Halitosis is a common condition marked by unpleasant breath or presence of foul odour from mouth. It may be caused due to a variety of oral and non-oral conditions. However, according to an estimate, 90% cases of bad breath are due to oral conditions.

Although there are no separate chapters on mukhaswasthya or oral hygiene in Ayurvedic texts, Ayurveda has stressed the importance of oral health by including dental hygiene–promoting activities such as pratisarana (massaging the gums and teeth) and dantadhavana (brushing the tooth) in dinacharya (daily routine).

Ayurveda describes oil pulling techniques such as kavala and gandusha as the major cleansing procedures for halitosis treatment. Herbs like cinnamon, cardamom and clove are recommended to improve dental health and treat halitosis. Ayurvedic formulations like triphala (a combination of amalaki [Indian gooseberry], vibhitaki [belleric myrobalan], and haritaki [chebulic myrobalan]) churna (powder) are used to reduce bad breath and treat oral conditions like bleeding gums that cause bad breath. Practising healthy oral habits like gargling, brushing and flossing regularly prevents halitosis and also maintains oral health.

  1. Ayurvedic view of halitosis (bad breath)
  2. Ayurvedic treatment for halitosis (bad breath)
  3. Ayurvedic herbs and medicines for halitosis (bad breath)
  4. Dietary and lifestyle changes for halitosis (bad breath) patient as per ayurveda
  5. How effective are ayurvedic medicines and treatments for halitosis (bad breath)
  6. Side effects and risks of ayurvedic medicine and treatments for halitosis (bad breath)
  7. Takeaway
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Halitosis is known as mukhadurgandhi in Ayurveda. It is known to be caused due to various intra-oral and extra-oral factors including bacterial infections, gum diseases like gingivitis, poor oral hygiene, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), tonsillitis, dry mouth, mouth or nose cancer and infections of the nose, lungs or throat. People with diabetes and autoimmune conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome may also experience bad breath.

According to Ayurveda, major body processes like digestion begin in the oral cavity, so, regular and frequent cleaning of the oral cavity is very important for maintaining good health. Oral cavity includes jihva (tongue), kantha (throat), danta (teeth), oshtha (lips), sarvasara (oral mucosa) and dantamoola (gums).

Ayurvedic texts mention various procedures such as gandusha and kavala (gargling and oil pulling), pratisarana, jivha nirlekhana (tongue cleaning) and dantadhavana as part of dinacharya (daily routine) to reduce bad breath, prevent mukharogas (mouth conditions) and maintain mukhaswasthya.

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  • Dantapavan/Dattuna (Chewing sticks/brushing teeth)
    • Dattuna or chewing sticks is advisable in the morning as well as after eating meals to prevent oral diseases and keep the oral cavity clean. Soft, leafless and healthy plant stems are used for this procedure.
    • For this procedure, one end of the stem should be crushed, chewed and then used for brushing gently. After brushing, the other end of the stem should be used for cleaning the tongue.
    • According to Acharya Sushruta, sticks used for dantapavan should have bitter, pungent and astringent properties. Total thickness of dattuna stick should be equal to the thickness of the tiny finger, and dattuna stem should be around nine inches long.
    • Fresh stems of herbs such as neem, yashtimadhu (mulethi), nirgundi (five-leaved chaste tree), arjuna, and karanja (Indian beech) are usually recommended for dantapavana and dattuna.
    • Twigs of guggulu (Indian bdellium-tree), pippali (long pepper), and vibhitaki are not used for dattuna.
    • Following this practice can get rid of accumulated tartar or plaque; prevent gingivitis, cavities and gum diseases; and also help treat and prevent halitosis.
    • Along with eliminating bad odour, brushing also gets rid of mala (waste products) on tooth and tongue and increases interest towards eating food.
  • Jivha nirlekhana
    • Jivha nirlekhana, also known as tongue scrapping, is typically done after dantapavana.
    • Tongue scrapers made from metals such as copper, gold or silver or those made from medicinal tree branches are said to be ideal for jivha nirlekhana.
    • Tongue scraping improves agni (digestive fire) and stimulates the digestive system.
    • It is helpful in removing excess bacterial growth from the oral cavity, which is one of the major causes of bad odour.
    • Jivha nirlekhana also enhances the senses of taste, stimulates reflex points of tongue, and promotes the secretion of digestive enzymes. Improved digestion, in turn, prevents bad breath.
  • Gandusha and kavala
    • Gandusha and kavala are mentioned as the classical oral cleansing procedures in Ayurveda.
    • In the gandusha procedure, medicated fluids are used to fill the mouth cavity fully. The individual is then asked to hold this fluid in mouth until srava or secretions release from netra (eyes) or nasa (nose).
    • In the kavala procedure, medicated paste or fluid is administered in the mouth in a specific dosage. The individual is then asked to move it freely within the mouth for a particular period and spit it out.
    • Lukewarm water, medicated ghee (clarified butter), honey, oil or milk are generally used for gandusha and kavala.
    • Decoctions of musta (nutgrass), arjuna, amalaki and haritaki, and medicated ghee are generally used as kavala in the treatment of puthyasyata (foul oral odour due to the accumulation of debris), upakusha (gum boils) and sheetada (scorbutic affection of the gums).
    • Gandusha, if performed daily, can reduce swelling, mukhavairasya (bad taste in mouth), jadya (dullness) and durgandha (bad odour). Performing gandusha with taila (oil) can prevent dryness of mouth, dantashula (tooth pain), oshthasphutana (cracked lips), dantaharsha (sensitivity) and dantakshaya (loss of teeth).
    • Gandusha also improves tushti (feeling of freshness), indriyaprasada (a sense of well-being of the sensory organs) and vaktralaghuta (lightness of the mouth).
  • Pratisarana
    • Pratisarana is a process in which powders or pastes along with oil or honey are used to massage teeth and gums gently.
    • This procedure removes plaque deposits and food debris from teeth and helps maintain periodontal health.
    • Triphala, trikatu (a combination of the three acrids – pippali, shunthi [dried ginger] and maricha [black pepper]) and trijata (three spices) are generally used for pratisarana therapy.

Ayurvedic herbs for halitosis

  • Cinnamon
    • Twak or cinnamon is an astringent (constricts body tissues) and aromatic herb with a pungent, hot and sweet taste.
    • Cinnamon acts on the marrow, plasma and nerve tissues.
    • The bark of this plant is enriched with antifungal and antibacterial substances that make it useful in the treatment of halitosis.
    • It also has carminative (relieves flatulance), demulcent (inflammation and irritation-relieving), digestive, stimulant, antiseptic and expectorant properties. Together, these help maintain gastrointestinal problems, one of the major causes of bad breath.
    • Apart from halitosis, cinnamon also provides relief from other health problems like nausea, toothache, muscle tension, vomiting, menstrual pain and low metabolism.
    • You can take cinnamon as a mouthwash in the form of an infusion or decoction or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Cardamom
    • Ela or cardamom is one of the major herbs that are used for improving digestion. Apart from the gastrointestinal system, it also acts on the nervous, respiratory, circulatory systems.
    • Cardamom is a pungent spice with a hot and sweet taste.
    • It reduces belching, nausea, diarrhoea and stomach complaints, thus being effective in the treatment of halitosis caused by GERD.
    • You can use cardamom as a mouthwash in the form of an infusion or decoction; consume it in the form of a milk decoction or powder or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Neem
    • Nimba or neem is a bitter-tasting herb with astringent and tonic properties.
    • It acts on the respiratory, circulatory, digestive and urinary systems.
    • The antiviral, pain-relieving, anthelmintic and blood-purifying properties of this herb make it useful for treating many health conditions including jaundice, obesity, syphilis, inflammations and malaria.
    • Neem is a natural antimicrobial. When used as a chewing stick, it helps keep the mouth clean, thereby preventing bad breath.
    • You can also take neem in the form of an infusion, medicated oil or ghee, decoction, powder or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Turmeric
    • Haridra or turmeric has stimulant, anthelmintic, antibiotic, aromatic and carminative properties and it acts on the urinary, circulatory and digestive systems.
    • It helps heal many health conditions like jaundice, inflammatory bowel syndrome, diabetes, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and sore eyes.
    • Turmeric is an excellent healing agent and it is widely used for reducing sprains, wounds and bruises.
    • As a natural antioxidant and antibacterial herb, it is effective in treating dental conditions like gingivitis, dental caries, halitosis and lichen planus.
    • Massaging gums with turmeric can also reduce pain and swelling in case of tooth pain.
  • Sesame
    • Tila or sesame has rejuvenating and nutritive properties and it works well on the reproductive, respiratory and urinary systems.
    • It can heal many health conditions including piles, dysmenorrhea, constipation, burns, gonorrhoea, dysentery, eye problems and amenorrhea.
    • Performing gandusha with sesame oil provides relief from cracked lips, oral malodour, tooth decay and dryness of throat.
    • You can take sesame in the form of decoction, medicated oil, powders, pastes or as per your physician’s direction.

Ayurvedic medicines for halitosis

  • Triphala churna
    • Triphala churna is is an Ayurvedic medication prepared from amlaki, haritaki and vibhitaki. All these herbs are rich in vitamin C, linoleic acid, fructose and stearic acid, which make it an excellent choice of medicine for the treatment of bad breath.
    • The vitamin C in this churna helps improve immunity by stimulating the formation of antibodies against disease causing antigens.
    • It also has anti-microbial, anti-oxidant and antiseptic properties that make it useful for treating many dental conditions like mouth ulcers, tooth decay, bleeding gums and halitosis.
  • Kumarabharana rasa
    • Kumarabharana rasa is a combination of adraka (ginger), vacha (calamus), ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), yashtimadhu, pippali, amalaki and other herbal ingredients along with bhasmas (calcined preparations) of rajata (silver), pravala (coral) and suvarna (gold).
    • This combination is then infused with the properties of brahmi (water hyssop), tulsi (holy basil) or guduchi (heart-leaved moonseed) juice to preapre the rasa.
    • Kumarabharana rasa is indicated for chronic tonsillitis, a condition that can cause halitosis.
  • Nagaradi kwatha
    • Nagaradi kwatha is a herbal formulation prepared from ingredients such as musta, triphala, and shunthi.
    • This medication is primarily indicated for gingivitis, a periodontal disease with bad breath as one of its major symptms. .

As treatments vary according to numerous factors and an individual’s prakriti (constitution), consult a qualified Ayurvedic doctor for the appropriate medications and treatments for your specific complaints.

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  • Follow a daily routine of dantadhavana, jivha nirlekhana, kavala and gandusha to cleanse the mouth regularly and remove debris from oral cavity.


In a clinical study, 20 patients with a history of teeth sensitivity, halitosis, bleeding gums and tooth mobility were asked to use triphala decoction as a mouthwash along with 3 g of oral triphala churna thrice a day for 1 month. Follow up indicated significant symptomatic improvement in all the patients, confirming the ayurvedic use of this formulation for oral health improvement.

A pilot study conducted to assess the efficacy of kumarabharana rasa demonstrates the efficiency of this medicine in relieving chronic tonsilitis in children. The study involved administration of about 500 mg of kumarabharana rasa, once per day for 30 days, to a group of 16 children suffering from chronic tonsilitis. About 50% improvement was reported in bad breath by most of the patients. 

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, tongue cleaning reduces tongue coating and enhancing the sensation of taste instead of reducing total bacterial load. Though, reduction in tongue coating ultimately suppresses bacterial growth due to the absence of purification substrate.

  • Dantapavan is not indicated as the treatment for pathological health conditions like heart diseases, facial paralysis, mouth ulcers and disorders of ear, nose, throat, and eyes. People with these conditions should use the fine and soft powdered form of herbs and medication for teeth cleansing.
  • People with excess pitta and bleeding disorders should not consume cinnamon.
  • Cardamom may cause ulcers.
  • People with emaciated bodies should avoid using neem.
  • Pregnant women should not take large doses of sesame as it may lead to abortion. People with obesity and increased pitta dosha should avoid sesame as well.
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Halitosis is an embarrassing and distressing condition. It can be an indication of an underlying health condition, which may be oral or non-oral. Ayurvedic herbs and medications aim at reducing bad breath by strengthening teeth, reducing plaque deposits, improving gum health and enhancing periodontal health.

Practising a daily routine of brushing, flossing, tongue scraping and other dental hygiene procedures while undergoing Ayurvedic treatment helps achieve a healthier mouth and fresher breath at a faster rate. It also aids in preventing dental problems and maintaining dental hygiene.

Dr. Padam Dixit

Dr. Padam Dixit

10 Years of Experience

Dr Mir Suhail Bashir

Dr Mir Suhail Bashir

2 Years of Experience

Dr. Saumya Gupta

Dr. Saumya Gupta

1 Years of Experience

Dr. Jatin Kumar Sharma

Dr. Jatin Kumar Sharma

5 Years of Experience


  1. Gunjan Garg. et al. Ayurvedic Approach in Oral Health and Hygiene: A Review. International Journal of Ayurveda and Pharma Research. Vol 4. Issue 5.
  2. Krithi Amai. et al. Critical Analysis of Role of Kavala and Gandusha in the Management of Halitosis. Jour. of Ayurveda & Holistic Medicine . Volume-IV, Issue-II.
  3. Sanae Akkaoui , Oum keltoum Ennibi. Use of traditional plants in management of halitosis in a Moroccan population. Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology. Vol 6.
  4. Dr. Shibam Chatterjee. et al. Triphala - An Indigenous Ayurvedic Mouthwash As An Anti-Inflammatory Agent - A Clinical Study. J Nepal Soc Perio Oral Implantol. 2017;1(2):60-4. Vol. 1.
  5. Cleveland Clinic. [Internet]. Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, United States; Bad Breath (Halitosis): Possible Causes.
  6. Swami Sadashiva Tirtha. Ayurveda encyclopedia. Sat Yuga Press, 2007. 657 pages.
  7. Nilesh Arjun Torwane. et al. Role of Ayurveda in management of oral health. Pharmacogn Rev. 2014 Jan-Jun; 8(15): 16–21. PMID: 24600192.
  8. Dr.Lahari Buggapati. Herbs in Dentistry. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Science Invention. Volume 5. Issue 6. October 2016.
  9. Asokan S. Oil pulling therapy. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2008 [cited 2019 Jul 12];19:169.
  10. Shailaja Uppinakudru. et al. Effect of Kumarabharana rasa on chronic tonsillitis in children: A pilot clinical study. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy 4(2):153-157
  11. Rajshree Unadkat. et al. Clinical efficacy of "Bhadra Mustadi Paste" and "Nagaradi Kwatha Gandusha" in Shitada (Gingivitis). An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda.
  12. Quirynen M. et al. Impact of tongue cleansers on microbial load and taste.. J Clin Periodontol. 2004 Jul;31(7):506-10. PMID: 15191584

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