Cannabis for Burning Mouth Syndrome?

As many of us do, I haunt the online forums looking for new information or even unusual coping strategies for Burning Mouth Syndrome.  Interested in learning more about this mysterious chronic oral pain? Check out the BMS Support Website.

As I read the entries, questions, and answers, I realize that many people who are looking for Burning Mouth Syndrome support are not reporting its symptoms. Often, they are reporting much more worrisome symptoms like sores and lesions, extremely dry and cracked tongues, and other varied complaints regarding other parts of their bodies. I find myself thinking over and over, “That is not primary BMS. They need a second opinion and to investigate other underlying disorders.”

You see, primary BMS is invisible. I am not kidding! If a doctor (and believe me, I have had quite a few) looks into my mouth and throat even when I am burning most intensely, they will see nothing unusual. That is a hallmark of this syndrome and if you have visible symptoms, please seek a different diagnosis. It may be another condition that has a cure or medicines that can better treat your symptoms.

Wouldn’t that be great?

The other issue that has been floating around for ages but has gained traction as states have legalized marijuana for medical reasons or in general, is the question, “Could cannabis or CBD oil help with Burning Mouth?”

Since I can find few scientific studies (Please alert me if you find something recent!), I am left with anecdotal evidence, which is not great. Often, when people report anecdotally, I note that they are also reporting a myriad of other symptoms from diabetes to peripheral nerve pain and I am almost certain that primary Burning Mouth Syndrome is not their major ailment. It’s a complicated picture, but one I hope that some researcher will find fascinating and make a statistically relevant study. I predict my fellow sufferers will try this treatment if it becomes legal and available and although the thought of actually putting something hot and smoky in my already burning mouth makes me recoil from the idea of ever smoking marijuana, I would probably be open to trying the oil or an edible form to see if it helped.

There is one study that included Burning Mouth Syndrome and cannabinoid receptors, but it was four years ago, only involved sixteen subjects and concluded that the eight Burning Mouth Syndrome sufferers had “increased TRPV1, decreased CB1 and increased CB2 expression in tongue epithelial cells also associated with a change in their distribution. It would appear that these receptors are related to BMS. These data could be useful for future characterization of BMS epithelial markers and therapy.” This small study could give hope for a diagnosis protocol, but it offered no evidence of symptom relief. You can read the abstract HERE.

The dangers? 

That is something to discuss with your doctor, my friends. As with any medicine, there may be side effects and you should be as careful with this one as any. Follow instructions, and don’t drive or drink alcohol with it since you may be impaired or at least drowsy.

The benefits?

Unknown. Perhaps some of us will find relief with this treatment, but if my anecdotal reading is picking up anything, it is that few are saying it helped their Burning Mouth Syndrome pain.

Want to see what Politifact says about Cannabis Claims? Check out and see what is being said, and how true the statements are.

We will see, but meanwhile, keep your coping strategies going, take any medicines that help and don’t have more side effects than they are worth, and we will all hope for two things in our immediate future…a standardized test for diagnosis, and God willing, a cure.

20 thoughts on “Cannabis for Burning Mouth Syndrome?

  1. I have primary BMS; meds I take are: Clonazepam, Gabapentin and Duloxetine. A few months ago I decided to try CBD/THC, the ratio of which is 10:1. I use a tincture form twice a day and have found that this has helped my condition immensely. At my last appt. with BMS doc, he was very pleased about my using the above and I now use about 1/3 less of Clonazepam. (Other two drugs are very low doses.)


    • Barbara,
      I am glad you have found a combination that is working for you. Experimentation is often the key to finding the right coping strategies and pain-relieving meds. It seems to be highly individual. I have tried CBD Oil without much effect and do not have a legal way here in Texas to purchase anything containing THC in a therapeutic level. Perhaps things will change here, but it may be years or even decades.


  2. I believe I have BMS. I have recently discovered that having an edible (marijuana) made things feel worse. It may be in the sub ingredients I use to make it. Maybe the chocolate has something different in it but it definitely hasn’t made my BMSand better.


    • Jo,
      I have not tried the edibles, so thanks for sharing your experience. Right now it is so subjective because no studies have been done on marijuana and burning neuropathy so it is a “wait and see” situation. Now the question has been raised about the difference in how men and women experience pain and how medicines designed for men may not be as effective for women. Fascinating stuff and you can read about it at the BMS Support Website under Research and Studies.
      Good luck to you and stay in touch!


  3. I’m a primary BMS sufferer and have been for the last 6 years beginning at 42 years old. I’m fit, active, don’t drink or smoke and not menopausal. I don’t fit the usual profile for this at all! The only thing I can figure is that I had ptyalism (was excess saliva) during three pregnancies. Maybe it’s connected? Anyway, I’ve tried it all! The only thing that sort of helps is a low dose gabapentin at night. It helps (sort of!) to reset in the morning so I wake up with less pain than I otherwise would. I sure am hoping CBD oil will help. I got some samples to try. If it works I’ll check back and maybe see if the CBD community will give me a kick back if I become their spokesperson!


    • Rebekah,
      I am sorry for not noticing your comment more quickly! I hope you have found your way to the Facebook Burning Mouth Syndrome Group and have connected to thousands who care. It is a frustrating and confusing chronic pain to deal with and you don’t mention how long you have suffered with it, but be careful not to let the persistence of it get you down. Depression is something most of us deal with at some point in our journey and there are always people who care just a phone call away.
      Wishing you well,


  4. I have Bms & had it for a year. The meds. I’m finding that are recommended for it are for depression,anxiety and such. I don’t suffer from any of those symptoms. Maybe bp.pills? Tried to go off & didn’t really help. I’m on thyroid meds. For I no longer have a thyroid. Changed the brand and that didn’t do anything. I’ve been drinking the same red wine for years? I have been smoking cannabis more? I just want to find some relief. Stopped drinking my well water which my gp. Recommended. Just hoping to help this research. 🤔


    • Jody,
      Your comment is a little difficult to follow, but I urge you to consider that your burning mouth may be caused by issues caused by lack of thyroid or meds you take for it, and if you could address those issues you might not have the burning.
      If it is separate from the thyroid then a visit with a neurologist who has treated BMS could be very helpful. The recommended meds for BMS are often anti depression, anxiety, or convulsion meds because all of those seem to help with the constant firing of the nerves that cause this neuropathic pain. Taken at a lower dose than would be used for those other ailments, people with BMS can get some relief from their pain. Again, only a doctor can tell you what might work for you and it often takes some time and experimentation to reach the optimal dose that gives you relief. Does smoking cannabis seem to lessen your pain? A pain diary can help you track how these different things you are trying actually affect your pain and you may luck into a coping strategy that really helps. Good luck!


    • Jody, I have had BMS for several years. I echo what Kali wrote above. My oralmaxilofacial doctor prescribes three meds for me: Clonazepam, Gabapentin and Duloxetine. The first and third drug are considered to be off-label; i.e., research has shown that other ailments, other than what they were intended for, are helping me. All of my doses are considered quite low and I have no side effects. I also am on synthroid and ambien meds. A year or so ago, I tried medical marijuana which lessened the burn. After hip replacement surgery ten months ago, I stopped the m.m., but make sure I keep a supply at hand should the need arise. Best to you.


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    • Kathie, you are welcome to publish a link to A Burning Journey on your site, but unless a link to BMS relief is found, it is not a subject I will probably write much about. Thanks for asking! Kali’


  6. I developed Primary or Idiopathic BMS 7 years ago, age 58. I had to leave the state I live in for an accurate diagnosis. I saw a third if dental specialists in my state, multiple neurologists in my state and all punted to each other and informed me they had no clue at all what I had. Out of state I went to see a Orofacial Pain Professor of Dentistry who made the diagnosis at a 2.5 hour consultation. He recommended I try Neurontin (Gabapentin) and Klonopin. I worked with Klonopin for about 5-6 months and discontinued due to negative effects. I have continued the Neurontin albeit a dose 200 mg. every 24 hours. The Neurontin knocked out my white blood cells and I had to d/c it for awhile and have resumed the 200 mg. once daily.

    Anyway, I’ve never smoked anything in my life. Cannabis became medically legal in my state about 2 years ago. I refused to smoke or vape it. However, at a cannabis dispensary I found a capsule form that is predominantly THC, as in 10:1. I only take one capsule about every 2 weeks. I take it at 10:00 pm. I sleep like a baby (have wicked insomnia normally) and I have to say, I have ZERO ORAL BURNING OR PAIN the next day, ZERO and I’m not exaggerating. It’s like a miracle and if you knew me personally, you’d know I’m so not medication inclined. I’ve always leaned Holistic, use Acupuncture, alternative medicine, yoga, massage, etc. Still, that 1 capsule gives me about 21-22 hours of TOTAL PAIN relief. I’m unable to take it every night because if I do, it jacks up Endometriosis pain for me – so that is why I do not take it on a regular basis. There are cannabis receptors in the pelvis. For anyone reading, I swear I do not get ‘high’, I do not hallucinate, I do not feel paranoid, I do not feel strange or buzzed, dizzy in any fashion. The first couple of times I tried the capsule, I felt lethargic the following day. However, this effect has gone away. I was exceedingly reluctant to even consider trying cannabis for the BMS pain but glad that I did. I also tried CBD Tincture but I never found any pain relief. Maybe I needed a different strain, or maybe I needed to take it a month or longer but for me, CBD didn’t offer any oral pain relief. I only share this information in case anyone with BMS is thinking about trying cannabis but fearful of trying it, or fearful of THC. There are Tinctures you can place under tongue and capsules. Our state doesn’t allow edibles, so I’m limited. I like this simple capsule at bedtime that literally takes ALL pain away and the Prescription meds never have. They’ve only lowered the intensity of pain.
    The strain of cannabis I take for BMS pain is called “Grandaddy Purple”. There are so many different ones but this strain has worked like a miracle for me (when I take it).


    • Lisa,
      I am so sorry you have gone through so much to get a diagnosis. I wish I could say it is unusual, but I am afraid many of us experience that particular merry-go-round of specialists at the beginning. Your experience with THC is intriguing. I live in state that doesn’t allow much of anything and have not tried it, but I would be interested to hear from BMS sufferers in more liberal states who have tried it!


  7. Kalipr,
    Just to be clear the state I live in ONLY allows low, low, low dose cannabis. I’m not on West coast. My acupuncturist was the one who ‘encouraged’ me to give it a try and my prescribing physician was also encouraging/supportive. If you never try, you never know and sometimes the pain level can be at 10 or higher later in day or evening. I was reluctant for a year+ to try it. I want to be clear despite the THC ratio of 10:1, the THC is super low level compared to more liberal cannabis States. I probably could not even tolerate their potencies. I’m very sensitive to medications and have never used cannabis in my life. All of our physiology and chemistry is so highly individual, what works for one person may not for the next. I only wish I could take it 2 or 3 times a week as the pain relief has been incredible for me. As with other BMS sufferers, I also am very aware STRESS can escalate the pain off the charts. There are a number of Functional MRI studies out that demonstrate areas of the brain for BMS sufferers do not work properly when compared to controlled groups without BMS. Biopsies of BMS tongues compared with non-BMS tongue biopsies also demonstrate Neuronal destruction of the myelin sheath which covers the nerves to protect them. Like a covering over an electric lamp cord. So tongue nerves have lost their protective covering. Since BMS doesn’t kill people and happens to older population, there is little to no interest in research grants. Lisa


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