A turmeric mouthwash reduced the severity and associated oral dysfunctions of mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) undergoing radiotherapy, compared with benzydamine mouthwash. These findings were published in Cancer Nursing.

Patients undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer often develop debilitating oral mucositis, which has negative effects on their quality of life, health, and even treatment. Therefore, researchers conducted a randomized, controlled trial to determine if a turmeric mouthwash was more effective than standard care (benzydamine mouthwash) in mitigating the adverse effects of mucositis.

A total of 92 patients were recruited and randomly assigned to receive turmeric mouthwash (experimental group; 46 participants) or standard care (control group; 46 participants). Outcome variables were measured for 21 participants in the experimental group and 23 in the control group at the end of 7 weeks.

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The intervention was to swish 10 mL of prepared solution (400-mg capsules of turmeric in 80 mL of boiled cooled water) in the mouth for 2 minutes, spit it out, and repeat the process 4 times. Standard care was to swish the mouth with 10 mL of benzydamine mouthwash mixed with an equal amount of water. Both groups were to instructed complete the process 6 times a day: 1 hour before radiation; 1, 2, 4, and 6 hours after radiation; and once at bedtime.

Oral health status was graded with the Oral Health Assessment Tool (OHAT), which scores changes in oral health status on a scale of 1 to 16 (1 to 8 indicates unhealthy changes, and 9 to 16 indicates unhealthy oral status). Assessments were conducted at baseline then weekly through the end of radiation therapy. Oral dysfunction was assessed using the Patient Reported Oral Mucositis (PROMS) scale and the Xerostomia Short Form Inventory. Baseline scores were obtained before patients started radiation therapy and continued weekly through completion of radiation therapy.

Incidence of intolerable mucositis was 17.8% in the experimental group and 100% in the control group. The turmeric mouthwash protocol also was effective in reducing weight loss among the participants and the incidence of breaks in treatment during radiation, both of which were additional outcomes measured in the study.

“Turmeric mouthwash was found to be effective in reducing unhealthy changes in the oral cavity, delaying the onset of mucositis and reducing the severity of oral mucositis and oral dysfunctions among participants in the experimental group,” the researchers concluded. “Turmeric mouthwash offers a nontoxic, simple, and cost-effective alternative to the traditional management of oral mucositis.”

The study was limited in that it was not blinded and was conducted in only 1 institution.

Disclosures: This research was supported in part by Himalaya Drug Company, Bangalore, India. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.


Thomas PL, Kang HK, Rishi KS. Randomized control study of the effects of turmeric mouthwash on oral health status, treatment-induced mucositis, and associated oral dysfunctions among patients with head and neck cancer. Cancer Nurs. 2023;46(1):36-44. doi:10.1097/NCC.0000000000001149