Your health questions answered by our resident GP, Dr Olúṣẹ̀yẹ Àríkàwé


How can I reduce the excess saliva in my mouth in a natural way?

The best way to deal with this is to identify the cause. Salivary glands in our mouth produce saliva, which helps to protect the mouth, gum and teeth. It also allows us to chew, taste and swallow. Sometimes, the glands become overactive and produce too much saliva. Spicy or acidic foods can make our salivary glands overactive. Other causes of excess saliva include acid reflux and the side effects of some medications.

In most cases, the salivary glands work fine, but those with Parkinson’s disease or other neurological conditions may experience problems with swallowing saliva.

To help reduce excess saliva, avoid spicy or acidic foods. A natural way of managing acid reflux is to keep a diary of food triggers and then avoid them. Also, maintaining a healthy weight and cutting down on smoking and alcohol can help to reduce acid reflux.

If swallowing is the issue, speech therapy and physiotherapy can help to improve muscle strength to aid swallowing and reduce excess saliva. If you are on any medication, see your healthcare provider to review if your medications are responsible for excess saliva production.

I have peripheral neuropathy in my feet and left leg. Amitriptyline made my asthma worse and pregabalin affected my speech. Can you suggest anything else?  I am trying acupuncture, which helps a bit.

I’m sorry to hear that you have experienced intolerable reactions to the medication for your peripheral neuropathy. To treat this condition effectively, the underlying cause needs to be identified. However, in some cases, the underlying cause may not be treatable. If you discover that is the case, the aim will be to relieve the nerve pain.

Diabetes is a common cause of peripheral neuropathy so maintaining good control of blood sugar can improve neuropathy symptoms in people with diabetes. Other causes of peripheral neuropathy include vitamin B12 deficiency, nerve injuries or impingement, infections such as shingles, drinking excess alcohol, medication side effects and some other neurological conditions. Treating any of these conditions will improve the symptoms of neuropathy.

To relieve the nerve pain, specific pain medications are used. You mentioned that you have tried two of them already, but unfortunately have had intolerable side effects. Your healthcare provider may want to try you on other nerve pain medications such as gabapentin and duloxetine. If you are not able to tolerate them, another option would be a topical cream called capsaicin, which is for pain localised to an area of the body. The downside to this cream is that it may cause skin irritation.

There are alternative therapies, such as acupuncture (which you mentioned), but the evidence for such treatments is not always clear. However, if you find them useful, you can continue.

You can also ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a specialist pain clinic if the problem persists.

If you have something you would like to ask the doctor, please email