About Canker Sores (aphthous ulcers or aphthous stomatitis) & At-Home Relief 

Canker sores are small ulcers or lesions located on the mucosal membrane in the mouth. Canker sores usually appear as a red lesion with a white or yellow center on the inside of the cheeks, lips, tongue, the upper surface of the mouth or the base of the gums. Symptoms can include a burning sensation, pain, inflammation, fever and swollen lymph nodes. Canker sores are not contagious and usually go away on their own within 1-2 weeks.

canker sores


Some Known Causes:

  • Local chemical or physical trauma
  • Stress:
    • initiates a breakdown in host protective factors
  • Allergies/food sensitivities:
    • Canker sore lesions have been found to contain increased serum antibodies to food antigens which suggest that an allergic reaction is involved. Canker sore lesions also contain higher levels of allergic antibodies (IgE) and white blood cells. Considerable evidence indicates sensitivity to gluten is associated with canker sores. Patients with celiac disease saw a complete remission from withdrawing gluten from their diet.
  • Frequent non-food allergens inducing canker sores include:
    • benzoic acid, cinnamaldehyde, nickel, parabens, dichromate, sorbic acid
  • Nutrient Deficiency:
    • Studies show that nutrient deficiencies are much more common in canker sore sufferers. Low nutrient status may explain why patients with canker sores have an impaired antioxidant defense system, leading to higher levels of free radicals and damaged fats in the blood. Common nutrient deficiencies include: thiamine, iron, folate, vitamin B12.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate:
    • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a commonly used ingredient in oral health products that can cause apthous ulcers (canker sores). Sodium lauryl sulfate may also be a carcinogen, and may cause irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes, and possible mutations and cancer.


Therapeutic Considerations: Identify the cause.

Most common; local chemical or physical trauma, stress, food allergies/sensitivities, nutrient deficiency and sodium lauryl sulfate. Correction of the cause will stop the cycle.

  • Food Allergy/Sensitivity elimination diet
  • Practice daily stress releasing techniques
  • Nutritional supplements found to be helpful in decreasing the sensitivity and duration of the canker sores: Thiamine (vitamin B1), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin), Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Iron, Zinc, Fish oils, Grape Seed Extract, Pine Bark extract.
  • Daily low dose of L-Lysine
  • Avoid buying toothpaste or mouth rinses that contain sodium lauryl sulfate.


For Soothing Relief:

  • Use a solution of Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)
    • 200mg powdered DGL dissolved in 200ml of warm water; swish for 1-2 minutes
  • Alkaline salt water rinse
    • One teaspoon of baking soda, and one teaspoon salt (Celtic sea salt/ or Himalayan salt) with 1 glass warm water and rinse your mouth three times a day.
  • Acidophilus capsules daily during outbreaks
    • Break the capsules and apply directly to the sores. Although canker sores are not caused by a bacterial infection, they can become infected by bacteria. Acidophilus provides “friendly” bacteria that compete with infectious bacteria.
  • Used tea bag contains tannic acid, an astringent that helps reduce pain and inflammation and speeds up the healing process.
    • Place tea bag in mouth over area of sore for 5 minutes, repeat as needed.
  • Goldenseal herbal extract rinse
    • ½ dropper-full into 4ounces of water. Take a sip and swish it all around the mouth for one minute. Repeat until all 4ounces of water is gone. Repeat three times daily.
  • Myrrh herbal extract rinse
    • 5 drops into 1/4cup of warm water. Take a sip and swish it all around the mouth for one minute. Repeat until all of the water is gone. Repeat three times daily.
  • If any kind of mouth sore does not heal, see your dentist.



  1. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine Third edition by Michael T. Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, ND
  2. Prescription for Herbal Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
  3. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/13/sodium-lauryl-sulfate.aspx


The information provided is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of a qualified integrative physician. The products listed above have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  The information provided above is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular product is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A qualified integrative physician or other medical professional should be consulted before taking any natural product, changing your diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.