Take Two Aspirins and Call Me in the Morning

It is the 10 of March and I am in Minnesota, spring in the air and a smile on my face. For some reason the sudden warm air being ushered in by strong southerly winds transports me back to my years spent in Rome, Italy.

You see, in Rome the Sirocco winds would bring in very warm African air but along with it came the sands of Africa. It quite literally sand blasted your exposed skin and wasn’t always very pleasant. We have the warmth but thankfully not the abrasive sand.

Speaking of warmth

While mention of the Roman Sirocco winds are not the perfect segue it is fun to reminisce just a little before I get lost in today’s topic, burning mouth and its possible causes. It is a topic I have dealt with before because it is a long-standing issue. It has burned (also referred to as a metallic taste or minty taste) on and off for several years and I mostly ignore it but sometimes it finally gets to me and I start looking for solutions, some more far-reaching than others.

Many experts say it is caused by hormonal disruptions like menopause. Others blame a B12 deficiency and then there is another interesting potential cause, salicylates. Yes, like the main ingredient in aspirin, a common pain reliever, salicylic acid. What I didn’t know is salicylates are in food as well, and lots of food.

In fact, it is in many of the foods I eat every day. It is the reason it first struck me as a possible cause of burning mouth but it is also the reason I find it almost impossible to eliminate from my diet. The more I learned the more I wanted to know, so let’s investigate a little more about salicylates.

Where are the salicylates?

A better question would be, where aren’t the salicylates? I found several sites (here is one) that dealt with the issue because apparently many people with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia are adversely affected by the foods that are high in salicylates (oxalates and amines as well).

No one really mentioned burning mouth syndrome but there are oral manifestations involved with salicylate sensitivity. If eliminating items with salicylic acid decreased my burning mouth my enthusiasm would increase, so looking in to the offending ingredients was worth a bit of my time. Let’s then explore the sources of salicylates.

Here are a few that are on the “High salicylate” list and in my every day diet:

  • Turmeric
  • Coconut oil
  • Black tea
  • Milk Thistle
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Black Pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Spinach
  • Avocado

Not to mention Boswellia, grapeseed, cinnamon, raisins, wine, white vinegar, thyme, tarragon, etc that I occasionally consume. These are only a few of the multitude of items that contain high levels of salicylic acid. It quite literally goes on for page after page, category after category.

Are salicylates really suspected of increasing pain?

The caution with salicylates seems to have started years ago when it was determined that Gauifenesin,  an expectorant, might help people, young and old, who suffered from pain brought on by fibromyalgia. One Dr. St. Armand proclaimed that Gauifenesin had the ability to remove excess phosphates from the body and that phosphates were the cause of the constant nagging pain that those with fibromyalgia suffer. I will add that many disagree with him and feel there is no substantial evidence to prove his theory.

That said, St. Armand said that when taking Gauifenesin didn’t work for some fibromyalgia sufferers it was most likely a blockage caused by the ingestion of anything with salicylates, thus the relationship with pain and salicylates.

After reading any number of papers and opinions it seems plausible to me that salicylates do block the formation of Vitamin K and Vitamin K is necessary for clotting blood and healthy bone formation. I suppose if healthy bone formation is being disrupted pain could be a side effect.

Low levels of salicylates are also known to decrease the excretion of uric acid. If there is more circulating uric acid, in my opinion there could be increased pain. Uric acid buildup is known to be a causative factor in gout and gout is definitely painful.

To be perfectly honest, I cannot find one source that tells me exactly why salicylates may cause any number of symptoms but I can find page after page that will provide a long list of symptoms in people who are salicylate sensitive or even allergic. I can also tell you that many of the symptoms on the list are also symptoms of hypothyroidism, go figure.

Kris Insight

When I first came across salicylate sensitivity I had an aha moment. Aha, perhaps my burning mouth and sensitivity to many items with salicylates in them was because I was sensitive to the salicylates. The more I read and researched the more I determined it probably wasn’t a primary cause of my long-standing issue.

I think if I had chronic debilitating pain, eliminating salicylic acid would be well worthwhile just to see if it helped. It definitely falls in to the category of “it can’t hurt” (as long as you only do an elimination diet for a few weeks).

As for burning mouth, which brought me to this subject, I am not so sure. I think for me the B12 shots I am going to try for a few weeks make far more sense as I know I have a B12 deficiency and that is one of many causes of burning mouth syndrome.




2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Elizabeth Martof on 8:38 at Saturday, November 12, 2016

    I have it too. It comes and goes. Seems more prevalent when I eat oranges, but sometimes, I can eat them with no problem? Did the B12 shots help? I take the methyl B12 as well as iron. I also drink black tea and wonder if that could be the culprit. I am going to try and give it up, which is hard as I like it more than most people like chocolate!


    • Thank-you for your question Elizabeth. Thanks to you I have reviewed this article and learned yet again why cinnamon bothers me so much. I am not sensitive to it like I am to turmeric (which is on the list) but I had a roll this morning with cinnamon and now my mouth burns like crazy. It feels dried out and I am chewing on the sides of my mouth because they feel rough and irritated.
      In answer to your question I think the B12 shots are important to do if you have a low serum level of B12 but they did not help with my burning mouth. You do need to be careful with B12 shots because often they are comprised of the cyanocobalamin form of B12 and most of us don’t do well with that form of B12. After a 23andMe test I showed methylation issues and found out that Adenosylcobalamin or Dibencozide is the preferred form for people with my methylation snps. Have you done a gene test like 23andMe? Or a food sensitivity test? I did find they both helped me rule some things out and others as culprits for various things, unfortunately not the answer to my dry burning mouth.
      I will mention that I have turned to coffee instead of tea even though I loved tea. Coffee still has tannins but not the fluoride that tea has (fluoride blocks absorption and assimilation of T3 in the thyroid gland) even if organically grown, and I don’t see coffee on my list but I feel like it is high in salicylates I just didn’t include it, I’m guessing, because I wasn’t drinking it at the time.
      I guess to make what should have been a short answer even longer (and you weren’t even asking for advice)I would try not drinking tea for a week or so and see if the burning subsides. When you re-introduce it, and you really need to for a proper experiment, don’t add or subtract anything else and see how things feel. The very idea of black tea makes my mouth pucker as I am tea with milk kinda gal but we all have our things and I think only by elimination do you find your culprit.
      P.S. I no longer take B12 shots because I don’t have a doctor who will prescribe it but I do take anywhere from 3000-10,000 mcg in a sublingual form that melts slowly. I have also added low dose lithium orotate as it helps with the absorption of B12 in the body.
      I hope you have a lovely weekend.


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