Natural health with Sean McCarthy: Burning Mouth Syndrome and vitiligo

Sean McCarthy gives his advice on Burning Mouth Syndrome and vitiligo.

I suffer from Burning Mouth Syndrome and have been told there is no cure. The pain in my mouth is constant, affecting my gums, tongue, and cheeks. What would you suggest?

Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) can be caused as the result of hormonal changes and can occur particularly during menopause. Changes to dental and oral hygiene products can also cause it as can certain medications.

Vitamin deficiency and acid reflux can be a contributing factor as can yeast infections or it can be idiopathic (no known cause).

Treating the condition with a vitamin B complex supplement can have a positive outcome. Vitamins B12 (cobalamin) is available in cheese, eggs, milk, and yoghurt and folacin vitamin B9 (folic acid) — available in dark leafy green vegetables, spinach being among the highest in concentration — are the crucial vitamins.

While it is preferable to try to get your vitamins from a food source, a good supplement may be more suitable to busy working people.

Because our bodies don’t need huge amounts of either vitamin, 20mcg per day of B12 is sufficient while 300mcg of B9 per day will do.

As a holistic herbalist, I would also look at natural remedies and, as crazy as it sounds, cayenne pepper in small amounts sipped in juice can help to bring relief. You can also make up your own antibacterial mouth wash by boiling a decent sized bunch of fresh sage (dried will do if fresh isn’t available) or thyme in simmering hot water until it reduces by half.

Allow to cool and gargle with the water as hot as your mouth can take it three to four times a day (this would be suitable as well for sore throats).

Also you can allow a half teaspoon of good quality honey to dissolve in your mouth. The less processed the honey, the better.

Baking soda is alkalizing for your mouth. Add a quarter teaspoon of baking soda to 175ml of water and sip it. Make sure to swill it around your mouth and make as much contact with all areas of your mouth as possible before swallowing.

Apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons to two tablespoons of water, can be used in the same way as the baking soda and is also alkalizing for the mouth and body.

I have vitiligo which started a number of years ago under both arms. This year the vitiligo has spread to the front of my chest and to the back of my hands. My GP referred me to a dermatologist who prescribed steroid creams over a prolonged period. I am worried about the long-term use of steroid creams and would appreciate if you could suggest an alternative to it.

Vitiligo (leucoderma) is a distressing skin condition for sufferers and is marked by the loss, either gradually or rapidly of melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing the melanin pigment in skin which can result in irregular white patches.

The exact causes for the condition are not known.

A recent study showed that 80% of vitiligo sufferers suffered from vitamin B deficiency, particularly vitamin B9 and B12. Supplementation for three to six months proved successful in most cases but these vitamins can also be obtained from food.

B12 can be included in your diet by consuming liver, milk, cheese, beef, chicken, mutton, pork, fish, ham, whole egg, and yoghurt. B9 can be incorporated by consuming yeast extract, liver, dried herbs, and sunflower seeds.

You can also make your own poultice with fresh basil leaves and fresh lime juice. Lime juice is known to promote melanin production.

Avoid coffee, tea and alcohol which can have a detrimental effect on the condition.

Sean McCarthy is a holistic herbalist and a member of the International Register of Consultant Herbalists and Homeopaths. Contact:


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