Also called aphthous stomatitis, canker sores refer to painful lesions in the mouth or gums [1, 2].

Causes of canker sores vary but viral infections are the usual culprit [3].

Other factors that trigger the development of canker sores include stress, injury in the mouth, certain foods, and ill-fitting dentures or braces [4].

This problem has also been linked to a deficiency in nutrients such as vitamin B12 [4].

As this can bring pain and discomfort, it’s important to get rid of canker sores right away.

Best Home Remedies for Canker Sores

1. Chamomile

One of the oldest medicinal herbs used by humans is chamomile [5].

Widely used in aromatherapy, cosmetics, and traditional medicine, it has a vast array of health benefits, which include relieving rheumatic pain, alleviating menstrual problems, and healing wounds [5].

In a 2010 experiment, Brazilian researchers probed the effects of chamomile ointment on oral wounds in rats [6].

Results show that rats treated with chamomile recovered more quickly with their mouth ulcers significantly reduced in terms of size and inflammation [6].

In another study, this time done on humans, researchers gave half of the 50 participants with a chamomile-based mouth rinse and the other half with a placebo [7].

Both groups were instructed to apply the treatment three times a day until they get rid of canker sores [7].

It was found that participants who used a chamomile-based mouth rinse had much fewer incidences of mouth ulcers compared to those who used a placebo [7].

Chamomile did not only decrease the size of the lesions but also alleviated pain and burning sensation [7].

It’s also good to know that its efficacy doesn’t come with a price.

Using chamomile even for a long time doesn’t cause any unpleasant side effects [7].

Plus, this herbal remedy has been proven to work even in recurrent cases [7].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of chamomile
  • 1 cup of hot water

Recommended Directions:

  • Steep chamomile in hot water for 15 minutes.
  • Strain and let it cool.
  • Gargle the solution.
  • Repeat remedy three times a day until canker sores disappear.

2. Honey

Honey is a product manufactured by bees from nectar they obtain from plants and flowers [8].

Apart from being a healthy sweetener, honey has also been depended on for treating countless health problems from respiratory ailments to digestive issues to skin diseases [8].

Many people also rely on honey for getting rid of painful and annoying canker sores.

Because of its ability to speed up skin healing, honey has become a subject of many scientific explorations [9].

Its role in treating oral wounds and canker sores has been established in many studies [8, 9, 10, 11, 12].

In Saudi Arabia, 50 patients with various mouth infections participated in a clinical trial [8].

Only 19 of them had recurrent cases of canker sores, the rest had herpes, oral fungal infections and oral psoriasis [8].

Amazingly, all of the oral lesions were healed quickly after a few days of topical application of honey [8].

In other study involving 20 patients from the Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM), it was found that honey worked just as well as salicylate gel in treating the lesions but honey gave quicker relief from pain [9].

Honey also had similar positive effects on children with mouth ulcers.

A 2013 study featured in the Journal of American Science shows that it only took seven to 10 days for oral lesions in children to heal completely after daily use of honey [11].

Whether the patient is a child or adult, he/she can get immediate relief from this problem by using this natural approach.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the two ingredients.
  • Apply mixture on canker sores.
  • Let it sit for 15 minutes before gargling with water.
  • Do this treatment twice a day for up to one week.

3. Tea Tree Oil

Herbal solutions like tea tree oil have long been utilized in both Eastern and Western traditional medicines to treat various dental health problems particularly those that involve oral microorganisms [13].

Tea tree oil is also considered an efficient remedy for mouth ulcers.

Its main compound called terpinen-4-ol suppresses inflammation, which can help tone down canker sores [14].

It works by controlling the production of pro-inflammatory mediators such as monocytes [14].

And with its ability to control oral pathogens, tea tree oil is an excellent way to maintain oral hygiene [15, 16].

Australian researchers confirm that this oil has the ability to inhibit more than 160 isolates of oral bacteria coming from 15 different genera [15].

It works rather quickly.

A minimum concentration of 0.5 percent tea tree oil prevented the growth and spread of microorganisms within five minutes of exposure [15].

If you’re looking for a quick way to fight off canker sores, this is the herbal remedy that you should definitely use.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 tablespoon of water

Recommended Directions:

  • Add tea tree oil to water.
  • Gargle this mixture three times a day until you get relief from canker sores.

4. Aloe Vera

The wound healing properties of aloe vera has attracted attention from many scientists over the last few decades.

Its ability to speed up healing of lesions and abrasions has been the highlight of numerous studies [17].

In 1998, a group of American researchers evaluated the efficacy of a gel containing aloe in treating oral lesions [18].

In the experiment, patients with multiple mouth ulcers underwent a treatment using this product for three to four months [18].

It was noted that there was a reduction in the number of oral lesions and a much longer interval between the occurrences of canker sores [18].

In another study, 40 patients with minor oral lesions were given either an aloe vera gel or a placebo [19].

After two weeks of treatment, results demonstrate that wound healing was faster, and pain, wound size, and inflammation were much lower in the group that used aloe vera gel [19].

This mode of action of aloe vera is attributable to the presence of a polysaccharide called Acemannan [20].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 aloe vera leaf

Recommended Directions:

  • Cut leaf into two.
  • Extract gel.
  • Apply gel on oral wound.
  • Use this remedy three times a day for up to five days.

5. Coriander

Highly valued for its medicinal properties, coriander has been used in various civilizations to treat bacterial infections, inflammatory disorders, high blood pressure and diabetes, among others [21].

One of its more well-known pharmacological effects is as an anti-ulcer agent [22].

It helps by preventing the growth and spread of the oral lesions, and in boosting healing time.

Those who use this herbal remedy also attest that they feel less pain and discomfort.

On top of these, coriander is also an excellent source of nutrients that can help strengthen the body’s immune system [23].

This can definitely help in relieving canker sores, which is sometimes caused by a deficiency in nutrients.

When the body’s immune defense is stronger, the body including the mouth is less susceptible to viral and bacterial infections, which are another common cause of canker sores.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 cup of water

Recommended Directions:

  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Add coriander seeds.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Strain the mixture.
  • Use this solution to rinse your mouth.
  • Do this four times a day until mouth ulcers are gone.

6. Green Tea

It was 5,000 years ago when the medicinal value of tea was first recognized [24].

Green tea, with its active components such as caffeine, amino acids, flavonoids and polyphenols, is highly beneficial for the health [24].

Flavonoids work to inhibit inflammation while polyphenols help in speeding up treatment of wounds [24, 25].

It also helps prevent the overgrowth of bacteria that typically leads to infection [24].

All these are good reasons to make use of green tea as a way to relieve the pain and discomfort caused by ulcers in the mouth.

While you’re at it, you’re also doing your health a big favor, supplying your body with its much needed nutrients and antioxidants.

A cup of green tea a day can help keep various infectious diseases at bay.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 bag of green tea

Recommended Directions:

  • Chill tea bag in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  • Apply this on canker sore for 20 minutes.
  • Do this twice a day.

7. Licorice Root

Did you know that licorice root is 50 times sweeter than sugar [26]?

It’s no wonder this is often used to make candies!

However, this is not the only thing amazing about the root of this perennial herb that can be commonly found in Mediterranean and Asian countries [26].

It’s also a potent remedy for many ailments, including canker sores.

A 2012 study that can be found in the Oral Diseases Journal points out that licorice root is an excellent solution for recurrent cases of canker sores [27].

Its bioactive compounds, which include glycyrrhizin and glabridin have protective effects against oral diseases [27].

It’s not only a viable treatment for various types of dental conditions, it can also be a potent preventive measure [27].

Moreover, licorice is a key ingredient in a dissolving oral patch designed for treating canker sores [28].

A comprehensive evaluation of this patch shows that it is highly effective in “reducing pain and speeding up healing” of oral lesions [28].

It helps people suffering from this issue manage their symptoms more efficiently.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tablespoon of licorice root, chopped and crushed
  • 2 cups of water

Recommended Directions:

  • Soak licorice root in water.
  • Let it sit for three hours.
  • Rinse mouth with this solution three times a day until canker sores go away.

8. Sage

Sage is famous for being a powerful antioxidant, which has been validated in scientific research [29].

It’s also one of the herbs that have played an important role in dentistry, helping maintain oral hygiene as well as preventing a number of dental problems [30].

One of the many oral issues that can be resolved with sage is mouth ulcer.

In fact, sage has been used as a key ingredient in some effective herbal preparations for canker sores [31, 32].

Not surprisingly, sage is often used in mouth rinses, lozenges, gargles, and other products that allow its active compounds to come into direct contact with the infected tissues [32].

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 teaspoons of sage leaves
  • 2 cups of boiled water

Recommended Directions:

  • Put sage leaves in a cup.
  • Pour hot water into the cup.
  • Let it steep for 15 minutes.
  • Wait for the solution to cool.
  • Gargle the mixture three times a day for up to one week.

9. Onion

Part of the Liliaceae plant family, onion has been proven to have various beneficial effects on the body, which include antihypertensive, antidiabetic, antioxidant, and antimicrobial, among others [33].

Results derived from a 2009 study reveal that onion also has significant wound healing properties that can speed up recovery from oral lesions [33].

According to the researchers, the “enhanced wound healing” powers of onion may be due to its antioxidant and antibacterial properties [33].

The presence of tannins and flavonoids are believed to be responsible for these actions [33].

Its allicin, the same compound found in garlic, has meanwhile been shown to reduce the pain intensity and size of canker sore wounds, as reported in a 2012 study [34].

More than 90 subjects with mouth ulcers participated in this experiment [34].

They were given 5 mg allicin tablets and were instructed to use these four times a day for five days [34].

Positive results were recorded but there were no reports of any adverse reactions whether minor or major [34].

Onion is thereby considered not only effective but also safe in relieving this oral condition.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 slice of raw onion

Recommended Directions:

  • Gently press raw onion on canker sore.
  • Do this for five minutes.
  • Repeat two to three times a day for one week.

10. Soy Milk

The link between vitamin B12 deficiency and occurrence of canker sores has been established in scientific literature [35, 36, 37].

Turkish scientists evaluated the levels of folic acid, iron and vitamin B12 in 35 patients with recurrent aphthous ulcers and in 26 healthy subjects [36].

It was found that vitamin B12 levels were much lower in those who have mouth ulcers [36].

Thus, it makes sense for those who have recurrent cakes of oral lesions to consume food sources rich in this particular vitamin.

Soy milk is one of those that contain high amounts of vitamin B12.

Regular intake of soy milk and other vitamin B12 food sources can help treat and prevent canker sores.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 to 3 glasses of soy milk

Recommended Directions:

  • Drink soy milk throughout the day.

11. Virgin Coconut Oil

Virgin coconut oil is different from the regular coconut oil as this one is derived from fresh mature coconut kernels without the use of chemicals or heat [38].

Because of this, virgin coconut oil has higher phenolic content, which gives it numerous pharmacological properties and therapeutic benefits [38].

To evaluate the efficacy of virgin coconut oil in treating mouth ulcers, it was analyzed in comparison with a commonly prescribed medication called triamcinolone [38].

A total of 20 patients with recurrent canker sores joined in the study [38].

The first group used virgin coconut oil while the other was treated with 0.1 percent triamcinolone acetonide [38].

Those who used virgin coconut oil reported of smaller ulcer size and less pain and inflammation compared to the other group [38].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of virgin coconut oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Gargle virgin coconut oil for a few minutes.
  • Repeat this technique several times a day until oral lesions disappear.

12. Baking Soda

Mayo Clinic recommends baking soda as an efficient way to relieve canker sore pain and at the same time, to speed up healing.

There is no scientific study to back up this home remedy but many people who have used baking soda attest to its efficacy.

Many believe that it’s because baking soda can neutralize the acids in the mouth, which can aggravate the condition.

Moreover, there have been no reports of side effects caused by this natural remedy.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of warm water

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the two ingredients.
  • Mix well.
  • Rinse your mouth with this solution a few times during the day.
  • Repeat for one to two weeks.

Bottom Line

Although most canker sores are resolved on their own within one or two weeks, you don’t have to wait that long.

Using these natural but effective remedies you can treat canker sores immediately

Share with us your experience of using any of the home remedies discussed above. Write your comments below.

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