Canker sores aren’t a serious condition, but they can cause severe pain when talking, kissing, drinking, and eating. They appear as shallow ulcers, single or in clusters inside the mouth, and can range in size from a pinhead to a quarter. Painful, yes. But the good news is that they will usually heal within 1-3 weeks (even without treatment) and there are easy ways to relieve the pain canker sores cause.
One of the most effective ways to heal wounds in the mouth is with tea. Not only is the gentle heat soothing, but the tissues in your mouth will also absorb the healing and pain-treating properties of the herbs in the tea. It’s treating the problem directly, and when the tea makes its way through your body it will have more, longer-lasting effects.
Each of the herbs mentioned can be made into a tea at home with the procedure given, or purchased in ready-to-use teabags from most health food stores.
Herbs to Soothe Canker Sores
Many herbs are so universal in use for teas that relieve pain and treat canker sores that they can be listed here. If you have no desire to make your own tea blends, look at health food stores or – sometimes – your local grocery store for teas that contain a high amount of these herbs. The way to tell what herbs the tea contains the most of is to look at the ingredients list; the closer to the beginning of the list an ingredient is, the higher percentage of that ingredient in your tea.
Alfalfa – This herb is high in minerals like calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, silicon and zinc. It’s also high in vitamins A, K, and many of the B vitamins, E, and beta-carotene. It’s most likely these nutrients that make alfalfa such a traditional herb for healing ulcers, which is what a canker sore technically is. You will likely find this tea at health food stores before you find it anywhere else. The usual dose is 1-2 teaspoons of alfalfa per cup, steeped in boiling water for 10-15 minutes. If you purchase a bagged tea that contains alfalfa, use it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Calendula – With its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties, it’s easy to see why Calendula is so often used for skin conditions. In a tea, Calendula will relieve pain very quickly. It will also help prevent infection.
Capsicum – You probably know this herb by another name: Cayenne. The reason this herb works so well in teas to soothe canker sores is that it increases circulation and desensitizes nerve endings. In short, it brings more blood to the canker sore for healing, and stops the pain by working like a local anesthetic. It’s also believed that Cayenne will help prevent infections in your digestive system; nothing like a little prevention.
Comfrey – No tea meant to help heal and ease the pain of canker sores would be complete without this herb, which accelerates skin tissue healing and the closing of wounds. Seriously, this amazing little first aid herb contains a compound called allantoin, which causes wounds to contract and close quicker while preventing infection and scarring. A recent major European study showed that Comfrey actually proved more effective than “medicine” at both relieving pain and swelling. Caution: Do not use Comfrey if you are pregnant or nursing, or if you have liver damage.
Garlic – For obvious reasons, this potent herb should be used in smaller doses. It is a serious antibiotic and antimicrobial, and the crushed cloves release a chemical called allicin, which has been shown in studies to work as a more potent antibiotic than penicillin and tetracycline. Another very good reason for including garlic is that it helps you absorb and use the nutrients in your food; a lack of nutrients can cause canker sores in the first place.
Goldenseal – An herb native to the United States, it has been used for centuries by Native Americans. One of the two most potent chemicals in Goldenseal, Berberine, fights off infection and acts as a mild sedative – it has been said to be more effective than aspirin in reducing fever and pain. Not only does Goldenseal ease canker sore pain, then, but it also contains a chemical called Hydrastinine that has been used to stimulate the immune system. Caution: If you have diabetes, you should avoid Goldenseal because it can lower blood sugar. It should also not be used during pregnancy or if you’re nursing, and it should never be drunk as a tea for more than 1 week.
Licorice – Sure, you might think of this herb in terms of candy and gum, but it’s been used for thousands of years to treat ulcers and skin disorders … such as canker sores. Licorice is a serious pain reliever because of its anti-inflammatory properties that are similar to cortisone. Besides, it just plain makes the tea taste better!
Peppermint – Taken internally, peppermint produces a cooling and numbing effect that can ease canker sore pain. This herb’s soothing effect can also calm anxiety and tension, another possible cause for canker sores. Peppermint is filled with oils that have actions ranging from antiseptic, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
Making Herbal Teas to Ease Canker Sore Pain
The steps taken to create medicinal teas don’t differ very much from those taken to create any other kind of tea. The major difference is that you need to keep the pot covered as well as possible so that you can keep as many of the beneficial chemicals in the water. When making a medicinal tea, you should smell very little to no aroma from the pot – the more aroma you smell, the more chemicals are escaping.
To begin with, boil 2 cups of hot water. When it has come to a rolling boil, pour it into a non-metal container (your cup will work). Metal can interact with the chemicals in the herbs, interfering with the benefits of the tea. Add 6 tablespoons of fresh herbs or 3 tablespoons of dried herbs to the hot water. Stir well, cover, and allow to steep for about 5 minutes.
For relieving the pain of canker sores, reference the herbs above and mix-and-match to create a tea that will eliminate pain and speed up the process of healing.