What works best to cure and prevent canker sores?By DR.ANDREW WEIL DR.

DR.ANDREW WEIL is director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and is a pioneer in the use of natural healing therapy.

These painful mouth sores are most common in women of all ages and young people, although we don’t know why. Canker sores also tend to crop up when your immune system is weakened by colds or stress. To discover your personal triggers, keep a journal of your outbreaks and the typical causes of fl are-ups: stress, your period, and certain foods. The sores usually clear up on their own in a week or two, but in the meantime, you can take the following steps to speed healing.

Soothe Them Naturally

Make a homemade healing paste. My favorite natural fi x is an herbal supplement, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, which some studies show can help reduce the size of sores, speed healing, and ease pain. Look for chewable tablets or DGL powders at health food stores or online. When using the powder, mix it with water to make a paste, and apply to the sore every few hours until symptoms improve. Try an herbal lozenge. Suck on slippery elm lozenges, which are made from the bark of the slippery elm tree and help soothe the tissue inside your mouth and throat. You can find them in most health food stores.

Prevent Sores for Good

Avoid food triggers. Spicy and acidic foods, such as coffee, oranges, grapefruit, and pineapple, can cause outbreaks or worsen canker sores by aggravating the sensitive tissue inside your mouth. Salty pretzels and chips, nuts, strawberries, chocolate, and cheese can also be problematic for some people. Consider getting tested for a wheat allergy, which has been linked to increased susceptibility to canker sores. Finally, do eat foods rich in B vitamins, such as leafy greens, poultry, and dairy products; a defi ciency of vitamin B12 or folic acid can also lead to canker sores. Brush properly. Brushing your teeth too aggressively can aggravate
your gums and provoke sores. Also, look for toothpastes and mouthwashes that do not contain sodium lauryl sulfate, a chemical that can cause sores in people who are sensitive to it.