Gingivitis supplements

  • Bloodroot ( Sanguinaria canadensis ) has been used historically by some Native American tribes as a medicinal agent to stimulate the digestive system and induce vomiting. It has also been used as an antimicrobial. More recently, the main active constituent of bloodroot, sanguinarine, has been added to dentifrices (used to clean teeth) to reduce plaque and treat gingivitis and periodontal disease. More research is needed in this area to determine sanguinarine's efficacy for these conditions, although there is some concern that chronic oral use of sanguinarine may cause leukoplakia (precancerous white patches in the mouth) and oral dysplastic lesions (abnormal mouth wounds). In a report from 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Dental Plaque Subcommittee of the Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee concluded "...that sanguinaria extract at 0.03-0.075% concentration is safe, but there are insufficient data available to permit final classification of its effectiveness in an oral rinse or dentifrice dosage form as an [over the counter] antigingivitis/antiplaque active ingredient." However, expert opinion considers bloodroot unsafe when used internally. In 2005, legal action was taken against an unlicensed practitioner for prescribing bloodroot to several women with breast cancer who suffered disfigurement and tissue damage after topically using the cream.
  • Borage ( Borago officinalis ) is an herb native to Syria that has spread throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean. Borage flowers and leaves may be eaten and borage seeds are often pressed to produce oil very high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Borage is popularly used for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal symptoms. Borage is also popular among elderly women. Borage is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and has been studied for the treatment of gum disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. There is currently controversy about the safety of borage. Consumers should use caution when taking borage as there have been cases of poisoning after confusion with foxglove.
  • Zinc has been used since ancient Egyptian times to enhance wound healing, although the usefulness of this approach is only partially confirmed by the clinical data of today. Zinc is necessary for the functioning of more than 300 different enzymes and plays a vital role in an enormous number of biological processes. Zinc is a cofactor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) and is in a number of enzymatic reactions involved in carbohydrate and protein metabolism. Its immune-enhancing activities include regulation of T lymphocytes, CD4, natural killer cells, and interleukin II. In addition, zinc has been claimed to possess antiviral activity. It has been shown to play a role in wound healing, especially following burns or surgical incisions. Zinc is necessary for the maturation of sperm and normal fetal development. It is involved in sensory perception (taste, smell, and vision) and controls the release of stored vitamin A from the liver. Within the endocrine system, zinc has been shown to regulate insulin activity and promote the conversion thyroid hormones thyroxine to triiodothyronine. Based on available scientific evidence, zinc may be effective in the treatment of (childhood) malnutrition, acne vulgaris, peptic ulcers, leg ulcers, infertility, Wilson's disease, herpes, and taste or smell disorders. Zinc has also gained popularity for its use in the prevention of the common cold. The role for zinc is controversial in some cases, as the results of published studies provide either contradictory information and/or the methodological quality of the studies does not allow for a confident conclusion regarding the role of zinc in those diseases.
  • Chinese herbalists have relied on rhubarb rhizomes and roots for thousands of years. The rhizomes and roots contain powerful anthraquinones and tannins that act as stimulant laxatives and astringents, respectively. In traditional Chinese medicine, rhubarb is also used to treat gastric ulcers, chronic renal (kidney) failure, and pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure), pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. European herbalists have recommended rhubarb as a laxative, diuretic, and to treat kidney stones, gout (foot inflammation), and liver diseases. Externally, it is recommended to heal skin sores and scabs. The current practice of using rhubarb to treat cancer (as an ingredient in the herbal Essiac® formula) lacks the support of controlled clinical trials. However, rhubarb is being tested for multiple other conditions, including hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) and obesity. Use for gingivitis, chronic renal failure and upper gastrointestinal bleeding seem to be the most promising, although more research should be done in these areas, specifically with rhubarb as a monotherapy.
  • Honey is a sweet, viscid fluid produced by honeybees ( Apis melliflera ) from the nectar of flowers. It is generally recognized as safe (GRAS), but there have been numerous reports of certain types of honey produced from the nectar of flowering plants from the genus Rhododendron and others that have toxic effects in humans and in animals. Honey is easily absorbed and utilized by the body. It contains about 70-80% sugar; the rest is water, minerals, and traces of protein, acids, and other substances. Honey has been used by ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Chinese, Romans, and Greeks as a medicinal remedy for the management of wounds, skin ailments, and various gastrointestinal diseases. Honey's therapeutic importance as a known antibacterial agent has been recognized since 1892. Modern research has been conducted on the role of honey in chronic wound management and other indications. However, high quality studies are lacking, and further research is warranted to establish the therapeutic effect of honey in any indication.
  • Yarrow ( Achillea millefolium ) has a long history as an herbal remedy applied to the skin for wounds, cuts, and abrasions. The genus name Achillea is derived from the mythical Greek character, Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds. Dried yarrow stalks are used as a randomizing agent in I Ching divination. Currently, there are no high-quality trials available investigating yarrow. Although a laboratory study demonstrated yarrow's antibacterial effects, one poor-quality study using an herbal combination of yarrow, juniper, and nettle did not find any benefit on plaque or gingivitis inhibition.
  • Tea tree oil is obtained by steam distillation of the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia . Tea tree oil is purported to have antiseptic properties and has been used traditionally to prevent and treat infections. While numerous laboratory studies have demonstrated antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil (likely due to the compound terpinen-4-ol), only a small number of high-quality trials have been published. Human studies have focused on the use of topical tea tree oil for fungal infections (including fungal infections of the nails and athlete's foot), acne, and vaginal infections. However, there is a lack of definitive available evidence for the use of tea tree oil in any of these conditions, and further study is warranted. Tea tree oil should not be used orally; there are reports of toxicity after consuming tea tree oil by mouth. When applied to the skin, tea tree oil is reported to be mildly irritating and has been associated with the development of allergic contact dermatitis, which may limit its potential as a topical agent for some patients.
  • Iodine is an element (atomic number 53) that is required by humans for the synthesis of thyroid hormones (triiodothyronine/T3 and thyroxine/T4). Chronic iodine deficiency can lead to numerous health problems in children and adults, including thyroid gland dysfunction (including goiter) and various neurologic, gastrointestinal, and skin abnormalities. Iodine deficiency in pregnant or nursing mothers can lead to significant neurocognitive deficits in their infants. "Cretinism" or severe mental retardation is a rare outcome of severe iodine deficiency during early development. Growth stunting, apathy, impaired movement, or speech/hearing problems may occur. Many individuals living in developing countries may be at risk of iodine deficiency and its complications, and iodine deficiency is considered to be a preventable cause of mental retardation. Iodine deficiency is rare in industrialized countries such as the United States, due to the enrichment of table salt and cattle feed with iodine. But deficiency is common in developing countries where supplementation may be considered. Humans obtain iodine from their diets. The amount of iodine in food or water depends upon the amount of iodine in the local soil. Areas with mountainous (glacier) water or heavy rainfall tend to be low in iodine content, increasing the risk of iodine deficiency. This review does not discuss medical uses of radioactive iodine or iodine contrast agents used for imaging studies such as computerized tomography (CT scanning).
  • The genus name Urtica comes from the Latin verb urere meaning, "to burn," because of its urticate (stinging) hairs that cover the stem and underside of the leaves. The species name dioica means "two houses" because the plant usually has male or female flowers. The most common uses for stinging nettle are treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, enlarged prostate), arthritis, allergies and pain, cough, tuberculosis, as an astringent and expectorant, urinary tract disorders, and externally as a hair and scalp remedy for oily hair and dandruff. It is also frequently used as a diuretic to increase the flow of urine. There are some data supporting the use of nettle in the treatment of symptoms of BPH, but solid clinical data are lacking for other indications. Nettle is generally regarded as safe because the plant is also used as a green, leafy vegetable. Other than urticaria ("hives") from contacting the stinging hairs, gastrointestinal discomfort is the only reported adverse effect.
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