Prospective evaluation of a chamomile mouthwash for prevention of 5-FU-induced oral mucositis

Cancer. 1996 Feb 1;77(3):522-5. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0142(19960201)77:3<522::AID-CNCR14>3.0.CO;2-6.


Background: Stomatitis has been found to be a major dose-limiting toxicity from bolus 5-fluorouracil-based (5-FU) chemotherapy regimens, despite the use of oral cryotherapy. Pursuant to preliminary data which suggested that a chamomile mouthwash might ameliorate this toxicity, a prospective trial was developed to test chamomile in this situation.

Methods: A Phase III, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was designed. Patients were entered into the study at the time of their first cycle of 5-FU-based chemotherapy. All patients received oral cryotherapy for 30 minutes with each dose of 5-FU. In addition, each patient was randomized to receive a chamomile or placebo mouthwash thrice daily for 14 days. Stomatitis scores were determined by health care providers and by patients themselves.

Results: There were 164 evaluable and well-stratified patients equally randomized to both treatment groups. There was no suggestion of any stomatitis difference between patients randomized to either protocol arm. There was also no suggestion of toxicity. Subset analysis did reveal unsuspected differential effects between males and females that could not be explained by reasons other than chance.

Conclusion: The resultant data from this clinical trial did not support the prestudy hypothesis that chamomile could decrease 5-FU-induced stomatitis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / adverse effects*
  • Chamomile
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use*
  • Fluorouracil / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouthwashes / therapeutic use*
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Stomatitis / chemically induced
  • Stomatitis / prevention & control*


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Flavonoids
  • Mouthwashes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Fluorouracil