Aromatherapy essential oils for mouth ulcers

Aromatherapy A-Z: Ulcers

Mouth ulcers are small lesions that can occur on the soft tissues in your mouth or at the base of the gums. Most are harmless and will heal on their own in a week or two, but they can be very painful, particularly when eating.

There are many things that can cause mouth ulcers:

  • Minor injuries to the mouth – e.g. accidentally biting your lip or cheek when eating, burns from hot food/drink, brushing your teeth too hard
  • Problems with dentures or braces rubbing, a rough filling or a broken/sharp tooth
  • Toothpastes and mouth washes containing sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • Allergic reactions / intolerances to certain foods / drinks (e.g. chocolate, coffee, strawberries, eggs, nuts, cheese, and spicy or acidic foods)
  • Poor diet
  • Vitamin C, B12 or iron deficiency
  • Lack of sleep, being physically run-down or under mental or emotional stress
  • Bacterial or fungal infection (e.g. candida)
  • Hormonal changes e.g. during a period or pregnancy
  • Certain long-term health conditions e.g. inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease
  • Certain medications e.g. NSAIDs, antibiotics
  • Chemotherapy
  • Genes – mouth ulcers can run in the family
  • Stopping smoking – ulcers may occur when a person first quits

How can you help prevent mouth ulcers from occurring?

  • Choose healthy, immunity-boosting foods to combat nutritional deficiencies and avoid foods that irritate your mouth
  • Consider taking Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids and a strong Vitamin B complex
  • Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush after meals and floss once a day to keep the mouth clean and free of irritating foods. Avoid products containing SLS. Use dental wax to prevent injuries from braces or dentures
  • Try to ensure you are getting enough sleep
  • Reduce stress – activities such as meditation, yoga, massage and using essential oils may help
  • If ulcers are caused by an allergic reaction, Applied Kinesiology is recommended
  • In traditional medicine – mouth ulcers are related to digestive heat and inflammation (as well as general stress and debility / tiredness). It can therefore help to follow recommendations for reducing digestive inflammation – especially if accompanied by regular indigestion. Slow down the rate at which you consume your food too, eat sitting down and chew your food to a pulp before swallowing.

Essential oils for mouth ulcers

There are a few different essential oils that are helpful for oral health and treating mouth ulcers.

Myrrh is the best-known and has been used for thousands of years for its healing properties. Its fungicidal properties are particularly useful for ulcers caused by candida. 

Studies have shown that Lavender and Peppermint can help eliminate oral yeast infections. They also have antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Tea Tree is an appropriate choice if the ulcer becomes infected. 

Treatment advice

  1. Dry the ulcer with a cotton bud, and dab on 1 drop of neat Myrrh essential oil. This will help to heal the ulcer whatever the cause.  It can also be diluted – place 2 drops in half a glass of warm water and gargle regularly. Tincture of Myrrh can be used in a similar the same way.
  2. If you dislike the taste of Myrrh, try making a cup of the naturally astringent Raspberry Leaf Tea. Add 2 drops of Lavender essential oil to the tea and swill out the mouth and gargle with it regularly.
  3. In naturopathic medicine – using food as medicine – it is recommended to eat Bilberries or Raspberries – chewing them well and allowing the juice to cover the ulcers – which has a clearing, cleansing, tonic effect.
  4. If the mouth ulcer has become infected (red around the edges with yellow/green pus in the centre) – gargle 3 times per day with warm salt water with 2 drops of Tea Tree essential oil. Also increase your Vitamin C intake - for an adult – take 1 scoop (1 gram) of BioCare’s Magnesium Ascorbate powder 3 times daily. (If there are any other health problems speak to BioCare Nutritionists before taking higher doses of Vitamin C).
  5. If stress and nervous tension are a factor – consider regular massage with relaxing oils that are uplifting and calming. The following combination is ideal: 30ml base oil, 8 drops Lavender, 4 Frankincense, 2 Benzoin and 2 Neroli. Try getting some early nights too and take Valerian Tea to help you sleep more deeply. 
  6. Seek medical advice if the ulcer hasn’t healed after 3 weeks, if it becomes increasingly red and painful or if it keeps coming back.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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