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Canker Sores and Nutrition Recommendations

Canker sores are small, white swellings that develop into ulcers.

They normally appear on the tongue, on the lips, the gums, or on the insiders of the cheeks. These ulcers then are covered by a coagulated yellowish mixture of fluids, bacteria, and white blood cells.

The development of a canker sore may be preceded by a burning or a tingling sensation. They do, however, not form into blisters like cold sores (also called fever blisters) do. The cold sore, often confused with the canker sore, is caused by the herpes simples virus type 1. The canker sore, on the other hand, is an inflammation, rather than an infection.

Canker sores can be as small as a pin head and as large as a quarter. They appear suddenly and often leave as suddenly, usually lasting from four to twenty days. Some experts believe that they are contagious, but others disagree. They occur most commonly in females.

Canker sores can be triggered by any number of factors, including poor dental hygiene, irritation from dental work, food allergies, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, viral infection, an underlying immunologic disease (such as an HIV infection), trauma (such as that cause by biting the inside of the cheek or using a hard bristled toothbrush), stress and/or fatigue. They may also result from an abnormal immune response to normal bacteria in the mouth.

Stress and allergies are probably the most common cause of open sores in the mouth.

Nutrition Recommendations

Eat plenty of salad with raw onion. Onions contain sulfur and have healing properties

Include yogurt and other soured products, such as kefir and cottage cheese in your diet

Avoid sugar, citrus fruits, and processed and refined foods

Do not eat fish or meat of any kind for two weeks; the consumption of animal protein increases the body’s acidity which slows healing

Avoid chewing gum, lozenges, mouthwashes, tobacco, coffee, citrus fruits, and any other foods that you know may trigger these sores

Some doctors prescribe mouthwashes that contain tetracycline, an antibiotic, for canker sores

Do not use the same toothbrush for more than a month

Supplement your diet with one or more of the following nutrients—click on any link to find it at the Health Catalog Store:

Acidophilus—Aids in maintaining a healthy balance of intestinal flora of “friendly” bacteria

L-Lysine—A deficiency may cause an outbreak of sores in and around the mouth

Vitamin B Complex—B vitamins are basic for immune function and healing

Vitamin B3—Deficiencies have been linked to mouth sores

Vitamin B5—An anti-stress vitamin necessary for adrenal function

Vitamin B12—Deficiencies can cause inflammation of the tongue

Folic Acid—Works with vitamin B12, and a sore, red tongue can be a sign of folic acid deficiency

Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids—Fights infections and boosts the immune system

Zinc—Enhances immune function and aids healing

Garlic—Acts as a natural antibiotic and immunostimulant

For a more in-depth discussion of the causes of Canker Sores and their recommended nutritional treatment, consult Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, and James F. Balch, M.D.

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