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7 Essential Oils That May Help Cure Your Canker Sores

A blonde woman wearing a white robe prepares to use a dropper of essential oil on her canker sore.

Essential oils have taken the world by storm in recent years. But even though they're a relatively new treatment in modern, western civilization, people have used essential oils medicinally throughout history.

Could essential oil for canker sores make a difference? Let's take a look at the evidence on 10 different essential oils.


Essential Oils for Canker Sores

Essential oils come from various extraction and cold pressing procedures performed on specific plants. The processes draw out compounds containing the scent or "essence" of the plant, concentrating and storing them in oil form.

While research has shown some essential oils offer antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, or pain-relieving benefits, other oils have only anecdotal evidence supporting their use.

Because essential oils are so concentrated, they can sometimes provoke unintended reactions either on the skin or through absorption. Some oils can even be toxic if ingested. So before you use an essential oil, especially in your mouth where it will absorb quickly, it's important to make sure that the oil is safe and that you prepare and use it correctly. Online research from reputable sources can help, as can consulting a qualified aromatherapist or physician familiar with essential oils.

Finally, remember that essential oils are safest when diluted in a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil.

And now, without further ado, here are 10 essential oils that may help cure your canker sores!

essential oil for canker sores

1. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is one of the most widely relied-upon essential oils for everything from headaches to stomach pains. Its sharp, clean scent makes it an easy pick for oral care and freshening the breath. But peppermint oil also contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, pain-relieving, and cooling properties that can help soothe a burning canker sore.

As a side note, peppermint oil may also be part of an effective treatment for cold sores.

2. Sage Oil

Sage oil offers cooling properties similar to peppermint oil, which should help relieve canker sore pain. It also has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and astringent properties, making this essential oil ideal for canker sores. As a member of the mint family, sage oil has been used in oral care for many years.

3. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has proven antibacterial and antifungal properties. It can also numb canker sore pain and potentially reduce inflammation. However, tea tree oil is toxic if ingested.

If you use a tea tree oil rinse, be sure not to swallow it. 

4. Lemon Oil

Many people associate the smell of lemon oil with cleaning products, and rightly so. Lemon's astringent properties are tough on germs and have been shown to promote faster skin healing in rabbits. Studies are still needed to confirm the same results in humans, but these findings are promising.

Lemon oil may also have stress-relieving properties as well.

5. Rosemary Oil

Rosemary oil can provide significant pain relief. One study even showed that the use of rosemary oil in conjunction with pain medications was more effective than taking pain medications alone.

6. Myrtle Oil

Myrtle oil is yet another essential oil that has shown its ability to keep germs at bay. It has been used on canker sores for years due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and recent clinical studies now confirm its effectiveness.

One randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial treated participants with either a myrtle oral paste or a placebo paste. Participants in the group treated with myrtle oil paste experienced decreased size of their canker sores, decreased severity of pain, and decreased swelling. No negative side effects were reported.

7. Clove Oil

Clove oil promotes circulation and is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic. In fact, cloves have been used in dentistry for hundreds of years due to their powerful numbing properties.

In one clinical study, researchers compared the effectiveness of clove gel to the standard benzocaine as topical numbing agents to reduce the pain of a needle stick. Remarkably, there was no significant difference in the level of pain between the clove gel group and the benzocaine group, showing clove to be as effective a numbing agent as benzocaine.


Other Household Remedies for Canker Sores

Essential oils aren't the only home remedies you can use for canker sores. We previously talked about other potentially useful household products for canker sores in another post.

If you find that you need something stronger than essential oils and home remedies to treat your canker sore, consider light therapy. Light therapy has been clinically proven to reduce canker sore pain immediately and speed canker sore healing by 49%.

More specifically, red light therapy, like that used in the FDA-registered Luminance RED Mouth Sore Treatment Device, is an effective alternative to essential oils for canker sore treatment.

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