Most Americans have experienced the sting and annoyance of a canker sore one or more times in their lives. While it’s not the end of the world, it certain can interfere with our daily lives, especially with two of our favorite pleasures, eating and talking. Canker sores, as opposed to cold sores, are small white ulcers with a red border that can appear on the inside of the mouth area. Just why aphthous stomatitis, their technical name, make an appearance is kind of a mystery. Among the possible causes are food allergies, heredity, stress, physical abrasions or cuts in the mouth and vitamin deficiencies.
Lactobacillus Acidophilus: “Good” Bacteria
Although they will usually clear up on their own in time, one thing you can do to both help heal your current ulcer and prevent a return engagement is to eat yogurt on a daily basis. Yogurt contains “good” bacteria called lactobacillus acidophilus, which supports colon health, helps maintain beneficial bacterial in the intestinal tract, aids digestion and stimulates the production of immune system boosters including immunoglobulin antibodies.
This friendly lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria is also known as a probiotic. Probiotics are live organisms that are naturally found in the digestive tract. When you ingest them they colonize in the intestines and elsewhere and will flourish unless they are destroyed by antibiotics, stress, poor diet choices or other factors that can create a bacterial imbalance. This is why it is often recommended to eat yogurt when taking antibiotics for an infection.
In addition to being good for your overall health, this friendly bacteria has been known to help heal canker sores and eliminate the pain. The exact way this helps isn’t clear, but for many people it is quite an effective remedy. The acidophilus seems to provide relief by killing off the “bad” bacteria in the canker sores.
Yogurt is one of the best sources of lactobacillus acidophilus. When trying this out as a remedy, the key is getting enough of the live bacteria to be effective. When you have an active canker sore, experts recommend eating at least 8 ounces of unflavored yogurt every day until the ulcer heals. In fact some people actually swirl the yogurt around their mouth before swallowing to thoroughly coat their mouth including their gums, roof of mouth, tongue and throat with this beneficial bacteria to help rebalance their oral flora and kill the bad bacteria that may be contributing to their mouth sores. To keep your ulcers away, Jerome Z. Litt, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, suggests eating about 4 tablespoons of plain yogurt per day as a preventative. If you really hate yogurt, there are some excellent probiotic capsules that will do the same thing. Several good brands include Enzymatic Therapy Acidophilus Pearls and New Chapter Probiotic All-Flora.
Read the Label
Not all yogurt is the same. It’s important to eat plain yogurt with live acidophilus cultures, not the popular fruit-flavored, sweetened types. When buying yogurt, be sure to read the product label and look for the words “live active cultures of lactobacillus acidophilus.” One of my favorites is Greek yogurt, which contains live cultures. If you don’t like plain yogurt, you can buy lactobacillus tablets or capsules at most health food stores.
If such a simple, inexpensive and effective remedy could help you heal your canker sores and prevent you from getting them over and over again, it is well worth trying.