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Canker Sores

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are painful sores in the mouth. They can make it hard to eat or drink as usual.

Most sores heal on their own in 1 to 2 weeks. Some people may need medicine to ease pain and swelling and prevent new sores from forming. Others turn to natural therapies to help heal their canker sores.

Natural Therapies

May Be Effective

These therapies may help promote healing and ease pain:

  • Acemannan is a substance from aloe.A14
  • Aloe is a plant that has been applied as a gel to promote healing.A3
  • Berberine is a yellow compound found in some plants.A2
  • Camel thorn is a shrub or tree in the pea family.A16
  • Honey is a thick liquid made by bees.B1
  • Hyaluronic acid is a sugar that is found naturally on the skin.A7
  • Lysozyme is made by the body to help fight illness.A4
  • Myrrh is a shrub.A3
  • Myrtle is an evergreen shrub with glossy leaves and white flowers.A17
  • Propolis is a resin-like substance that bees use to coat their hives.A5, A6
  • Rhubarb is a plant used in cooking and baking.A5
  • Vitamin B12 is found in seafood, dairy, and eggs.A1, A11
  • Walnut A5

May Not Be Effective

Multivitamins/multiminerals may not provide benefit.A15

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Ageratina pichinchensis A10
  • Nicotiana tabacum leaves (tobacco) A9
  • Omega-3 fatty acids A8, A13
  • Rosa damascena A12

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.



Herbs and Supplements

A1. Volkov I, Rudoy I, et al. Effectiveness of vitamin B12 in treating recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Am Board Fam Med. 2009;22(1):9-16.

A2. Jiang XW, Zhang Y, et al. Effects of berberine gelatin on recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial in a Chinese cohort. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol. 2013;115(2):212-217.

A3. Mansour G, Ouda S, et al. Clinical efficacy of new aloe vera-and myrrh-based oral mucoadhesive gels in the management of minor recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled study. J Oral Pathol Med 2014 Jul;43(6):405-409.

A4. Shao Y, Zhou H. Clinical evaluation of a toothpaste containing lysozyme for the treatment of recurrent aphthous stomatitis. A 3-month, double-blind, randomized study. 2016;29(6):303-306.

A5. Rodríguez-Archilla A, Raissouni T. Randomized clinical trial of the effectiveness of complementary therapies for recurrent aphthous stomatitis. Med Clin (Barc). 2017;149(2):55-60.

A6. Abbasi AJ, Mohammadi F, et al. Applications of Propolis in Dentistry: A Review. Ethiop J Health Sci. 2018 Jul;28(4):505-512.

A7. Casale M, Moffa A, et al. Systematic review: the efficacy of topical hyaluronic acid on oral ulcers. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2017 Dec 27;31(4 Suppl 2):63-69.

A8. Nosratzehi T, Akar A. Efficacy of Omega-3 in Treatment of Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis: A Randomised, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study. Chin J Dent Res. 2016;19(3):159-164.

A9. Vaziri S, Mojarrab M, et al. Evaluation of anti-aphthous activity of decoction of Nicotiana tabacum leaves as a mouthwash: a placebo-controlled clinical study. J Tradit Chin Med. 2016 Apr;36(2):160-164.

A10. Romero-Cerecero O, Zamilpa A, et al. Pilot study that evaluated the clinical effectiveness and safety of a phytopharmaceutical elaborated with an extract of Ageratina pichinchensis in patients with minor recurrent aphthous stomatitis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Sep 15;173:225-230.

A11. Liu HL, Chiu SC. The Effectiveness of Vitamin B12 for Relieving Pain in Aphthous Ulcers: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial. Pain Manag Nurs. 2015 Jun;16(3):182-187.

A12. Hoseinpour H, Peel SA, et al. Evaluation of Rosa damascena mouthwash in the treatment of recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Quintessence Int. 2011 Jun;42(6):483-491.

A13. El Khouli AM, El-Gendy EA. Efficacy of omega-3 in treatment of recurrent aphthous stomatitis and improvement of quality of life: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol. 2014 Feb;117(2):191-196.

A14. Bhalang K, Thunyakitpisal P, et al. Acemannan, a polysaccharide extracted from Aloe vera, is effective in the treatment of oral aphthous ulceration. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 May;19(5):429-434.

A15. Lalla RV, Choquette LE, et al. Multivitamin therapy for recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial. J Am Dent Assoc. 2012 Apr;143(4):370-376.

A16. Pourahmad M, Rahiminejad M, et al. Effects of camel thorn distillate on recurrent oral aphthous lesions. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2010 May;8(5):348-352.

A17. Babaee N, Mansourian A, et al. The efficacy of a paste containing Myrtus communis (Myrtle) in the management of recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Oral Investig. 2010 Feb;14(1):65-70.

Other Therapies

B1. El-Haddad SA, Asiri FY, et al. Efficacy of honey in comparison to topical corticosteroid for treatment of recurrent minor aphthous ulceration: a randomized, blind, controlled, parallel, double-center clinical trial. Quintessence Int. 2014 Sep;45(8):691-701.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC