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.
- Injury within the mouth, such as biting one's cheek or tongue.
- 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.
- Vitamin deficiencies, particularly B12 (cobalamin) and B9 (folate/folic acid), and zinc.
- Deficiency in the amino acid l-lysine.
- 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, right? That's what I believe.
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. 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.
Throughout my practice, study and meditations, it has become abundantly clear to me that no single solution – no matter how good – should be relied on for any one problem. A variety of solutions, precautions and inspirations always works better. Why? I believe there are a few reasons, as listed below.
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 experiences.
- 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
- 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 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.
- Take a sub-lingual B12 once per week. (If you're opposed to supplements, you may want to read this.)
- 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.
- Consume foods rich in l-lysine at least once every other day, such as spirulina, parsley, lentil sprouts, spinach, leeks, horseradish, bell peppers, peas, 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, zucchini, chard, arugula, hemp seeds, peas, sage, sesame seed, lentil sprouts, lettuce, cucumber, goji berries and blackberries.
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 which I flippantly titled, Vitamin Confusion Solution. Check it out. *winks* (Yes, I just winked at you.)
How can I treat my canker sores?
Don't suck on popsicles to numb them. I can tell you that much! 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." 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.
What I've found works really well for cankersores in my water pick. I originally purchased my water pick when I had a case of pericoronitis due to the gum flap that was still hanging out over my wisdom tooth. The water pick 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 waker pick to be similarly useful for canker sores.
This may be because the water pick 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 pick 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 lentil sprouts, parsley, 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. My latest favorite is Uncle Harry's Toothpaste which has great flavor, texture and results.
- Avoid burning your mouth, hot foods and hot drinks. Warm green tea and/or licorice 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 pick directly on the sore is helpful, brushing it is not.
The above is plenty to get your mouth feeling great again, but there are other helpers out there worth noting such as clove essential oil, lavender, perilla and propolis. If you're really interested in learning more about healthy oral hygiene, check out my highly 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