If you’re like most people, you love fresh breath. You brush your teeth every day, and you may even use mouthwash.
But did you know that the mouthwash you’re using can cause high blood pressure – and even erectile dysfunction? It’s true! Even if you never swallow the mouthwash.
Antiseptic mouthwashes work by killing the bacteria that cause bad breath. But here’s the problem: In addition to killing bad bacteria, these mouthwashes also kill good bacteria.
Yes, your mouth has both bad and good bacteria, just like your gut. And just like in your gut, the good bacteria in your mouth help you digest foods and process nutrients.
For example, when you eat foods such as carrots, strawberries, or lettuce, the bacteria break down the nitrates in those foods and convert them to a substance called nitrite, which is later converted into nitric oxide.
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As you may know, nitric oxide expands your blood vessels. This lowers your blood pressure and helps prevent arterial plaque and platelet clumping. And this in turn lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke …. and even relieves impotence. (In fact, drugs like Viagra and supplements like l-arginine work by increasing nitric oxide.)
Yes, nitric oxide is very important. Unfortunately, using antiseptic mouthwash hinders your body’s ability to make nitric oxide. And a recent study proves it.
In the study, researchers gave half the participants an antiseptic mouthwash and the other half a fake mouthwash that tasted the same. Then they gave everyone nitrate-rich foods, and tested their nitrite levels.
Result: the group using the fake mouthwash saw an increase in their nitrite levels. But the folks who used the antiseptic mouthwash significantly reduced the nitrate conversion in their mouth!
So please don’t use chemical mouthwashes to freshen your breath. Use a good natural mouthwash instead. There are plenty of good ones available at your local health food store. Better yet: avoid junk food and eat a healthy diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables. It’s one of the best ways to maintain healthy mouth bacteria and fresh breath.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Ahluwalia A, Haydar MA S, Kapil Vikas, Lundberg JO, Pearl V, and Weitzberg E. Physiological role for nitrate-reducing oral bacteria in blood pressure control. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 2014.