Sweet magnolia: Tree bark extract fights bad breath and tooth decay

November 19, 2007
Sweet magnolia: Tree bark extract fights bad breath and tooth decay
Magnolia bark extract shows promise for fighting bad breath when used in gum and mints. Credit: Courtesy of Michael Greenberg, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company

“Sweet magnolia” does more than describe the fragrant blossoms of a popular evergreen tree. It also applies to magnolia bark’s effects on human breath. Scientists in Illinois are reporting that breath mints made with magnolia bark extract kill most oral bacteria that cause bad breath and tooth decay within 30 minutes. The extract could be a boon for oral health when added to chewing gum and mints, they report in a study scheduled for the Nov. 14 issue of the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Consumers often turn to flavored chewing gum and mints to battle bad breath. However, those products only temporarily mask the odor of bad breath, which is caused by bacteria. Existing anti-bacterial products for bad breath are far from ideal, with some having side effects like tooth staining.

In the new study, Minmin Tian and Michael Greenberg tested the germ-killing power of magnolia bark extract using saliva samples taken from volunteers following a regular meal. Mints containing the extract killed more than 61 percent of the germs that cause bad breath within 30 minutes, compared with only a 3.6 percent germ-kill for the same flavorless mints without the extract, the researchers say.

The extract also showed strong antibacterial activity against a group of bacteria known to cause cavities. Mints and chewing gum containing the extract may also provide a “portable oral care supplement to dentifrice (toothpaste), where brushing is not possible,” the study states.

Source: American Chemical Society

Explore further: Is your fear of radiation irrational?

Related Stories

Is your fear of radiation irrational?

July 14, 2015

Bad Gastein in the Austrian Alps. It's 10am on a Wednesday in early March, cold and snowy – but not in the entrance to the main gallery of what was once a gold mine. Togged out in swimming trunks, flip-flops and a bath ...

Peat moss, a necessary bane

May 21, 2015

The temperature balance on Earth may be dependent on a conspicuous creation that sours life for everyone around, guzzles more than a sponge and produces lots of offspring that behave likewise. And you thought your neighbours ...

3D television without glasses

September 1, 2011

When the boundaries merge between the action and the viewer, television becomes a special experience. Fraunhofer research scientists are optimizing the technologies that make it possible to watch TV in 3D without technical ...

Amazon forest and the price of gold

April 22, 2011

Ellen Silbergeld keeps the price of gold posted on the door to her office at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. The price is now at a record high (better than $1,500 an ounce) and Silbergeld, ...

Recommended for you

Perfectly accurate clocks turn out to be impossible

October 7, 2015

Can the passage of time be measured precisely, always and everywhere? The answer will upset many watchmakers. A team of physicists from the universities of Warsaw and Nottingham have just shown that when we are dealing with ...

The topolariton, a new half-matter, half-light particle

October 7, 2015

A new type of "quasiparticle" theorized by Caltech's Gil Refael, a professor of theoretical physics and condensed matter theory, could help improve the efficiency of a wide range of photonic devices—technologies, such as ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.