Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Canker Sores

Nutrition and Supplementation

Nutrition plays a vital role in the treatment of canker sores. Avoid meat, tomatoes, oranges, and citrus fruits. Avoid sugar and processed foods. Eat foods containing live cultures (for example, Lactobacillus acidophilus), such as plain, unsweetened yogurt. Follow these daily nutritional guidelines:

L-lysine (500 mg 3 times daily on empty stomach)-deficiency may cause outbreak of sores in and around mouth; do not take longer than six months

vitamin B complex (50 mg 3 times daily)-promotes healing and builds immunity, supplemented with vitamin B3 50 to 100 mg 3 times daily)-deficiency has been linked to canker sores

vitamin C with bioflavonoids (3000 to 8000 mg in divided doses)-fights infection and boosts the immune system; use buffered form

zinc (1 15-mg lozenge every 3 waking hours for 2 days, not to exceed a total of 100 mg daily)

vitamin A (50,000 IU daily for 2 weeks, then reduce to 25,000 IU daily; do not exceed 8000 IU if you are pregnant)-speeds healing (Put a few drops of vitamin A oil directly on the sore.)

glutathione and zinc (oral spray form, as directed on label)

coenzyme (chewable form, as directed on label)

Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic practitioners suggest drinking cranberry juice to ease the stinging, biting soreness associated with canker sores. They also advise avoiding hot, spicy foods and alcoholic beverages-all of which can exacer-bate the condition.


To quiet pain and speed healing, rinse your mouth with warm salt water (dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1/2 cup water) several times daily until the symptoms subside.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture Because practitioners generally attribute canker sores to a damp-heat condition, they typically treat with acupuncture therapy for damp-heat syndrome.

Acupressure To help alleviate the pain of canker sores, a practitioner may apply pressure to Large Intestine 4 (between the thumb and index finger), Stomach 36 (right below the kneecap), and various ear points.

Chinese Herbal Therapy To soothe a canker sore and speed healing time, take 4 to 9 grams of akebia daily until symptoms subside. Applying fresh aloe vera juice directly to the canker sore also can help reduce pain Other herbs used to treat canker sores and mouth ulcers are Superior Sore Throat Powde Spray, which may be used up to 3 times a day.