Using natural breath fresheners might have deprived Stone Age man of a weapon, but they're just right for the sensibilities of modern, civilized folk.
Illustraton by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff
When our ancestors found themselves with offensive breath, they couldn't (of course) pop candied deodorizers into their mouths. In fact, back in those days, folks used a number of natural breath fresheners that could be found in kitchens and herb gardens — and many of them are just as available today!
The most obvious of these is fresh mint; just a leaf or two will delight a sour mouth. Then too, the spicy-flowery qualities of coriander and cardamom make them excellent breath sweeteners — as is mace — when the seeds are chewed or held in the mouth for several minutes.
Anise seeds' licorice-like flavor is delicious and works well, too. Chew them slowly, as has been prescribed and done ever since the Middle Ages. Or munch on small pieces of angelica root. Legend states that its users will be blessed with angelic qualities (how's that for a bonus?).
Finally, there's that super-spicy odor-eater, the clove, which was called the "chickentongue spice" in ancient China because one of the Han emperors required his courtiers to hold cloves under their tongues while in his presence, giving them a "chickeny" look.
We all like kissing-sweet breath, and the spice rack or the garden can come to our aid in a fine, natural, and economical way. After all, "a penny saved ... !"