhaps a cup of green tea might suit you better. Researchers from the University of British Columbia have determined that tea polyphenols are helpful at extinguishing halitosis due to the antimicrobial and deodorant effects. What’s more, the benefits attributed to the phytochemicals in green tea begin working their magic almost immediately after ingestion. It’s interesting to note that in this investigation, the use of a green tea powder was found more effective at taming volatile sulfur compounds than chewing gum, mints and parsley-seed oil. (2)

Sources of Garlic Malodor in the Human Body
Source: Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 276: G425-G430, 1999 (link)

A final culinary option worth considering is an ingredient which is sometimes paired in dishes that already contain garlic – button mushrooms or Agaricus bisphorus. Scientists from the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California-Davis used “an electronic sensor and sensory evaluation measurement” to determine whether an extract from button mushrooms could nullify the malodor produced after eating garlic. The results of comparative gas chromatography analysis indicates that pungent offenders including allythiols and methanethiols significantly fell after exposure to this mushroom extract. Once again, the polyphenols present appear to be at least partially responsible for the breath benefits. (3)

Combating garlic breath isn’t exactly a priority in the research community and rightfully so. But you and I both know that even the smallest details of day to day life can affect the pleasure we derive from living. Garlic can enhance the flavor of the foods we eat and possibly even support long term wellness via improved cardiovascular health and beyond. Combining the above mentioned foods with dishes containing garlic may be a viable way to allow for the upside of garlic without any self conscious afterthoughts. (4,5)

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Dental Health, Food and Drink

11 Comments & Updates to “Garlic Breath Remedies”

  1. anne h Says:

    Love that picture!
    Love garlic, too!

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you, Anne! Me too!

    Luckily, Mrs. Healthy Fellow enjoys it as well. 🙂

    Be well!


  3. Pradip Gharpure Says:

    More importance be given to health benefits of garlice rather than its smell.It can be reduced by talking along with milk as suggested. Many people garlic boiled milk for this purpose.

  4. JP Says:

    Update: Probiotic supplementation can be helpful as well …

    Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol. 2014 Apr;117(4):462-70.

    Lactobacillus salivarius WB21–containing tablets for the treatment of oral malodor: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial.

    OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated the effect of probiotic intervention using lactobacilli on oral malodor.

    STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a 14-day, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover trial of tablets containing Lactobacillus salivarius WB21 (2.0 × 10(9) colony-forming units per day) or placebo taken orally by patients with oral malodor.

    RESULTS: Organoleptic test scores significantly decreased in both the probiotic and placebo periods compared with the respective baseline scores (P < .001 and P = .002), and no difference was detected between periods. In contrast, the concentration of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) (P = .019) and the average probing pocket depth (P = .001) decreased significantly in the probiotic period compared with the placebo period. Bacterial quantitative analysis found significantly lower levels of ubiquitous bacteria (P = .003) and Fusobacterium nucleatum (P = .020) in the probiotic period. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicated that daily oral consumption of tablets containing probiotic lactobacilli could help to control oral malodor and malodor-related factors. Be well! JP

  5. JP Says:

    Update: Oil pulling “works”, but it requires motivation to stick with it …

    J Clin Diagn Res. 2014 Nov;8(11):ZC18-21.

    Comparative efficacy of oil pulling and chlorhexidine on oral malodor: a randomized controlled trial.

    BACKGROUND: Oral malodor affects a large section of population. Traditional Indian folk remedy, oil pulling not only reduces it but can also bring down the cost of treatment.

    AIMS: To compare the efficacy of oil pulling and chlorhexidine in reducing oral malodor and microbes.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: Three week randomized controlled trial was conducted among 60 students of three hostels of Maharani College of science and arts and commerce and Smt V.H.D.College of Home Science. The hostels were randomized into two intervention groups namely chlorhexidine group, sesame oil and one control (placebo) group. Twenty girls were selected from each hostel based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. Informed consent was obtained. The parameters recorded at the baseline (day 0) and post intervention on day 22 were plaque index (PI), gingival index (GI), objective (ORG1) and subjective (ORG2) organoleptic scores and anaerobic bacterial colony (ABC) count. Intra and inter group comparisons were made using Kruskal Wallis test, Wilcoxan sign rank test, ANOVA and student t-test.

    RESULTS: There was significant reduction (p<0.05) in the mean scores of all the parameters within sesame oil and chlorhexidine group. Among the groups significant difference was observed in objective and subjective organoleptic scores. Post hoc test showed significant difference (p<0.000) in mean organoleptic scores of sesame oil and placebo and chlorhexidine and placebo group. No significant difference (p<0.05) was observed between sesame oil and chlorhexidine group.

    CONCLUSION: Oil pulling with sesame oil is equally efficacious as chlorhexidine in reducing oral malodor and microbes causing it. It should be promoted as a preventive home care therapy.

    Be well!


  6. JP Says:

    Updated 11/10/15:

    Appetite. 2015 Nov 6.

    Consumption of garlic positively affects hedonic perception of axillary body odour.

    Beneficial health properties of garlic, as well as its most common adverse effect – distinctive breath odour – are well-known. In contrast, analogous research on the effect of garlic on axillary odour is currently missing. Here, in three studies varying in the amount and nature of garlic provided (raw garlic in study 1 and 2, garlic capsules in study 3), we tested the effect of garlic consumption on quality of axillary odour. A balanced within-subject experimental design was used. In total, 42 male odour donors were allocated to either a “garlic” or “non-garlic” condition, after which they wore axillary pads for 12 hours to collect body odour. One week later, the conditions were reversed. Odour samples were then judged for their pleasantness, attractiveness, masculinity and intensity by 82 women. We found no significant differences in ratings of any characteristics in study 1. However, the odour of donors after an increased garlic dosage was assessed as significantly more pleasant, attractive and less intense (study 2), and more attractive and less intense in study 3. Our results indicate that garlic consumption may have positive effects on perceived body odour hedonicity, perhaps due to its health effects (e. g., antioxidant properties, antimicrobial activity).

    Be well!


  7. JP Says:

    Updated 08/27/16:

    Int J Prev Med. 2016 Jul 29;7:95.

    Effect of Garlic and Lemon Juice Mixture on Lipid Profile and Some Cardiovascular Risk Factors in People 30-60 Years Old with Moderate Hyperlipidaemia: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

    BACKGROUND: This study was performed to effects of garlic and lemon juice mixture on lipid profile and some cardiovascular risk factors in people 30-60 years old with moderate hyperlipidemia.

    METHODS: In a parallel-designed randomized controlled clinical trial, a total of 112 hyperlipidemic patients 30-60 years, were recruited from Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Center. People were selected and randomly divided into four groups. Control blood samples were taken and height, weight, and blood pressure were recorded. (1) Received 20 g of garlic daily, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice, (2) received 20 g garlic daily, (3) received 1 tablespoon of lemon juice daily, and (4) did not receive garlic or lemon juice. A study technician was done the random allocations using a random numbers table. All participants presented 3 days of dietary records and 3 days of physical activity records during 8 weeks. Blood samples were obtained at study baseline and after 8 weeks of intervention.

    RESULTS: Results showed a significant decrease in total cholesterol (changes from baseline: 40.8 ± 6.1, P < 0.001), low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (29.8 ± 2.6, P < 0.001), and fibrinogen (111.4 ± 16.1, P < 0.001) in the Group 1, in comparison with other groups. A greater reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure was observed in Group 1 compared with the Groups 3 and 4 (37 ± 10, P = 0.01) (24 ± 1, P = 0.02); respectively. Furthermore, a great reduction in body mass index was observed in the mixed group compared with the lemon juice and control groups (1.6 ± 0.1, P = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS: Administration of garlic plus lemon juice resulted in an improvement in lipid levels, fibrinogen and blood pressure of patients with hyperlipidemia. Be well! JP

  8. JP Says:

    Updated 09/27/16:

    J Food Sci. 2016 Sep 20.

    Deodorization of Garlic Breath by Foods, and the Role of Polyphenol Oxidase and Phenolic Compounds.

    Garlic causes a strong garlic breath that may persist for almost a day. Therefore, it is important to study deodorization techniques for garlic breath. The volatiles responsible for garlic breath include diallyl disulfide, allyl mercaptan, allyl methyl disulfide, and allyl methyl sulfide. After eating garlic, water (control), raw, juiced or heated apple, raw or heated lettuce, raw or juiced mint leaves, or green tea were consumed immediately. The levels of the garlic volatiles on the breath were analyzed from 1 to 60 min by selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS). Garlic was also blended with water (control), polyphenol oxidase (PPO), rosemarinic acid, quercetin or catechin, and the volatiles in the headspace analyzed from 3 to 40 min by SIFT-MS. Raw apple, raw lettuce, and mint leaves significantly decreased all of the garlic breath volatiles in vivo. The proposed mechanism is enzymatic deodorization where volatiles react with phenolic compounds. Apple juice and mint juice also had a deodorizing effect on most of the garlic volatiles but were generally not as effective as the raw food, probably because the juice had enzymatic activity but the phenolic compounds had already polymerized. Both heated apple and heated lettuce produced a significant reduction of diallyl disulfide and allyl mercaptan. The presence of phenolic compounds that react with the volatile compounds even in the absence of enzymes is the most likely mechanism. Green tea had no deodorizing effect on the garlic volatile compounds. Rosmarinic acid, catechin, quercetin, and PPO significantly decreased all garlic breath volatiles in vitro. Rosmarinic acid was the most effective at deodorization.

    Be well!


  9. JP Says:

    Updated 07/10/18:

    J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2018;64(3):185-191.

    Effects of French Pine Bark Extract Chewing Gum on Oral Malodor and Salivary Bacteria.

    Frequent or persistent malodor (halitosis) represents a considerable embarrassment to those affected. French pine bark extract, Pycnogenol® (PYC), has displayed antibacterial activity against a broad range of bacterial species. In the present study, anticipated benefits of PYC on diminishing halitosis were investigated. Ten healthy males and 11 females, aged 40.1±12.3 y, were recruited based on threshold breath sulfur compounds presence, diagnosed by portable gas chromatography. Subjects were randomly assigned to either sugar-free gums, or gums bearing an additional 2.5 mg PYC per piece. The subjects were required to consume two pieces of PYC or placebo gum six times daily for 15 min. The levels of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), measured by OralChromaTM, and tongue-coating score were recorded at baseline, 2, and 4 wk. Hydrogen sulfide-producing bacteria in saliva were cultured on Brucella blood agar plates containing 0.05% cysteine, 0.12% glutathione, and 0.02% lead acetate. The group consuming PYC chewing gum reduced exhaled hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan and dimethyl sulfide significantly (p<0.01) after 2 wk versus baseline. Continuation of daily PYC-gum consumption for 4 wk remarkably lowered the tongue-coating score and exhaled hydrogen sulfide was significantly decreased compared to the placebo group. PYC chewing gum significantly reduced hydrogen sulfide-producing bacteria in saliva after 4 wk (p<0.01), with no effects observed in the placebo control. The results suggest that PYC chewing gum is effective in reducing oral malodor by decreasing the accumulation of tongue coating and the number of hydrogen sulfide-producing bacteria in saliva.

    Be well!


  10. bob law Says:

    |I am an 80 year old male and for years have been advised that my breath smells of garlic even when not having consumed garlic for many days! I would appreciate your comments re. possible reasons. Bob Law

  11. JP Says:

    Hi Bob,

    You may find some possible solutions in this blog:

    More often than not, this cause of this issue is dietary, gut-related or due to some oral factor (dry mouth, gum disease, inadequate dental hygiene, etc.).

    Kind regards


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