Ask the Pharmacist: Natural solutions for burning mouth syndrome
Holiday foods are all around us at this time of year! And enjoying these pies, cakes and delicious meals is taken for granted by most us. But what if you had chronic mouth pain? This occurs with a condition called “Burning Mouth Syndrome” which feels like its name! There are usually no sores in the mouth, it is just the sensation of burning, or heat, or pain. The medical term for people who suffer with this is called “idiopathic glossopyrosis.”
Burning Mouth Syndrome or BMS is common in people who take medications for blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. The nutrient depletions that cause neuropathy are fully discussed in my paperback book, "Drug Muggers."
There isn’t a lot that conventional medicine offers. There aren’t a lot of drugs to try, just a handful. Physicians work you up for the obvious, like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux) or Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder. Some doctors admit that they don’t know what is causing the pain (termed “idiopathic”) but they’ll still try to help by prescribing a medication called gabapentin. This reduces the sensation of pain, but its use is limited due to side effects.
You will be told to drink plenty of fluids (to avoid dry mouth), suck on ice chips and avoid acidic foods that could aggravate the pain. Some acidic foods include tomatoes, citrus fruits, soda/carbonated water, sauerkraut, pomegranate juice and coffee.
A study once determined that B12 deficiency was definitely associated with BMS. They also checked levels of iron, folate, calcium and magnesium but none of those were deficient in the patients they checked. So if B12 is deficient in people who have this type of oral pain, it begs a new question about their intestinal microbiome. I say that because B12 is manufactured in the human body from your gut flora, and if you have an unhealthy probiotic stash down there, you won’t make adequate B12. Could probiotics help? I think so, they’re worth a try anyway.
I can confirm that high levels of homocysteine are associated with BMS and the only way to lower homocysteine is with high quality B vitamins, not medicine! In 2013, researchers found that reducing high homocysteine could improve things. But be careful about the type of B vitamin you choose to take.
Some reports suggest that elevated blood levels of B6 are seen in patients with BMS. Higher serum levels of B6 imply lower cellular levels. Why isn’t the B6 getting inside the cell? You could exacerbate the pain if you don’t take a biologically active form of B6, or other Bs.
Research has found that hypothyroidism (often undiagnosed) reason for both depression and oral pain. There’s a lot more information regarding low thyroid (and another vitamin that helps) in the longer version of this article (which I’m happy to email to you) after you sign up for my free newsletter at suzycohen.com.
I truly hope this information helps you feel better and makes mealtime more enjoyable.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.