a canker sore (aphthous ulcer), remedy for canker sores

Q. I was having a serious bout of canker sores, with two deep ones on my tongue and several new ones. I could hardly eat.

I read the suggestions in your Home and Herbal Remedies book, but I had none of the items mentioned. The discussion got me thinking, though, and I tried swishing Pepto-Bismol around in my mouth before going to bed.

The result was unbelievable. I had no pain the next day; the sores were almost healed. I swished one more time, and now they’re gone. I thought your readers might like to know.

A. Thank you for sharing this new treatment. We have heard about a wide range of remedies, from applying alum or instant tea powder to the sore to avoiding toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Some readers have found relief swishing maple syrup, molasses, sauerkraut juice, buttermilk or a baking soda solution in the mouth.

Your Pepto-Bismol remedy resembles one we heard about years ago: swishing a mouthful of Mylanta around for a few minutes.

Many readers report that taking L-lysine tablets or vitamin B12 can prevent canker sores, while others have had success taking Prelief or eating canned green beans, banana or kiwi fruit.

Many of these remedies can be found in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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  1. BB
    Sumter, SC

    I get these on the insides of my cheeks from eating too many tomatoes. Dotting baking soda seems to help, and I have a drug store brand of maximum strength oral anesthetic paste (20% Benzocaine).

  2. Jane

    I believe my mouth sores to be the result of taking amiodarone, a medicine for A Fib, when all other medicines have failed. It’s the only meds that have worked, so tough luck for me.
    However I will try these suggested remedies. Never, Never, Never Give Up! (Churchill)

  3. Linda G
    W. Montana

    I’ve been troubled with canker sores all my life, from pre-adolescence til now (I’m 73!).
    I’ve tried different SLS-free toothpastes but still end up with the odd painful sore.
    A few months ago I decided to forego toothpaste altogether, using just a toothbrush and a rinse as well as floss. Voila, imagine my surprise when I stopped getting those painful sores altogether!!!

  4. Mimi

    Is the oepto bismal remedy okay to swab a one year old baby’s mouth? We have tried prescription drugs supposed to be for canker sored but none worked to get rid of baby’s canker sores.

  5. Wendy

    Our family has found that avoiding foods/drinks high in citrus and citric acid keeps canker sores away. This includes O.J., jello, hard candies, etc.

  6. huardjudi

    Hi I started suffering from tongue ulcers about 2 months ago. It all started when my husband was transferred to an assisted living facility close to my house. He has severe Alzheimers. I see him 3 times a week.
    It is extremely depressing and stressful to see him like this. I was diagnosed with an immune system disease. The breakout is very painful and interferes with eating and talking.
    There are no meds that prevent or relieve this virus. I have 3 or more ulcers on my tongue at a time. I remembered years ago my husband mentioning lysine for infections and immune system defections.
    I have just started on 1000 MG’s. of L lysine. Right now I have 3 ulcers on my tongue. I am praying that this will be a significant help for me.
    If there is another sufferer of this virus out there please email me at judilen@comcast.net.
    Awaiting your response.
    Good luck
    in Florida

  7. RJD

    A friend and I have problems with dry mouth, which seems to produce canker sores. She mentioned milk of magnesia; I was amazed at the speed at which they were gone!

  8. Kahleen

    Too much sugar causes them for me. Anyone else have this problem? I’ll try Petobismo next time.

  9. TP

    I had chronic, painful canker sores throughout childhood and early adulthood until I stopped using toothpaste with sodium lauryl sulfate. There are several good toothpaste brands without this stuff; mostly I use Jason’s toothpaste from Whole Foods. I still get canker sores from nuts and chocolate. My 7-year old son also gets canker sores from toothpaste with SLS, so he uses a kid’s version of Kiss My Face toothpaste.

  10. Carey

    I’ve had horrible problems in the past, at times couldn’t talk or eat, because of cankers in my mouth, on tongue, etc. I started using Biotene toothpaste, all the time, and they have almost stopped. It lacks an ingredient that almost all toothpastes have, and although it says for “dry mouth”, which I guess contributes to cankers, it’s been the best thing to happen to me, with regard to this. I also dose up on L-Lysine, mega-dose the first day, then ease off. Also works.
    I totally sympathize with you!!

  11. LJK

    So, is there a common denominator for all of the remedies used for the canker sores? Thank you.

  12. CEB

    My canker sores are always caused by walnuts! Also true for other members of my family. If we avoid walnuts, no canker sores.

  13. Ruth

    I’ve also had this problem for years, especially when I was younger. Stress seems to be a big trigger for this kind of problem. One thing that gave me a good deal of relief and helped clear up the sores quickly was to gargle with Peroxide once or twice daily. DO NOT SWALLOW! Just a swish in the mouth a few times a day, rinsing well afterwards, and everything was good!
    The underlying problem seemed to be a Lysine deficiency, which I found after researching causes of this kind of sore in the mouth. If I took a regular maintenance dose of OTC Lysine every day, they almost never came back. You can take a larger dose than recommended on most bottles for a month to start with and then drop back to a smaller one once it’s built up in your system. Or, you can eat more beans, whichever works! At least menopause meant I only get them once a year or so, so hormones may have been a cause also.

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