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October 3, 2017
By A. Weinberg, Contributing Columnist
It could be my imagination. It could be real. But I feel like I always get
canker sores when my sugar intake is too high. Worse than that, sugar,
alcohol, and acidic food seems to make them hurt.
According to experts, the more real, concrete causes may be due to
food allergies or hormonal changes. Canker sores, more scientifically
referred to as aphthous ulcers (or apthuous stomatitis), are literally a
real pain sometimes.
However, there’s a more surprising cause behind canker sores, one you
can’t really control. Michael Martin, DMD, PhD from the University of
Kentucky College of dentistry affirms, "When both parents have a
history of canker sores, the likelihood of their children developing them
can be as high as 90 percent.”
Canker sores affect the general population on a pretty statistically
significant level. Dr. Ilia Volkov from the Ben-Gurion University cites
that "the frequency of RAS is as much as 25 percent in the general
population, however, until now, there has been no optimal therapeutic
The good news is there are many methods that contribute to reducing
the size and recurrence of canker sores.
Eric Shapira, dentist from Temple University says that “increasing
vitamins and other herbs, such as Vitamin C and zinc, can help treat
aphthous stomatitis because they help to regenerate tissue cells.”
There are a lot of creative way to zap those canker sores, though. Read
on to find out about a few.
1. Vitamin C
More oranges equal less canker sores? Some would say yes. Of course,
you can get your ascorbate acid in various forms. In a 2010 study from
the Okayama University graduate school of medicine, K. Yasui and
researchers examined the potential of ascorbic acid to reduce canker
sores and pain. They tested 16 patients (average age 12-years-old)
who were assigned to take an oral dosage of 2000 milligrams per day
of ascorbate. There was a 50% reduction in oral ulcer outbreaks in
If you like it then you should have rubbed some garlic on it? Wait, no.
While everyone likes Beyonce, no one really likes canker sores. They
are something to be eliminated. Garlic is a great cure for many common
ailments, given a superhero active ingredient called "allicin".
Allicin decreases inflammatory factors as well as inhibits bacteria and
viruses while antagonizing oxidation and regulating immunity. In a
2008 report, Xiu Jiang from the Sichuan University in China confirmed
that these abilities reduced and eliminated canker sores, as well as
controlled the pain associated with them.
3. Lavender oil
Lavender --- versatile, aromatic, delicious. The flower in oil format also
has medicinal potential. In 2012, Tagre Altei and researchers from the
Hawler Medical University in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq did a study to
determine the lab and clinical efficacy of lavender oil in recurrent canker
sores. 115 subjects (average age 38 years, average weight 75
kilograms) were divided into two groups treated topically with lavender
oil or a placebo. The patients treated with lavender oil had a significant
reduction in inflammation level, ulcer size, healing time, and pain relief,
from the first dose, compared to the baseline/placebo. No side effects
4. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 isn’t just good for that extra boost for vegetarians: the
vitamin can also bring down uncomfortable canker sores. Dr. Ilia
Volkov and researchers from the Ben-Gurion University conducted a
study in 2009: They tested B12 on 58 randomly selected canker sore
sufferers. The patients received either a dose of 1000 micrograms of
B12 or a placebo. They were tested monthly for six months. 74% of
patients within the treated group experienced significant reduction of
canker sores, while only 32% in the control group went through the
"The average outbreak duration and the average number of ulcers per
month decreased in both groups during the first four months of the
trial. However, the duration of outbreaks, the number of ulcers, and the
level of pain were reduced significantly at five and six months of
treatment with vitamin B12, regardless of initial vitamin B12 levels in
During the last month of treatment a significant number of participants
in the intervention group reached 'no aphthous ulcers status' (74.1%
vs 32.0%; P < .01)," reported Dr. Ilia Volkov.
5. Licorice Extract
Licorice is a controversial flavor. What is clear is that the substance has
some pretty great medicinal properties. In 2008, an article was
published in the Academy of General Dentistry looking at the effects of
licorice on canker sores. lead study author Michael Martin, DMD and
other medical professionals examined effects of over-the-counter
medicated adhesive patch containing licorice root versus no treatment.
After seven days of treatment, the ulcer size in the group who received
the adhesive patch with licorice extract was significantly lower, while in
the control group the canker sore increased by 13%.
Getting the right vitamins and minerals can be important for overall
wellbeing and healing those annoying mouth pustules. In a 2003 study,
R. Orbak from the Ataturk University of Dentistry observed the effects
of systemic zinc sulfate on recurrent canker sores.
Dr. Orbak and researchers analyzed 40 patients with recurrent
aphthous stomatitis. The first group contained 20 subjects who were
given 220 milligrams of zinc sulfate once per day for one menoth.
Group 2 contained 20 subjects who were administered a saccharose
After one month of therapy, canker sores in the zinc sulfate group
reduced and didn’t appear again for one month. Picking up a zinc
supplement to get rid of those annoying recurrent canker sores might
be a good option.
7. Aloe vera (and myrrh)
You are probably used to putting aloe vera on a sunburn. However, the
little plant filled with cold, gooey gel is multifaceted. When looking at
the potential of aloe vera gel in treating recurrent aphthous stomatitis,
G. Mansour and researchers from the King Abdulaziz University in
Jeddah Saudi Arabia, discovered positive results.
In 2014, they conducted a study with 90 patients. Three gels were
tested: aloe vera, myrrh, and placebo.
All the test subjects (who had developed ulcers less than 48 hours
prior) were split into groups and instructed to apply one of the three
gels, four times a day for five days. The ulcer size and pain intensity
were analyzed on day four and six of the study.
Surprisingly, 76.6% of patients using aloe vera experienced complete
ulcer healing and 76.7% of patients treated with myrrh revealed an
absence of pain on day six. No side effects were reported.
M. Communis, more commonly known as myrtle, is known to treat
various types of ulcers, including canker sores, according to herblore.
M. Mahboubi and researchers from the Medical Plant Research Center
of Barij in Kashan, Iran, wanted to know if there were real medical
claims to back that up.
After examining all existing studies on the subject (searching Google
scholar, Pubmed, ScienceDirect, Springer, ethnobotanical, and the
traditional books from Traditional Medicine Tehran University of Medical
Sciences), the answer seemed to be affirmative.
Myrtle essential oil and decoction decreased the average time of pain
relief and the size of ulcers in patients with minor aphthous stomatitis.
All patients were satisfied with m. communis essential oil, while 81% of
patients found m. communis topical decoctions satisfactory. The
analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties of myrtle seem
to work wonders, without side effects.
9. Probiotic yogurt
If you’re like me, you think of yogurt as one of the best breakfasts and
one of the best treats. Turns out the yummy stuff can also minimize the
pain associated with canker sores. In a 2017 study, MAM Mimura and
researchers from the Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo in Brazil found
that when treating aphthous stomatitis with lactobacillus and
bifidobacterium composition, pain symptomatology was improved.
Honey is great with yogurt. Although when we talk about practical
applications for canker sores, the best idea is to apply that bee product
directly. In a 2014 study by S.A. Haddad from the King Saud University
in Saudi Arabia, they tested 94 subjects with 180 minor recurrent
aphthous ulcerations. They applied honey to their canker sores four
times a day for five days. There was a reduction in pain and ulcer size,
without any side effects.
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