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 Canker Sores  Holistic-online.com

Herbal Therapy

Several herbs are useful in the treatment of cranker sores. Most of them contain tannins and have other wound healing properties. Tannin, the common name for tannic acid, is a constituent of many plants and gives foods an astringent taste. An antiseptic with broad-spectrum antibacterial and antiviral action, it's especially helpful for treating mouth sores, which could be caused by a bacterium, a fungus, a virus or an allergy.

1. Gargle with calendula tea or goldenseal tea to help canker sores heal. 
To make the tea:

Pour a cup of boiling water over one to two teaspoons of the dried herb. 
Let this mixture steep for ten minutes.
Strain it so that there is no herb left in the liquid.

Use this tea as a mouthwash three or four times daily.

2. Myrrh: Myrrh contains high amounts of tannins. Powdered myrrh is useful for the treatment of mild inflammations of the mouth. Myrrh had been used as a traditional remedy for mouth and gum irritations. Some herbalists suggest mixing 200-300 mg of herbal extract or 4 ml of myrrh tincture with warm water and swishing it in the mouth two to three times per day. Alternately, you can open a capsule and dab a little directly on the sore.

3. Tea: Regular beverage tea also has a rich supply of tannins. Try placing a spent tea bag on your canker sores. Or make tea from some of the other herbs that are high in tannin, such as bearberry, eucalyptus, St.-John's-wort, sage, raspberry, peppermint and licorice.

4. Cankerroot (Coptis groenlandica) or goldthread. This plant got its name because of its traditional use as a treatment for canker sores. American Indians and early settlers alike used cankerroot as a tea to treat both sore throat and canker sores. They chewed raw root for canker sores and fever blisters.

5. Goldenseal: This herb was an American Indian favorite for treating all sorts of wounds. Goldenseal contains astringent, antiseptic chemicals that help treat wounds and infections. Add two teaspoons of dried goldenseal to a cup of boiling water and steep until cool. Use it as a mouth rinse three or four times a day. Barberry and Oregon grape have similar constituents and healing effects.

6. Licorice. Licorice contains tannin, and the compounds glycyrrhetinic-acid and glycyrrhizin. All of these help speed the healing of sores.

Licorice that has had the glycyrrhizic acid removed is called deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). Glycyrrhizic acid is the portion of licorice root that can increase blood pressure and cause water retention in some people. The wound-healing and soothing components of the root remain in DGL.

A mixture of DGL and warm water obtained by combining 200 mg of powdered DGL and 200 ml of warm water may be applied to the inside of the mouth. This is found to shorten the healing time for mouth ulcers. It can then be swished in the mouth for two to three minutes and then spit out. Continue this on each morning and evening for one week.

You can use licorice to sweeten the herbal teas recommended here. In one study that looked at the power of licorice to heal canker sores, a mouthwash containing this herb provided relief for 75 percent of the people who used it. Those who got relief noted substantial improvement within one day and complete healing by the third day.

7. Sage: Many herbalists suggest making a strong sage tea to treat inflammations of the mouth and throat. To make this tea, use two teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water. Let it steep until cool and then gargle with it.

Caution: You should not drink too much of this tea. Sage contains a fair amount of thujone, a compound that in very high doses may cause convulsions if taken in excessive quantities.

8. Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum). The Cherokee Indians used wild geranium as an astringent to stop the bleeding of open wounds and as a wash to treat canker sores. It is widely used in folk medicine to treat mouth sores.

9. Echinacea: The antiviral, immune-enhancing, and wound-healing properties of echinacea make it a reasonable choice for mouth ulcers. Liquid echinacea in the amount of 4 ml can be swished in the mouth for two to three minutes, then swallowed. This can be repeated three times per day. Tablets and capsules containing echinacea may also be helpful.

10. Chamomile: Chamomile has a soothing effect on mucous membranes (including the lining of the mouth). It also has healing properties. A strong tea made from chamomile tincture can be swished in the mouth three to four times per day.

11. Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat cranker sore. An extract from aloe vera has been shown to be beneficial in one preliminary study. Some doctors of natural medicine recommend 1-3 tablespoons of aloe vera juice be used as a mouthwash then swallowed three times daily.

12. Tea tree oil helps prevent infection and control parasites and candida. Rinse the mouth with 3 drops of tea tree oil diluted in a glass of water. Twice daily, after brushing the teeth, apply a few drops of oil with a cotton swab directly to infected area.

13. Herbal Mouth Rinses:


Rinse the mouth with licorice root tea, diluted myrrh oil or aloe vera juice to soothe and heal the sore.


Use horsetail or echinacea tincture (20 drops diluted in 1/4 cup water), sage, lavender or camomile tea to rinse the mouth every two hours.


Place 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds in 1 cup cold water. After six hours, bring to a boil and strain immediately. When cooled to lukewarm, add 1 tsp. honey. Use to gargle and swallow a little.


Oak, burdock root, rest-harrow, red clover, red raspberry and calendula are astringent and reduce inflammation. Make a strong tea with them and use it as a mouth wash.

A three-week herbal cure:

Mix 3 parts nettle, 1 part sage, and 3 parts chicory. 

Soak 3 tbsp. of the mix in 1 qt. cold water overnight. Next morning bring to a boil, steep for five minutes, strain.

Drink 1 cup three times daily. 

See Also: Herbal Medicine Supersite in Holisticonline.com; Aromatherapy

Next Topic: Homeopathy

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