Foul breath according to Chinese Medicine

Home > Symptoms list > Foul breath

Foul breath can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like foul breath here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here foul breath is often associated with nausea, sour regurgitation and belching in the pattern “Food Stagnation in the Stomach”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of foul breath we’ve identified two herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat foul breath.

Food Stagnation in the Stomach, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause foul breath

In Chinese Medicine foul breath is a symptom for the pattern "Food Stagnation in the Stomach". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

The Stomach is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Stomach in Chinese Medicine

Food Stagnation in the Stomach

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Full (Shi)

In addition to foul breath, other symptoms associated with Food Stagnation in the Stomach include nausea, sour regurgitation and belching.

Food Stagnation in the Stomach is often treated with Bao He Wan, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Hawthorn Berries - Shan Zha - as a key herb). Bao He Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that reduce food accumulation and transform stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Reduces food stagnation".

Read more about Food Stagnation in the Stomach here

Two herbal formulas that might help with foul breath

Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan

Source date: 1247 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Reduces and guides out stagnation and accumulation. Drains heat. Dispels dampness.

Why might Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan help with foul breath?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Food Stagnation in the Stomach' of which foul breath is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Food Stagnation In The Stomach include nausea, sour regurgitation and belching.

Read more about Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan here

Bao He Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Reduces food stagnation. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Bao He Wan help with foul breath?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Food Stagnation in the Stomach' of which foul breath is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Food Stagnation In The Stomach include nausea, sour regurgitation and belching.

Read more about Bao He Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat foul breath

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with foul breath?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat foul breath as a symptom, like Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan or Bao He Wan for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might Medicated Leaven (Shen Qu) help with foul breath?

Because Medicated Leaven is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat foul breath as a symptom, like Bao He Wan or Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan for instance.

Medicated Leaven is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Assists the Stomach in removing Food Stagnation. Harmonizes the Earth element and improves digestion.

Read more about Medicated Leaven here

Why might Hawthorn Berry (Shan Zha) help with foul breath?

Because it is a key herb in Bao He Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Food Stagnation in the Stomach' (a pattern with foul breath as a symptom)

Hawthorn Berries is a Warm herb that tastes Sour and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Improves digestion and reduces Food Stagnation. Invigorates the Blood and breaks Stasis. Treats hypertension and heart disease. Reduce body fat

Read more about Hawthorn Berries here

Why might Immature Bitter Orange (Zhi Shi) help with foul breath?

Because it is a key herb in Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Food Stagnation in the Stomach' (a pattern with foul breath as a symptom)

Immature Bitter Oranges is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter, Pungent and Sour. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Large intestine.

Its main actions are: Regulates the flow of Qi in the Middle Burner and reduces Food Stagnation. Moves Qi downward and helps constipation. Reduces Stagnant Phlegm and lessens distention and pain. For prolapse of organs when used with the appropriate herbs.

Read more about Immature Bitter Oranges here

Why might Rhubarb (Da Huang) help with foul breath?

Because it is a key herb in Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Food Stagnation in the Stomach' (a pattern with foul breath as a symptom)

Rhubarb is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Large intestine, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Drains Excess Heat and eliminates Dampness, especially when in the Sunlight Yang stage. Cools the Blood and stops bleeding. Invigorates Blood, breaks up Stasis and relieves pain. Clears Heat and toxins from Excess. Applied topically for Hot sores and Blood Stasis.

Read more about Rhubarb here

Other symptoms often associated with foul breath

Nausea Sour regurgitation Belching Insomnia Poor appetite