Chemotherapy extends life for cancer patients, but not without complications such as immune and bone marrow depression, liver toxicity, and inflammation of the mouth and intestine. Stomatitis is chemotherapy-induced mouth inflammation, which can cause pain and infection. It can result in dehydration and weight loss in cancer patients.
There are a number of remedies available, but without a lot of benefit. The researchers propose a new mouthwash containing yarrow (Achillea millefolium) distillate*. Yarrow has a strong anti-bacterial effect for many pathogens. It is anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic. Though study results vary, the methanol extract and the herb distillate* have high antibacterial activity.
Yarrow distillate is prepared by boiling yarrow flowers in a container connected to a condenser in cold water and collecting the resulting liquid at the other end. The yarrow essential oil has been shown to inhibit some bacteria and has anti-fungal effect.
The 56 patients studied included all those referred to a specific hospital in one year with the diagnosis of chemotherapy stomatitis. They were on chemotherapy and an anti-inflammatory drug at the time. Some of the patients were treated with a mouthwash containing yarrow, and some were treated with a mouthwash without yarrow. Those who were not treated with yarrow mouthwash (the control group) received another mouthwash with diphenhydramine. The patients were all trained in mouth care and washing of their hands four times a day. The mouthwash was to be held in the mouth for 3 minutes, and then they were not to wash their mouth out or eat for 1 hour. They were all trained on how to grade the severity of their stomatitis.
At the start of the study, the average severity according to the scale used was 2.5 with lower numbers being better. Those using yarrow mouthwash improved to a score of 1 in 7 days and 0 (for no disease) in 14 days. Those in the control group with no yarrow became worse to a score of 3 in 7 and 14 days. The study showed that the stomatitis was not related to the person’s age or gender.
CONCLUSION: Chemotherapy-induced stomatitis was absent after 14 days of treatment with a yarrow distillate. Control patients who did not receive yarrow were worse in 14 days.
NOTE: *Distillation of flowers results in an oily layer of essential oil and a watery layer of distillate.
To read the author’s abstract of the article, click on the title of the article. Then, to read the full article, click on the full text icon.