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Try Olive Oil for Your Dry Mouth

Could a small sip of extra virgin olive oil alleviate your dry mouth? There are a few studies to back up a reader's enthusiastic report.

Dry mouth is not a life-threatening condition, but it certainly can make you miserable. Quite a few medications can cause this irritating symptom. If your prescriber writes it off as a “minor” side effect you will have to tolerate, what can you do to ease your dry mouth?

Is Xylitol the Best Remedy for Your Dry Mouth?

Q. The dentist recommended xylitol for my dry mouth. Wow, diarrhea city! What else can I use for a dry mouth?

A. You are not the only one to complain about the compounds in sugarless gum and some products recommended for dry mouth. The natural low-calorie sweetener xylitol is often recommended for this symptom and is found in a number of over-the-counter products such as Mouth Kote, Spry, XyliMelts and Xlear. Such products are popular, but not everyone can use them easily.

Another reader shared your discomfort:

“Any of the sugar alcohols like maltitol, sorbitol, or mannitol give me terrible diarrhea, even in very small amounts. Sugar-free gum and some mouth moisturizers contain xylitol and are out of the question for me.”

What About Olive Oil?

A different reader offered this alternative:

“I recently discovered that extra-virgin olive oil works well for a dry mouth. I keep a small bottle of olive oil under my pillow. When I wake up with a dry mouth or have to go to the bathroom, I just put 3-4 drops on my tongue. It stimulates saliva production almost immediately and help make my mouth moist. This lasts for a few hours.

“Olive oil is natural, excellent for health, and quite economical. Other stuff has a LOT of chemicals in it and is very expensive.”

There are even studies demonstrating that olive oil (in combination with betaine and, whoops, xylitol) is quite effective against drug-induced dry mouth (Reports of Practical Oncology and Radiotherapy, Jan-Feb. 2017). A different group of researchers found that lycopene-enriched olive oil might treat your dry mouth (Journal of Oral Pathology & Medicine, Feb. 2017).

If you try olive oil for your dry mouth, write us a comment to let us know if it works.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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