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Natural relief for chemotherapy-induced mouth sores

ROCHESTER, MINNESOTA. Painful mouth sores (stomatitis) and difficulties in swallowing are common side effects of chemotherapy for cancer. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic now report that rinsing the mouth with a suspension of glutamine (a non-essential amino acid) morning and evening markedly reduces the duration and intensity of this pain. Their study involved 24 cancer patients (16 children and 8 adults) who were undergoing chemotherapy and had previously had problems with mouth sores. The study was designed as a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study with the patients serving as their own controls over four treatment courses. The patients were told to swish and swallow either a suspension of glutamine or a suspension of glycine (placebo) in the morning and evening on the day of their treatment and for the following two weeks. Analysis of the collected data showed that study participants on the amino acid suspension reduced their pain level significantly and shortened the duration of pain by an average 4.5 days. The researchers conclude their report by recommending that glutamine be given to chemotherapy patients during treatment and for the two weeks following treatment.
Anderson, Peter M., et al. Oral glutamine reduces the duration and severity of stomatitis after cytotoxic cancer chemotherapy. Cancer, Vol. 83, October 1, 1998, pp. 1433-39

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