A New Cure for Bad Breath

By Kris Kucera

Research shows that magnolia-bark extract, a traditional Chinese medicine historically used for stress relief, also helps halt halitosis. Mints and gum containing magnolia bark kill about 60 percent of the bad breath-causing bacteria, compared to the 4 percent killed by standard mints, according to a recent study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The researchers found that magnolia-bark mints freshen breath for 60 minutes and are comparable to gargling with 20 mL of Listerine mouthwash. Although magnolia-bark chewing gum probably won’t hit the shelves for some time, you can try this herb yourself by steeping the raw, chopped bark (available at most herb stores) in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes and using the tea as a mouthwash (drinking the tea, while safe, may upset your stomach).