Canker sores appear in the mouth, on the tongue, lips, cheeks and gums and can develop into ulcers, or a white swelling which can be the size of a pinhead or as large as a quarter. They cause a burning, tingling sensation that can be irritating and painful especially when eating or drinking certain types of foods. They can appear (and may disappear) quickly or linger for as long as a month.
So what causes these types of ulcers to erupt? As with many diseases, canker sores are derived from inflammation in the body. There can be many triggers, such as nutritional deficiencies, which can create unnecessary inflammation; hormone imbalances; dental issues; food allergies; excessive stress and fatigue; biting your cheek or gum during eating which creates stress to the area; failing to change your tooth brush routinely, or using a tooth paste with excess chemicals.
There are also diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease or chronic fatigue which can affect the immune system as well as the bowels. When the bowel is affected and a build-up of toxins occurs, more inflammation builds and outbreaks of the skin (your largest organ) and underlying immune responses to the additional bacteria can cause these types of ulcer outbreaks.
So, outbreaks can be a simple response to eating the wrong foods that create more acidity within the system and cause inflammation to build, or something more causing a consistent outbreak or long-lasting ulcers that don’t seem to go away.
What can you do?
Cleaning up the diet, addressing hormone issues, managing stress and making sure your elimination process is working efficiently will all make a big difference on how long the canker sore(s) will last or return again. Keep in mind that drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day can enhance elimination and toxin removal from the body.
Nutritional deficiencies such as iron, L-lysine, vitamin B12 and other B-vitamins, folic acid, vitamin C and zinc have all been linked to outbreaks. Taking a quality multi-vitamin daily can help to supply nutrients you may not be getting in your diet. Garlic and olive leaf together can act as a natural antibiotic and assist with the removal of bacteria. Alfalfa and red clover can assist in cleansing the blood stream (not to be taken with certain medications or if you are pregnant).
Keeping the body more alkaline than acid is important. Try eating more salads with raw onions, asparagus and eggs (foods that are higher naturally in sulfur lowers inflammation). Limit, or preferably eliminate, your intake of inflammatory foods such as alcohol, coffee, sugars, citrus fruits, night shade veggies and processed and refined foods.
Other quick remedies include applying a ½ tsp. of coconut oil daily onto the area and taking orally to help rid unwanted bacteria build-up and to speed the healing process. Gargling with warm salt water can also help ease pain.
We all age and as we do, our diet should help our bodies rather than hinder the process to keep us healthy and free of unwanted pain and irritation.
Dr. Beckner is owner of Your Body Code, personalized nutrition and wellness programs in Palm Desert, and can be reached at (760) 341.BODY (2639). For free recipes and more information visit www.yourbodycode.com
1.) Herbal Healing by Phyllis A. Balch CNC, copyright 2002. 2.) Understanding Nutrition, 7th edition by Eleanor Noss Whitney & Sharon Rady Rolfes, copyright 1977.