Honey and Pectin for Chemo-Associated Dry Mouth
March 8th, 2023 | Cancer
Don’t Suffer With Dry Mouth
Chemotherapy, though often very effective, can cause several uncomfortable side effects. Such side effects may even deter patients from seeking chemotherapy treatment. However, there are various ways to prevent or treat these side effects to make chemotherapy and the aftermath a more pleasant experience.
Dry mouth, known clinically as xerostomia, is a common side effect of chemotherapy. It can also happen as a result of radiation therapy, certain medications, or dehydration. Dry mouth occurs when the saliva glands become damaged or irritated. As a result, your mouth does not produce enough saliva or the saliva thickens too much (1). This article will discuss how to treat dry mouth, particularly with honey and pectin.
How can I prevent or treat dry mouth?
There are a lot of options when it comes to addressing dry mouth. Remedies to alleviate these symptoms include:
- Taking honey or pectin
- Rinsing your mouth with water every 2 hours during the day
- Frequently applying lip moisturizers such as Vaseline
- Sucking on hard candies like Jolly Ranchers, lemon drops, or our Lemon Honey Queasy Drops
- Increasing your fluid intake to eight to 12 glasses daily
- Minimizing your intake of alcohol, coffee, tea, and spicy foods
- Maintaining good oral hygiene
- Using a toothbrush with soft bristles and cleaning your teeth after each meal
- Using a humidifier to hydrate the air at night
- Drinking liquids with your meals to help with swallowing (1,2)
Honey and pectin can be particularly helpful in treating dry mouth. The rest of this article will delve further into how these can alleviate dry mouth symptoms.
Honey for dry mouth
While there are certain over the counter (OTC) options for treating dry mouth, honey is a great natural way to restore moisture and hydration in the mouth. In fact, its use in xerostomia is evidence-backed by a controlled trial in head and neck cancer patients. Participants had to receive radiotherapy or chemotherapy or have undergone surgery. Subjects in this study received either thyme honey or saline following treatment. Results indicated that thyme honey was a safe and effective option for managing treatment-associated xerostomia (3).
Pectin for dry mouth
Pectin is a key component to cell walls in plant cells, particularly in fruits. Lemons, apples, oranges, and other fruits contain pectin, mostly in the skin (4). Research has evaluated how incorporating pectin substances into certain medications can help to treat dry mouth. Their chemical and physical properties allow them to relieve dry mouth symptoms (5). You can find pectin in certain remedies such as elm lozenges, which contain apple pectin (6). Fruit pectin is also available at certain drug stores and grocery stores, making it an easy at-home remedy for dry mouth.
Chemotherapy, though often effective in treating cancer, can cause a slew of unpleasant side effects. Many patients may avoid chemotherapy treatment for this reason, delaying treatment and potentially progressing their cancer. Dry mouth is one of the common symptoms associated with chemotherapy. Though uncomfortable, there are a multitude of treatment options available, including honey and pectin.
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