Canker sores are small ulcers in the mouth caused by an assortment of viruses. A susceptibility to canker sores tends to run in families. No successful conventional treatment is available.
A highly preliminary study suggests that a chemically altered form of the herb licorice known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) may be useful for speeding the resolution of canker sores. 1 And, in a second, better designed trial employing a dissolving adhesive patch with glycyrrhiza root extract, researchers noted an improvement in ulcer size and pain compared to the use of a placebo patch. 8
A product containing vitamins and minerals as well as the herbs paprika, rosemary , peppermint , milfoil, hawthorn , and pumpkin seed has been used in Scandinavia for many years as a treatment for various mouth-related conditions. A small 6-month study reported that use of this product could reduce frequency of canker sores. 2 However, two subsequent studies failed to find any meaningful benefit. 3-4
One small double-blind study found benefits with an extract of the bark of the red mangrove tree, Rhizophora mangle . 5
A study performed in Iraq reported benefits through use of a mouthwash containing 5% lactic acid. 7
Other herbs and supplements sometimes recommended for canker sores but lacking supporting evidence include caraway , oak bark , witch hazel , acidophilus , calendula , slippery elm , and vitamin B 1 .
One study failed to find that alpha-linolenic acid from perilla oil reduced incidence of canker sores. 6
In a small randomized trial with 50 people wiht recurrent canker sores, omega-3 fatty acids (1 gram, 3 times per day for 6 months) was associated with improvement in the number of ulcers, pain level of ulcers, and healing time of ulcers by up to 3 months when compared to placebo. 9
6. Hamazaki K, Itomura M, Hamazaki T et al. Effects of cooking plant oils on recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. Nutrition. 2006 Feb 9. [Epub ahead of print]
8. Martin MD, Sherman J, van der Ven P, et al. A controlled trial of a dissolving oral patch concerning glycyrrhiza (licorice) herbal extract for the treatment of aphthous ulcers. Gen Dent. 2008;56:206-210;quiz 211-212, 224.
9. El Khouli AM1, El-Gendy EA. Efficacy of omega-3 in treatment of recurrent aphthous stomatitis and improvement of quality of life: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol. 2014;117(2):191-196.
Last reviewed December 2015 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
What can we help you find?close ×