Burning Mouth Syndrome

This week I came across a really interesting piece of research which looked at the possibility of using acupuncture to treat burning mouth syndrome. The research was published in the journal Nature and is called “Burning mouth syndrome – is acupuncture a therapeutic possibility ?” G. Scardina, A Ruggieri, F. Provenzano and P. Messina.

I hadn’t come across this condition before, but it is increasingly common, it is characterised by a burning or itching sensation in the mouth. The person who brought in the research, explained it to me as like the sensation you have after having a really hot drink, it can be very painful and can also affect your sense of taste.

The research is really fascinating, because it looked at the microcirculation of the blood in the mouth before and after the acupuncture treatments. It was a small study of 60 patients who had been diagnosed with burning mouth syndrome that had not other cause (such as Sjorgrens Syndrome or mouth ulcers). The results showed that acupuncture influences the microcirculation and in doing so had a positive effect on the reduction of the burning sensation.

The points that were used were on the Stomach, Large Intestine and Triple Burner channel, using both local and distal points. In Deadman and Al Khafaji’s comprehensive guide A Manual of Acupuncture they discuss the Triple Burner or San Jiao deep pathway as going to the root of the tongue. Triple Burner 1 which was used in the study is a key point for clearing heat in the mouth and moistening dryness of mouth and lips. I really like the fact that the points used in this study make sense in Chinese Medicine terms and their use is supported by interesting evidence using modern techniques such as videocapillaroscopy. The best of both worlds….