Leukoplakia

Leukoplakia causes thick, white patches inside the mouth. They may cause pain and make it hard to eat some foods. Over time, some of the patches may turn into cancer.

It is treated with changes to lifestyle habits, such as stopping smoking and dental care. Some people may need surgery to remove patches that do not go away or show signs of cancer. Sometimes, people turn to natural therapies to help control the patches.

Natural Therapies

Likely Effective

These supplements are likely to promote healing:

May Be Effective

These supplements may be effective:

  • Curcumin (Turmeric) is a bright yellow compound found in turmeric.A2
  • Retinol is a yellow compound found in green and yellow vegetables.A7
  • Vitamin E is a nutrient found in many foods that helps protects cells from damage. It can also be taken as a supplement.A7

May Not Be Effective

Vitamin C is a nutrient found in some foods that helps protect cells from damage. It can also be taken as a supplement.A3

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.

References

Herbs and Supplements

A1. Lodi G, Franchini R, et al. Interventions for treating oral leukoplakia to prevent oral cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;7:CD001829.

A2. Kuriakose MA, Ramdas K, et al. A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Phase IIB Trial of Curcumin in Oral Leukoplakia. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2016;9(8):683-691.

A3. Nagao T, Warnakulasuriya S, et al. Treatment of oral leukoplakia with a low-dose of beta-carotene and vitamin C supplements: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Cancer. 2015 Apr 1;136(7):1708-1717.

A4. Lodi G, Sardella A, et al. Systematic review of randomized trials for the treatment of oral leukoplakia. J Dent Educ. 2002 Aug;66(8):896-902.

A5. Garewal HS, Katz RV, et al. Beta carotene produces sustained remissions in patients with oral leukoplakia: results of a multicenter prospective trial. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1999 Dec;125(12):1305-1310.

A6. Sankaranarayanan R, Mathew B, et al. Chemoprevention of oral leukoplakia with vitamin A and beta carotene: an assessment. Oral Oncol. 1997 Jul;33(4):231-236.

A7. Zaridze D, Evstifeeva T, et al. Chemoprevention of oral leukoplakia and chronic esophagitis in an area of high incidence of oral and esophageal cancer. Ann Epidemiol. 1993 May;3(3):225-234.

Last reviewed May 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
Last Updated: 6/14/2019

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