If you’ve ever scalded the top of your mouth with very hot food or drink you'll know the pain it can cause. Now imagine that awful burning sensation recurring daily for at least 2 hours per day over more than 3 months and you can imagine what the neuropathic pain condition known as burning mouth syndrome feels like.
2 percent of the population (seven times more women than men) are affected by mouth burning mouth syndrome, and the commonest ways to deal with it are unsophisticated and not necessarily that impactful—drinking more fluids, and avoiding alcohol, smoking and spicy foods.
So a new pilot study that suggests cannabis oil may ease the condition is heartening news for people with the condition.
In the open-label, single-arm pilot study, published in Pain Medicine, Italian researchers from the University of Turin treated seventeen subjects with burning mouth syndrome with an oil-based full cannabis plant extract (1 g of cannabis in 10 g of olive oil) for 4 weeks.
To assess outcome, the researchers assessed change in pain intensity using the visual analog scale, Present Pain Intensity scale, McGill Pain Questionnaire, and Oral Health Impact Profiles, both at the end of the trial and in the following 24 weeks. Interviews were also used to assess neuropathic pain, and levels of anxiety and depression were recorded. Any reported adverse events were also noted.
The results showed that cannabis oil treatment was associated with a statistically significant improvement in oral symptoms over time; levels of anxiety and depression also reduced significantly. None of the patients had to stop the treatment due to side effects.
Being a non-blinded pilot study means that the result must be treated with caution, but it’s still notable that the cannabis oil was well tolerated and seemingly effective—more so given no studies have provided evidence of a reliable and safe treatment for long-term management of burning mouth syndrome to date.
But as the authors note: “Further bigger and properly defined randomized controlled trials, with different therapeutic approaches or placebo control, are needed, however”.