Canker sores; medically known as aphthous stomatitis, are small painful mouth ulcers that can appear on the tongue, lips, gums or the inside of the cheeks. They appear suddenly and often leave suddenly, usually lasting from 4 to 20 days.

The symptoms of canker sores include:
- one or more small, whitish ulcers with bright red margins.
- localized pain, burning and tingling that worsens when touched or exposed to spicy or acidic foods.
- in severe cases, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, fever and general malaise.

Canker sores occur most often in teenagers and young adults and women are affected more often than men. The cause is unknown, but a number of factors may be involved.

Although hereditary predisposition may play a role in the frequency of their appearance, the official cause of these painful ulcers inside the mouth is considered a temporary malfunction of the immune system that can be triggered by trauma; such as, biting the inside of the cheek or using a hard bristled toothbrush, fatigue, high stress, illness with fever, menstrual cycles, sensitivity to certain foods or nutritional deficiencies; especially iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid.

During an outbreak, a bland diet with no acidic fruits, nuts, or salty, spicy, or sugary foods avoids irritating the cankers. Highest on the list of foods that trigger canker sores are cherries, chocolate, citrus fruits, nuts, pineapples, plums and tomato products.

Sores that do not heal in 3 weeks should receive medical attention to prevent bacterial infection. You may need an antibiotic or a doctor may need to cauterize the sore.

A nutritious, well balanced diet can be an important factor in canker sore control. Taking individual supplements in addition to a daily multivitamin-mineral supplement often shortens the duration of the sores and may help prevent recurrence.

Helpful Vitamin And Mineral Supplements:

Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene speeds healing, especially of the mucous membranes. Take 50,000 IU daily for 1 week, then 25,000 IU daily for 2 weeks. Also put a few drops of vitamin A oil directly on the affected area.

Vitamin B complex promotes healing and maintains B vitamin balance. Take 50 milligrams three times daily. One to four high potency tablets daily have reduced the active time of canker sores to as little as 48 hours when the B vitamins were accompanied by a calcium-magnesium supplement.
-Taking 25 to 100 milligrams of niacinamide or niacin with each meal often corrects and prevents these sores.
-Several studies report excellent results when 2,000 micrograms of sublingual B12 and 400 micrograms of sublingual folic acid are taken twice daily on an empty stomach.

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids promotes tissue healing, fights infection and boosts the immune system. Take 3,000 to 8,000 milligrams daily in divided doses.

Vitamin E applied locally when a canker sore first appears promotes healing. Pierce a capsule, coat sore and reapply at frequent intervals.

Zinc (one 15 milligram lozenge) dissolved in the mouth every 3 waking hours for 2 days enhances immune function and speeds healing. Do not exceed a total of 100 milligrams daily.

Helpful Home Remedies To Help Heal And Relieve Pain:

Placing a moist teabag over the sores.

Dissolving an antacid tablet in the mouth.

Coating the tender sores with a swish of milk of magnesia.

Dabbing the cankers with aloe vera gel.

Use a strong solution of either baking soda or table salt and water as a mouth rinse.

Place a drop of 3% peroxide on cankers or dilute the peroxide with water and swish around in mouth before spitting it out.

Other Helpful Supplements:

Acidophilus reduces soreness and helps restore bacterial balance. Chew 4 tablets 3 times daily until the sores heal. In addition, a daily helping of yogurt can help keep the lining of the mouth healthy.

Dandelion supplements helps canker sores heal, and it prevents their recurrence. Take 500 to 1,000 milligram capsules three times daily for six weeks.

Echinacea promotes healing. Take 4 milliliters liquid extract swished in the mouth for two or three minutes, three times daily. Swallow the extract for added protection.

Licorice is an herb with antibacterial and antiviral properties. It can ease the irritation of cankers. Take 200 milligrams powdered deglycyrrhizinated licorice dissolved in 200 milliliters warm water, swish in mouth for 2 minutes three or four times daily. OR chew a 380 milligram chewable tablet twenty minutes before meals.

These herbal teas brewed triple-strength and used as a mouth rinse 2 or 3 times daily are basic folk medicine canker cures: burdock, chamomile, goldenseal, red raspberry, sage or strawberry.

Author's Bio: 

Edith Lingenfelter-webmaster of Age-old Herbs shows how "self defense" is natures oldest law on how to prevent your health concerns by means of natural healing herbs with herbal and dietary supplements. Learn how to protect your health by visiting