Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)
Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a poorly understood condition in which a person experiences ongoing moderate to severe pain in the tongue and/or mouth. Although the cause of BMS remains unclear, some patterns have become clear to researchers. The pain is generally worst in the late afternoon and early evening, but disappears at night. Most often, more than one part of the mouth is involved. Common areas of burning pain include the tongue, the hard palate (the front part of the roof of the mouth), and the lower lip. Many people recover spontaneously within six or seven years. Dry mouth and altered taste sensations often, but not always, accompany the pain.
BMS is thought to fall in the general category of “neuropathic pain,” meaning that it probably results from altered nerve function, possibly in the nerves carrying taste sensation. Use of drugs in the ACE inhibitor family has been implicated in some cases of burning mouth syndrome, but the reason for this apparent connection remains unclear.
Conventional treatment for BMS consists of drugs used to treat neuropathic pain in general, including anticonvulsants, sedatives in the benzodiazepine family, and tricyclic antidepressants. There is inadequate research at present to determine the precise efficacy of these treatments.
Principal Proposed Treatments for Burning Mouth Syndrome
The supplement lipoic acid
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full
Other Proposed Treatments for Burning Mouth Syndrome
The yeast Candida albicans can infect the mouth, causing a condition called “thrush.” Thrush may cause symptoms similar to BMS. Some alternative practitioners believe that excessive candida, or hypersensitivity to it (see Yeast Hypersensitivity
Inconsistent evidence suggests that people with BMS might have deficiencies in various nutrients, such as
Herbs and Supplements to Avoid
Numerous herbs and supplements may interact adversely with drugs used to treat burning mouth syndrome. For more information on this potential risk, see the individual drug articles in the Drug Interactions section
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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