Most of us take it for granted that our salivary glands are hard at work all day long, but people with a condition that chronically causes dry mouth are constantly reminded of the moment-to-moment importance of saliva. Dry mouth sufferers feel thirsty all the time, and their abilities to taste, chew, swallow, digest, and prevent oral infections and cavities can be compromised. Dry mouth can be a symptom of a disease, a side effect of a medication, or simply a part of the aging process, and until now treatments have focused on symptom relief through the use of oral moisturizers. A new study found that supplementing with CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10) can improve salivary flow and dry mouth symptoms in women.
The study, published in Clinical Biochemistry, included 31 women over 50 years old with dry mouth associated with an autoimmune disease called Sjogren's syndrome, and 35 healthy women over 50. The women were divided into three groups and underwent one month of treatment with either 100 mg of ubiquinol (the chemically reduced, rather than the oxidized, form of CoQ10), 100 mg of ubiquinone (oxidized CoQ10), or placebo. They filled out symptom questionnaires and salivary gland activity was assessed at the beginning and end of the trial.
CoQ10 wets the whistle
The researchers noted the following significant findings in all the women taking CoQ10:
Salivary levels of CoQ10 increased.
In women with dry mouth, taking CoQ10 was associated with increased salivary flow. Ubiquinol was slightly more effective than ubiquinone. Salivary flow increased in healthy women taking CoQ10 as well, but only the increase in the ubiquinone group was statistically meaningful.
Some participants reported that some of their symptoms of dry mouth, such as oral discomfort, pain, and burning, and having a funny taste in the mouth, were reduced after treatment.
Self-reported anxiety, poor sleep, frequent urination, stomachache, and skin problems also improved.
"In the present study, both ubiquinol and ubiquinone increased salivary flow and salivary CoQ10 concentration in women with dry mouth," said study co-author Dr. Ichiro Saito at the Tsurumi University School of Dental Medicine in Yokohama, Japan. "The positive effect of coenzyme Q10 on energy production and metabolism in the salivary glands, as well as its antioxidant activity, are likely to have contributed to the improvements these women experienced."
Moisten the mouth for good dental health
People with dry mouth are at high risk of developing dental problems such as cavities and gum disease. This study suggests that taking CoQ10 might help to prevent these complications. Here are some other recommendations:
Drink lots of water.
Avoid smoking. Smoking decreases the humidity in the mouth.
Limit alcohol and caffeine. These substances tend to dehydrate the mouth and the rest of the body.
Avoid sugary drinks. Soft drinks and other sweetened beverages add to the risk of dental problems.
Reduce salt. Salty foods increase mouth dryness.
Use a humidifier at night. Dryness tends to increase overnight, so keeping moisture in the air can help.
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice on Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada, and has done extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.