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Symptoms | Digestion | Mouth & Teeth | Dry Mouth / Tongue
Dry Mouth / Tongue Ayurvedic Perspectives

Dry Mouth / Tongue (Xerostomia)

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Written by John Immel, Asheville, NC
Salivary glands normally produce .75 - 1.5 liters of fluid per day. Xerostomia, or dry mouth is a subjective feeling that the mouth is too dry. The terms comes from the Greek: Xeros = dry and stoma = mouth. This condition is commonly called pasty mouth or cotton mouth and effects 20% of the population.

Lips may stick together, be chapped or cracked. A pasty mouth makes it difficult to talk as the tongue sticks to the roof of the mouth. It may be difficult to swallow or taste food.

Ayurveda's Perspecitve

Since a dry mouth is also indication that other digestive glands are also dry, Ayurveda recommends that you maintain a moist, juicy mouth at all times. The most important digestive aid you have is thorough chewing and mixing of food with saliva. Saliva also contains enzymes, antiseptics, and antibodies that digest food between teeth and kill bacteria that cause tooth decay. Inadequate saliva can lead to increased cavities.

A dry mouth can be a sign of inadequate hydration, one of the earliest signs of high Vata. Although drinking too little fluids can be a leading cause of dehydration, do not overlook sweating, loose stools, excess urination, and electrolyte imbalance as causes of dehydration. Often, when the blood is toxic, the kidneys will flush excess water out of the body (via the urine) along with toxins. This, along with various kidney deficiencies, can make it difficult for some individuals to stay hydrated.

Kapha type dry mouth may be a sign of thick, sluggish circulation, especially downard moving fluids in a pear-shaped individuals. It can also be a sign of high blood sugar (especially in diabetics) or sodium levels. Salt and sugar, because of their effects on osmotic pressure, create strong thirst.


Other common causes include mouth breathing especially due to a stuffed nose. Although saliva naturally decreases at night, if your mouth feels parched upon waking, you might be mouth breathing while sleeping. Stress and fear can make the mouth pasty. Saliva stimulated by stress is also thicker than saliva stimulated by food. Alcohol, diuretics, and astringents, especially mouthwash, can create a dry mouth. Dry mouth is also related to dry eyes, the inability to cry, sensitivity to bright light, dry skin, and a hoarse voice.

Xerostemia is prevalent among the elderly. Although salivary gland output drops only modestly as you age, your sense of thirst weakens and this could lead to inadequate fluid intake. The elderly also take more medications. Many pharmaceuticals can lead to dry mouth.

Therapeutic Measures

  • "That looks so good, it's making my mouth water." Saliva is stimulated by the sight, smell and taste of desirable food. Desire itself stimulates saliva.
  • Chewing stimulates saliva, as well as palpation of the salivary glands.
  • Sour taste stimulates saliva, especially foods that are high in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and malic acid. These include most sour foods including many fruits, leafy greens, etc.
  • Salty, sweet, bitter, and umami foods stimulate saliva. Chewing gum (sugar-free)
  • A slice of fresh ginger stimulates saliva.
  • Drink more water!
  • Add a squeeze of lime, pinch of salt, and a pinch of sugar to your water for improved absorption.

    Aggravated Doshas & Qualities

    Symptoms Tell A Story

    The first step to healing is learning patterns from your symptoms. Symptoms are clues that reveal underlying imbalances, showing you where your body is weak. Specifically, they reveal the doshas & qualities that may have become aggravated. If you notice a quality or dosha appears next to many of your symptoms, it helps you establish a pattern that may be systemic.

    Dry Mouth / Tongue indicates one or more of the following doshas and qualities may be aggravated. Generally you would avoid foods and lifestyle habits that would aggravate these qualities:

    Vata aggravatingPitta aggravatingDigestive Effects Help

    Key: V = Vata, P = Pitta, K = Kapha. A slash through a dosha means it an aggravated dosha. To learn more about the symbols above, click on them.

    Stage of Disease: 1 - Affecting Digestion

    If you have symptoms in this category, your body is sending you a warning sign. Ayurveda recommends paying careful, close attention to correct these warning signs before they weaken your body's resistance.
  • ayurvedic notes

    Chinese: Fluids not rising to coat the lungs. Related to pear shape?

    Educational Resources

    Browse these educational resources for 'dry mouth / tongue'.
    My Joyful Belly Personal Ayurvedic Handbook
    Care for your body with a personalized handbook of home remedies & health tips, individually and custom formulated for your body. By John Immel

    Explore Your Body Type: Introduction to Vata Dosha e-Course
    Discover calming, soothing, and nutritive therapies that restore stability and resiliency in Vata dosha, the most delicate of all body types in Ayurveda.

    Specialty Formulas by Joyful Belly

    Please review these herbs & products below to determine which ones might be helpful for Dry Mouth / Tongue.
    Digestive Comfort & Support Tea
    Vata pacifyingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
    Easy digestion for sensitive tummies prone to gas, bloating, and constipation. Gentle, soothing, and nourishing.

    Ayurvedic Herbs & Natural Products for Dry Mouth / Tongue

    Please review these herbs & products below to determine which ones might be helpful for Dry Mouth / Tongue.

    Vata Oil (16 oz)
    Vata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha aggravating
    Experience the deep calm encouraged by Vata Massage Oil. Nourishing, grounding, calming herbs are infused into a sweetly warm blend of sesame and sunflower oil.

    Vata pacifyingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifying
    Ayurveda's most popular herb detoxifies while it rejuvenates! Especially useful for inflammation of the GI tract.

    Personal Diet Assessment & Recipe Book
    Receive a personal diet assessment online by a Joyful Belly practitioner, and a personal recipe book of yummy treats matching your unique diet. By John Immel

    Shatavari Ghee
    Vata pacifyingPitta pacifyingKapha aggravating
    Ayurveda's famous female reproductive tonic. Shatavari addresses a wide range of issues such as infertility, pre-menstrual syndrome, low sex-drive, and increasing breast-milk production.

    Garcinia Cambogia Fruit
    Vata aggravatingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
    A famous Ayurvedic appetite suppressant that supports weight loss, healthy blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.

    The following herbal actions and effects have been traditionally suggested for 'Dry Mouth / Tongue'.

    Pharmacological Effects
    About Pharmacological Effects
    The list of actions below have not be approved by the FDA and should not be used to treat a medical condition.

    Diet for Dry Mouth / Tongue

    A diet rich in these foods & nutritional supplements may help re-balance the aggravated qualities and doshas in dry mouth / tongue.
    Almond MilkVata pacifyingPitta pacifyingKapha aggravatingBlueberryVata pacifyingPitta pacifyingKapha aggravating
    CherryVata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifyingCoconut OilVata pacifyingPitta pacifyingKapha aggravating
    Coconut WaterVata pacifyingPitta pacifyingKapha aggravatingGrapeVata pacifyingPitta pacifyingKapha aggravating
    GrapefruitVata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifyingHoneyVata aggravatingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
    JaggeryVata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha aggravatingLemonVata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying
    LimeVata pacifyingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifyingMangoVata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha aggravating
    OrangeVata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifyingPeachesVata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha aggravating
    PineappleVata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha aggravatingSalt (Mineral Salt)Vata pacifyingPitta aggravatingKapha aggravating
    StrawberriesVata pacifyingPitta pacifyingKapha pacifyingTomatoVata aggravatingPitta aggravatingKapha pacifying

    Comments & Personal Experiences

    How does 'dry mouth / tongue' affect your quality of life? What aggravates it? What has helped you? Is there something you'd like to know about 'dry mouth / tongue'?

    Ayurvedic DietAyurvedic DietAyurvedic DietAyurvedic DietAyurvedic Diet(5.00 out of 5 stars) 1 review

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    My mother has burning in her mouth and it has escalated to her feet. It has been diagnosed as thrush. She found that a multiple vitamin helped somewhat. She believes it is due to sugar. She likes icecream a lot! She avoids the obvious hot foods i.e., ginger, chilli's etc. She takes coumadin and high blood pressure meds. I thinks she should stop sugar completely with the acception of fruits. What fruits are hot and cold? Have you heard of burning mouth syndfrom?

    - Sally, St. louis, MOAyurvedic DietAyurvedic DietAyurvedic DietAyurvedic DietAyurvedic Diet, 05-29-13 (Reply)

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