cankerCanker sores are also known as mouth ulcers. They are small, painful open sores on the inside of the mouth that have yellow-gray centers and a red border. They occur on inside of the mouth: the inner side of the lips, the tongue, the back and floor of the mouth and the wall of the cheeks. They do not occur on the lips, the gums or the hard roof of the mouth. The sores can be single or can occur in clusters.


  • human herpes virus 6 (like chicken pox). You would never get a cold sore unless you’ve first had a virus infection, such as measles or chickenpox. This is called the primary infection and it usually occurs when you’re a child or young adult.
  • food sensitivities
  • stress
  • nutrient deficiencies

They generally heal in one to two weeks and may recur monthly or several times per year.

WARNING: Sometimes sores that seem to be canker sores are actually something more serious resulting from drug allergies, herpes infection, inflammatory bowel disease, or cancer. These should not be treated with any home remedy but must be referred to a doctor for care.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IT ISN’T SERIOUS? Simple – left alone, canker sores will get better, and disappear in a week of so. The more serious situations linger. While the size may change they don’t get better on their own.


Here are some things you can do to treat and prevent canker sores. These natural approaches do not require using any drugs:
1) Avoid toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). It is an irritant detergent. People who get canker sores regularly may benefit by switching to a brand of toothpaste that does not contain SLS. An excellent alternative to toothpaste is Tooth Soap, a simple product that cleans teeth and doesn’t contain the harmful ingredients so often found in the commercial products.

2) Take supplements that contain Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL). It’s the herb licorice that has had the portion removed that can increase blood pressure. It is available as both a powder and a chewable tablet. DGL is also a home remedy for digestion problems. In one research study, DGL improved canker sores 50-75% in one day. This study used a mouthwash made of powdered DGL mixed with water. You can use DGL tablets chewed with water, swished in the mouth and swallowed.

3) Identify and eliminate food sensitivities with an elimination and challenge diet. Food sensitivities, especially to gluten-containing foods (wheat, rye, barley, oats), have been found clinically to be associated with recurrent canker sores.

Here’s how to do it. If you get canker sores often, start keeping a daily journal. Then remove a food group from your diet. Start with the wheat, rye, barley and oats. This isn’t really a home remedy for the canker sore – it will help prevent canker sores from happening again.

Eliminate that group of foods for a couple of weeks and record if you get a canker sore. If you do, that group probably isn’t the culprit. Start eating the group again but eliminate another one, perhaps dairy.

This is a slow process, but the rewards are great, especially if you are plagued with canker sores that show up often.

4) Avoid eating food with nitrites. In addition to activating canker sores there has been a connection made between nitrites and cancer.

5) Don’t eat hot or spicy food when you have the sores in your mouth. These foods are irritating. They can make the sores painful, and the irritation can delay healing.

6) Get plenty of Vitamin C every day. Vitamin C works directly against viruses and has been found to inhibit the herpes virus. It can also block the harm from dietary nitrites. A good dose is 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day.

7) Take a good quality multivitamin complex – one that contains at least 50mg of the B-Vitamins. Thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of canker sores. Other nutrients that have been found to be low in people with recurrent canker sores include riboflavin (vitamin B2) and pyridoxine (vitamin B6). Ortho B Complex is an excellent all-around multiple B-vitamin.