October 21, 2009
The hidden link between mouthwash and
high blood pressure
If you’re like most people, you love fresh breath. You probably brush your teeth two or three times a day. And you may even use mouthwash. But did you know that mouthwash you’re using has a dirty little secret? It may lead to high blood pressure and sexual problems in men.
How is that possible, since you don’t even swallow the mouthwash?
You probably already know that your mouth is full of bacteria. This bacteria are what cause bad breath. When you use mouthwash, it kills these bacteria and freshens your breath.
What the manufacturers of mouthwash don’t want you to know is that these bacteria are vital for good health. Just like the bacteria in your gut is good for you (as long as your body keeps them in balance), so are the bacteria in your mouth.
When you eat foods, such as beets, that are high in nitrate, the bacteria on the back of your tongue assist in a very important metabolic process. They actually help convert the nitrate to blood-vessel-dilating nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide, if you remember, is vital for healthy blood pressure and for men to have a healthy sex life. In fact, medications that treat ED increases nitric oxide. Of course, they do so with many dangerous side effects. Beets and other foods that contain nitrate don’t cause any negative side effects.
If your mouthwash kills off the bacteria on the back of your tongue, it hinders your body’s ability to create nitric oxide. But don’t just take my word for it. A small study actually confirmed that using a chlorhexidine mouthwash prevents this “nitrate to nitric oxide” conversion.
In the study, researchers divided 7 healthy volunteers into two groups. They gave each of the participants either a chlorhexidine-containing antibacterial mouthwash or a placebo. Then they gave all of the participants foods that increased their nitrate load.
The researchers found that all of the participants who used the placebo mouthwash saw a substantial increase in nitrate and nitric oxide load. But those who used the antibacterial mouthwash prior to eating the nitrates significantly reduced their saliva and plasma levels of nitrite.
I’ve never been a fan of chemical hygiene products to kill germs. This is a great case in point. If you are using a mouthwash, you might be contributing to lower nitric oxide in your body. Reduced nitric oxide can translate to higher blood pressure in both sexes, and perhaps ED in men.
The lesson? Don’t use chemical mouthwashes to freshen your breath. There are good natural mouthwashes at your local health food store. But you don’t have to use any mouthwash to have fresh breath if you don’t eat junk food. Bad breath is often the result of a poor diet. So eat correctly to maintain healthy mouth bacteria — and have fresh breath.
Yours for better health and medical freedom,
Robert Jay Rowen, MD
Ref: Nitric Oxide, Aug 2008.