Mouth Ulcers - Canker Sores

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Finding a good herbalist

Mouth ulcers affect many people and can cause great discomfort. 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

Zinc deficiency

A deficiency in zinc is a common cause for recurrent mouth ulcers however, it is hard to know exactly if this is a problem, or the problem, because it is not possible to get a useful measure from blood tests and something called the 'zinc taste-test' has questionable reliability...

Common signs that suggest a possible zinc deficiency include:

a) a significantly reduced sense of smell and taste
b) a pattern of white flecks on the nails, unrelated to trauma
c) slow healing from sores or wounds

If a person has mouth ulcers along with any of the above signs, then there is a strong case for simply taking a course of zinc, i.e. 15 mg a day of 'elemental zinc', for 2 to 3 months to see if it helps.

You can prevent your system from becoming deficient in zinc by having a reasonable amount of zinc-rich foods in your diet such as the following:


Check for food allergy or intolerance

The first thing anyone does whoever gets a mouth ulcer is question if it is something they've recently eaten. If you have already identified patterns in this regard but are still getting them despite avoiding the known triggers, then it may well be that you have some undiagnosed 'intolerances', which are harder to pick up because they can take much longer to manifest than 'allergies'.

Intolerances must be considered as a possibility if there is any earlier history of eczema or asthma. Other common signs include a bloated, uncomfortable belly or having allergic 'shiners', i.e. dark rings under the eyes. The whole subject of food intolerance must be approached with care; more here


Oral hygiene

For some, the root cause of recurrent mouth ulcers is an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gums and other surfaces in the mouth. This may be hard to diagnose with certainty but should at least be considered 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. Take the following steps if this is the area that needs 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. An effective mouth-wash formula can be made as follows:

Herbal Mouth Wash

Echinacea root tincture 20mls                      
Myrrh resin tincture 15mls                
Licorice root extract 15mls 

to make 50mls

For an adult, a dose of 2-3mls can be recommended. You could use it straight but will probably find it much easier to dilute it with just a few mls of water, e.g. no more than a tsp. You must get the medicine to briefly coat the whole inner surface of the mouth, so swish and swill!

You may wish to then spit it out but, if you have any kind of sore throat or immune health weakness, then you should swallow the dose because Echinacea, Myrrh and Licorice all have strong internal 'antibiotic' and immune supporting actions if you ingest them.

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.

Many people have been treated with this herbal mouthwash formula over the years and, so long as it has been used regularly, i.e. at least once if not twice a day, and for long enough i.e. for at least a few weeks, it has been very successful at improving the health of the whole mouth, even to the point where tooth extractions have no longer been required!

Commiphora myrrha (Myrrh Gum)


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. As it happens it was a New Zealand company that first pioneered using probiotic bacteria for the mouth. You can read more about this by entering their name Blis + probiotics into your search engine, their products should be readily available online.

The whole area of good vs. bad bugs affects our health in many important and unexpected ways; for your interest, or if you think you may have further problems in this area than just your mouth, read here.


Immune health

If none of the above applies to you, or it does and you take the recommended steps, but continue to be plagued by recurrent mouth ulcers, then you must consider the possibility that this is an indicator that your immune system is simply too run down.

If so, then you would certainly be feeling quite fatigued and would probably have a health history of chronic infections that took much longer than usual to heal, and if so, read here

Two white blood cells amongst red cells under the microscope


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.

Constitutional health is an old and fascinating way of understanding our differences. There's a brief introduction 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!



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd