By Ayman Juzi
A new study published last month showed cannabis-based medicines could alleviate the pain and discomfort experienced from Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS). The study, conducted by Italian researchers and published in the journal Pain Medicine, concluded that
“in this pilot evaluation, the [full-spectrum] Cannabis sativa oil provided was effective and well tolerated in patients with primary BMS.” It also showed that “levels of anxiety and depression also changed statistically, displaying a favourable improvement”
which is significant as mental health conditions are commonly associated with BMS. Researchers noted that “none of the patients had to stop the treatment due to adverse events.” Even though this study needs to be backed up by bigger trials, it is the first step to solving the symptom relief for BMS which currently has no proven treatment.
The International Headache Society defines BMS as an “intraoral burning or dysaesthetic sensation, recurring daily for more than 2 hours per day over more than 3 months.” It can affect the roof of the mouth, tongue, lips, and the sides of cheeks, but there are no traceable signs of the condition to be found in the mouth. Symptoms can also include a dry mouth sensation, tingling sensations, or an altered taste/smell. The condition is mostly found in women and its origins are still unknown. It is relatively rare and there is currently no known effective treatment for it. The researchers from Turin, Italy, stated that till now “no studies have provided evidence of a reliable and safe treatment for long-term management of BMS both in terms of symptom relief and quality of life” - they hope this research could be the first step to solve this - “this is the first study to analyse the role of cannabinoids in the management of unresponsive BMS”.
The study consisted of 17 patients (diagnosed with BMS) being treated with a full-spectrum cannabis extract for four weeks. Each day they were given one gram of the extract diluted in olive oil. Researchers recorded pain intensity in the patients using four different clinical measurements: the visual analog scale, Present Pain Intensity scale, McGill Pain Questionnaire, and Oral Health Impact Profiles. Pain intensity was assessed before and after the medicine had been administered, and during the succeeding 6 months this was followed up with interviews.
The initial results for treatment of BMS with cannabis oil are promising considering the lack of progress with the condition in general. The researchers concluded that in this “pilot evaluation” full spectrum Cannabis sativa oil is effective. The research deemed the medicine to be safe however “bigger and properly defined randomised controlled trials, with different therapeutic approaches or placebo control, are needed” for more conclusive evidence. Further study into this elusive condition could finally give hope for BMS patients to find permanent relief.