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The DIY Mouthwash That Will Get Rid Of Canker Sores — STAT

Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
February 25, 2019
Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
mbg Health Contributor
By Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
mbg Health Contributor
Gretchen Lidicker earned her master’s degree in physiology with a focus on alternative medicine from Georgetown University. She is the author of “CBD Oil Everyday Secrets” and “Magnesium Everyday Secrets.”
February 25, 2019

A canker sore isn't something I'd wish upon my worst enemy. They hurt like hell, take forever to go away, keep me up at night, and prevent me from eating anything sour, spicy, or citrusy for days on end.

But what are canker sores, really? Not to be confused with cold sores, canker sores are ulcers that develop on the soft tissues inside the mouth or on your gums. They also aren't contagious, which might be the only good thing about them.

A natural approach to healing and preventing canker sores.

Preventing canker sores isn't a simple task since it's not clear what, exactly, causes canker sores in the first place. It's thought that they're connected to stress and might be triggered by foods that irritate the mouth, like pretzels, chips, certain spices, and very acidic fruits. It's also possible that they are caused by certain nutrient deficiencies (like B12, B6, or zinc) or other factors like celiac disease and even hormonal shifts in women. Preventing canker sores if you get them often is something to definitely talk to your doctor—or an integrative of functional medicine practitioner—about.

When you get a canker sore, your top priorities are reducing symptoms and trying to get it to heal as quickly as possible. Luckily, there are certain natural ingredients that can help with that. Tea tree oil is a great choice for this. According to Mariza Snyder, D.C., chiropractic doctor and author of the book The Essential Oil Hormone Solution, "Due to its antimicrobial activity, tea tree oil is a great remedy for healing a canker sore. Tea tree oil will immediately numb the pain and help kill any bacteria that might be in and around the sore."

A DIY Mouthwash for Canker Sores

I don't get canker sores that often, but when I do, they're the really painful kind that seem to linger forever. That is, until I came up with this DIY mouthwash made with tea tree essential oil. When I get one, I gargle with this solution about 10 times a day (yes, 10!), and it's a lifesaver. It really decreases the pain, stops the ulcer from getting worse, and noticeably speeds up the healing process.


  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 drops tea tree oil essential oil
  • 2 cups of warm water


Heat 2 cups of water on the stove until warm to the touch, then add sea salt and stir until fully dissolved. Pour into cup and add 2 drops of tea tree oil. Use as a mouth rinse at least a few times a day, making sure the solution comes into direct contact with the mouth ulcer. Swish between teeth and in mouth and then spit out into the sink (it's not a good idea to take essential oils internally, as they can be extremely potent).

Why this mouthwash it the worst thing that ever happened to a canker sore.

So why, exactly, does this work so well? "Tea tree oil has gained popularity in recent years due to its natural antibacterial properties and ability to treat bacterial infections. The compound terpinen-4-ol, one of many compounds found in tea tree oil, is responsible for most of the antimicrobial activity found in the oil." The salt will also help clean the area and reduce pain as well. For me, it works like a charm. Just keep in mind that according to the Mayo Clinic, it's important to talk to your doctor if you have a canker sore that is unusually large, recurring or persistent, so painful that you can't find any relief, or accompanied by a high fever.

Gretchen Lidicker, M.S. author page.
Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
mbg Health Contributor

Gretchen Lidicker is an mbg health contributor, content strategist, and the author of CBD Oil Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness and Magnesium Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Epsom Salts, Magnesium Oil, and Nature's Relaxation Mineral. She holds a B.S. in biology and earned her master’s degree in physiology with a concentration in complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University.