Healing & Preventing Cankersores Holistically

A canker sore is a small ulcer in your mouth. An “ulcer” just being a fancy term for a breakage of your skin. Sores inside your mouth feel different than sores outside your mouth – and you can’t use a band-aid to protect them. Canker sores (or “aphthous ulcers”) can also be thought of as “shallow lesions” that develop on the inside of your cheeks, tongues and/or on your gums. Unlike cold sores, canker sores don’t occur on the surface of your lips and they aren’t contagious.

What causes canker sores?

The research around canker sores focuses on creating topical treatments and drugs to cure them – not on what causes them. Thereby, your evidence of the causes of canker-sores is a large database of personal experiences – including my own extensive experience with having chronic canker sores since I was a child. This isn’t to say that nobody has researched the causes – many doctors have taken notice and can draw upon thousands of cases to develop their opinions. This also isn’t to belittle personal experiences. Often they are the only experiences worth noting, because life doesn’t happen in isolation – it happens among thousands of related factors that all impact one another, canker sores included.

Root Canker Sore Causes:

  • Injury within the mouth, such as biting one’s cheek or tongue.
  • Deficiency in the amino acid l-lysine.
  • Deficiency in the amino acid l-glutamine.
  • Vitamin deficiencies, particularly B12 (cobalamin) and B9 (folate/folic acid), and zinc.
  • Sensitivity or allergy to cinnamaldehyde which is found in cinnamon and cinnamon essential oil.
  • Emotional trauma related to verbalizing, speaking, being creative, or being authentic.

Exacerbating Canker Sore Causes:

  • Excessive consumption of acidic or spicy foods such as vinegar, hot peppers and citrus.
  • Excessive consumption of foods with enzymes that break down the lining of the mouth, namely kiwis and pineapples.
  • Consumption of refined sugars, particularly in large quantities or when combined with acidic foods.
  • Overload of stagnant lymph fluid stored in your cheeks and gums – often caused by toxic diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Dehydration from any combination of breathing dry air, not drinking enough water, and/or eating dehydrating foods such as nuts, cheese, fried foods and meat.
  • Stress and the hormonal imbalances (not to mention pH imbalances) that accompany stress.
  • Autoimmune disorders.
Canker sores generally don’t require treatment – they’ll heal on their own . . . eventually. Meanwhile, they’re painful. But more than that, they indicate something isn’t right. If your body is mysteriously breaking out in open legions, something is out of balance!

How can I prevent canker sores?

Since a thorough solution means keeping the pH balance in your mouth at a healthy 7 to 7.2, you’ll want to pay special attention to keeping your stress levels down. Why? Because it’s been scientifically proven that negative moods lower the pH of the saliva. If your saliva’s pH gets below 5.5 you begin to lose minerals from your teeth, and this has also been associated with the generation of canker sores.
You can compensate for this by rinsing your mouth with an easy solution of water and baking soda. Just drop a pinch of baking soda in quarter-pint of water and then swish the solution in your mouth. If you do this every time you feel stressed and after meals, you’ve solved the pH problem in your mouth. Unfortunately, this doesn’t compensate for all the other devastating impacts of eating a demineralizing and demoralizing diet. (Yey! Alliteration and poetic truths for the win!) While a rinse with baking soda is a great measure against acute problems (like removing bile from your mouth after vomiting), it isn't something you should have to rely on multiple times each day. Also, if acidic saliva or tooth decay is a concern for you, check out my related article: Remineralize Your Teeth & Heal Your Cavities – Like I Did.
Even if you use baking soda rinses every day, you still may get canker sores if you have a deficiency in l-glutamine, l-lysine, zinc, B12 or B9. If you have a canker sore right now, I recommend doing the baking soda swish right away, since you probably already have that on hand. Also, order organic spirulina tablets right away. These have been a miracle for me personally! I tried increasing my vegetable intake. I tried taking out all the fruits that were “causing” me canker sores (kiwis, pineapples, raspberries, etc), and I still would get canker sores whenever I was even a little stressed. Ugh!
Then I learned that spirulina is a concentrated source of l-glutamine, the most critical amino acid for repairing ulcers in the mouth and stomach. Cabbage is also a high source which is one of the reasons that raw, fresh cabbage juice on an empty stomach is a long-standing cure for stomach ulcers. Spirulina, however, is also a good source of a wide variety of trace minerals and co-factors for l-glutamine, and much easier to keep “on hand” than cabbage. In the past I've sneaked spirulina powder into desserts since it seemed to clash flavors with everything savory. I found I could sneak it into raw banana ice cream and similar recipes. However, daily consumption never stuck because I couldn’t find a way to consume the powder in enough recipes. Then, I discovered organic spirulina tablets. All it takes is four of these tablets a day and I’m canker sore free! And best of all, it gives me more energy and improves my digestion too!
Your situation may be different than mine and spirulina may not be all it takes for you to get rid of a chronic canker sore problem (if you have such), so I suggest employing other strategies as well, like taking any refined sweeteners out of your diet.
Why Multiple Solutions Work Better Than Just One
  • Synergy. The outcome of synergistic solutions is greater than the sum of its components.
  • Thriving on variety. Just like you need trace minerals from a diverse diet, your muscles need diverse motions, your mind needs diverse stimuli, and your oral health needs diverse treatments.
  • Emotional causes. Health problems originate from repressed emotions. Because of this, health problems find a new way to manifest quickly when we stagnate into using one solution for a given health problem. When you approach a problem from multiple angles, you begin addressing the repressed emotions (usually unwittingly) at the same time. (For more on this subject, look into Consciousness Alchemy.)
With the above in mind, let’s look at canker sore prevention.
Preventing Canker Sores Naturally
  • Take four organic spirulina tablets daily, or six to eight if you currently have a canker sore.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink at least a quart of water every twelve hours.
  • Use a humidifier if your lips, mouth, hands or eyes are getting dry overnight.
  • Break any habits of chewing on your lips or cheeks. Use self-hypnosis if you have this habit. Repeat this to yourself several times each day: “My teeth, jaw and tongue are relaxed in every mood and situation.”
  • Whenever you eat cinnamon, spicy foods, citrus, pineapple or kiwi, immediately stop eating if you notice any discomfort in your mouth. And stay alert for discomfort! Follow-up with water and a baking-soda rinse if discomfort occurs as well as an extra two spirulina tablets.
  • Become conscious of spices you may be consuming unawares. For example, I realized that I was continuing to consume cinnamon in some of my tea blends. By using these more sparingly I was able to improve my oral health. Individuals have differing levels of sensitivity to cinnamaldehyde, so assess if cinnamon is a factor for you through observing any changes you experience when entirely avoiding it versus consuming it regularly.
  • Take a sub-lingual B12 once per week. (If you’re opposed to supplements, you may want to read this other article of mine.)
  • Lymphatic massage on the face. (You can google videos on this.) I personally do this regularly and find it extremely helpful for healing sore throats, canker sores, pimples, sinus infections and ear infections. These things all have one thing in common: stagnant lymph fluid in the face and throat. However, if you’re new to lymph massage, it is common for things to temporarily get worse before they get better. Lymph toxins may be squeezed out through the gums causing further oral irritation. Be sure to combine this with other techniques. You can find the best practices to combine with lymph massage in my article on speedy recovery from sinus, throat, and ear irritation.
  • Consume foods rich in l-glutamine at least once every other day, such as red cabbage, spirulina, asparagus, and parsley.
  • Consume foods rich in l-lysine at least once every other day, such as spirulina, parsley, spinach, leeks, horseradish, onions, and radishes.
  • Reduce stress through regular exercise, taking breaks from computer work with your hands over your eyes and taking deep breaths, taking time for books you enjoy and people who make you feel good about yourself.
  • Consume foods rich in zinc at least every other day: alfalfa sprouts (be sure they’re organic or they may be GMO), basil, broccoli raab, parsley, asparagus, cardamom, spinach, thyme, cilantro, dill, cauliflower, chard, arugula, hemp seeds, sage, sesame seed, lettuce, peeled cucumber with seeds removed, and blackberries.
I used to recommend bell peppers, goji berries, peas, zucchini and lentil sprouts in some of the above food recommendations. I have removed these suggestions due to their lectin content. All people are sensitive to lectins to some degree, which is why raw kidney beans are toxic to humans. Most humans are sensitive enough to lectins that consuming too many raw nightshades (peppers, potatoes, eggplant, etc) will cause some discomfort at the least. Many of us are very sensitive to lectins. If you’re intolerant of gluten (which is a lectin), or if you have stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux on occasion, arthritic pain, or chronic lethargy, then I highly recommend you read this article of mine which talks about eating a low-lectin or no-lectin diet: My First Three Weeks on the Plant Paradox Program.
If you’re looking to figure out what foods are rich in what substances in a reliable, easy way, I created my own mega-reference for my own personal use (because no tool out there met my exacting needs and impatience for learning accurately how foods compared to one another). And then the charts I created turned out to be so useful that I turned them into a book, The Ultimate Nutrition Reference. If you’re ready to understand foods as you never have before, get yourself a copy right now.

How can I treat my canker sores?

Many common tips are actually a really bad idea. Don’t suck on popsicles to numb them. That is the sort of nonsense that modern medicine provides – add sugar to a problem that is clearly exacerbated by sugar because it “feels good” in the short run. Sounds like the same bad advice my mother received as a child from her doctor – ice-cream for a sore throat! Also, don’t use Alum. That is what I was brought up using, but this sketchy product includes trace amounts of aluminum which is not a beneficial trace mineral.
For immediate treatment, I’ve found that a water flosser is the best. I originally purchased my water flosser when I had a case of pericoronitis due to the gum flap that was still hanging out over my wisdom tooth. The water flosser is an amazing device – the horrible pain I had been experiencing was reduced even on the first use, and continued to diminish with each use and was entirely gone within a few days. I’ve found the water flosser to be similarly useful for canker sores.
This may be because the water flosser can clean all infection and toxins out of the sore, or because it helps restore hydration to a chronically dry area in the mouth. What I do is simply aim the stream of water on the sore at the lowest setting and then increase the setting slowly until the pain is just at my edge of tolerance (which is usually speed 3 or 4 out of 10) and then hold the stream of water on the sore for three to seven seconds. Doing this several times a day allows the sore to heal within a few days and relieves pain immediately.
Here are some holistic tips to bring your mouth back into harmony:
  • Use a water flosser on the sore, or failing that, use the stream of water in your shower. (Spit out the water afterward, don’t swallow.)
  • Drink vegetable smoothies that don’t contain anything acidic or overly sweet. This especially helps if you include cilantro, parsley, kale, spinach and/or spirulina.
  • Drink a lot of water and swish your mouth with the water on every gulp.
  • Rinse your mouth with baking soda solution and/or hydrogen peroxide and/or aloe juice.
  • Gargle with warm salt water. (This is also great for sinus infections, sore throats, and ear infections.)
  • Brush your teeth with a mixture that does not include sodium lauryl sulfate. One of my favorites is Uncle Harry’s Toothpaste which has great flavor, texture and results. Uncle Harry’s Toothpaste also has the benefit of being cinnamon-free. Another favorite of mine is The Dirt Toothpaste, particularly their cacao mint flavor.
  • Avoid burning your mouth with hot foods and hot drinks. However, warm green tea is usually helpful.
  • Chew celery (gently). This tends to numb the sore while providing electrolyte balance to the mouth.
  • Brush your teeth consciously and don’t hit the sore. While using a water flosser directly on the sore is helpful, brushing it is usually too abrasive.
  • Apply a numbing, disinfecting substance or essential oil to the sore. Some great choices are silver, clove essential oil, or use an amazing blend like Quantum Health’s Canker Care. I personally use this product (since I discovered it in 2020) and wish it had been in my life earlier. It has ingredients that soothe and numb the sore, but also ingredients that help address common root causes of cankersores. Check out these ingredients: Aloe, Calendula, Myrrha, B12, Dipotassium Glyrrhizinate (DGL, Licorice), Echinacea, Clove, Goldenseal, Lysine, Tea tree, Cajuputi, Peppermint, Propolis and Zinc!
If you’re interested in learning more about healthy oral hygiene, check out my extensive article called Cure Pericoronitis & Periodontitis Naturally. This article goes into a variety of unusual oral hygiene practices not mentioned in most readily available sources.
Wishing you healthy gums, tongue, cheeks, and psyche,
The Consciousness Alchemist
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