Canker sores, or mouth ulcers, are common sores that usually go away on their own. Nowadays though, one can obtain over-the-counter medications from the pharmacy. However, did you know that Albothyl, a medicine commonly used to treat mouth ulcers in some South East Asian countries, isn’t actually a canker sore prescription medicine?
Do you know why it isn’t suitable for treating canker sores?
Why Albothyl isn’t a canker sore prescription medicine
Albothyl is a medicine that is normally used to treat abnormal skin conditions and also used as an anal and vaginal suppository. In Indonesia and South Korea, people have commonly used it as an alternative to canker sore prescription medicine to treat mouth ulcers because of its efficiency in treating the pain.
This is because Albothyl is very acidic and selective in killing damaged tissues. Its anti microbial and blood-clotting properties help to treat mouth ulcers efficiently. However, recently a dentist in Indonesia admitted that Albothyl contains harmful chemicals that could damage tissues in the oral cavity.
The dangers of using Albothyl as an alternative to canker sore prescription medicine are illustrated by an official letter circulated by the National Agency for Drug and Food Control (NADF) in Indonesia.
Debate around the correct use of Albothyl has become a hot topic due to this statement by the NADF. The letter explains that the drug contains harmful ingredients that should not be used around the oral cavity.
Initially, a dentist named Choro circulated the letter via a post from his Twitter account, which became viral. Choro expressed relief because the NADF has finally issued a ban on the use of Albothyl as a canker sore medication.
Choro writes in his Twitter account, “Finally, the hard work of my fellow dentists for 4 years has paid off! Albothyl has been officially declared by the NADF as an unsuitable medication for mouth ulcers.”
Penny K. Lukito, the head of NADF, confirms the circulated letter is true. He has appealed to the local community to discontinue using the drug to treat mouth ulcers.
A doctor’s response about the dangers of Albothyl
Dr. Widya Apsari, a dentist, has long warned of the dangers of Albothyl as an alternative to canker sore prescription medicine.
Albothyl contains the chemical policresulen, which has various adverse effects when applied improperly. He knows this from personal experience, having often treated patients who complain that their mouth ulcers do not heal or worsen after using Albothyl.
He also states that, to date, he hasn’t found scientific journals that elaborate whether policresulen can be used for treating conditions in the oral cavity.
Through his article in Kompasiana, Dr. Widya explains the potential dangers of policresulen if it is used to treat canker sores, as follows:
Blood vessels on the edges of canker sore narrow. This causes the blood supply to the area affected by the mouth ulcer to stall. Furthermore policresulen also causes the the tissue around the mouth ulcer to die. This is why the canker sores do not hurt anymore — because the tissue is already dead, not because the ulcer is fully cured.
- When tissues die, the body will automatically attempt to expel the dead tissue by shedding it. Unsurprisingly, those who gargle using Albothyl experience flaking skin in the oral cavity.
Once the dead tissue has been peeled off, the body will usually replace it by producing new healthy tissue. However, policresulen damages the tissue so badly that the body can not recover and form replacement tissues.
- Sadly, killing canker sores can make canker sores larger and more painful.
The dangers of using Albothyl as a mouth ulcer medication are clearly visible.
Furthermore, Doctor Widya also states that policresulen is not a recommended medication in most scientific journals that discuss canker sores.
What scientific research says
Scientific journals have reported the ill effects of using Albothyl as a topical medication for mouth Ulcers.
In one article from the Journal of International Dental and Medical Research, multiple patients who used Albothyl to treat their mouth ulcers suffered from mucosal burns, resulting in swollen lips, dryness, immense pain and having difficulty eating.
Such effects are also well documented in other case studies in Indonesia. In South Korea, a woman who had similar symptoms from the drug recovered after two weeks, with the application of topical steroids for treatment.
Evidently although Albothyl is easy to obtain as an over-the-counter drug, it should only be handled and prescribed by professionals.
The response from an Albothyl manufacturer
Pharos, the company who produces this alternative remedy to canker sore prescription medicine, responded calmly to the letter that was circulated by the NADF stating that the medication was dangerous.
Imawan Derajatkusuma, the National Sales Manager of Pharos, called the withdrawal of the drug by NAFD incorrect news.
“The information released from product management clarifies that the medication was not withdrawn. Rather, it was found unsuitable for certain disease indications,” he said as quoted from Viva.
Furthermore, Imawan continued,”The NADF only provided a warning against using products from the pharmaceutical company. Due to the high policresulen concentration content in Albothyl, the medication must first be diluted before usage. Imawan also stated that the drug can be used on skin diseases caused by cell damage or inflammation.
“The policresulen concentration in Albothyl only affects damaged cells, thereby killing and curing them,” he asserted.
What we can learn from this
Parents, it’s definitely important to be aware of a medication’s actual purpose, especially when treating children or pregnant women. Always consult a doctor if you have doubts as to which medication you should use. Do not recklessly self-medicate.
When it comes to discussing health issues with a medical professional, always remember that they are there to help you.
It won’t hurt to describe your medical history with them directly and honestly so they can provide the best course of treatment.
Also, don’t be scared to ask your doctor questions, especially about “treatments” based on hearsay, and home remedies! If a doctor refuses to answer your questions, then perhaps it is a sign that you should see a different one.
What do you think about this medicine, parents? Share your thoughts and comments below!
References: My Health Box, Instructables, Viva, Reader’s Digest, Journal of International Medical and Dental Research (first, second), KoreaScience
Republished with permission from theAsianparent Indonesia. Translated and edited by Kevin Wijaya Oey with further edits by Nalika Unantenne.