Mouth ulcers, also called canker sores, aphthous stomata and recurrent aphthous stomatitis, mostly occur on the inner cheek, inner lip, tongue, soft palate, floor of the mouth, and sometimes the throat. They are usually about 3-5mm in diameter - though for those sufferring chronic mouth ulcers often significantly larger, and appear 2 or 3 at a time, in more cronic cases there can be 10-20 or more.

Mouth ulcers may result from a variety of causes varying from friction from a denture or rough tooth, poor circulation, bacterial or fungal infection (candida) or possibly an undetected food allergy. No specific single cause has yet been isolated, though it seems they are not generally caused by infectious agents such as viruses or bacteria and are therefore not considered contagious. With the exception of those caused accidentally, for example through inadvertently biting the tongue or inside of the cheek, they almost always occur in people who are 'run down' physically or under mental or emotional stress. Lack of sleep, poor diet. Vitamin C deficiency and antibiotics are some of the most common causative factors.

Several essential oils are useful in treating mouth ulcers, and ensuring the health of the mouth and gums generally. By far the most effective of these is Myrrh which has been used for thousands of years for its healing properties, especially where the skin is damp. It is also fungicidal, which makes it the only practicable aromatherapy treatment where the ulcers are due to Candida. The most convenient form in which to use Myrrh is as a tincture, which you can buy from herbalists' shops. Alternatively you can make a similar preparation by dissolving the essential oil in an alcohol such as vodka or brandy, at the rate of 3 drops of Myrrh to each teaspoon of alcohol. This can either be dabbed directly onto the ulcer with a cotton-bud or scrupulously clean fingertip, or made into a mouthwash by further diluting it in half a tumbler of warm water. Direct application will sting for a few moments, but is the most effective way to heal a mouth ulcer. A mouthwash is a good preventive measure. However you should avoid (or at least donít over-use) mouthwashes and toothpaste with a powerful anti-microbial action, they will get rid of the good guys as well as the bad, so if the balance is bad, it will still be bad. Avoid toothpaste with harsh detergents such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

Myrrh is extremely bitter and you might want to add a drop of oil of Peppermint or Fennel to this mixture, especially if you need to use it for a child. In this case, reduce the amount of Myrrh to 2 drops per teaspoon and add one drop of another oil. Mandarin is also suitable and all three of these oils are in themselves beneficial to the gums as well as making the Myrrh more palatable.

B vitamins are generally cited as being beneficial, particularly B12. B vitamins are not stored in the body so choose a supplement with a prolonged or slow release. High doses of Vitamin C (preferably in combination with bioflavonoids) will help to heal mouth ulcers. At least 3 grams a day should be taken until the ulcers are healed, and some people need and can tolerate doses as high as 9 grams. If the ulcers are a recurrent problem, it is important to ensure that the diet is rich in Vitamin C and B-complex. Occasionally a food allergy or intolerance may be responsible, so if ulcers persist in spite of all efforts to treat them with essential oils, vitamins and good diet, it may be necessary to rotate the diet or have some food tests carried out to identify the guilty food or foods.

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