Canker sores are not considered to be serious health risks, however, they are quite painful and interfere with normal physical activities and can cause intense pain whenever the affected individuals talk or kiss, and when they are involved in normal daily activities such as drinking and eating. On the whole they seem to affect women much more than they do men, they start out as ulcerated areas, that appear singly or in small clusters inside the mouth, and size wise they range in from tiny, pinhead type sore to those that can be even larger than a quarter. They do not last long, normally persisting only for about two to three weeks, however, their emergence is always and fairly sudden, bringing in a lot of discomfort and pain. Luckily it is possible to ease some of the pain and uneasiness or discomfort that they herald.
It is believed in general medical circles that the appearance of these sores is a result of undue stress, possibly as a result of this stress, the body's immune system may have a sudden and inexplicable reaction to the bacteria normally present in the mouth, this may be the reason the sores start off. There are many other reasons and ways in which, canker sores can be triggered, ill fitting dentures and activities that can irritate the inner lining of the oral cavity can also help precipitate the occurrence of these sores. Even normal and everyday actions can bring them on, an unconscious action such as gnawing unknowingly on the tissues in the cheek, or even the use of hard bristled toothbrushes and brushing vigorously can bring on these sores. It is also believed that, under certain circumstances, eating acidic, spicy, or very salty foods, or food stuffs rich in such compounds such as tomatoes, varieties of citrus fruits, all types of hot peppers, cinnamon and nuts, and even potato chips-can bring on these sores, that is they can help precipitate the onset of canker sores.
The recurrence of canker sores in some individuals are suspected by some scientist to be a type of allergic reaction to certain classes of preservatives used in food, for example-benzoic acid, and other class of preservatives such as methylparaben, and sorbic acid, concurrently the reaction may be to the food itself or rather to some compound present in the food. The wheat protein gluten is a likely suspect as if is found in abundant quantities in wheat and many other types of grain.
Supplements and herbs
Certain supplements can be used, which will specifically address the erupting canker sores, the first supplement that can be tried out is lysine-since the appearance of canker sores in certain individuals has been associated with a deficiency in this amino acid, by addressing this deficiency in the body, the sores may well disappear. Strengthening the body's immune system is also a good way of preventing the sores, this can be done by using immune system boosting herbs like Echinacea, this herb is very effective in improving immune system function, mild dosages with low strengths of this supplement-about 200 mg each morning, three weeks a month, may have a preventative function, and will stop the chance of canker sores occurring. The vitamin C which helps in healing the mouth's mucous membranes is also an excellent choice as a supplement as it is also a natural immune system booster; vitamin C can be used in combination with flavonoids - which are natural compounds that improve the performance of the vitamin. Other supplements such as licorice (DGL) wafers help out, through their action of coating and protecting the sores from irritants and aid in the immediate improvement of the condition and in recovery. The liquid form of the herb goldenseal can help in healing and recovery when used as a topical cure, and if applied directly onto the affected parts. The essential mineral zinc as lozenges, can also be used in the place of DGL and goldenseal, in this form, it speeds healing and bolsters the resistance afforded by the immune system. In large measure it is seen that the deficiency in some vitamins may be responsible for the appearance of canker sores, as the people who get canker sores often show low levels of B vitamins in their bodies; therefore in order to prevent the appearance of these sores and as a prophylactic measure, vitamin B complex in tablet form is also recommended.
The following suggested homeopathic remedies will help in three essential ways; they will alleviate the pain cause by the canker sores, they will minimize the inflammation, and lastly they will help the tissues recover and boost the rate of healing.
- Arsenicum album
Arsenicum album is to be used as a treatment in those people, who have very painful sores, there may be a burning sensation, and the person may mentally and physically be very anxious and tired; all people exhibiting these symptoms may have use for this substance. The affected person may enjoy hot and warm drinks and will prefer to be in a warm and pleasant environment. Physical signs include bleeding gums in persons who must be prescribed this substance; psychologically these persons may exhibit the desire to be neat and proper.
- Calcarea carbonica
Calcarea carbonica is to be prescribed to affected small children and infants who have recurring bouts of the canker sores remedy. Sweating is usually profuse in children, sweats in the region of the head being a prominent indicative sign for the utilization of this substance, the affected infants may be slow in teething or in walking, and all such children who have developed canker sores must be prescribed calcarea carbonica. Additionally this substance is to be used in certain adults with canker sores, who exhibit signs of being easily fatigued, who have a tendency to be sensitive to the cold and who are bodily stout or obese.
- Hepar sulf.
Hepar sulf. is to be used as a treatment in cases where the canker sores show signs of pus formation and infection and where there is a lot of pain and sores all over the mouth. Psychologically such affected persons may be extremely sensitive, the sores may also be aggravated when cold drinks are drunk-this particular substance is to be used with people who show all or any of these signs. Other mental traits of such affected persons during their affliction with the sores include feeling vulnerable and lonely, being very sensitive to the cold and being emotionally fragile.
- Mercurius solubilis
Mercurius solubilis is to be used as a treatment option in people with canker sores who display any of these symptoms, there may be bleeding in the gums, the tongue may be swollen and their may be a foul and offensive breath. The salivation may be profuse and the person may drool during the night, in addition the sores may feel more painful, with a burning sensation at nighttime. Other signs exhibited by the affected person are an over sensitivity to changes in temperature and perspiration at night.
- Natrum muriaticum
Natrum muriaticum is to be used as a treatment option where the canker sores erupt inside the mouth and appear pearly white, they may be especially profuse in the region of the gums and the tongue, people who show this signs must all be prescribed this substance. The other physical signs may include: a tingling sensation in the tongue, with the drying of the mouth. In addition, cold sores may appear around the corners of the mouth and in the region of the tongue in such people, these cold sores appear in addition to the canker sores, and add to the discomfort felt by the person; these persons will also have chapped and cracked lips due to the dryness in the mouth. Certain peculiar symptoms may be seen in such people, these include a strong craving for salt, they may feel very thirsty, and they will worsen from being in the sun.
- Nux vomica
Nux vomica is to be used in affected persons where the appearance of the canker sores is brought on after an over indulgence in sweets, after eating strong tasting spicy foods, certain stimulants, or even after drinking alcoholic beverages. The physical signs around the mouth are a swollen gum, the tongue may feel heavy and be coated, saliva may contain blood, and in appearance the sores are often small. Other psychological signs that the person will display include sensitivity to cold and weather, general irritability and impatience, all these signs necessitate the use of nux vomica.
Sulphur is to be used and prescribed as a remedy in cases where the canker sores are painful, have a red color and are inflamed, the sensations felt may include: a burning pain that is aggravated when consuming warmed or hot drinks and the condition will in general be aggravated by heat or warmth from any source. Besides the gums being swollen and the presence of a throbbing sensation in the mouth, there may be a bitter taste in the mouth. There is also a chance of a reddening in the mucous membranes and the lips, the person may also have and overwhelming sensation of itching, coupled with irritations in the skin; sulphur is to be used in all such cases.
Additional things you may do
Hygiene must be given top priority; the mouth must be kept clean and healthy through proper and regular methods of flossing and brushing, carried out at least two times daily and after meals. The choice of the bristle used in the toothbrush is very important and it is recommended that soft bristles be used, the brushing stroke must be gentle to avoid injuring the soft lining of the gums and mouth. If there is a problem with the teeth and the gums, a dentist must at once be consulted, especially if a tooth is causing some kind of irritation in the mouth. One must be wary of chewing or gnawing on the inner cheeks. People who are susceptible to canker sores and have recurring occurrences should avoid eating all spicy foods. Since some other known irritants that have a possible connection to incidences of canker sores include coffee and chewing gum, one must strive to avoid them or limit their use.
- Echinacea, 200 mg two or three times daily at the onset of a sore. Reduce the dose as sore heals. To prevent, take 200 mg every morning for three weeks a month.
- Goldenseal, use liquid form 3 times daily. After application, wait about an hour before eating.
- Licorice (DGL), chew one or two deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) wafers (380 mg) three or four times daily between meals.
- Vitamin B complex, 1 pill every morning with meal. Use a B-50 complex with 50 mcg of vitamin B12 and biotin; 400 mcg of folic acid; and 50 mg of other B vitamins.
- Vitamin C / Flavonoids, 1,000 mg vitamin C and 500 mg flavonoids three times daily. If diarrhea develops, reduce vitamin C dose.
- Lysine, 500 mg L-lysine three times daily. Should be taken on empty stomach; stop when sores heal.
- Zinc lozenges, 1 lozenge every two hours for three or four days. Avoid exceeding 150 mg zinc daily from all sources.
See age-appropriate dosages of herbal remedies
The juice of the aloe vera herb can be used by children as a mouth wash, and it can be gurgled and swirled around inside the mouth, this action will ease the pain and soothe the affected area. The aloe vera used for this purpose must be of good quality, and be a food-grade product, as the chances of swallowing are always there. In order to remove all traces of the infection and to stimulate the immune system, children can be given a single dose of the combination formula of the two immune system boosting herbs Echinacea and goldenseal thrice a day, this can be continued till there is signs of improvement or until the canker sores disappear.
For your attention: Echinacea on a daily basis, cannot be given to children for more than ten days at one time, since over a long duration of time it tends to lose its effectiveness and power. A mouthwash for children can also be tried by using licorice root tea, the child can swirl it around his or her mouth twice daily. This tea made from licorice root has is antiviral and has bactericidal properties as well, and it also is an effective and soothing application when used against canker sores. The licorice root tea can be used either warmed or cool, additionally. A paste can be prepared from licorice root and this can be applied topically onto the affected region, this can remove the sores altogether, the ulcers themselves may be covered or rubbed with this paste or plug of the root. Even the action of chewing on the root can have a beneficial effect as far as canker sores are concerned.
For your attention: Children with high blood pressure cannot be given this licorice root treatment in any form. Alternately lozenges of propolis can be utilized instead; these lozenges promote the quick healing of the sores and help fight the infection. Other options include using a wet tea bag as a mini compress and placing this against the sore; this can bring relief from pain and be generally soothing. Tannic acid in black tea is a good astringent and for this particular option, black tea should be used.
Other beneficial herbs