An effective home remedy for canker sores might be found in nature in the form of bee propolis. This is a waxy, gummy material from certain tree buds and sap flows and collected by bees. It is usually harvested from bee hives; the bees use it as a natural cement to fill in small gaps when constructing their hives, hence its nickname as bee glue. It is usually dark brown in its natural state and sticky at or above room temperature and it smells kind of nasty. Its exact composition varies from hive to hive and region to region and even varies seasonally.
What is it?
The substance has long been touted for its antiseptic and healing properties. Propolis has been used by for thousands of years, going back to the third century B.C. where the ancient Greeks used it for healing wounds and abscesses. Alternative medicine practitioners have used propolis for treating canker sores, viruses and some types of cancer. It is known for relieving inflammation, viruses, burns, ulcers and allergies. Studies have shown it to possess have powerful antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and emollient properties, and may be able to boost immune health and promote wound-healing. The Natural Medicines database rates propolis as possibly effective for cold sores, genital herpes and reducing pain and inflammation following oral surgery. Propolis seems to activate some parts of the immune system, promoting healing.
What Does the Research Say
Recent dentistry research has produced some evidence that propolis may protect teeth from cavities and it has been used as an effective canker sore treatment. According to a 2007 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study by the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, “The data indicated a statistically significant reduction of outbreaks in the propolis group.” The study also showed that patients reported a substantial improvement in their quality of life. The research indicated propolis was effective in reducing the incidents of recurrent aphthous ulcers (RAS) and improved their daily life, showing promise to sufferers of frequent mouth ulcers.
How to Use Propolis for Canker Sores
People who have used propolis as a home remedy for their canker sores report that it seems to cauterize the ulcer, killing the nerve endings and providing protection over the sore so it can heal. As a natural canker sore treatment, the National Institute of Health recommends applying a cream containing 3-5% to the ulcers up to four times per day. Since propolis is sticky, it might help it stay put on your oral ulcer so it won’t rub off as easily as some other canker sore meds. I prefer Canker-Rid made by Durham Farms. It is all natural, made from bee propolis and is designed for healing mouth sores. Dry the inside of your mouth with a tissue and apply it with a Q-tip. It will take away the pain almost immediately.
Dr. Andrew Weil suggests using a propolis tincture. Oral supplements may also help combat canker sores by reducing inflammation and infection. Again, supplements can usually be found in natural health stores or on the internet. Most commonly a dose of 250-500mg once or several times a day is recommended.
Warning: When taking propolis supplements, you should be aware that their natural-occurring resins may conflict with blood thinning drugs and some antiviral medications, so it is best to check with your doctor before trying oral supplements. Further, if you are allergic to bees or have a history of anaphylaxis, propolis can cause allergic contact dermatitis. In this instance propolis may not be the canker sore remedy of choice for you. There are, however, a number of alternative natural remedies you can try.