Burning mouth syndrome (glossodynia) is diagnosed whenever a patient experiences the symptoms of a severely burnt tongue without any obvious cause. The symptoms include redness, soreness, and a sensation of being burnt that covers the entire surface of the tongue. The soreness continues for years in the worst cases. Throughout the manifestation of this disorder, a victim's ability to taste is reduced, as if a real burn had occurred. Over time, the condition can seem unbearable, as the soreness eventually morphs into outright pain. It is remarkably common for those who are afflicted to experience depression. These depressions may be caused by the overall suffering in some of the cases, for a person's pain-free enjoyment of food is a foundation of a satiated life, but there also exists the possibility that some of the depressions are associated with the same nutritional problem that commonly causes burning mouth syndrome.
It is generally accepted that burning mouth syndrome is a symptom of nerve damage, which is more formally known as neuropathy. The initial cause of the nerve damage varies, but it is due to diabetes in most cases. In the remaining instances, it is usually caused by pharmaceutical drugs, radiation exposure, vitamin B deficiencies, or exposure to toxic mold.
The Dismal Standard of Care
Officials from the medical profession usually tell sufferers of burning mouth syndrome to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and spicy food. These recommendations typically have no tangible effect upon the condition. Doctors also prescribe lidocaine, a drug that is most often prescribed to people with arrhythmias (heart rhythm instability). It is a mild painkiller. This therapy is mostly a matter of medical showmanship, in convincing patients that something proactive is being done for their benefit, and that there is a valid reason for follow-up visits. Not only is the drug usually ineffective for treating burning mouth syndrome, but any drug which alters the heart rate has inherent dangers, especially when it is given to people who do not yet have heart problems. Therefore, the medical 'solution' is actually merely an attempt to temporarily conceal the symptoms of the nerve damage via a painkiller that effects the heart, while entirely ignoring the nerve damage itself, which is likely to silently worsen. Lidocaine is used in dental procedures to numb the mouth, and there is a scientific consensus that it should only be used in settings wherein patients are closely monitored, because of cases in which lidocaine caused sudden heart problems, including heart attacks in healthy patients.
The Simple and Nutritional Solution
In the majority of cases, burning mouth syndrome can be cured by a particular supplement: alpha lipoic acid. It is an antioxidant that has been widely used to alleviate diabetic neuropathy. It has been studied for its efficacy in helping those afflicted with burning mouth syndrome, and it has been repeatedly validated as the only effective treatment. As is the case for diabetics, it is extraordinarily rare for an individual to have burning mouth syndrome without the existence of other nerve injuries that are not related to the syndrome. Alpha lipoic acid helps the body to heal damaged nerves system-wide without risks.
Despite these facts, doctors continue to mindlessly prescribe lidocaine instead of alpha lipoic acid. Doing otherwise would be in direct violation of institutional policies that are designed to thwart the dissemination of nutritional therapies.
Most people who supplement with alpha lipoic acid take 300 mg., which is spread throughout the day, however the clinical trials used at least 600 mg. and had only positive effects. Some people will likely need more than others, and there should be no danger in reasonable experimentation with differing dosages, until one finds the appropriate amount. We recommend that 1.2 grams (1,200 mg.) is not to be exceeded, since such excessive doses are both unstudied and could never be obtained through dietary sources.
Care should be taken to not confuse alpha lipoic acid with alpha linolinic acid. The latter is an omega-3 fatty acid. The fact that both supplements are sometimes abbreviated to A.L.A. is a great source of confusion amongst buyers. Both supplements are great for the health overall, but alpha linolinic acid does not remedy burning tongue syndrome.
Those who are afflicted should make an effort to understand why their syndrome developed. If the person has diabetes, then the cause is usually obvious, but in other cases; an individual may have been exposed to a toxic substance (or radiation) that resulted in the nerve damage. More importantly, the cause of the nerve damage could be ongoing or recurring. There are reported cases of vitamin B deficiencies causing burning mouth syndrome, so people who are unsure of the cause of their affliction may wish to supplement with a B-complex vitamin. If such a supplement is effective, then the diet should be altered to eliminate the deficiencies, because such an imbalanced diet will eventually cause other problems, which are likely to manifest later as chronic diseases. Most of the B vitamins are only found in meats, whereas others are found in legumes and vegetables, so balance is vital. For some sufferers of burning mouth syndrome, its appearance is the first of many warning signs that their vegetarian (or vegan) diets are slowly destroying them.
In the clinical trials, those who did not improve with alpha lipoic acid supplements were taking anti-depressant drugs, or whose onset of burning mouth syndrome coincided with a dental procedure. Anti-depressants within the S.S.R.I. family are particularly known for causing nerve damage, and alpha lipoic acid may be unable to counter the effects of ongoing nerve attacks by these drugs. Dental procedures may induce nerve damage next to the tongue, whenever a nerve is literally cut with a scalpel. Supplementation may be wholly ineffective for both groups of patients, and the terrible syndrome can be permanent for them.