A lot of people experience periods of low resistance from time to time. Your immune system takes a hit and because of that you can get a painful sore in your mouth: canker sores. Usually they go away within a few days but they never really heal or disappear completely. Other people are more prone to cold sores, related to the herpes simplex virus. Especially when you have cold sore, you can experience physical discomforts or you can often even feel ashamed. You get the idea that no remedy you try relieves you of what bothers you. But did you know that with proper diet both cold and canker sores could be enormously reduced in frequency and severity?
Prone to a canker or a cold sore
Canker and cold sores occur in 1 out of 3 people. Both the formation of canker and cold sores are caused by a number of conditions. Below is a list of the usual culprits:
Currently, more than 60% of the Dutch population suffers from chronic stress. That is a significant number. Our society requires a lot of our bodies. Of course, there is work. But what to think about deficient nutrition, food intolerances, air pollution, smoking or prescription drugs? They all are factors that play into the development of (physical) stress. Stress causes a weakening of your immune system and that makes the body receptive to developing canker or cold sores. People that (could possibly) carry the herpes simplex virus should be extra mindful of this.
Women typically are more prone to canker sores than men. This probably has to do with the hormonal fluctuations that take place every month. When your progesterone level drops, after you ovulate, you will develop a higher chance for canker sores than at any other time during your cycle.
When you have an autoimmune disease, such as Crohn’s disease (chronic inflammatory bowel disease), you will experience a constant lowered immune system. In Behçet’s disease canker sores are one of the first symptoms. This autoimmune disease is more common in men than in women and is characterized by sores and inflammation in all places where you have mucous membranes, like your eyes, mouth and genitals for instance.
Damaging our mucous membranesn
When damage your mucous membranes by eating chewy or spicy food for example, there’s a slight chance that you might injure yourself already. But also when you brush too forcefully or when you accidentally bite your cheek. Insignificant as it may seem, this too can cause canker sores. A healthy condition of your mucus membranes by, amongst others, good oral hygiene can help in this case.
Smoking means the inhalation of many toxic substances. This ensures that your liver, the most important organ for detoxing your body, will get an extra hefty task. In turn this will undermine the immune system. Eventually giving the herpes simplex virus free reign.
Connection between nutritional deficiencies and canker or cold sores?
As mentioned, nutrition plays a very important role in whether or not you develop canker or cold sores. There are even specific vitamins and minerals that influence the frequency and severity of both. Some even result in a severe flare-up or severe decline of sores.
In my view, a proper diet is the easiest and more natural way to tackle health problems. That’s why I will focus on the subject some more. Being attentive to the food you eat could prove to be pivotal.
Deficits in folic acid, iron and vitamin B12 plays key role in canker sores
Research has been done into the connection between nutritional deficiencies and the formation of canker sores (Brocklehurst et al., 2012). Results show that deficiencies in folic acid, iron and vitamin B12 play a key role. But how can these deficits arise? This is caused by two things deficient diet and ‘ leaky gut ‘ syndrome.
When we are talking about deficient nutrition, we mean a standard Western diet. Our current diet consists mostly of: refined carbohydrates, sugars, salt, yeast, food additives (E-numbers), ready-made meals, caffeine, alcohol and soft drinks. In these foods you will find little to no vitamins and minerals. This way, you can develope a deficiency of certain nutrients quite quickly.
The leaky gut syndrome
The second cause of canker and cold sores is the so-called ‘leaky-gut syndrome’. A leaky gut means that miniscule holes emerge in your intestinal mucosa by, as mentioned before, a deficient diet or certain food intolerances, such as gluten and lactose intolerance for instance. When your intestines get little to no fiber or foods that are difficult to digest, you will damage your intestinal mucous membranes long term. Through the miniscule holes chunks of protein will emerge, in turn they will enter your bloodstream and cause a chronic inflammation. This inflammation is causing a weakening of your immune system. Et voila, you are susceptible for a cold or canker sore.
Three important nutritional tips for preventing canker sores
In addition to a sufficient amount folic acid, iron, and vitamin B12 there are a number of natural remedies that can help you prevent canker sores:
- Thyme Thyme is a traditional medicinal herb that is widely used for inflammation of the gums and mucous membranes in the mouth. Make tea of 1-2 grams of fresh or dried thyme and drink this 3 to 4 times a day. Or rinse your mouth with a homemade thyme rinse (5 gram thyme, pour with boiling water and let it cool before use).
- Blueberries. Eat 20 to 60 grams of fresh blueberries a day to influence the severity of the formation of canker sores. Blueberries contain so-called anthocyanins and tannins. Both substances have a medicinal effect.
- Sage. Sage is also a medical herb and is used in all kinds of respiratory tract infections. But it could definitely also help when you are having canker sores. Use 2, 5 grams of sage on 100 ml boiling water and let it cool before use. Gargle twice a day. Note: do not use it longer than a week and this is not recommended for children under the age of 12 and pregnant and/or breastfeeding women.
- Oxygen Fluid. If you really have a huge outbreak and your mouth is extremely sensitive, it is best to use bluem® oxygen fluid. Mouthwash with an increased concentration of oxygen, specially developed for people with sensitive mouths.
Certain healthy foods can trigger a cold sore
The herpes simplex virus often has a more erratic course of action, so to speak, than the formation of canker sores. There are people that are susceptible for sores at every turn and there are those only susceptible to them once in a blue moon. Of course the amount of stress plays a key role, also diet can trigger the herpes virus strongly. In particular, the intake of arginine-rich foods have a detrimental effect. These include: nuts, seeds, legumes, cheese and mushrooms. In reading these foods, you might be scratching your head. Aren’t they supposed to healthy? They are. Except when you carry the herpes simplex virus. Than these foods are absolute triggers. A surplus of arginine should therefore be avoided.
The counterpart to the amino acid arginine is lysine. This amino acid helps to decrease the severity and frequency of cold sores. Lysine can be found in foods like red meat, poultry, yogurt and cottage cheese. If you barely consume meat and/or dairy or you want to maintain the healthy lifestyle you already implemented, consider taking lysine as a supplement.
4 important tips if you want to prevent or treat a cold sore
In addition to an adequate intake of lysine and reducing stress for an optimal immune system, there are some natural remedies you can try:
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and helps your body with the detoxification process. It is a co-factor (helper) for more than 80 enzymatic processes in the body and it creates an essential vitamin. A vegetable rich diet provides a natural increase in the vitamin C content. You can also choose to use a supplement. Choose a natural dietary supplement with a basic dose of 2000 mg per day.
- Organic coconut oil. Coconut oil contains lauric acid and capric acid. These substances have a virus suppressive and antifungal effect. Use coconut oil daily to prepare your meals.
- Zinc. The mineral zinc accelerates healing of the injury/wound. Feel cold sore coming on, then you can use zinc supplements to either stop the process or to make sure that the cold sore dries out quicker. A basic dose of 45 mg per day is recommended.
- Oral gel. The oral gel by BlueM increases the healing process of injuries/wounds. We have already received many positive responses from consumers that used the gel to reduce the severity of their cold sores. In using the oral gel they the discovered that the healing of the wound and their skin progressed considerably faster.
Continue to work proactively on your resistance to avoid canker and cold sores
Most herpes flare-ups and canker sores come on when the immune system is weakened. The best treatment is and continues to be strengthening your resistance. So make sure that you have enough sleep, enough exercise, a proper balanced diet and that you try to reduce stress as much as possible. You will see these painful and inconvienient sores disappear without a trace. Hoping you will benefit from my tips, I would love to hear about your personal experience(s). Contact us!