Because canker sores are usually not serious, and because most cases heal on their own, trying natural remedies to address them is definitely reasonable. Some studies have even been done on the use of natural remedies in dealing with canker sores, meaning you can make an informed decision about your treatment options.
Because canker sores are often tied to nutritional concerns and immune system weakness, the systemic natural remedies you’d use for any cold or mild infection are of potential use. Boosting your immune system with vitamin c, a multivitamin (if you don’t take one generally) or a more health-focused diet are all options for combating canker sores. Echinacea is also a popular immune system booster, although studies on its effectiveness are inconclusive.
German chamomile is one natural remedy that has been tested in conjunction with canker sores. One study showed that a significant majority of people with canker sores experienced relief when using this herb. However, there was no group receiving a placebo in the study, so the data isn’t necessarily conclusive. Additionally, chamomile is related to a number of plants that commonly cause allergic reactions. If you have allergies that are triggered by ragweed, chrysanthemums and several other plants, it’s best to avoid this option.
Another herb, known as Lady’s Mantle, has also been tested in gel form for canker sore relief. One study showed that it healed canker sores at twice the rate of over-the counter medications.
Specific vitamin supplements can also be used as natural remedies to combat canker sores. Taking vitamin B12 may help heal and prevent canker sores, because this nutrient has been found to be low in many people with recurrent canker sore problems. Zinc, a mineral generally considered to help with healing of bruises, cuts and other small wounds, is also indicated as a potential way to speed canker sore healing. Finally, lysine, an amino acid also used as a natural remedy to combat cold sores, is a potential canker sore solution as well.
The biggest problem with natural remedies is that less data exists on their efficacy. Before you start any natural remedy, make sure you research it to see if it will interact negatively with any medication you may be taking or any allergies you have. You may want to discuss your interest in natural remedies with your doctor, but because canker sores themselves aren’t dangerous, they represent a good opportunity to see if natural remedies work for you.