slice of watermelon

Q. I have suffered with canker sores my whole life despite trying numerous remedies including rinsing my mouth with peroxide, salt and water or a benzocaine solution.

Eating is excruciating when they are present. In trying to stay hydrated and satiated recently, I bought a watermelon. At first, like all other foods, it burned. By the time I ate half a melon in a few hours, though, the pain in my mouth was greatly relieved, and the burning was gone.

It wasn’t the water because I drink at least six glasses of water a day. Have you ever heard of watermelon being good for canker sores?

A. This is news to us, and a quick check of the medical literature suggests most doctors haven’t heard of it either. Although we could find no research supporting this approach, we did see a few anecdotal reports suggesting that others have also found watermelon helpful for canker sores.

You will find many other remedies to help treat occasional canker sores in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. In it, we also offer simple remedies for a wide range of other minor health problems.

Chronic canker sores could be a signal of a more serious condition. Ask your doctor to test for celiac disease. A blood test for tTG (tissue transglutaminase) antibody is a good place to start.

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  1. Vee

    Growing up in a Chinese household, we always had this herbal medicine called watermelon frost, which essentially uses watermelon rinds. We would always, and I still do, use it on canker sores as soon as they appear. It provides immediate relief, and usually would help clear up my canker sores over night, or at least reduce the severity of them. You can even purchase it online now!

    Also, I noticed that I only really get canker sores under chronic stress and lack of sleep. Being a grad student, life can get hectic, so I see it as a little reminder from my body to take a step back, and just relax and take care of myself! Hope that helps!

  2. JC

    I was tormented with chronic canker sores for years and decided to see an allergist. We determined the culprit was apples (which I ate regularly, because they’re good for you, right?). I eliminated apples from my diet more than 25 years ago, and I rarely get a canker sore. I’ve had a few friends who have tried the same solution after hearing my story, and it’s worked for them, as well.

  3. TP

    Remember to eliminate any toothpaste with sodium lauryl sulfate, which covers all the major toothpaste brands. This chemical gives lots of people terrible canker sores. Shop at Whole Foods or a similar store for SLS free toothpaste.

  4. Kathy E.

    Today-08/03/14-in the Life section of our Courier & Press paper was a question on watermelons and canker sores. As a child I always had canker sores. Less frequent as I got older. I have been without a canker sore in over 30 years. I HATE pain! I found that taking a clean white (has no dyes in it) piece of any material and running it under as hot of tap water as you can stand, then squeezing out the excess, hold material on the canker sore for 1-2 minutes WILL CLOSE UP THE CANKER SORE. Do this periodically until sore closes up by feeling with your tongue. It will be closed when you feel no indentation of the sore.

  5. KVS

    eating too much sugar I find causes canker sores as well. For many years I thought mine were caused by too many acidic foods…then I found this correlation.

  6. Sally

    When my children were small in the 1980s they would easily get canker sores and eventually so did I. My homeopathic doctor explained that these, herpes simplex, are caused by a virus that lies dormant at the base of your skull, and when you are stressed or become ill the virus becomes activated. It travels along the nerve pathways to your nose, mouth etc. and blooms into the cold sore.
    When you take L-Lysine she explained, it suppresses the virus and keeps it inactive at the base of your skull. Over the years I have noticed that when I am about to get a sore, I can feel the base of my skull hurting at the back where it joins the neck, and even feel the nerve pathway begin to tingle. If I catch it soon enough the sore doesn’t develop and if I catch it a bit late, L-Lysine shortens the length of it. This doctor was also an MD and a PhD in psychiatry. She chose to practice wholistic medicine.

  7. Valerie

    The most effective treatment I have found for a life-long problem with canker sores is L-Lysine.
    When I feel one coming on, I take 4-6 500 mg of L-Lysine. It is an amino acid and I am told you can take heavy doses of it. I also used to get a small-pox vaccination every 10 years or so, but they are no longer available. L-Lysine has been a life-saver.

  8. Donnie

    I suffered from canker sores and other sores in my mouth, for most of my life. I did have undiagnosed Celiac, and Hypothyroidism. Also food allergies. I have eaten a totally gluten-free diet and taken thyroid drugs for many years, as well as avoiding my food allergens. That helps prevent the canker sores and other mouth sores.

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