BACKGROUND: Burning-mouth syndrome is a type of chronic oral pain diagnosed in the absence of any other clinical disorder. Its symptoms leave the tongue, palate, and lips feeling as though they have been burned by a hot liquid. Burning-mouth syndrome tends to occur in postmenopausal women, and it has been assumed to be related to psychological factors. Recent research suggests that it may be caused by a little-understood form of neuropathy (nerve disease).
RESEARCH: In a double-blind study, researchers asked 42 women and 18 men, ages 22-68 years, to take either 200 mg of alpha-lipoic acid three times daily or placebos for two months. Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that plays essential roles in the cellular production of energy, and supplements of alpha-lipoic acid have been used in Europe to treat diabetic neuropathy and radiation sickness.
RESULTS: Of the patients taking alpha-lipoic acid supplements, 87 percent had either a complete resolution or partial improvement in symptoms during the two-month study. None of those taking placebos had a complete resolution of symptoms, and only 40 percent had a significant improvement. One year later, 73 percent of the patients who had improved with alpha- lipoic acid maintained that improvement. In contrast, all of the patients who improved while taking placebos deteriorated over the course of a year.
IMPLICATIONS: The significant improvement in patients given alpha-lipoic acid suggests that burning-mouth syndrome is caused by a type of neuropathy and free radical damage, which can be ameliorated through supplements of the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid.
Femiano F, Scully C., "Burning mouth syndrome (BMS): double blind controlled study of alpha-lipoic acid (thioctic acid) therapy," Journal of Oral Pathology and Medicine, 2002;31:267-269.
For the original abstract, visit: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:80/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12110042&dopt=Abstract
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