Canker sores (aka aphthous ulcers) are one of life’s little mysteries. Experts estimate that roughly one out of five people put up with these painful mouth lesions. Some suffer more than others:
“My husband has canker sores in his mouth all the time. The specialists we have been to say it is not curable and he just has to live with them. We have tried many topical remedies plus some prescription drugs without benefit.
“He is not sleeping well because of the pain and desperately needs some relief. We enjoy reading the remedies you share and wonder if you might have some suggestions that could help us now.”
The cause of canker sores is unknown, though citrus fruits, trauma to the mouth and weakened immunity have been blamed for these painful mouth lesions. Some research suggests that nutritional deficiencies (B vitamins or iron) may be partially responsible.
Although they normally last about a week to 10 days, some people are plagued by these sores for much longer periods of time. The pain and irritation can be so severe that eating solid food can be almost impossible.
Some readers believe that a foaming agent (SLS or sodium lauryl sulfate) found in many toothpastes contributes to the problem:
“My sister and daughter suffered from severe canker sores for years. My sister’s doctor told her to stop using toothpaste with SLS. Now, both my daughter and sister have very few outbreaks.”
Despite such a testimonial, research is equivocal regarding the benefits of using SLS-free toothpaste (Oral Diseases, Jan. 1999). Others are convinced that sugar is the culprit and cutting back on cookies and candy is the answer. Some readers believe nuts trigger an attack:
“I also suffered from massive canker sores. I finally realized that five days after eating walnuts the cankers would appear. Now I never touch the nuts and no sores!”
Many people believe the solution lies in the amino acid supplement L-lysine despite a lack of scientific evidence:
“I had troubles for years with canker sores. A friend told me to start talking L-lysine twice a day at the first sign of a canker sore. It stops canker sores from getting larger and heals them within a day or two.”
Although these home remedies have not been tested, some people report success with swishing their mouths with an ounce of sauerkraut juice in the morning and evening, then swallowing about a tablespoonful:
“It is an unusual cure for canker sores, but I had a recurring sore that went away overnight after the first use of sauerkraut juice. And, you can have wieners and kraut with the leftovers.”
Another option is buttermilk:
“My oldest son used to get canker sores a lot. My mother-in-law gave us the ultimate cure that worked overnight. Swish cultured buttermilk in the mouth and hold it for about a minute then spit it out. We don’t know why it works, but it does.”
We have even heard that kiwi fruit helps:
“My husband got a canker sore on Thursday and we bought a few kiwis to try this cure. He ate one kiwi in the morning, and by the mid-afternoon the sore was dried up. A second kiwi wasn’t needed. Amazing.”
Since there is no standard medical cure for canker sores, trying an inexpensive home remedy may be worth considering.