Mouth Ulcers

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Finding a good herbalist

Much of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist or truly holistic practitioner to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here

Is immune health ok?

Mouth ulcers are clearly a common problem and I have frequently been asked for help with them. In many cases there are quite specific issues around deficiency, allergy or infection that need direct attention and each of these are discussed in practical detail below. However, in some cases, recurrent mouth ulcers are a strong signal that the person's immune system in general needs some support. How we might know that this was the case would be that the person would typically be feeling quite fatigued and run-down and they might also have been suffering from chronic infections or wounds that were taking much longer than usual to heal. If any of this has been the case for you then, whilst some of the following strategies may still be helpful, I recommend you also attend to the overall health of your immune system; this important subject is discussed in detail here.


Two white blood cells amongst red cells under the microscope

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Check for Zinc deficiency

A deficiency in zinc is a major cause for recurrent mouth ulcers and, if this is a problem that affects you then, along with whatever else you might need to give your attention to, there is a case for simply taking a course of zinc for 2 to 3 months to see what happens. At least 15 mg a day of elemental zinc is required to do this properly but that is easily achieved with any supplement containing zinc.

It is hard to measure for a zinc deficiency in blood tests and I am not convinced that the zinc taste test is at all reliable either. What I can say is that if a person has
a) a significantly reduced sense of smell and taste without having a blocked nose &/or
b) more than one or two white flecks on their nails &/or
c) slow healing from sores or wounds
then there is a higher likelihood that a zinc deficiency is a core issue and that attending to it may do much to cure the cause of the ulcers. After using zinc as a supplement for 2 to 3 months to ensure a rapid restoration of lost stores you should be able to continue to prevent your system becoming deficient in it again by making sure you have a reasonable amount of zinc-rich foods in your regular diet.

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Check for food allergy or intolerance

I have worked with a number of people for whom a food allergy has clearly been the root cause of their mouth ulcers and when we have detected and eliminated those foods that were setting of the reaction the ulcers entirely went away. I would be likely to focus on this issue foremost if a person had other indicators that they were suffering from food allergy/intolerance. This typically shows up as
a) a history of eczema or asthma in childhood and/or migraines or bowel problems as an adult
b) allergic 'shiners' (dark rings under the eyes) and/or a tendency to cracks in the corners of the mouth
c) bloating and discomfort after certain foods - or most certainly an association between eating certain foods and getting mouth ulcers!

The whole subject of food allergy and intolerance is rife with myths and misinformation so if this an area that you need to explore start by reading the comprehensive article on the subject here

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Oral hygiene

There is a further high possibility that the root cause of recurrent mouth ulcers is an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gums and other surfaces in the mouth. This can be a hard thing to diagnose with certainty but if there are signs such as a tendency to bad breath, a history of dental caries or a tendency to mildly swollen glands at the corner of the jaw then consider that this may be where you need to focus your main attention.

Get rid of bad bugs

Herbs are excellent at helping to kill off bad bugs without messing with the body's natural defences in the way that drugs do. The strongest disinfectant mouth-wash formula I know is made up of the following.

Herbal Mouth Wash

20mls Echinacea root tincture                       
15mls Myrrh resin tincture                
15mls Licorice root extract  
to make 50mls.

For an average adult I would recommend 2 mls (about 40 drops) of the Herbal Mouth Wash to be diluted in just a little bit of water i.e. no more than about 6-10mls in total. You have to get the herbs to briefly coat the mouth and the back of the throat. Swish, swill and then either spit or swallow. Swallow them if you have any kind of sore throat or immune health weakness because the Echinacea, Myrrh and Licorice all have internal 'antibiotic' or immune supporting actions if you ingest them. Spit if you are otherwise well and would just rather not have to swallow!

I have treated many people with this herbal mouthwash formula over the years and I have found that, so long as the mouth wash is used regularly, i.e. at least once or twice a day, and for long enough i.e. for at least a matter of weeks if not months, it has been extremely successful at improving the whole mouth health, even to the point where tooth extractions have no longer been required! Incidentally the Plains American Indians, where Echinacea root comes from, likewise rated it extremely highly as a herb that stopped teeth rotting and falling out...

In terms of curing or preventing mouth ulcers the mouth wash is not something you would do for fun but it is very fast acting so if you have an ulcer currently it should start improving from the first day you start the treatment.


Commiphora myrrha (Myrrh Gum)

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Restore good bacteria

To some extent your natural bacterial flora will re-exert itself once you properly deal to the bad guys but there are also commercial products that you can buy in the form of ‘good bacteria’ lozenges to speed things along by putting the good bacteria back quickly. As it happens it was a New Zealand company that first pioneered using probiotic bacteria for the mouth. You can read more about them and their products by entering the name Blis K12 into your search engine (note: I have no financial interest whatsoever in this company). Blis mouth and throat products are now readily available in many different parts of the world and I highly recommend them.

This whole area of good vs. bad bugs affects our health in all kinds of unexpected ways; if you are interested or if you think you may have further problems lower down your digestive tract then it may be useful to read more about this subject here.

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Constitutional Health Note

Finally, you might benefit from learning about your constitution to know what kind of foods, herbs, exercises etc. will work especially well for your health in general as well as what might potentially help your immune system to get into better balance. As it happens the majority of the patients I have personally worked with who have especially been plagued by mouth-ulcers have been Eagles but in any case there is a brief introduction to this great subject here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are here.

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!

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© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd