Geographic tongue, as opposed to its name, has nothing to do with “geography”. It is a condition of the tongue, also known as benign migratory glossitis or erythema migrans. As alarming as it may sound, it is a completely harmless condition, but it does make your tongue look rather peculiar. Your tongue is inhabited by tiny, hair-like outgrowths called papillae, and anyone with geographic tongue gets patches that give a “map-like” appearance(hence the name), due to missing papillae. As the name indicates, it is a benign condition; hence, no need to worry as it isn’t associated with any disease or infection. Nonetheless, it looks weird and can be rather annoying. It can increase your sensitivity to certain foods and drinks, specifically those that are hot and/or spicy.
Although many people with geographic tongue do not present with symptoms, some common ones include:
• Increased sensitivity to certain foods
• Red, patchy, smooth lesions on the tongue
• Frequently recurring and moving from one location to another
• White borders around the patches
• Discomfort whilst eating
Geographic tongue can be caused due to various reasons such as;
• Hormonal imbalances
• Tongues with fissures (cracks and grooves)
There are a few very effective home remedies that can be adapted to get rid of this condition.
While it is a relatively harmless condition, if it persists for longer periods of time and recurs very frequently, it is advisable to visit the doctor.
Here are some handy remedies you can utilize to cure geographic tongue:
1. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR:
Yet again, apple cider vinegar makes it to another list of home remedies. Apple cider vinegar has antiseptic properties that can help if the tongue gets infected by bacteria or sores. Due to its acidic nature, it helps to keep the pH value of the environment of the mouth in check. Therefore, it helps if ingested regularly. You can use apple cider vinegar by mixing it with water, and utilizing it as a gargle or mouthwash. If you wish to drink the vinegar for maximal benefits, you can add it with honey to a glass of water to mask the acidic taste.
Mint has anti-inflammatory properties, and it can help relieve the inflammation in the tongue. It also acts as an antibacterial to prevent the development of mouth infections and cleanses the mouth. It also aids in digestion, so eating foods that trigger geographic tongue can be digested better with the help of mint. Simply form an infusion or mint tea by adding the leaves in boiling water and drinking it regularly when cold. You can also chew on the leaves directly, or use products such as toothpastes or mouthwashes that use mint as their base.
3. OIL PULLINGS:
A centuries old ayuverdic technique, that makes use of various oils for oral hygiene. Also known as “kavala” or “gundusha”, it involves swishing a quantity of oil in the mouth to favor the release of toxins from the mouth, so they can be eventually flushed out. Some examples of oils that can be used for this purpose are; sesame oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil etc.
4. ALOE VERA:
An ingredient known since thousands of years for over a thousand benefits, aloe vera can be utilized for the procurement of geographic tongue as well. The gel holds infinite properties, and can be used for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Although it tastes pungent and unpleasant, it works wonders. Apply the gel on the tongue for a few minutes, then rinse off. You may also drink aloe vera juice for this purpose.
5. VEGETABLE GLYCERIN:
Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it helps preserve moisture. Vegetable glycerin can be used to keep the tongue hydrated, which can relieve the burning sensation associated with the irritated tongue. You can apply glycerin directly on the tongue, because taste masking isn’t necessary as it is a natural sweetener. Apply it for a few minutes and rinse off. Repeat the procedure few times a day for optimal results.
6. FLUID INTAKE:
Consuming adequate quantities of water every day is mandatory in more ways than one. Your body reacts when it is dehydrated in various unpleasant ways, and this can be avoided by keeping your average daily fluid intake in check. A normal human being needs around 1800 ml or approximately 2 liters of water daily. Negligence in this regard is a common practice in today’s world, and in turn, we are presented with all kinds of problems every other day. Keep your body hydrated and well nourished to avoid health related complications. In case of geographic tongue, drinking ample amount of fluids will also help stimulate salivary glands to produce saliva, which aids in maintaining oral hygiene. Additionally, you can also freeze water into ice and rub it onto your tongue for relief.
7. HYDROGEN PEROXIDE:
Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical that has been used as a remedy for oral hygiene. 3% hydrogen peroxide is a safe concentration to use for this purpose. It has antibacterial properties that may help fight off infections if any, and prevent any from being developed. It helps reduce the unsightly red patches as well. You can use Hydrogen peroxide by mixing it with equal quantities of water, then applying the mixture on the relevant area and rinsing off.
8. ORAL HYGIENE:
Many a times, a lot of our problems can be resolved by simply making certain lifestyle changes. Keeping in check whether our oral hygiene is on point or not can help you save yourself from numerous issues. Brushing twice daily, using mouthwashes, flossing etc are healthy practices. Make use of toothpastes rich in fluoride and those that use mint to give you a refreshing sensation.
9. Vitamin B:
Vitamin B deficiency is what leads to geographic tongue. Therefore, in order to combat this condition, you must adopt a diet rich in Vitamin B. Vitamin B12 is of particular importance in this case, and you can also take supplements to meet your needs. Vitamin B will help prevent recurrence of these painful patches as they’re very likely to return even after they have been healed. A diet rich in Vitamin B includes; oats, fruits such as avocados, fish, salmon, yogurt, milk, whole grains, brans, bananas, turkey, liver, cheese etc.
Zinc is important in the optimum functioning of many bodily functions. Zinc deficiency could also contribute to the development of geographic tongue. You can adopt a diet that is rich in zinc, or resort to zinc supplements that come in many forms such as tablets, capsules, lozenges etc, in order to meet your needs. Zinc also stimulates your taste buds and imparts you a better sense of taste and smell
A diet rich in zinc could include; red meat, oysters, crabs, cheese, milk, beans, leafy green vegetables, kale, kefir, lentils, breakfast cereals, nuts, seeds etc.
Although these remedies are fast-acting and effective, avoiding the use of certain foods and products that aggravate the issue can help resolve the problem faster. Keep yourself well hydrated and evade consumption of spicy and hot foods, and hopefully the muddle will resolve on its own, without the dreaded visit to the doctors.