Natural Treatments for Mucositis
Mucositis is one of the most common side effects of cancer treatments, including radiation and chemotherapy, and many patients want to know what natural treatments for mucositis they can use. When receiving cancer treatment, it is natural to want to avoid introducing any additional harsh chemicals or treatments into the body, and yet, left untreated, oral mucositis can force patients to suspend or halt their treatments while they wait for their mouths to heal.
This article will talk about some of the most readily available natural treatments for mucositis.
Oral Hygiene to Prevent and Manage Mucositis
The first natural treatment for mucositis involves good oral hygiene. While bad oral hygiene does not cause mucositis, it can certainly increase the chances that you will get it, and make it harder for your mouth to heal if you do.
Tooth brushing helps clean your mouth of food particles and bacteria, and it also keeps your mouth lubricated and moist. Instead of brushing your teeth only two or three times a day after meals, brush them four or five times – once every four hours or so. You should also make sure to brush them right before bed, as doing so will help clean the mouth and minimize the buildup of bacteria while you sleep. Always use a soft toothbrush (hard bristles may irritate the mucosa) and non-abrasive toothpaste.
It is also important to floss every day. Gentle flossing removes food particles that can build up between teeth. Particles can irritate the mucosa and make it more vulnerable to infection, so it is important to keep the mouth clear of potential irritants.
If you have dentures, make sure they fit correctly. Food particles can get caught between dentures and gums, and the resulting friction increases the chances that you will develop mucositis.
Oral Hydration and Lubrication to Prevent and Manage Mucositis
If you have ever experienced chapped lips during the winter, you know that dryness makes mucous membranes more vulnerable to damage than they would ordinarily be. Just as you use lip balm to protect your lips in the cold, you can do things to protect your mucosa during cancer treatments.
The first thing to remember is to stay well hydrated. Drinking enough water ensures that your body has what it needs to produce the saliva that keeps your mouth moist. During chemotherapy or radiation treatments, you may want to consider keeping some ice chips handy. Sucking on them helps keep your mouth wet and prevents the drying associated with cancer treatments. Small ice chips tend to be a better choice than large cubes, as prolonged exposure to extreme cold may irritate the mucosa.
Another option for lubricating your mouth is to suck on a tart, sugar-free candy or chew sugarless gum. Too much sugar is not good for the mucosa, but when you have gum or candy in your mouth, your body naturally produces extra saliva in response. That makes these options an easy and effective way to prevent dryness.
Salt Water to Prevent and Manage Mucositis
Another easy natural remedy to try when mucositis symptoms appear is rinsing the mouth with a solution of salt water. As you know if you have ever gone swimming in the ocean with a cut or abrasion, salt water has natural healing powers.
The ideal ratio to use for rinsing your mouth is one part salt to four parts water. Make sure to dissolve the salt thoroughly in the water, and then swish it in your mouth for about ten seconds before spitting it out. You can repeat this once every hour throughout the day to reduce inflammation and speed healing.
Baking Soda Rinse to Prevent and Manage Mucositis
Salt water is not the only natural rinse you can use to treat mucositis symptoms. Baking soda has anti-inflammatory and healing properties too, and you can use it in much the same way you would salt water.
To make the rinse, mix one part baking soda with one part water and let the baking soda dissolve thoroughly. Swish it in the mouth for ten seconds and spit it out. Repeat as needed.
Dietary Recommendations to Prevent and Manage Mucositis
One important thing to consider if you are at risk for radiation or chemotherapy-induced mucositis is the food you are eating. Certain foods have the potential to irritate and even damage the mucosa, making it more vulnerable to inflammation and infection. Here are some foods to avoid:
- Very hot foods. Extreme heat can burn and irritate the mucosa. Make sure to let your food cool before you eat it.
- Very cold foods. Ice chips and popsicles are fine during treatment, but in general, try to stay away from eating frozen things like ice cream. Exposure to extreme cold can be just as damaging as exposure to heat.
- Sugary foods. Sugar is a known inflammatory and it can also promote tooth decay. You want your mouth to be clean and healthy, so stay away from refined sugar as much as possible.
- Spicy foods. Things like hot peppers and spicy foods can also be irritants. It’s fine to season your food, but stick to mild seasonings and skip the chili peppers until you’re done with treatment.
- Rough foods. Certain foods, such as tortilla chips and other snack foods, have sharp edges that can damage the mucosa when you chew them. Sticking to softer foods will minimize the damage.
L-Glutamine to Prevent and Manage Mucositis
While you can find information online about a number of herbal supplements to use as natural cures for mucositis, the one that is backed by research and proven to be effective is the amino acid, L-glutamine. L-glutamine is naturally abundant in our bodies, but patients undergoing cancer treatments tend to be deficient in this important nutrient. The most effective way to take L-glutamine is as a suspension – a powder dissolved in liquid. Taking it in this form allows the L-glutamine to come into direct contact with the mucosa, thus maximizing its healing power.
Healios Glutamine Complex was developed by Dr. Peter M. Anderson, an oncologist and hematologist who saw first-hand the effect mucositis had on his patients. Determined to help, he worked to create the best possible treatment for mucositis. By mixing synergistic ingredients with L-glutamine, he was able to come up with an effective and pleasant-tasting formula that helps both to delay the onset of oral mucositis and minimize its severity. Click here to try it.