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Natural remedies for mouth ulcers

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Natural remedies for mouth ulcers

I’ve been getting a lot of mouth ulcers over the past year or so. Can you recommend any natural remedies to prevent them or heal them quickly when they do occur?

T.M., via email

 

Mouth ulcers, also known as canker sores or aphthous ulcers, are painful, shallow lesions that develop in the mouth. They usually go away on their own in a week or two, but for some two-thirds of the population, mouth ulcers are a problem that keeps coming back. 

Although they sometimes have an obvious trigger like overzealous teeth brushing, a jagged tooth or certain prescription drugs, often there’s no obvious cause. 

But here’s a batch of effective natural remedies to help with both healing and prevention.

 

Opt for ozone

Ozonated oil—oil, usually olive oil, that’s been infused with ozone gas—can reduce the pain, size and redness of mouth ulcers, according to one study. Plain sesame oil was also effective, but the ozonated oil got to work faster.4 Try Good Health Naturally’s PurO3 Ozonated Organic Olive Oil.

 

Apply aloe

Famous for its soothing, anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera gel has been found to reduce the pain and size of recurrent mouth ulcers as well as the time it takes them to heal.1 Try using fresh aloe gel straight from the plant; simply slice off the outer part of the aloe vera leaf, take out the gel and apply to your ulcers several times a day.

 

Try probiotics

One study found that the probiotic Bacillus clausii eased the pain of mouth ulcers when used topically.2 Try applying a powdered culture mixed with a little water or yogurt directly to your ulcers several times a day.

 

Switch your toothpaste

The foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), used in many toothpastes, could be a possible cause of recurrent mouth ulcers.   In two separate studies, people using an SLS-free toothpaste had significantly fewer mouth ulcers compared to when they used an SLS-containing product.3 For toothpaste free of SLS and other harsh chemicals, try Weleda (www.weleda.com), Green People (www.greenpeople.co.uk) and Urtekram (www.urtekram.com).

 

Give up gluten

Some evidence suggests that a gluten allergy or sensitivity can be linked to recurrent mouth ulcers, so consider eliminating gluten from your diet to see if you notice a difference. One study of 20 frequent mouth ulcer sufferers reported that five of them improved after cutting out gluten.5

 

Try propolis

This sticky resin collected by bees from leaf buds and tree bark has natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Studies show that used topically it can speed healing time, while taking it as a supplement can reduce the frequency of mouth ulcer outbreaks.6

For topical treatment, try BeeVital’s B-Gel or Comvita’s Propolis Oral Spray. For prevention, try Propol-Mel’s Organic Propolis Extract.

Suggested dosage: 500 mg/day propolis capsules or two to three times daily application of a propolis gel or spray

 

Boost your Bs

A lack of B vitamins, especially B12, has been linked to mouth ulcers,7 so supplementing with B12 or a B complex vitamin may be a good idea. In one study, B12 supplements prevented mouth ulcer recurrences in sufferers regardless of their initial B12 levels.8

Suggested dosages: 1,000 mcg B12 as (methylcobalamin) twice daily; other B vitamins: 300 mg/day vitamin B1, 20 mg/day vitamin B2 and 150 mg/day vitamin B6

 

Check your meds

The following drugs may cause mouth ulcers,9 so check with your doctor about alternatives if possible.

• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

• Immunosuppressants

• Beta-blockers

• Antihypertensives

• Antidepressants

 

Destress

Psychological stress may play a significant role in recurrent mouth ulcers, so proven stress-reduction techniques like yoga, meditation and tai chi are worth trying.10

One study found that those using guided imagery relaxation had a reduction in the frequency of their ulcers.11

 

Get help from herbs

Herbalist Meilyr James, owner of the Herbal Clinic in Swansea, Wales (www.herbalclinic-swansea.co.uk), recommends the following herbs for soothing and healing mouth ulcers.

Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria). This gentle astringent herb encourages the mucous membranes to strengthen and heal by toning and tightening them, says James.  

How to take: Use 1 Tbsp of the dried herb per pint of boiling water and infuse for 20 minutes. Drink as a tea throughout the day, making sure to swill the liquid around in your mouth a few times while drinking. 

Myrrh (Commiphora molmol) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Myrrh has strong astringent, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, says James, while goldenseal is known to be effective for healing the mucous membranes of the mouth. They work well together as a tincture. 

Note: Goldenseal is endangered in the wild so look for an ethically sourced, organic and cultivated variety.

How to take: Combine equal parts of a myrrh tincture (1:3) and a goldenseal tincture (1:10) and, using a cotton bud soaked in the mixture, apply directly to the ulcer. Repeat several times daily. 

Rosehip (Rosa canina). Rich in vitamin C, rosehips can be beneficial for mouth ulcers, says James. He recommends picking your own in the wild if you can.

How to take: As a syrup (see recipe, right), take 2 Tbsp (10 mL) twice daily, or dilute the syrup with a little hot water and enjoy as a warm drink throughout the day. 

 

Soothing rosehip syrup

1) Chop the rosehips in half and place them in a saucepan with one small stick of cinnamon and 5 cloves. 

2) Cover with water, about 2 inches above the level of the hips. 

3) Bring to boil and simmer with a lid on for 30 minutes, checking that the water doesn’t get too low. 

Stir well and press down on the hips to release their juices. 

4) Strain the fluid through a double layer of muslin, squeezing out as much juice as possible. Put this juice through a second strain with another piece of muslin, double layered (this ensures the fine, irritating hairs from the seeds are all removed).

5) Measure the quantity of juice and add an equal proportion of raw honey.

6) Mix well before using. Store in the fridge.

 

References

1 

Dent Res J, 2012; 9: 381–5

2 

Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg, 2019; 71: 113–7

3 

Acta Odontol Scand 1996; 54: 150–3; Compend Contin Educ Dent, 1997; 18: 1238-40

4 

J Clin Diagn Res, 2015; 9: ZC01–4

5 

Dig Dis Sci, 1981; 26: 737–40

6 

Med Clin (Barc), 2017; 149: 55–60; Clin Oral Investig, 2007; 11: 143–7

7 

J Oral Pathol, 1978; 7: 418–23; Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol, 1988; 66: 41–4

8 

J Am Board Fam Med, 2009; 22: 9–16

9 

Jpn Dent Sci Rev, 2014; 50: 40–6; Ann Med Interne, 2000; 151: 248–54

10

Clinics (Sao Paulo), 2009; 64: 645–8

11

Psychosom Med, 1990; 52: 526–35

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