are painful ulcers that occur on the mucous membrane
surface of the mouth, cheek, or tongue. They can occur
singly or in groups, and occur more in women than in
Symptoms of canker sores range from mild to severe:
In both types of canker sores, recurring attacks are
common, with several to many ulcers appearing each time.
The ulcers have whitish centers surrounded by redness.
- Mild symptoms are usually associated with canker
sores that are less than one centimeter in diameter,
last ten days to two weeks and heal without scarring.
- Severe symptoms are usually associated with canker
sores that are more than one centimeter in diameter,
last several weeks to several months, and leave scarring.
What To Consider
Bowel flora imbalances due to parasites, poor digestion,
food sensitivities, chronic constipation or diarrhea,
and/or Crohn's disease can all cause or exacerbate canker
sores. Many naturopathic physicians believe that the
basic cause of canker sores is most likely an allergy
to wheat and/or other grains. If canker sores are persistent,
each of these factors need to be ruled out and/or addressed
before long-term healing can be achieved.
Canker sores can also be due to stress, extreme heat,
physical exertion, extreme fatigue, fever, localized
trauma such as after dental work, and nutrient deficiencies
such as lysine, iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid. They
can also be contagious if they result from an infectious
a diet that varies grains and add a variety of beans,
seeds, and nuts. Mono-wheat diets contribute to canker
sores, and therefore should be avoided. Also avoid foods
and substances that may irritate the ulcers such as
coffee, alcohol, refined sugar, citrus fruits, spicy
foods, mouthwashes, and smoking. In cases of severe
canker sores, eliminate or eat sparingly of acid-forming
foods such as animal products, grains, beans, and seeds,
and increase your intake of alkaline-producing foods,
especially vegetables and fruits.
Canker sores that are due to food sensitivities or allergies
are more typically caused by eating milk, cheese, wheat,
tomato, vinegar, lemon, pineapple, and/or mustard. It
is important to realize that any food or food substance
can potentially cause food sensitivities, which must
be ruled out in order to achieve long-term healing.
The following nutrients have all been shown to help
prevent and reverse canker sores: vitamin C, lysine
(an amino acid - take 4 grams for the first four days,
then 500 mg three times daily, on an empty stomach and
apart from meals), vitamin B complex (two to three times
daily with meals, along with folic acid and vitamin
B12), and zinc gluconate lozenges. Acidophilus, to ensure
a proper supply of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal
tract, and pantothenic acid can also be helpful
Rescue Remedy can help alleviate stress
that can contribute to canker sores.
relieve symptoms, use a mouthwash made with sage and
chamomile. Combine equal amounts as an infusion and gargle as often as needed. A combination of equal
parts of tinctures of echinacea and cleavers can also
be taken internally at a dose of 1/2 teaspoonful three
times a day.
Drinking juice made from carrots, celery, and cantaloupe will help relieve
symptoms and speed healing.
Using a cotton swab, dab each sore with an 8% solution of zinc chloride
(available from your pharmacist). As an alternative,
you can also use a paste made of echinacea tincture
and myrrh gum.
If your symptoms persist despite the above measures,
seek the help of a qualified health professional.
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