Cankers – What to do about them

by Judith G. Cobb, MH, CI, NCP

This article is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. It is meant for educational purposes only. Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health, and Nature’s Sunshine Products accept no responsibility for results you get, whether good or bad, from using this information. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

Note: More information about the products mentioned can be found at the end of the article.


Aphthous stomatitis, or canker sores … almost everyone has experienced these painful outbreaks in the mouth. Often, when there is one sore, there are more, sometimes up to fifteen or twenty. The size of these mouth ulcers can range from almost nothing to over two centimetres. Canker sores can appear on the tongue, lips, or gums, or on the inside of cheeks, and usually begin as a little crater surrounded by slightly raised concentric rings of yellow then red. Healing can take from four to twenty days.

Many years ago I worked with a young client, a boy of about 10 years old. Before he came to me he had suffered chronically with a mouth full of cankers. Nothing the doctors recommended worked. This poor child had been living on soft foods and beverages for more than a year. Then they decided to ‘go natural’ and came to me. Within a few months we had his mouth completely cleared up. As a bonus, he now knew what to do when he felt one starting to form and he could interrupt it and get rid of it before it became large and very painful.

Causes of cankers

According to WebMD, the cause of cankers is unknown, but weakened localized immune function seems to be involved, as do deficiencies of iron, B12, lysine, folic acid and zinc.1 Other influencing factors may be poor oral hygiene, food allergies (especially to chocolate), stress, and fatigue. Specific foods, including high acid foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes, can also trigger cankers.

So, what can be done to prevent them and/or to make them heal faster?

Prevention of cankers

As always, diet is very important. Eliminating sugar, dairy (except butter), refined grains (white bread and pasta), alcohol, coffee, tea, and soda pop can only help to increase the vitality of the body and raise the immune system to a more functional state. Focus on eating fresh low-acid green and orange vegetables (e.g. broccoli, green beans, zucchini, squash, yams, carrots), whole grains, limited amounts of animal protein (preferably chicken breast, lamb, or salmon), and legumes (including lentils and nuts), with lots of purified water to drink, to correct any acid imbalances and build the body’s ability to heal.

During an outbreak, the diet will need to consist of softer foods like homemade pureed vegetable soups (without tomatoes, please), and baked or steamed fruit, to reduce wear, tear, and pain while eating. Also, for the sake of comfort, high acid foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and foods containing vinegar may need to be avoided.

In the event of an outbreak, each canker may be gently dabbed with Silver Shield Gel topically to speed healing. The gel is made of food grade ingredients and is safe to swallow. Use a fresh cotton swab for each dab. SilverGuard Mouthwash or Silver Shield w/Aqua Sol can be swallowed to build the body’s overall healing power.

I have found that it is useful to support the entire immune system when working with canker sores. Sometimes it is also necessary to implement the Anti-Candida Diet (more on this next month). Because of this, we have noted good results when we include probiotics like Probiotic Eleven in the program.

An anti-viral supplement is also helpful to stimulate the immune response to fight off micro-organisms that don’t belong in the body. Initially, these items are used in fairly generous amounts, then when the outbreak subsides, the tea tree oil and Silver Shield are discontinued while the probiotic and anti-viral are reduced to small maintenance amounts.

At the very first indication of an impending outbreak, the herbs and oil need to be increased to strong therapeutic amounts, sometimes double or triple the instructions on the bottles, and used until the outbreak is cleared. It is most common for outbreaks to become less frequent, less severe, and of shorter duration when using the herbs on a daily basis at maintenance levels. Within just a few months, it is quite normal for outbreaks to be thwarted at the first sign and be completely controlled/healed within twenty-four hours. Yes! Miracles really do happen!

If the list of possible supplements and dietary recommendations seems daunting, or if you suffer from cankers and would like some wellness coaching to relieve them, please contact me, Judith Cobb, for a personal wellness-coaching appointment. Appointments are available in person at my office, by phone, by Skype, and by webinar.

I also invite you to Like us on Facebook (Cobblestone Health Ltd) and to visit my other websites:

Products referred to above:

 Nature's Sunshine Products CANADANature's Sunshine Products USA
Iron With Vitamin CChelated Iron
Methyl B-12 PlusMethyl B-12 Complete, Liquid
l-Lysine is available through the Sunshine Direct program
(contact Nature’s Sunshine Canada at 1-800-265-9163 for
instructions) or by special order from Cobblestone Health
( or 403-850-5503).
Zinc & Vitamin C LozengesZinc Lozenge
Silver Shield GelSilver Shield Gel (20 ppm)
Natures's Silverguard Liquid (118 ml)Silver Shield w/Aqua Sol
Probiotic 11 (CN)Probiotic Eleven
herbal anti-viral liquidHRP-C (Extract)VS-C (Liq 2 Oz)
herbal anti-viral capsulesHRP-C (Capsules)VS-C (Liq 2 Oz)
Tea Tree OilTea Tree Authentic Essential Oil


Copyright © 2015 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).

2 thoughts on “Cankers – What to do about them”

  1. Hello Judith, i wonder if cankers can be picked up ( viral ) from dishes , silver wear, either at home or restaurant that a dish washer has not been able to stearlize ( opps…spelling ) ? Personally think it is transmitted via from one person to another as herpes are. ?

  2. From my experience with clients I lean towards the idea that cankers may be caused by a virus. Viruses typically can be transmitted from one person to another. I’m not sure how fragile the virus is so whether it could survive for a day or two on poorly sterilized cutlery is beyond my ability to speculate.

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