12 Home Remedies for Canker Sores

What's Coconut Oil Good For? How about Treating a Canker Sore!

12 Home Remedies for Canker Sores

When I was a little girl, a grownup told me I had mouth ulcers because I had been naughty. I knew I had been naughty. I just was sometimes … aren’t we all? I didn’t know the actual name for these ulcers is canker sores until I was much older. Granny couldn’t tell me why I had them, although she told me the other grownup was wrong, but she did know how to help me feel better with home remedies for canker sores.

What Are Canker Sores?

Canker sores are painful, shallow ulcerated areas on the inside of the mouth. They can be on any mouth tissue like the cheeks, tongue, gums, throat, and the inside of the lips. If you’ve ever had them then you know they make eating, drinking, talking and even smiling painful.

Some people think they’re simply cold sores on the inside of the mouth, but they’re not. Cold sores are only on the outside of the body and are caused by the herpes virus which makes cold sores contagious.

We’re told canker sores aren’t contagious, but I had a patient who liked to kiss. If you didn’t watch it, she’d get you on the lips. She often had canker sores and if she got you, it wasn’t uncommon to develop one. I can only share my personal experience with you and I think they can be contagious depending on the cause.

A canker sore may be white, yellow, or grayish colored in the middle. It has a well-defined red perimeter.  Although they’re not a serious health risk, they are seriously painful. If you don’t use one of the home remedies for canker sores, they can last from 5-14 days.

Symptoms of Canker Sores


The ulcerated area and ensuing pain are the most common symptoms experienced, but there are a few others.

  • Swelling of surrounding tissue
  • Painful gums
  • Swollen lymph glands – This means you need to drain those glands because they’re clogged.
  • Bleeding of the ulcer or surrounding tissue.
  • Low-grade fever

If you develop a high fever, difficulty swallowing, or the canker sores last more than three weeks you should see your doctor.

Causes of Canker Sores

The exact cause of canker sores isn’t completely understood. There are a few commonly agreed upon factors which play a role in mouth ulcers developing. They can develop from any one of these, but more often it’s a combination.

  • Stress; it is a killer.
  • Hormones, and with our food supply so contaminated, hormonal problems are developing in men and women.
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be traced to our deficient food supply, poor eating habits and absorption problems in the gut; deficiencies in vitamin B12, iron, zinc and folic acid are associated with canker sores
  • Food allergies have become an epidemic in the United States.
  • Mouth injuries from sharp or broken teeth, braces, misfitting dentures and biting your cheek.
  • Infection of the teeth, gums, or throat. Some doctors believe even sinus infections can bring on canker sores.
  • Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease; another disorder on the rise because of the contamination in the food supply.
  • Ulcerative Colitis. I don’t want to sound like a broken record.
  • Autoimmune disorders such as Sjogrens, HIV, cancer and actually any disease in the body.
  • Using oral hygiene products made with harmful ingredients.
  • Certain medications can cause canker sores because they suppress the immune system, digestive system or liver.
  • Heredity. Who knew you could have a gene which makes you susceptible to the development of canker sores?
  • Women develop canker sores more often than men. Usually, they occur just before or during their menstrual cycle.

Home Remedies for Canker Sores

Use a cotton swab or cotton ball to apply these when appropriate. Touching a canker sore with your finger can be painful, just so you know.

1.     Raw, unfiltered honey – Honey antibacterial properties are widely known and have been used for millennia. Apply the honey directly to the ulcer. It will feel better immediately and will begin to heal. Apply as often as needed. If you’re a diabetic, you may want to try another of these home remedies for canker sores instead.

2.     Salt – Be sure to use healthy salt. Apply salt to the ulcer. Warning! It will burn; partly because you’re touching it with your finger and partly because the salt acts as a drawing agent and begins to work immediately. I’ve had ulcers dry up the same day I used salt on them. Apply as needed.

You can also make a salt water rinse and swish and spit several times a day. Warm water seems to work best if you choose this one from the list of home remedies for canker sores.

3.     Cayenne pepper – It’s the capsaicin in the cayenne which is associated with the healing properties. Apply directly to the sore, it will burn. If you’re susceptible to spicy foods, you may want to pass on this one. Apply up to three times a day.

4.     Aloe vera juice – You can buy a good quality aloe vera juice at your local health food store, but if you have your own plant at home you’re familiar with the many aloe vera medicinal uses. Open a portion of the leaf and squeeze it onto your finger or cotton swab and apply to the canker sore several times a day.

5.     Combine baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. Apply to the area as often as needed. We use this one and it works fast, often within 24 hours the sore is gone. We use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for many things in our home, including a baking soda toothpaste recipe.

6.     Make a sage mouth rinse by adding three teaspoons of dried sage leaves to one pint of boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Let cool until the rinse is warm, don’t put boiling water in the mouth. Rinse and spit several times a day. Fresh sage leaves can be crushed and rubbed directly on the sore – this will be painful.

7.     Alum can be applied directly to the canker sore. Like salt, it has a drawing effect and will burn. Use it twice a day being sure to rinse your mouth afterward.

8.     Tannic acid in tea bags is helpful for many things including canker sores. Boil enough water to cover the tea bag. Let it soak for three minutes. Squeeze excess water from the bag and place it on or in the area of the canker sore. Let it sit for two to three minutes. It will reduce inflammation and pain in the sore. Apply as often as needed.

This is one of the more effective home remedies for canker sores. If your canker sores are in the throat, hold the tea bag in your mouth and swallow your saliva. It will carry the tannic acid to your throat. Don’t swallow the tea bag, OK?

9.     Place an uncoated aspirin on the sore and let it dissolve. If you have bleeding problems or have been told by your doctor to not use aspirin, please don’t use this option. If you do use this remedy, only do this twice a day.

10. Slice an onion paper thin and place a piece on the canker sore. Hold it there for several minutes. Use as often as you like.

11. Make a strong chamomile tea using chamomile flowers. Boil four to six ounces of water. Place three Tablespoons of dried chamomile flowers in your brewing basket of choice. Pour the water over the flowers and let them steep for six minutes. Let cool enough not to burn your mouth and slowly sip the tea being sure to swish it over the sore.

12. Apple cider vinegar is another of our favorites. Apply directly to the sore with a cotton swab or ball. It will burn like salt and alum, but it will work quickly. It will relieve the pain and dry up the ulcer.

You can also make a glass of ACV water, two to three teaspoons to a 10-ounce glass, and sip on it throughout the day. You don’t even want me to get started on all the health benefits of raw, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Just look for my book on the subject coming out in October.


Foods and Lifestyle Tips to Help Prevent Canker Sores

A healthy balanced diet goes a long way in warding off disease and illness in the body. Here are a few suggestions I have to help prevent mouth ulcers so you don’t need home remedies for canker sores.

  • Add oil pulling with coconut oil to your daily routine; among the many ways we use raw coconut oil, this is by far one of the most beneficial.
  • Eat yogurt with active cultures and probiotics. We only eat yogurt made with raw milk from A2 cows.
  • Be sure you include Vitamin B rich foods in your diet. What are they? Green leafy veggies and whole grains.
  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut are loaded with probiotics and yeast. You can use the juice from organic sauerkraut to rinse your mouth. The best kind will be in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, not the canned foods aisle.
  • Avoid any foods you have an allergy to as the allergic reaction may cause a break out of mouth ulcers.
  • Avoid as much stress as possible. If your stress level can’t be decreased, take frequent breaks, take a brisk walk, develop the habit of taking long deep breaths to relax or even meditate.
  • Use essential oils to create a relaxing atmosphere.
  • Be sure you get no less than eight hours of sleep a night.
  • Have a time of regular exercise. It’s good for the mind and the body.

I hope you don’t have canker sores. I had one just last month. I know I will get them when I’m under stress or I have an illness. I’ve had a sinus problem which developed from the smoke from wildfires in our area. The smoke came down the mountains into the valley for over a week. So of course, I had a canker sore.

I used ACV, salt, and the baking soda hydrogen peroxide paste once the first day and it was gone next morning. Which of these home remedies for canker sores worked for me? Well, I’ve tried them individually before so I know they all three work, I just thought the combo would really sock it to the sore … it obviously did!

Do you have your own to add to this list of home remedies for canker sores? We’d love to have you share your experience with us.

Safe and Happy Journey,

Rhonda and The Pack


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