Dryness of the mouth is a common problem especially amongst the elderly. However this problem or symptom is also seen in many other cases and is not as rare as we think. Normally a healthy individual produces about 3 pints of saliva. When this saliva production decreases the person suffers from hyposalivation. If this condition continues it finally leads to dry mouth or Xerostomia.


Saliva has many important functions. Firstly it allows us to talk freely by providing lubrication. It also prevents the teeth from decaying, plaque from being formed and washes away the food stuck on your teeth. Saliva has minerals, which helps repair early tooth decay and prevents bacterial growth leading to mouth infections. What you don't know is that your saliva also enhances your ability to taste food and makes it easier to swallow. There are certain enzymes present in the saliva, which help breakdown the food particles and start the process of digestion. It also helps neutralize acids in your mouth.


There are a number of factors that cause or influence Xerostomia. Here are few of the most common ones:

1. AGE - as we age all our secretions start to decrease. This also includes the production and secretion of saliva. Also as we age there are a lot of other factors, which can lead to dry mouth like dental problems and medication.
Older people also suffer from decreased saliva production because they tend to eat soft and liquefied food, which requires less chewing. This tends to reduce the flow of saliva.

2. MEDICATION - certain medicines given to treat various conditions in the allopathic system of medicine produce xerostomia as a side-effect. The common ones responsible for this are those used to treat depression, anxiety, anti-histamines, high blood pressure medicines, muscle relaxants and painkillers, anti-diarrhoeals, drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease and urinary incontinence. In short a lot of drugs have this as a side-effect. Chemotherapy drugs can change the composition and quantity of saliva.

3. DISEASES AND MEDICAL CONDITIONS - there are certain diseases and medical conditions, which tend to produce dry mouth as a symptom. Auto-immune conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome etc… are known to suffer from dry mouth.
Diabetics suffer from dryness of the mouth and have a constant desire to drink water. Anaemia, stress, anxiety, depression can give rise to this problem. Other chronic conditions like Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus etc… are also said to suffer from Xerostomia.

4. REMOVAL OF THE SALIVARY GLANDS - the salivary glands are the ones responsible for producing saliva hence if they are removed the flow will naturally decrease. Tumors of the glands are one such condition in which the removal may be necessary.

5. ANOREXIA OR BULIMIA NERVOSA - saliva is produced when food is consumed most of the time but it is also secreted without eating. This saliva, which is produced without eating, tends to decrease in conditions like Anorexia and Bulimia. The mental and emotional problems along with these disorders can also contribute to the dryness of the mouth.

6. MENOPAUSE - women in the menopausal age occasionally suffer from bleeding of the gums that become dry and shiny. Mouth dryness along with a burning sensation are common complaints in these women.


The common signs and symptoms are:
1. Difficulty in talking is one of the first symptoms a person with dry mouth experiences.
2. Bad breathe or halitosis becomes a problem with dry mouth.
3. Constant desire to drink water or some liquid.
4. There may also be dryness of the lips, corners of the mouth maybe cracked.
5. The saliva may appear thick, stringy and difficult to expectorate.
6. There maybe a burning or tingling sensation of the tongue.
7. The sense of taste may get altered.
8. Difficulty in eating dry or dehydrated foods.
9. Dental problems and increased production of plaque, tooth decay and gum disease.
10. Older people find it difficult to wear dentures as the dentures need saliva for adhesion or to hold them in place.


There are a number of things you can do to help relieve the symptoms of dry mouth. Here are a few handy tips.

1. Keep sipping water throughout the day and night. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol. Stick to drinking plain pure water instead of aerated drinks.

2. Try chewing on sugarless chewing gum or sweets. This helps stimulate the production of saliva and relieve the dryness.

3. Use toothpastes, which have Fluorides in them. This is important from the dental point of view to avoid decay of your teeth.

4. Avoid eating tobacco or smoking.

5. Do not consume food high in sugar.

6. Keep a strict oral hygiene routine to avoid bad breath and visit your dentist at regular intervals.


In Homoeopathy we treat the patients according to the symptoms and signs. It is very important to take the case-history in detail and determine the cause of dry mouth. Here are a few Homoeopathic medicines which have been found effective where the symptoms are present.

NUX MOSCHATA - whenever there is intense dryness of any mucous lining in the body Nux Moschata must always be thought of. Here the patient will complaint of so much dryness in the mouth that the tongue sticks to the roof of the oral cavity. But even though there is dryness the patient has no desire for water. Talking becomes very difficult. The saliva if any is thick like cotton wool.
All the symptoms are worse from emotions, change of season and cold wind.

Nux Moschata 200, should be given according to the intensity and severity of the case.

MERC COR - another very handy remedy in these types of cases where the tongue is swollen, inflamed, white and the taste gets altered. The saliva may be thick and tenacious and expectorated with great difficulty. There is a constant burning or scalding sensation in the mouth.

Merc cor 200, 5 pills 4 times a day should be given in acute cases.

PLANTAGO -the sphere of action of this drug is around the mouth, oral cavity and especially the gums and teeth. Here the teeth are very sensitive and sore to touch. The patient feels worse with touch and cold air and better by applying pressure to the part and lying down. Peculiarly the toothache seems to be better while eating. If the Xerostomia seems to be related to some dental problem think of Plantago

Plantago 200, 5 pills in repeated doses can be given.

IGNATIA - has proven very effective in treating patients with emotional problems where the symptoms are present. Here the patient suffers from changes in mood. The person feels like weeping for no apparent reason and keeps thinking negative thoughts. They do not like to be consoled and wish to be alone. Sometimes there may be profuse saliva, which is acidic in nature. The mouth is inflamed and red. The patient will complain of a bitter sour taste.

Ignatia should only be prescribed if the symptoms are present and it seems to be the cause for the dry mouth problem.