If you or a loved one ever has radiation therapy, you need to watch out for radiation-induced mucositis. This condition is a common complication of radiation therapy for head and neck cancers. It causes painful swelling, inflammation, and ulcers in the gums, throat, and esophagus.
The condition interrupts sleep and causes a significant amount of pain every time a person tries to eat or even swallow water. And this leads to the additional problems of dehydration, weight loss, and weakness. The conventional treatment for this is to gargle with a solution of iodine. But this is close to completely useless. And now, a new study shows that an herb you can buy in every grocery store can be an effective treatment.
The authors enlisted 80 patients who were getting radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy for their head and neck cancers. They gave half of them the usual iodine preparation. They had the other half gargle with a solution of the herb turmeric. Here's what happened.
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According to the authors, the study "clearly" showed that when compared with the traditional iodine gargle, "the group using turmeric as a mouthwash had delayed and reduced the levels of radiation-induced oral mucositis." In every measurement they studied, the turmeric group had fewer symptoms, fewer times when the radiation treatments had to be stopped, and a lower chance of weight loss. In the authors' words, "Gargling with turmeric by head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy provided significant benefit by delaying and reducing the severity of mucositis. Turmeric is readily available, relatively inexpensive, and highly accepted making it useful in cancer treatment."
You can get turmeric in any grocery store. And it's easy to use. Simply put 1 level tsp. in 6 ounces of warm water. Then take a swig. Rinse your mouth and gargle for 10 seconds and then swallow the mixture. Keep repeating this until the solution is gone. I would suggest doing it at least three times a day, but more often is OK.
Another approach that also works is Curcumall mouth wash. You can buy this online. It's a solution of curcumin. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. Rinse 1 tsp. in your mouth for 30 seconds about 30 minutes before meals and then swallow. Besides being an effective remedy for radiation-induced mucositis, these herbs also have a strong anti-cancer effect.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Rao S, Dinkar C, et al. The Indian Spice Turmeric Delays and Mitigates Radiation-Induced Oral Mucositis in Patients Undergoing Treatment for Head and Neck Cancer: An Investigational Study. Integr Cancer Ther. 2014 May;13(3):201-10.