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Canker Sore Remedies

Posted to: Wellness Blog by Dr. Joanne on Aug 21, 2014

I have been experiencing recurring canker sores. What could be causing this? Are there any natural remedies to help the sores heal and reduce the pain?

Yes, canker sores are certainly painful! Luckily there are herbs that are really effective in helping them heal quickly.

Causes of Recurrent Canker Sore 

  1. Nutrient deficiencies – Most common nutrient deficiencies include Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), B12, Folic Acid, Iron and possibly Zinc.  Your doctor can test for several of these nutrient deficiencies. To test for Vitamin B1 specialty testing is usually required. You can certainly do a trial with a B complex supplement to see if that helps if testing is not an option. Look for the methylcobalamin form of B12 as this is the better form of B12.
  2. Food allergies or sensitivities can trigger ulcers and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and mouth.  Gluten sensitivity may be the most common. However, other food sensitivities such as dairy, citrus, tomatoes, nuts and alcohol are possible. I know for me, oranges are the culprit every time! (And too bad because  I love clementines). Keep a diet journal to look back at when trying to identify your individual triggers. Several complementary and alternative health care professionals run food intolerance panels that can help you identify a food intolerance.
  3. Stress is a common trigger for canker sores. If this is true for you, doing things to decrease stress and balance your response to it will make the biggest difference. A B complex would be a good choice in this case as the B vitamins are used up quickly during times of stress. I really like the product Un-Stress by Mega Food which contains B vitamins and several herbs for supporting a healthy stress response.
  4. Trauma- such as biting the inside of the cheek or from dentures.
  5. Immune system imbalance – An imbalance in the flora (beneficial bacteria) of the mucosal membranes in the mouth can predispose the tissue to ulceration and infection. There is a specific probiotic indicated for the oral and nasal mucosa that can help bring balance and improve the immune system barrier. If you also tend to get frequent sore throats or sinus infections , the probiotic S. salivarius (AKA BLIS K-12) would be worth trying! We have it available in the product Throat Defense by True Botanica. It’s also a great to take for immune support during cold and flu season.

Speed Healing and Decrease Pain

  1. Herbs and natural substances that have demulcent, vulnerary and astringent properties will help soothe, tighten up and heal the ulcerated tissue. Swish in the mouth to make contact with the affected tissue.
    • DGL (Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice) - chew 1 tablet 20 minutes before meals.

    • Goldenseal tincture – 15 drops 3-5 times per day in a small amount of water. This antimicrobial and astringent herb has been used by traditional herbalists to heal ulceration in the GI tract.

    • Mouth Tonic by Herbs Etc – take as directed or use as a mouth gargle.

  2. Use toothpaste with natural antimicrobial agents such as Neem or Tea Tree.  Keep your toothbrush clean and replace every 3-4 months.  Microbes contained on your toothbrush could initiate infection and lead to development of mouth sores.


Dr. Joanne Aponte is a Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor & Holistic Wellness Expert. She is available in the store every Tuesday & Thursday from 12-7 to help answer your questions regarding natural wellness.


Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is intended for educational purposes only. The information is not intended to be used for medical advice, diagnosis, prevention or treatment of any medical condition or disease. The statements about products have not been evaluated by the food and Drug Administration. This information does not replace the one-on-one advice of your personal health care provider. It is recommended that you consult with your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to your health care routine.

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