Capsaicin drops – a new strategy for treating burning mouth syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a chronic condition characterised by a burning pain in the mouth, sometimes accompanied by numbness.
BMS is often considered a perplexing condition because the intensity of pain rarely corresponds to the clinical signs of the disease.
Medical and dental interventions, as well as the use of certain medications, can lead to burning mouth pain. This involves evaluating whether the pain may originate from issues affecting the entire body (systemic causes) or from conditions affecting the areas around the mouth (peripheral causes).
Currently, there are no effective treatment regimens for this patient group. Various medications are used to treat BMS, including benzodiazepines, gabapentin, tricyclic antidepressants, antipsychotics, antioxidants, and behavioural therapies.
One remedy that has some effect is alphalipoic acid, an antioxidant. According to Associate Professor Preet Bano Singh of the Faculty of Dentistry in the University of Oslo, approximately 60% of her patients respond positively to this treatment. For the remaining 40%, it has little or no effect.
“Capsaicin is a chemical compound naturally found in chilli peppers. It acts as an ‘awakener’ for specific receptors in the body that transmit pain and temperature signals. These receptors are called ‘TRPV1 receptors’,” Singh explains.
The challenge is how to keep the active substance where it should be. When capsaicin is applied to the mouth, it is often washed away by saliva and quickly disappears when the tongue moves. Therefore, researchers are working on finding a way to prolong the presence of capsaicin in the mouth.