The People's Perspective on Medicine

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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Olive oil works for me! Also lots of water especially with Lithium. The side effects from that medication and others made my mouth dry from the beginning! My lips, inside of lower lip were becoming so painful. Gums were sore! I didn’t even research olive oil for dry mouth. I just tried it. In a few days my mouth is almost back to normal. It’s great reading all the comments. Olive oil is fairly affordable, and it’s definitely good for you!

Biotene is a non-prescription item which totally resolves the dry mouth issue. Just put a peas-sized amount in your mouth when you go to bed, and repeat if you drink something when you wake up.

Dry mouth is an important issue as it can lead to loss of teeth.

After my fiance’ was finished with radiation to his mouth, he experienced chronic dry mouth. After much trial and error with products recommended by his dentist that did not work, he discovered olive oil which he put it in a stainless steel salad sprayer/mister. He would spray it in his mouth as needed. It worked well for him.

Exercise for Osteopenia/Osteoporosis

Dear People’s Pharmacy,

Although this does not concern a pharmaceutical or natural product, I wanted to relate my story about taking calcium plus Vitamin D for years, being active, and watching my Osteopenia turn into Osteoporosis. Several years ago, I started working with a trainer who worked with weights, both free weights and barbells. After one year, I saw a turn-around in my numbers, and my doctor was amazed! I have since continued to do weight training and have reversed my losses, although arthritis still affects some of my joints. I am now 73 years old.

I strongly recommend that any women who are thin, have a family history of osteoporosis, or who participate in sports add weight training to their regimen in order to avoid bone deterioration.

Your recommendations are much appreciated; keep up the good work!

I wish the news about Xylitol had come out sooner! I used it every night and I developed such explosive diarrhea I was afraid to leave the house! I went to a GI doctor and left specimens this morning, then read your article. I believe Xylitol is the cause. I will not use it again and I will know for sure. This dry mouth Xylitol should come with a warning. I didn’t see a warning.

While I have not used olive oil to combat a dry mouth, I have slathered it all over my body to combat the dry conditions of living in the Southwest where humidity is seldom over 10%. I put it on the outside of my nose to prevent it from being chapped and cracking.

I put it on my hands, and especially on my thumbs which often crack and bleed in winter. My legs get white with dry skin in the winter so I slather it on my legs and feet as well. It absorbs quickly here so that by the time I get dressed or go to bed, my skin is not oily.

Something I would definitely try. I was wondering if you would get the same results from coconut oil?

Have you done any research on VITAMIN K2?

PARADOX is fascinating – for fighting osteoporosis and for
maintaining healthy circulatory system. These are prime
concerns for me.

I too had digestive upset from xylitol granules used as a kind of “mouth rinse” for reducing dental caries. I eventually switched to erythritol, as it is the only sugar alcohol that doesn’t cause digestive distress because it is absorbed into the body in the small intestine. It has the same dental benefit as xylitol, without the distress, and is worth a try for dry mouth problems.

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