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Alpha lipoic acid in burning mouth syndrome – a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial


Desirée Rosa Cavalcanti, Rua Zilda Valle Rudge, 315. Alto do Ipiranga Mogi das Cruzes, Sao Paulo 08737160, Brazil. Tel: +55 11 9907 6709, Fax: +55 11 3091 7883, E-mail:


The burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a chronic condition characterized by oral burning pain in the absence of clinical abnormalities and without established therapy.

Objectives:  The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of alpha lipoic acid (ALA) in the management of BMS symptoms through a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial.

Methods:  Thirty-eight patients (34 women and four men, median age 62.9 years, range 36–78) were included and 31 completed the study. The patients were randomized into two cycles of treatment: one with alpha lipoic acid and one with placebo both administered in identical capsules. These cycles were separated by a washout period of 20 days. The oral symptoms and the treatment response were assessed using a 100-mm visual analog scale before and after each cycle and the global perceived effect score, using a 5-point scale after each treatment cycle.

Results:  The level of reduction on burning was significant for both treatments (paired t-test: P < 0.05; rp = 0.011; ral < 0.001). Considering the two cycles together, 22 patients reported at least some improvement after ALA use and 23 patients after placebo.

Conclusions:  Comparison of the oral assessment scores of the two cycles failed to demonstrate the effectiveness of ALA over placebo (t-test: P > 0.05; r = 0.75).