2

votes

Fewer canker sores while eating paleo?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 11, 2010 at 12:49 PM

This question popped into my head in the last day when a tiny canker sore started to appear on my lip and it dawned on me that I hadn't had one in ages since I started eating primally. I used to get them all the time - sometimes continuously for weeks.

This question touched a bit on it with more of a broad approach to the immunological effects/reactions of sugar spikes, but I'd like to survey specifically: Do you get less canker sores when you eat paleo-style? And what is most likely to bring on the development of one when you do get one - sugar, wheat, too little sleep, stress, etc.?

I'm distinguishing canker sores from red pussy/crusty herpes fever blisters (aka "cold sores") which appear on the outside of the lips/mouth. The canker sores I'm addressing here are the small white ulcers that appear inside the mouth: inner cheek, tongue, gums, lips. Image search if you need a visual, but it's wince-inducing so don't say that I didn't warn you.

While we're on the subject, any remedies or prevention techniques (natural or otherwise) anybody cares to share? I'm aware that an outbreak of these can be caused by less sleep and stress, not to mention poor diet - basically anything that undermines the immune system.

The only thing that really halts the symptoms of a canker sore for me is a dose of the canker-sore-version of Zilactin. Stings terribly for a minute, then the sore is numb for hours - but now I can't seem to find it in stores anywhere. :-\

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on October 13, 2010
at 05:57 PM

I was about to post about the toothpaste.... You beat me to it! Can't recommend that enough since it seriously helped out my fiance and she doesn't even eat paleo!

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on October 13, 2010
at 04:59 PM

Sweet tip on the toothpaste! Thanks!

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on October 12, 2010
at 01:03 AM

Interesting find. But 4/10 is not a smoking gun. I wish it were more like 7/10.

Fe783e04644862c30823614f31b9a996

(499)

on October 11, 2010
at 09:01 PM

grammar nazi: "fewer canker sores." :)

F5698e16f1793c0bb00daea6a2e222a4

(678)

on October 11, 2010
at 08:48 PM

the time period in which i suffered the most frequent canker sores is when i used to eat a lot of canned fruit. (i know i know but i was a young & dumb) i'm sure it was because of all the sugar.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on October 11, 2010
at 08:18 PM

Whoa!! Cool! Had no idea.

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12 Answers

5
6869a1f2294b3a717a53645589a91d18

(1689)

on October 11, 2010
at 08:16 PM

4 of 10 aphthous stomatitis (canker sore) patients had raised levels of antibodies to alpha-gliadin, and in 3 of these 4 subjects, the ulceration remitted on a gluten-free diet and relapsed upon gluten challenge. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1753350

with recurrent aphthous stomatitis, 25% showed a favorable response to gluten withdrawal and a positive gluten challenge. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7261838

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on October 12, 2010
at 01:03 AM

Interesting find. But 4/10 is not a smoking gun. I wish it were more like 7/10.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on October 11, 2010
at 08:18 PM

Whoa!! Cool! Had no idea.

3
3573f7a18ee620179fda184c7d8b7242

(241)

on October 13, 2010
at 04:33 PM

I used to get multiple canker sores about once a month, lasting for a week or so. Before going Paleo/Primal, my dentist suggested using a toothpaste without SLS (sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate), and that did definitely help a lot. Brands are Rembrandt Sensitive Teeth (not sure if this one is available, and I thought it was a bit expensive), Natural Dentist (this is my favorite, and cheap too), Tom's also I think. You can just Google SLS-free toothpaste to see some options. I suppose one could use baking soda.

I, too, did notice that they were related to the general state of my immune system. In the first several months of paleo, I did see a connection with eating sugar/wheat. I, too, thought that the over-the-counter aids did not help noticeably. I actually found that honey helped a lot, just dab a bit on a couple times a day (I suspect raw honey works better, but we only ever had raw honey, so I hadn't tried processed honey). Salt-water rinses too.

I've been paleo for almost two years, and have not had a canker sore in at least a year and a half. I suspect coconut oil would probably work too, but I haven't had any canker sores since discovering coconut oil.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on October 13, 2010
at 04:59 PM

Sweet tip on the toothpaste! Thanks!

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on October 13, 2010
at 05:57 PM

I was about to post about the toothpaste.... You beat me to it! Can't recommend that enough since it seriously helped out my fiance and she doesn't even eat paleo!

2
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on October 11, 2010
at 02:47 PM

growing up as a kid i would get them all the time. In college, too. I was on SAD the whole time of course. I did however used to think that they were stress-related as it seemed that especially in college around big exams etc i seemed to get more of them.

Anyhow, in the last two or three years of WAPliving-transitioning-to-paleo i don't think ive gotten one single one.

So, on strict paleo (no dairy except for butter) i have never had a canker sore (we always called them "cold sores" by the way).

2
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on October 11, 2010
at 02:38 PM

I used to get cancer sores if I ate a lot of citrus fruit, but other than that I haven't noticed any correlation with diet. I certainly haven't had one since I started a low carb diet, even before it was also a paleo diet, but I haven't had significant citrus since then either.

1
Fab409ac4a30957e3ed508514f7bff02

(295)

on August 25, 2011
at 03:26 AM

I know it's really late but I wanted to mention this for other people looking for possible help. I get canker sores that last 2+ weeks often (couple of times a month). Any sort of mouth trauma is a trigger (biting/scraping whether accidental during the day or even when sleeping). I'm not strict paleo so I can't speak for it helping but when I drink these stupid energy drinks daily I don't get the canker sores. If I stop drinking them they come back within a week. The energy drinks contain 100%+ RDA of Vitamins B3, B5, B6, and B12. I'm not sure which Vitamin is helping although xjhues (another commenter) and Science Daily point to the B12. In all likely hood there could be many reasons.

I've taken Vitamin B Complex (containing all of the above B's and more) pill supplements with no luck. I just got a sub-lingual version of the supplement to see if that makes any difference (not sure yet). Possible reason for the pill form not working is: Pernicious Anemia

That may explain some of the success with gut healing diets (e.g. paleo) reducing occurrences of canker sores.

Also, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (a.k.a. SLS from toothpaste and mouthwash), sugar and citrus don't help either.

1
9d741bcbe702044635f2ce3078043054

(1435)

on October 13, 2010
at 05:49 PM

I'll add another anecdote, since after all, the plural of anecdote is data. It had not occured to me until reading the original question, but I don't think I have had a canker sore since going Paleo. Admittedly, it's only been 4 months for me, but I used to get them every time I bit my lip, and I know I have bitten my lip in the last 4 months and not gotten a canker sore as a result. Interesting!

1
F8fa4b0809d3b74fcf0361c0d53b60c1

(911)

on October 12, 2010
at 12:54 AM

I might be the first dissenter here. I have suffered from canker sores for my entire life - if I ever get a cut inside my mouth I have a >95% chance of getting a canker sore. This has not changed since going paleo, in any of the versions I have tried.

1
D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af

on October 11, 2010
at 07:58 PM

I get canker sores on my tongue when I eat too much sugar (i.e. white sugar and carby crap). It's my early warning signal to start downing vitamin C and knock off eating the crap so I don't get a cold. On paleo, no canker sores. FWIW, one of the side effects of taking Adderall for my AD/HD was nasty canker sores. Not sure what the connection is, but for me sugar consumption is definitely tied to my immune system. YMMV

F5698e16f1793c0bb00daea6a2e222a4

(678)

on October 11, 2010
at 08:48 PM

the time period in which i suffered the most frequent canker sores is when i used to eat a lot of canned fruit. (i know i know but i was a young & dumb) i'm sure it was because of all the sugar.

1
Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

on October 11, 2010
at 06:20 PM

I used to get a few cankers per year. This week I had the first one since going Paleo four months ago. It came and went pretty quickly compared to previous ones. I don't know if there's a correlation between the short life and my diet. I'll have to give it at least a year to really be able to come to a conclusion.

1
03b67d2b8e9e878147cb3f225c864207

(766)

on October 11, 2010
at 06:05 PM

I used to get a canker sore literally EVERY time I bit my lip. When on Paleo, I NEVER get them.

I have attributed it to sugar actually touching the sore and getting inside it. I have had a gluten / dairy free dessert after biting my lip and gotten a canker sore quickly after the sugar touched it.

Interestingly, if I try to place the food away from the sore, I can eat sugar without it having a reaction (thus is why I think it has to do with actually getting sugar inside the sore)

1
F5698e16f1793c0bb00daea6a2e222a4

(678)

on October 11, 2010
at 04:07 PM

i always get a cancer sore when i break the skin on my lip. i attribute it to whatever bacteria is living in my mouth overpowering white blood cells due to the wound being constantly open.

when i was younger i used to have them erupt spontaneously, but that doesn't happen to me anymore. i think it's because i suppliment with 1000mcg b12 3-4 times a week (i'd read somewhere the b12 deficiency was a cause) but yeah it could be my paleo diet, as well.

1
77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on October 11, 2010
at 01:38 PM

I had a lot of issues with canker sores for a couple of years while I was in the Peace Corps and chronically malnourished. I'd get them every few weeks, and they were very painful. Typically they are supposed to go away in a few days, but for me, sometimes they lasted 2-3 WEEKS. Even after I got back, I had them 5-6 times in the first year.

After going Paleo, I'd say I've had one or two minor cases in the last 18 months. (Honestly, I can't remember the last time I had one.) They go away very quickly. Not sure what causes them, and I'm under the impression that the general medical community does not really know either.

I would speculate that a typical Standard American Diet will cause irritation of the gums, leaching/malabsorption of vitamins and minerals, and destruction of beneficial bacteria that are necessary for good oral health. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste or using antibacterial mouthwash may have a negative impact as well. Again, I'm speculating.

In any case, the most effective Paleo-ish solution for me was rinsing my mouth out with salt water. Most medical websites advise a weak salt solution of something like 1tsp salt to 1 cup water, but I would load up on the salt as much as I could tolerate, and rinse for 30-60 seconds. (Not sure if my method is advisable.) It stings initially, but after the first few seconds, it stops hurting, and it feels a lot afterward. It appears to accelerate the healing process, in my experience.

At one point, I sought medical treatment because the canker sores were making me so miserable, and I did not think it was normal for them to last 3 weeks at a time. The doctor gave me a prescription for Aphthasol (5% amlexanox in an adhesive oral paste), and it worked extremely well. If I recall correctly, it cut healing times down to a few days.

I was not impressed with the OTC pain-relief meds that I tried at the time -- they didn't provide any satisfactory relief for me.

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