Relief for Dry Mouth
Patients undergoing cancer treatment often suffer from dry mouth, a condition known as xerostomia. Now researchers from the Naval Medical Center in San Diego think they have found an effective way to relieve this side effect: acupuncture.
A previous study by the same authors showed patients who developed xerostomia after radiation therapy for cancer had increased salivation after acupuncture. This occurred even if they were resistant to standard drug treatment for dry mouth. Given the success in this group, the new study included patients who were not resistant to the standard treatment. It also involved a refined acupuncture technique involving a one step treatment.
Fifty patients underwent an average of five treatments, which involved the use of eight needles. During the treatments, patients were also given a sugar-free lozenge to help stimulate salivation.
Investigators found 30 patients improved after treatment, and 24 have noted improvements in their symptoms lasting for three months or more. Researchers are now suggesting regular acupuncture for the condition, consisting of three to four weekly treatments, followed by monthly sessions to maintain the response.