Magnolia bark takes bite out of bad breath


Magnolia bark has anti-bacterial properties

Magnolia bark extract - a traditional Chinese medicine - may be the newest weapon in the war on bad breath.

A major chewing gum maker said that it has added the germ-killing compound to their gum and mints. The hope is to not simply mask bad breath, as most strongly flavoured mints and gums do, but to kill odour-causing bacteria.

Magnolia bark extract has long been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine. It is used to treat fever, headache and stress - and has proven effective against germs that cause ulcers. Recent studies have shown it has low toxicity and few side effects.

Most bad breath occurs when bacteria in the mouth break down proteins, producing foul-smelling sulphur compounds. But many antimicrobial agents cause nasty side effects like tooth staining, making them impractical for oral care.

Researchers from Wrigleys tested magnolia bark extract on cultures of three types of oral micro-organisms. The extract killed 99.9 percent of the micro-organisms within five minutes, the researchers said.

In a study of nine volunteers who chewed the mints after lunch, they killed off more than 61 per cent of the germs that cause bad breath within 30 minutes - which is comparable to some commercial mouthwashes, the company study found. Mints without the extract were only 3.6 percent effective.

Gum with the extract took a bit longer to kill oral bacteria. The extract also helped kill a group of bacteria that causes tooth decay.

Wrigley's tree-bark gum will be available in the U.S. later this summer. Eclipse mints with the tree-bark extract will be available in autumn.

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