A mouth or oral ulcer is an open sore in the mouth, or rarely a break in the mucous membrane or the epithelium on the lips or surrounding the mouth. The types of mouth ulcers are diverse, with a multitude of associated causes including: physical abrasion, acidic fruit, infection, other medical conditions, medications, and cancerous and nonspecific processes. Once formed, the ulcer may be maintained by inflammation and/or secondary infection. Two common types are aphthous ulcers (“canker sores”) and cold sores (fever blisters, oral herpes). Cold sores around the lip are caused by viruses.
What is Canker Sore
An aphthous ulcer, also known as a canker sore, is a type of mouth ulcer that presents as a shallow, painful open sore inside the mouth or upper throat characterized by a break in the mucous membrane. Its cause is unknown. It is not contagious. The condition is also known as aphthous stomatitis and alternatively as Sutton’s Disease, especially in the case of major, multiple, or recurring ulcers. Recurrent aphthous stomatitis is one of the most common oral conditions. Women are more often affected than men. About 30–40% of patients with recurrent aphthae report a family history. A common misconception about canker sores is that they are often confused with cold sores. Cold sores, or fever blisters, are the result of a herpes simplex virus infection.
Causes of Canker Sores
The exact cause of many aphthous ulcers is unknown but citrus fruits (e.g., oranges and lemons), physical trauma, stress, lack of sleep, sudden weight loss, food allergies, immune system reactions, and deficiencies in vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid may contribute to their development. Nicorandil and certain types of chemotherapy are also linked to aphthous ulcers. One recent study showed a strong correlation with allergies to cow’s milk. Aphthous ulcers are a major manifestation of Behçet disease, and are also common in people with Crohn’s disease. Trauma to the mouth is the most common trigger. Physical trauma, such as that caused by toothbrush abrasions, laceration with sharp or abrasive foods (such as toast or potato chips/crisps), accidental biting (particularly common with sharp canine teeth), after losing teeth, or dental braces can cause aphthous ulcers by breaking the mucous membrane. Other factors, such as chemical irritants or thermal injury, may also lead to the development of ulcers.
Home Treatment For Canker Sores
Avoiding spicy food, rinsing with salt water or over-the-counter mouthwashes, proper oral hygiene, and non-prescription local anesthetics should be an indispensable part of canker sores treatment, and will reduce the pain. The common home treatment for canker sores is given below:
Lysine: Because a deficiency in lysine may trigger canker sores, it is important to maintain a balanced diet of lysine and arginine. Lysine has been used for treatment and prevention of cold sores and some believe that it also helps with canker sores. Lysine is an essential amino acid that is available in both food sources and in supplemental form. Arginine is another amino acid which is used by viruses for cell growth and development. The ratio between lysine and arginine is important in the prevention and treatment of viral infections. Lysine from your diet is considered safe. However, high doses of supplementation have been linked with gallstones, and people who have kidney or liver disease should take this supplement only under the advice of their physician and with caution.
Garlic (Allium sativum): Garlic has antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties, inhibiting the growth of such common pathogens as candida, E. coli, S. aureus and streptococcus in laboratory studies. Garlic’s high levels of selenium also may help it boost the immune system; a deficiency of this trace mineral is a possible cause of canker sores. Garlic has its supporters in the scientific community as a treatment for canker sores. In an article published in 2008 in “Medical Hypotheses,” the authors proposed garlic as a possible candidate to control the pain and promote the healing of recurrent aphthous ulcers. Garlic can be taken as a food supplement in the amount of two to four minced cloves a day. Garlic can also cause mild gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and flatulence. Ingestion of large amounts of garlic can cause changes in blood clotting and increase risk of bleeding after surgery. Garlic can interact with prescription medications. Consult your doctor before using garlic.
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): Chamomile has been used to treat a variety of conditions such as sore throats, gingivitis, eczema, psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome, colds, abscesses, and ulcerative colitis. Chamomile is also used to relieve pain in people with canker sores. In one preliminary study, 82% of people taking a German chamomile extract reported “excellent” pain relief. The study didn’t include a placebo group, however, so it’s impossible to know the true effectiveness of German chamomile in this study. People with allergies to ragweed, chrysanthemum, aster, or feverfew should avoid chamomile because it is in the same plant family. Chamomile may interact with sedative medications, alcohol, and anti-clotting and anti-platelet (“blood-thinning”) medications such as warfarin (coumadin).
Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris): The herb lady’s mantle has been used as a folk remedy for mouth and throat infections, menopausal ailments, painful menstrual periods, and skin rashes. One preliminary study examined the effectiveness of a gel containing lady’s mantle (3% extract of lady’s mantle) in glycerine in 48 people.with canker sores. People applied the gel three times daily. After three days, the lady’s mantle gel relieved discomfort and healed canker sores in 75% of people, compared with 40 percent who used commonly available treatments and 33.3% who used no treatment.
Vitamin B12: People with recurrent canker sores have been found to be low in vitamin B12. According to an Israeli study published in 2009 in the “Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine,” clinical researchers determined that vitamin B12 supplementation was a cost-effective treatment strategy for individuals who suffered from frequently recurring canker sores.
Folic Acid and Iron: Folic acid, also called folate or vitamin B3, may be an important vitamin for canker sores because it aids in wound healing. Along with iron, folic acid is important for the production of red blood cells and oxygen transport throughout your body. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, iron and folic acid deficiencies may contribute to recurrent canker sores, and nutritional supplementation may diminish or delay their recurrence.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): A study had found that one form of the herb licorice, called deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL, was effective in healing of canker sores. DGL tablets can be allowed to dissolve in the mouth. According to Phyllis A. Balch, certified nutritional consultant and author of the book “Prescription for Herbal Healing,” licorice contains key ingredients that accelerate healing and relieve pain associated with canker sores. Steven Foster, author of the book “National Geographic Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine,” adds that licorice appears to stimulate your immune system, helping to eliminate one of the risk factors for canker sores. However, high doses of licorice can result in pseudoaldosteronism, a condition characterized by fatigue, headaches, high blood pressure, water retention and heart attacks. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, even low doses can induce muscle pain or numbness in your arms and legs. Pregnant and nursing women, children, and others with kidney disease, liver damage, heart problems, hypertension and diabetes should avoid licorice.
Yogurt: Canker sores can be controlled to a great degree by consuming yogurt. Yogurt not only helps cure canker sore, but also prevents the occurrence of this ailment. The key over here is to make sure that the yogurt is consumed in non-sweetened form. Yogurt is thick enough to hold each bite in the mouth, on the sore, for at least a bit, and it may help speed healing. It’s best as another once-a-day treatment, but it can be breakfast, dessert or a snack.
Aloe Vera juice, when used as a mouth wash, is beneficial in curing canker sores.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis): Goldenseal has traditionally been used for skin infections and ulcers. As a mouthwash or topical application, goldenseal is used to treat mouth sores. Goldenseal is safe for most people, although pregnant women and children should not use the herb. Check with your doctor about the safety and efficacy of goldenseal for thrush and mouth ulcers.
Fenugreek: Infusions prepared by boiling fenugreek leaves or coriander leaves in water make excellent Mouth Sores home remedies. Gargling with any of these solutions is helpful in healing the problem.
Coriander: Another effective natural remedy would be to soak coriander leaves in water. After about 5 minutes, strain the water and use it as a mouthwash.
Cinnamon: Take a glass of lukewarm water and add 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder to it. Gargle with this water, first thing in the morning.
Honey: Coat the ulcer with some honey. Let it stay for some time and then salivate. It is one of the most useful remedy for treating mouth ulcers.
Marjoram: Boil half a liter of water. Steep 2 tbsp Marjoram in it, for about 10 minutes. Strain the water and gargle with it, about 3 to 4 times a day.
Salt: Gargling with salty water or barley tea is also found to be helpful in treating ulcers.
Tomato & Papaya: Increase the consumption of tomatoes and fresh papaya fruit. This is likely to bring relief and cure canker sores.
Grapefruit: Rinsing the mouth with Grapefruit seed extract would be helpful in treating mouth ulcers. Take a glass of lukewarm water and add 5 to 6 drops of Grapefruit seed extract in it. Use this as a mouthwash.
Tea tree oil has medicinal properties and can help heal mouth ulcers. Apply tea tree oil to the sores, before going to bed, and leave overnight. Tea Tree Oil – Mix 10% tea tree oil with 90% water and rinse in your mouth once or twice a day.
Baking Soda: Canker sores and baking soda have been a good combination for many years now. Mix in a teaspoon of baking soda with some warm water and rinse in your mouth several times a day. The pain should go away within 24 hours. You can also mix the baking soda and a little water together to form a paste that you can then take and rub onto the sore itself.
Plum Juice: Use 1-2 tablespoons of plum juice as a mouth wash and rinse with it for 2-3 minutes. Or, take a cotton ball soaked in plum juice and hold it against the canker sore for a few minutes.
Alum: You can find alum in any grocery store spice area. Put some alum on your lip where the sore is located and it should quickly relieve the pain. Be advised, while this treatment works, alum can cause a burning sensation for a few minutes. Rinse out with water and do this twice a day.
Wet Tea Bag: You can take a used tea bag and press it against the canker sore for several minutes. The tea bag contains tannic acid which helps to relieve pain and also cure the canker sore.
Sorrel: Place a piece of sorrel up against your sore until it becomes wet and soggy. Sorrel relieves the pain and helps in healing it. Sorrel has been used for many different skin problems for many years.
Onion: Although I’ve not tried it, people swear by this canker sore treatment. Take a chunk of raw onion and hold it against the infected sore for a few minutes.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis): It makes an excellent treatment for gum diseases when diluted with water and used as a mouthwash. Calendula has been used as an antiviral, antibacterial and immune system enhancer for centuries. Calendula can be applied to mouth sores, ulcers and even herpes sores to soothe and relieve pain. Liquid calendula should not be swallowed in large amounts; however it is considered safe to use as a mouthwash. Talk to your doctor before using calendula for any medical condition.
Milk of magnesia can be used as a home remedy for canker sores by swishing them around in your mouth to add a protective coating to the canker sore. It has antibacterial effects as well.
Basil: Chewing basil leaves a few times in a day a highly beneficial Mouth Sores home remedy. Alternatively, you can boil basil leaves in water and gargle with the solution regularly.
Copper Sulphate: Copper Sulphate is known as an astringent. It will burn for a moment once you apply it, but as a canker sore treatment, it works. The sore should disappear within two days at most.
Sage (Salvia officinalis): Sage can be used to relieve the pain from canker sores. Add three teaspoons of sage leaves to one pint of boiling water and steep, while covered, for 15 minutes. Use this to rinse your mouth several times a day or apply sage leaves directly to the canker sore.
Honey: Applying honey on the affected area is one of the best natural home remedies for mouth sores treatment at home. It also helps relieve pain and burning sensation. A paste prepared from powdered Indian Gooseberry root bark and honey can also be used.
Cranberry juice is a good canker sore healer. Drink it in between meals to get rid of canker sores and to relieve the pain from them.
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a property that temporarily desensitizes the nerves that cause pain. Some candy recipes have cayenne pepper in them and is designed to relieve the pain from canker sores. These types of candy are used to relieve mouth sores caused by radiation and chemotherapy too. Be careful though because cayenne pepper can be irritating to some people.
What is Oral Thrush
Oral candidiasis, also known as “thrush”, is an infection of yeast fungi of the genus Candida on the mucous membranes of the mouth. Oral thrush may refer to candidiasis in the mouths of babies, while if occurring in the mouth or throat of adults it may also be termed candidosis or moniliasis. People who have diabetes and had high blood sugar levels are more likely to get oral thrush. Taking high doses of antibiotics or taking antibiotics for a long time also increases the risk of oral thrush. People with poorly fitting dentures are also more likely to get thrush. The infection usually appears as thick white or cream-colored deposits on mucosal membranes such as the tongue, inner cheeks, gums, tonsils, and palate. The lesions can be painful and will become tender and often bleed if rubbed or scraped. Oral thrush can be effectively addressed with home remedies. Some of the home cures for oral thrush are described below.
Garlic: Garlic is almost looked up as a picture perfect remedy, when it comes to dealing with health issues. It contains certain anti-fungal properties that destroy the fungus responsible for the cause of oral thrush. When combined with onion, garlic work wonders, as the contributing organisms are taken care by garlic, while onion eradicates the white patches.
Yogurt: Oral thrush can be controlled to a great degree by consuming yogurt. Yogurt not only helps cure oral thrush, but also prevents the occurrence of this ailment. Make sure that the yogurt is consumed in non-sweetened form.
Salt Water: Add half a teaspoon of salt to water and rinse your mouth with the solution. Performing this activity few times in a day will do the trick for you. Make sure that you do not end up swallowing this salt water solution.
Tea Tree Oil: Amongst the natural oils that can be used to treat oral thrush, tea tree oil is one of the top picks to be considered. One simply needs to add few drops of this oil in a glass of water and then gargle it for a while. While it’s imperative that this solution reaches every corner of your mouth, make sure that it does not make its way to the stomach, or else you will end up inviting more troubles. The ideal practice is to perform this “gargling act” twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once before heading towards the bed.
Use a soft toothbrush and rinse your mouth with a diluted 3% hydrogen peroxide solution several times a day.
Good control of blood sugar levels in persons with diabetes may be all that is needed to clear a thrush infection.
Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal mouthwash (nystatin) or lozenges (clotrimazole) to suck on if you have a severe case of thrush or a weakened immune system.
Healthy Diet: As mentioned earlier, oral thrush is caused mainly due to weakened immune system. Therefore, it’s a must to supply your body with adequate nutrients to strengthen the immune system. This will not only help you keep the ailment at bay, but also fasten the recovery process, in case if you have already fallen prey to oral thrush. Design a proper diet in collusion with regular exercise and sleep.
For thrush in infants, treatment is often NOT necessary. It generally gets better on its own within 2 weeks. Thrush in infants may be painful, but is rarely serious. Because of discomfort, it can interfere with eating. If it does not resolve on its own within 2 weeks, call your pediatrician.
What is Oral Herpes
Herpes is a very common infection caused by two different but closely related viruses — herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Both can occur on different parts of the body. When the infection is on or around the mouth, it is called oral herpes or “Cold sores” or “fever blisters,” They usually show up on the lips or inside the mouth. Brief, direct contact is all that’s needed to pass the oral herpes virus. The first oral herpes symptom or sign of infection is fluid accumulation at the infection site, which is quickly followed by small, grouped blisters. These blisters form on an inflamed and reddish skin base, which is more visible in dry skin areas. When the blisters dry out, they almost always heal without scarring within a week to 10 days. Blisters in moist areas heal more slowly than others. One symptom of oral herpes is a mild itch.
Oral Herpes – Natural Treatment
Oral Herpes symptoms will generally subside in 1 to 2 weeks if left untreated. Antiviral medications given by mouth may shorten the course of the symptoms and decrease pain but it may not be worth the expense or trouble or possible side effects. Applying a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine gel, may offer temporary pain relief. Conventional treatment may include antiviral drugs like acyclovir and famciclovir, but they can have unpleasant side effects. Herbs with antiviral action can be used as home treatments for oral herpes. Individuals should consult a health care professional familiar with herbal medicines before starting herbal home treatment. There are many herbs that have anti-viral activity. Eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains. Drink herbal teas including green tea. Flavonoids found in vegetables and fruits have anti-herpes simplex activity. One of the best ways to reduce the outbreak of cold sores is to have a deep sleep at night and decrease stress of all sorts.
Here are some natural remedies for cold sores
Lysine: Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning that we must get it through food or supplements because the body can’t make it on its own. It’s used to make protein, which we need to produce infection-fighting antibodies, enzymes, hormones, and body tissues. Lysine has been found to inhibit the spread of the herpes simplex virus. We get lysine through food sources such as red meat, milk, eggs, cheese, wheat germ, brewers yeast, and fish. Besides, These will help to shorten the duration of cold sores. Lysine ointment has also been found effective in treating cold sores.
Lemon Balm: Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) has antiviral properties. In a research study conducted in hospitals and dermatology clinics in Germany, lemon balm cream promoted the healing of blisters in five days compared to 10 days in the control group. Used on regularly, lemon balm cream may decrease the frequency of recurrences.
Reishi and Astragalus: Reishi, also called Ganoderma lucidum is a type of mushroom that has a long history of use in traditional Asian medicine to strengthen the immune system. Preliminary evidence shows that reishi may inhibit the spread of the herpes virus. Reishi is available in powder or supplement form. Reishi can delay blood clotting, so consult your doctor before taking reishi if you are taking aspirin, warfarin (coumadin), or any other medications or supplements that interfere with clotting. In traditional Chinese medicine, reishi is often used in conjunction with an herb called astragalus.
Resveratrol: Resveratrol, a compound found naturally in red grapes, has been shown to be active against the herpes simplex virus in laboratory studies. A study by the Northeastern Ohio University demonstrated that resveratrol cream applied topically two, three, or five times a day effectively suppressed cold sore development if it was applied one or 6 hours after infection with the herpes virus.
Propolis: Propolis, also called bee propolis, is a brownish, resinous substance. Bees collect it from poplar and conifer buds and use it “cement” their hives and keep them germ-free. It is sold in health food stores. A study found that propolis was active against herpes simplex 1 virus. It is believed to work by preventing the virus from entering body cells and by blocking the replication and spread of the virus.
Self-Heal: Selfheal, or Prunella vulgaris, is an edible perennial plant with purple-blue flowers native to Europe and Asia. Selfheal has a wide range of actions, including antiviral, anti-allergic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and is also astringent. In her 2002 book “Prescription for Herbal Healing,” Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, calls selfheal a potent antiviral herb. Balch recommends selfheal tea as a home remedy. Selfheal should not be taken with anticoagulant medicine or if there are any gastrointestinal disorders. Users should consult a health care professional before using selfheal.
Echinacea: A study by the University of Ottawa found that echinacea is active against herpes simplex type 1.
Black currant: An extract of black currant, also known as Ribes nigrum or Kurokarin in Japan, was found to fight the herpes virus in laboratory studies.
Rhubarb and sage cream – A German study examined rhubarb-sage cream compared to sage cream and Zovirax in 149 people with oral herpes cold sores. The combined topical sage-rhubarb preparation proved to be as effective as topical aciclovir cream and tended to be more active than the sage cream.
Undaria pinnatifida – known as wakame in Japan, undaria is a type of seaweed that has been found to improve the healing time and reactivation of herpes infections.
Caulerpa, or Caulerpa racemosa, is a green algae that grows along the coast of India. A study by E. B. Damonte published in the September 2004 issue of “Current Medicinal Chemistry” found that polysaccharides from seaweed are also potent antiviral agents. A study by P. Ghosh published in the December 2004 issue of “Phytochemistry” found that the polysaccharides in a water extract of caulerpa inhibited normal strains of HSV-1 and HSV-2 and acyclovir-resistant strains of HSV-1. Individuals should consult a health care professional familiar with herbal medicines before using caulerpa.
Leafflower, or Phyllanthus urinaria, is a tropical plant with fern-like leaves native to Asia. A study by C. M. Yang published in the April 2007 issue of the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” found that a compound in leafflower had significant action against HSV-1. Another compound, geranin, was effective against HSV-2. Individuals should consult a health care professional familiar with herbal medicines before using leafflower.
People with tuberculosis, leukemia, diabetes, connective tissue disorders, multiple sclerosis, HIV or AIDS, any autoimmune diseases, organ transplant, or possibly, liver disorders should not take herbs or supplements that improve immune function without consulting their doctor first.
Category: HERBAL REMEDIES