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Dry Mouth / Xerostomia - Overlooked Factors

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Dry Mouth - The Links to Nutritional and Fatty Acid Deficiencies

Based on my personal experiences and research, my theory is that at least some cases of dry mouth (xerostomia) result from essential fatty acid and nutritional deficiencies which may be correctable with diet changes. I developed dry mouth, dry eyes and dry eczema like rashes on my skin when I went on a carbohydrate restricted, was also high in protein, a very acidic food. My symptoms all cleared when I switched to a lower protein, higher fruit and vegetable (and consequently more alkaline) diet to try to reverse the damage.

Experts seem divided on whether diets that restrict carbohydrates are good for you. In my personal experience, that kind of diet clearly was not healthy for me. On the plus side, I did lose a lot of weight very quickly. However, I also became dehydrated and developed high blood pressure, dry mouth, dry skin and eczema. From scanning forums, these seem to be rather common side effects of these types of diets. Ammonia smell in the urine may be another related symptom.

Dry Mouth Treatments

After reading up on my various dryness related health issues, I tried some things I found on the web, in my natural health and especially my Ayurvedic health books. I also kept a diet diary to see what food helped and what didn't alleviate my symptoms. I've listed those below. As of this writing everything has cleared up pretty well.

Foods I found helpful:

  • Foods high in essential fatty acids - I ate more salmon, walnuts and leafy green vegetables. According to my natural health books, these are supposed to be good for eczema. They did seem to clear up the eczema like rashes I was developing along with my dry mouth and dry eyes. I got this tip from my natural health books.

  • Bitter green vegetables, especially ones like broccoli and kale. I got this tip from my Ayurvedic health books, and it helped more than the all of the mainstream medical books and web sites I looked at put together.

  • Most vegetables, especially raw ones.

  • Bananas - they a an Ayurvedic home remedy for an acid stomach and I found they work great.

Foods that made me worse:

  • Lemonade

  • Anything with vinegar, especially apple cider vinegar

  • Spicy Foods - like Thai foods with garlic

  • Fast Food - burgers and fries, especially from McDonald's for some reason.

  • Coffee

  • Citrus fruits

  • Acidic foods

  • Spicy foods

  • Meat, especially pork chops.

  • Grains

  • Pizza

  • Orange juice

  • Pickles

  • Lowfat yogurt with active cultures. In general yogurt is good for an upset stomach, but I think too much of some kinds of the bacteria they add can make your stomach over acid. Yogurt is one of the foods my Ayurvedic books list as a cause of acid indigestion.

For more info on this topic see my section on Acid and Alkaline foods.

Xerostomia and Acidosis

Why does carbohydrate restriction bring on acidosis? When the body is deprived of carbohydrates, glucose is not available to cells for an energy source, and as a result, ketone bodies are formed from fatty acids. An elevation in circulating ketones can disrupt the body's acid-base balance, causing metabolic acidosis, a disturbance of the body's acid-base balance characterized by an increase in total body acid.

One of the symptoms of metabolic acidosis is dehydration. I believe dehydration as a side effect from my carbohydrate restriction was responsible in part for my dry skin and mouth problems. Another symptom of acidosis is lack of appetite, which is why I think it makes it so easy to lose weight on these kinds of diets - you just aren't hungry so you don't eat as much. That part is great, however, it is not worth the other health risks.

Interestingly, in Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine), dry mouth in associated with a "pitta dosha" - people who have health conditions related to over acidity such as ulcers and acid relux (heartburn). Many modern medical dry mouth web sites actually do list hearburn as a symptom of xerostomia, but I think they are mistaking association for cause and effect. I suspect that a more logical way of looking at things would be to list both heartburn and dry mouth as symptoms of acidosis.

When I was eating more protein and less carbohydrates, I checked my urine ketone levels with ketone test strips and my urinary ketone levels were in fact quite high. My urine pH was also out of range on the acidic side. So in hindsight I suspect I was suffering from acidosis brought on by high levels of ketones in my blood, a condition called ketosis.

Dry Mouth, Sjogren's Syndrome and Diabetes

There seems to be a common link between dry mouth and acidosis. In my case, my xerostomia appears to have been brought on as a side effect of acidosis as a result of an intentional (albeit short lived) carbohydrate reduction. However, I suspect in others acidosis may be a common side effect of having an every day standard American style diet, i.e. a diet high in acid forming meat and grains and low in alkaline forming fruits and vegetables.

Perhaps not coincidentally, diabetics and people with Sjogren's Syndrome both have symptoms of dry mouth and in both cases these people also often seem to suffer from acidosis as well. So a common link between dry mouth in diabetics, Sjogren's patients and dieters who restrict carbohydrates all seems to be acidosis. Interestingly, I noticed my dry mouth got worse on the my diet when I had drinks with lemon and drinks with apple cider vinegar - two highly acidic foods that holistic doctors recommend for weight loss. I think now that they do help with weight loss by bringing on acidosis which suppresses your appetite, but then as a downside of the acidosis you may get dry mouth and all of the other problems related to dehydration from acidosis.

Research show that diabetics suffer from acidosis and they also often suffer from dry mouth.

People with Sjogren's Syndrome also have both dry as well as acidosis . Interestingly, people with Sjogren's Syndrome, like me, usually have a connective tissue disorder. I have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

 

 

Related sections of interest:

Acid - Alkaline Balance for Optimal Health

Acidic and Alkaline Food Lists

Acid, Alkaline and Neutral Food Chart

What causes an ammonia smell in the urine?

Dry Mouth - Xerostomia

Sweaty Heads, Night Sweats and Hot Flashes

 

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