Tongue Sore-- Causes and Top 10
Natural Remedies
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July 21, 2010, last updated June 19, 2012
By Louise Carr,  Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Registered
Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial

Tongue sores can appear as small bumps, red lumps or
raised areas of the tongue. In whatever form a tongue sore
appears, it  can cause you considerable pain, especially as it’
s almost impossible to stop using your tongue to help the
sores heal. What causes tongue sores? Are there any
natural remedies for tongue sores? What foods should you
avoid eating if you have a tongue sore?

Your attack of tongue sore may be caused by the oral
herpes simplex virus infection, otherwise known as cold
sores, which affects approximately 65 percent of us by the
time we reach age 40, according to a 2010 study by Dr.
Rahul Sharma of Cornell University. This common condition
can be a real pain, causing small blisters or sores on the
lips, mouth and tongue. It’s also contagious. You may
recognize a cold sore’s approach a day or two before the
sore appears, as a tingle or pain in the mouth.

Tongue sores can also appear as small bumps on the
tongue. These tongue sores are usually harmless but an
unexplained bump, particularly if it is painless, may be an
indication of oral cancer. Most oral cancers grow on the
sides of the tongue or the floor of the mouth and hardly
ever appear on the top of the tongue. According to the
National Cancer Institute, oral cancer is rare, with 28,900
cases occurring annually.

Tongue sores are also called canker sores, painful sores
under your tongue or on the inside of your lips or cheeks.
According to Michael C Plewa, MD, Department of
Emergency Medicine, Lucas County Emergency Physicians,
Inc, and Mercy Saint Vincent Medical Center, canker sores
affect around 20 percent of the general population.

Canker sores are not contagious. They are more commonly
found in women than in men.  One interesting fact found in
a 1988 study from the University of Buenos Aires is that
children from higher incomed households suffer more from
canker sores than children who are lower-incomed.  
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, you are
more at risk of canker sores if you have a family history of
sores, if you have a weakened immune system, if you are
under stress or if you suffer from food allergies.

While there is no cure for canker sores and other tongue
sores, the following natural remedies can help ease the
pain while they heal.

Topical Creams As A Tongue Sore Remedy

Acyclovir (Zovirax) is a popular cream for treating cold
sores. Zilactin, Blistex, Kaopectate with Benadryl, and
Hydrocortisone are used to treat canker sores, as are
Anbesol and Orabase or Orajel. These treatments are
especially effective if applied as soon as you notice a
tongue sore occurring. Specially-made topical preparations
are preferred by physicians because they limit the amount
of active medication delivered to the sore which cuts down
the risk of side effects (corticosteroids can increase the risk
of candidiasis and other secondary infections).

Lysine Treats Tongue Sores

Some experts suggest that lysine supplements can help
prevent cold sore outbreaks and sores on the tongue but
other studies have found little benefit from taking this
essential amino acid as a supplement.

One 1987 study from the Indiana University School of
Medicine looked at 52 patients with a history of cold sore
flare-ups. After receiving 3g of lysine every day for six
months, the treatment group experienced an average of
2.4 fewer flare-ups than the placebo group and their sores
healed faster.

The virus that causes cold sores hides in nerve cells and
can re-emerge in times of stress. Lysine is believed to fight
the virus by blocking the amino acid, arginine, which the
virus needs to function. In this case, lysine would be most
effective when used in combination with a low-arginine diet.

Vitamin B12 Can Help Treat Tongue Sores

A 2009 study from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
found a nightly dose of Vitamin B12 prevented canker
sores by as much as 25 percent.

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, was tested Vitamin
B12 on 58 randomly selected patients.  The patients who
suffered from tongue sores,  received either a dose of
1,000 mcg of Vitamin B12 or a placebo, and were tested
monthly for six months.

Approximately 74 percent of the patients of the treated
group and only 32 percent of the control group achieved
remission at the end of the study and the treated patients
reported less pain and shorter outbreaks of tongue sores.
(Read more about
foods that remedy Vitamin B12
deficiency, also called "pernicious anemia".)

Increase Your Vitamin Intake to Prevent Tongue Sores

You can make your mouth a lot healthier by increasing your
intake of vitamins. A deficiency in vitamins and minerals
such as iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12 can increase the
risk of tongue sores, according to the U.S. National Library
of Medicine.

A 2009 study from Baskent University in Turkey found that
diminished antioxidant activity (vitamin E and selenium) can
increase your  risk for recurrent tongue sores.

One 2010 study from the University of Connecticut School
of Dental Medicine led by Dr. S. Kozlak discovered that as
many as 20 percent of patients with recurrent canker sores
also had a deficiency in iron, folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12.
(Read more about
foods that help to remedy iron
deficiency -anemia.)

Herbal Remedies for Tongue Sores

One 1990 study by a research team from the University of
Oslo  used a product containing vitamins and minerals as
well as the herbs paprika, rosemary, peppermint, milfoil,
hawthorn, and pumpkin seed to treat various mouth-
related conditions and found it significantly reduced the
frequency of mouth sores).

The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests
rinsing the mouth with herbal mouthwash that contains
sage and chamomile.

A small study in 1998 tested the effectiveness of a
chemically-altered form of licorice and found it made canker
sores disappear more quickly (Das SK, Das V, Gulati AK, et
al ‘Deglycyrrhizinated liquorice in aphthous ulcers’, 1989).

Another 2008 study used a licorice herbal extract patch to
reduce the size of ulcers compared to a placebo (Martin
MD, Sherman J, van der Ven P, et al ‘A controlled trial of a
dissolving oral patch concerning glycyrrhiza (licorice)
herbal extract for the treatment of aphthous ulcers’, 2008).

Another herbal solution could be aloe vera. According to a
2005 report by Richard L. Wynn, PhD, in General Dentistry,
the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) clinical journal,
aloe vera taken as a gel or a juice can treat many oral
health problems including tongue sores. It was reported to
speed up healing and reduce pain.

Reduce Stress To Prevent Tongue Sores

Stress increases your risk of developing canker sores. A
2009 study from The University of Sao Paulo found that
people with canker sores have higher than average anxiety
scores when compared with the general population.

Yoga, deep breathing and eating
foods that help you
reduce stress  can  help lower your outbreaks of tongue

Change Your Toothpaste To Heal Tongue Sores

Canker sores are often be caused by a seemingly harmless
everyday product -- toothpaste. Certain toothpastes
contain a chemical called "sodium lauryl sulfate", which is
the agent that causes the paste to foam in the mouth. A
1996 study from the University of Oslo found that this
chemical can cause minute damage to the tissues in your
mouth, including the tongue, causing canker sores or
making them worse.

Check the label on your toothpaste. If necessary, change
your brand of toothpaste to one that does not contain this
chemical to cut down tongue sore outbreaks.

Prevent Trauma To The Tongue

Taking care of the tongue and protecting it from burns and
bites can prevent tongue sores. Make sure you gently
brush your teeth and use a soft-bristled brush.

Good mouth hygiene significantly reduces not only the
number of tongue sore outbreaks but also their severity,
according to a 2005 study from the Tblisi State Medical

Avoid crunchy or hard foods if you have a tongue sore you
want to go away and don’t talk with your mouth full ---
you increase the risk of minor bites and cuts to the tongue.

Food Allergies Can Cause Tongue Sores

Foods can cause tongue sores. Many foods can trigger an
outbreak of tongue sores including cinnamon, gluten, cow’
s milk  as well as coffee, potatoes, cheese, chocolate, nuts,
citrus fruits and figs. A 2009 study from the Institute of
Oncology and Radiology of Serbia discovered that all of
these foods can trigger a outbreak of tongue sores.

Your best bet is to avoid certain foods if they seem to affect
your tongue, or carry out an allergy test if your symptoms
are severe and you’re not sure which particular food is
causing your flare-ups.

Avoid These Chemicals To Cut Down Tongue Sores

High levels of nitrates in drinking water have been
associated with increased canker sores. Several studies
have confirmed this connection, including a 1999 study
from SMS Medical College in Jaipur, India.

According to a 1999 study by a research team from Kuwait
University,  using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
(NSAIDs) can also trigger tongue sores.  

Learn other causes of swelling:
Swollen Lymph Nodes-
Causes and Remedies / Swollen Ankles-Causes and Cures
Tight Bras and Briefs-Health Dangers /Swollen Hands-
Causes and Cures/Night Cramps/ Night Sweats
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