Doctors have a fancy name for canker sores—aphthous ulcers—but they don’t have good treatments. These sore spots on the inside of the cheek or on the tongue usually occur where there has been some kind of small injury from biting the tongue or the cheek, for example, or scratching the inside of the mouth with foods such as pretzels or potato chips. No one seems to know why some people get them and others don’t. Canker sores are common, so home remedies abound.
I am very thankful to you for recommending green beans for canker sores. I am plagued with them for some reason. I started rinsing my mouth with the juice from canned string beans. That was about four days ago, and now the sores are almost gone. The bean juice does not burn, and it does soothe the sores. Where did you learn about this great remedy?
A reader wrote in about the value of Gerber’s strained green beans for fighting canker sores.
I’ve always been susceptible to canker sores, so when I heard that kiwifruit could make them go away quickly, I tried it. Wow! My canker sore was gone in two days. I had another one about a week later and ate another kiwi. Again, my canker sore was gone in two days. Now I don’t wait for a canker sore to show up. I just eat a kiwi every few days. I’m 58 and had suffered from canker sores since my college days.
We could find no scientific evidence that kiwifruit helps heal canker sores, but a few years ago a reader wrote, “I have suffered with mouth ulcers all my life. I have tried many home remedies, over-the-counter cures, and a few prescriptions. Eating one kiwi cures my canker sores as fast as the prescription steroid cream, and the kiwi doesn’t come with warnings about the danger of putting it in your mouth. It has helped a few of my friends also.” Other canker sore remedies include sauerkraut juice, a wet tea bag, and L-lysine, or acidophilus.
My 37-year-old daughter has battled canker sores her entire life. It’s not unusual for her to have more than ten at a time. She’s tried a lot of different treatments over the years, with little success. Recently she had a baby and did not have one sore the entire pregnancy. Six weeks after delivering, the sores came back in full force. Her doctors prescribed oral corticosteroid, which cleared up her mouths sores temporarily. They returned as soon as the steroid wore off.
Many people, including dentists, note the benefits of L-lysine. One person takes 500-milligram doses of this amino acid morning and evening: “Sometimes I’ll get a canker sore, but it is gone in two days. I used to get a lot of them, and they would be raw for at least a week.”
A number of years ago a dentist recommended a possible treatment for canker sores: L-lysine supplements. I have used them successfully many times. When I have a sore I begin taking a couple of tablets a day until the pain eases. The sores seem to disappear with L-lysine.
Several readers are enthusiastic about daily L-lysine tablets from the health food store. One reader offered this: “I had heard that L-lysine might help. I don’t take pills well, so I chewed them. Possibly the chewing explains why they help so quickly. After noticing a sore, I chew a tablet every few hours. The sore is usually gone within 24 hours.”
I often suffer from canker sores and have tried everything from two L-lysine tablets daily to nearly every over-the-counter medication. It has always taken the sores quite a long time to heal. Then a retired pharmacist friend of mine suggested swishing around a spoonful of Mylanta in my mouth. Shazam! The sores disappeared quickly.
Thank you for your recommendation. We have heard of using Mylanta or other liquid antacids for diaper rash, but not for canker sores. Some people report that acidophilus pills also help canker sores heal quickly.
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic